Posts tagged ‘dad’


Dingbat, the singing cat

Dingbat, the singin’ cat
He sung so high
But he was flat…

At least that’s how I remember Dad singing it. I remember him singing various things randomly.

(It turns out that “Dingbat the Singing Cat” was an actual thing, and actually sung to roughly the tune of Peter and the Wolf, although Dad and/or my memory seem to have transformed the words some. I didn’t realize that until I looked it up on the Interwebz just now.)

There was also

Be kind to your friends in the swamp,
For that duck may be somebody’s mother.

which I find is also an actual thing, again with perhaps slightly different words (I think I like ours better).

Mom was very partial to the “Let’s take a kayak to Juneau or Nyack” line from “Let’s Get Away From It All”. Although the line is actually “Quincy or Nyack”, and once again I don’t know if the “Juneau” version is Mom’s doing or mine.

Where’s Quincy, anyway, and why would one take a kayak there in particular?

But Mom was very fond of Nyack, which was just down Route 59 not too far, and had nice craft shops and art and stuff. Still does in fact! Although now it’s across the river, rather than just down Route 59. But still not too far!

I also remember the first few notes of Peter and the Wolf being used as the tune by which to sing “hey, ho, the radio!”, but I don’t know if that’s something Dad made up or got from some old comedy song (he loved Spike Jones, and I still do), or something that I made up or imagined.

Perhaps due to having enhanced my usual driving coffee with a Dunkin’ Donut or two (and those little shops are all the heck over the path from here to Boston and back!), I was apparently bouncing up and down and singing loud nonsense songs rather more than usual as we drove up that way this weekend for a (very successful and also triumphant) trip to apartment-hunt for the little boy.

And given that today is father’s day, I think that’s extremely appropriate. :)

Thanks, Dad!


Saturday, November 26, 2011

So, another lovely family Thanksgiving, the four of us sitting around the table feasting and being thankful. A bit of a story inside it, and I’ve finally cried for Dad some, which feels good.

Everything was all bought and planned for the Thanksgiving Dinner, everyone home and being snug as bugs. I had the turkey all stuffed, extra stuffing waiting to be cooked (’cause everyone loves stuffing), sitting by the oven. I turned on the oven to pre-heat, and a minute later it turned off again. And so did the clock on the oven, the light above the oven, the ceiling light nearby, and various televisions and things in the next room.

Okay, so the breaker tripped, reset it and try again. But it tripped again, before the oven had got very hot at all. Something wrong with the oven, we thought. Unplugging all the things that we’d noticed turn off along with it didn’t help. Called the neighbors next door, who were out of town having Thanksgiving with family, and they said we could use their stove, which sounded plausible until we all realized that their son had come over and borrowed the extra key to their house that we keep for emergencies, the other day, and hadn’t brought it back yet. The little boy went next door and searched under all of their doormats and stuff, just in case, but no other keys.

I took a couple of Ativan ’cause I was feeling stressed, and everyone was telling me that it was okay and we could just go out to a restaurant together this year. I was down on the kitchen floor peering into the oven with a flashlight in case there was anything obvious, and then I was clinging to poor M’s knees and sobbing, because it had suddenly hit me that I couldn’t call Dad to complain to him and ask him what to do.

I did alot of crying there, more than a turkey dinner warranted, and then I went and flung myself down on the Maid’s Room bed and sobbed there for awhile, taking deep breaths in between crying, tears streaming down my face, the whole thing. Opened my eyes and realized that I was on the bed that Mom and Dad had gotten for me when I was little, and cried more.

Eventually I felt all calm and peaceful, and came out again, and told the kids what-all had been going on, and we had a big family hug.

And then when I went down into the basement to reset the breaker one last time so we could at least use the lights and stuff, I heard a click from the other side of the basement, and thought that I had heard that click at least one other time resetting the breaker, and developed the wild theory that the washing machine (which had been going all this time) is on the same circuit as the oven, and a few minutes after that the washing machine was all done, and I turned the oven on again, and it stayed on.

(Neighbor who knows things about houses and appliances and stuff says that probably the circuit breaker just needs replacing, and has been on the edge of not allowing both the oven and washer to run at the same time for awhile, and just went over the edge. And/or that we just haven’t tried to run both of those for awhile!)

So then everything worked (except I overcooked the not-in-the-bird stuffing just a little bit, but it’s fine as long as it has gravy on it), and we had the abovementioned wonderful family Thanksgiving feast and lounging around afterward being thankful and playing video games and suchlike.

And I didn’t really mean to go into quite that much detail about it all in here, but I have, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Happy Saturday After Thanksgiving! Or local equivalent.


