It’s taken awhile…….

I didn’t realize it until recently, but I had shut down creatively since my friend Paul died. We used to garden together and I stopped. He used to admire my photos, and I pretty much stopped taking them. I’m finally starting to accept the fact that my friend isn’t coming back. It’s spring and it’s time to start gardening again, I’ve charged up the battery in my camera and it’s time to start shooting photos again.

Here’s a copy of the memory of him I posted not long after his death.

“Paul was a very gentle and humble person, and he loved, and cared about other people. Every time he saw me he would greet me with his enthusiastic “HI!,how are you today?” And then he would listen, really listen, because he cared. With his gentle and caring nature he even won over a surly roommate!

He was friends with everyone in the apartment complex, and loved the children. He was the first one to introduce himself when we moved here and I still remember meeting him for the first time.

When he was in the hospital he made friends with the nurses and knew them all by name. He would greet them with his usual enthusiastic “HI, how are you today?” They were sad to see him go. I doubt they get many patients as pleasant as he was.

He also made friends with an old man who was a permanent resident there. He never had any visitors and didn’t talk to anyone. Of course Paul got him to open up and they had several conversations.

He appreciated little things, a songbird, a beautiful garden, a drive around the bay, or a hike with his brother.

He had a quick wit and I could always depend on him to cheer up my day by making me laugh.

He will always have a special place in my heart.”

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I will miss you my dear friend

Reblogging and memories

I’ve been reblogging some of Paul’s brother’s posts lately.  Partly because they have stories or photos of him that I hadn’t heard or seen before.  And I want to have them here so I can read them easily.  Some I haven’t even read.  I’m not ready to.

It’s been hitting me the last few days that the memorial sort of opened a wound that had started to heal.  I was sort of getting used to the fact that he wasn’t here any longer.  Or I thought I was anyway.

I haven’t had the desire to work in the garden because it reminds me of him.  He helped me plant this or that, or we had many, many, discussions about what this flower’s name was, what it was doing and why.  He helped me prune that tree, and he helped me bury one of my cats under the other one.

It’s hard to even look at the garden without memories of him.  One of the vines was driving him crazy because it was dormant and was just bare stems.  I wish he’d worked on it.  I can’t do it now, it was his project.

He had the idea of planting the cactus (which I’d thrown into the ivy) up on the bank between retaining walls.  He carved out a level spot out of the granite so we could put planter boxes there.  Had I known how bad his back was and how much pain this was causing him I never would have let him do it.  But he was game for anything when it had to do with gardening.  As first I’d introduce him to my friends as my “gardening buddy.”  But later it was “My good friend Paul who helps me with my gardening.”  The cactus is doing very well by the way.

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‘Things I’ve Seen Lately,’ by Paul Foster

East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines

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a list for Sesshu Oct 23, ’14

  1. It got so hot last month you could hear the pine cones cracking open on the trees. The pine seeds fly down onto my porch from quite a distance on their little light brown wing.
  2. A giant turkey vulture gliding effortlessly in circular patterns over P.G. in a blue sky.
  3. The morning glory cuttings that Debbie and I planted outside are looking well and sending up new leaves, little sun worshippers.
  4. The Lord of the Rings movie “Fellowship of the Ring” part of the story by J. R. Tolkien, filmed in New Zealand.
  5. The bathroom floor covered in pee. My other room-mate always seems like such a sober fellow but I think he gets really drunk at night.
  6. Debbie’s kittens Samantha and Dylan have already grown to the size of my cat. Dylan still likes me but Samantha is already bored with my…

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The memorial part 2

The memorial was held at the “Surf and Sand” room on the stunning Asilomar Conference grounds in Pacific Grove.  Even though most of Pauls’ relatives live out of the area, they chose the town he had lived in the longest.  The room was amazing.  All glass walls so you can see the beautiful sand dunes outside.  Paul would have liked that.

There were several people there when we arrived, including my “support friend” Scott.  He did know Paul casually but came mostly to support me.  I’m glad he did, I needed it. He’d already picked up the memorial photo, and bookmarks with various photos of Paul and family members that his sister had made, a very cool idea.  And then there were song sheets with several Dylan songs.  “Blowin In The Wind”, “The Times They Are A-Changin'”, “Like A Rolling Stone”, “Mr. Tambourine Man”, and one by Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now.”  Paul’s favorites.

While we sat there waiting for the service to begin Paul’s sister Hannah, and Sesshu’s wife came and introduced themselves.  We just sat there, I was in no shape to be introducing myself to anyone since I was already either in tears, or holding my breath so as not to cry.  I’ve learned that works.

Paul’s brother, Sesshu, gave the eulogy.  He started by reading the events that were happening in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the times of Paul’s childhood and young adulthood.  The drastic, mostly violent changes our country was going through during those years.  He tucked in some of what was going on with Paul during those times.

One of the stories he told was when Paul came home wearing a shirt patterned after the American flag, not unusual at the time.  They were living with his bachelor uncle who never wanted his divorced sister and her seven children living with him anyway.   This shirt really set his uncle off, he it off of Paul and began hitting, and hitting, and hitting him with it.  I don’t know what would have happened if Sesshu hadn’t intervened. I’m not sure how long after that he was kicked out of the house, but I know he never lived at home again after 12 years of age.

He continued with more details of Paul’s life, which I knew were violent, but not as violent as I’d realized.  Poor Paul, yes Sadie is right.  No wonder he drank.  It was a way of survival.  “Self-medication” is the term we use today.

He read several excerpts from journals Paul wrote during his three tries at rehab and some letters from him as well.  Some very personal and raw, others that made us all chuckle.

He spoke for what seemed like ages and then he was done.  How could he describe the life of someone he’d known all of his life in just a few minutes?  Someone who’d kept his sense of humor and sense of wonder through all the pain and heartbreak he’d experienced?  Such a special man who never became bitter despite it all?

But wait, what about the letter I’d given him to read!  My fond memories of the sweet, gentle Paul I’d known for years and saw almost daily!  I swung my head around to see where he’d gone.  Damn, why didn’t I say I’d read it myself?  At that moment I felt desperate and almost had the burst of courage I needed to read it myself.  How could I let my friend down?

After he finished speaking however, his daughter invited anyone who had something to say to come up.  The girl behind me, a relative I’m sure, stood up and said she was glad to have the opportunity to read this letter.  And it was mine.  I did pretty much lose it then, but at the same time I was so glad that it finally got read.  I wanted everyone there to know who “my” Paul was.

We sang the songs which was actually fun.  But it’s hard to sing when you’re sobbing so hard that your stomach is in spasms and you can’t read through the tears.  I had to lay down the song sheets and just let myself sob. Luckily the singing was loud enough so no one could hear me.

But I know Paul would have gotten a good laugh out of hearing his family and friends butcher his favorite songs.

My love to you forever, to the most special friend I will ever have.

Deb

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The memorial part 1

I wish I’d taken a Colonopin. Really. I’d taken one last night because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so I was hesitant to take one this morning. I woke up early enough and felt pretty good, thinking, “Hey I may get through this okay after all!”  Afraid I might be too groggy I passed on taking the second one.  And part of me felt somewhat of an obligation to Paul to be totally present.  I did take the mood stabilizer, I’ve really been needing them lately. But I still wish I’d taken the Colonopin.

I’d written a letter to be read at the memorial, but I couldn’t get my damn printer to work, so I had to write it out by hand.  I wanted it perfect