Sunday, 6 November, 2011

Did I actually write nothing on Day Four or Day Five? How lazy! I believe the tally now stands:

Day One: 3,018 (3,018)
Day Two: 3,014 (6,032)
Day Three: 2,038 (8,070)
Day Four: 0 (8,070)
Day Five: 0 (8,070)
Day Six: 1,981(10,051)

Which, by no coincidence at all, is almost exactly On Target for finishing at 50K words on November 30th, because that’s when I decided I could comfortably stop for the evening. :)

Things have been busy. There was a memorial service for Dad at the church (it’s always been “the church” to me, even though Dad’s been active in the other church for the last several years). It was lovely, lots of various old friends, and the Minister, saying nice things about him. I got up and said some I thought rather confused and mostly ad hoc stuff (although I’d been thinking about stuff to say for a few days now). And coffee and finger-foods afterwards, and lots of good feeling and community.

One of the things I said first was that that community had always been very important to Dad, and to the whole family, and it has. Something very comforting about going back to the church that you grew up in, and seeing the building basically the same, with some changes, and the people basically the same, with some changes.

I also drove nostalgically from the church to the house, which is still there, and even presents the same red side in the same old shape to the street, through what looks like more or less the same tangle of woods. There’s a driveway now, rather than just a halfheartedly gravel-strewn dirt road shared with the next-door neighbors (and leading back and back into the woods). And the front looks fancier; I wonder if it is a doctor’s office or something now (the consensus of the Web seems to be that it’s still a single-family home, but You Never Know).

Proud of myself for being able to find the way on nothing but old memories, I drove out to the Nanuet Mall from there, looking at what had changed and what hadn’t in the meantime. Ralphie’s Diner is still down at the bottom of Remsen, on Route 59; I think it moved in there just about when I left, which means it’s been there for a good 30 years.

(It doesn’t seem to have its own Web page, but amusingly there seem to be about three zillion web pages about it, all pretty much identically empty as far as I can tell.)

And my old High School is still there, and the utility company opposite it, and various familiar music stores and bicycle shops. Lots of new things, mostly bigger than the former old things, even more than before with Hebrew letters next to the old-fashioned American ones. Funny how things linger as they change; where the old Hub Bowling Center used to be (it was old and on the way out even when I was little, as I recall), is now The Monsey Hub, a shopping center with something (perhaps “The Monsey Hub”?) in big Hebrew letters on the facade. Completely different, but still with that “Hub”.

(Great old newspaper page from maybe 1960 prominently featuring a picture of some cool kids at Hub Bowling, and the XXIst-century Foursquare page about the Monsey Hub.)

After the service we drove up to the top of Bear Mountain for the scattering of some of Dad’s ashes.

The tower at the top of Bear Mountain

It was a place that he loved, and that I remember vividly from being little. Haven’t been up there in far too long!

It was a gorgeous day.


Home again

So Dad passed away a little after midnight, on Wednesday (the 14th). He was the best Dad ever, and his passing was as gentle and as undemanding on his loved ones as one would have expected. I was there, down in Florida with him and Stepmom. I think maybe he was waiting for me to show up; one of the last things he said to me (along with some discussion of Linda Ronstadt and Alan Watts) was “you got here just in time”.

And now I am back home, and while my usual witty and ironic commentary here might be a bit subdued for awhile, I figure Dad is the one who gave me at least the good parts of the wit and irony, and I shouldn’t let it be suppressed on his behalf. I have been remembering all sorts of things about him (pretty much unreservedly positive, because I am the luckiest son ever), and some of them may get written down here eventually, but probably not right now.

It makes you think, in a more serious and concrete way, about consciousness and death and what might happen to the one after the other. (I’m listening to a course that touches on the subject, but I think it’s going to stay pretty abstract and theoretical.)

As far as I know there’s no particular reason to think that the usual suspects have it at all correct; they are just, layers of complication aside, taking a bunch of very old guesses far too seriously. Those guesses might be right, but they’re no more likely to be than any of millions of similar guesses that didn’t happen to get written down.

It could be that nothing happens, that consciousness just goes out at death. That would be awfully boring, though, and it’s not clear there’s much more to say about it.

There’s a theory, which somewhat hearteningly I can’t find on the Interwebs at the moment, that consciousness, mysterious and amorphous as it is, quantum-tunnels among the available possible world-lines, and always finds one in which life continues. So although other people may experience a world in which one dies, one’s own consciousness avoids those, and one is always, in one’s own world-line, immortal.

It’s not clear what it would mean for that to be true or false; it’s not obviously falsifiable, at least from here. But that’s okay.

Dad lives, in various senses and to various degrees, in the state-spaces of various brains, mine and Stepmom’s and lots of others. Does that mean anything about his consciousness? No idea; consciousness is hard.

A friend told me, a week or two ago, that when her father died, a friend had a dream that he was waiting in line, all excited because he was waiting to find out what he was going to do next.

I like that thought.

I know Dad would want to be doing something interesting. I’ll be sure to arrange that at least the parts of him here enriching my own state-space are.

Thanks, Dad, for everything.



Dad, 1944

William Bernard Chess, 1927-2011

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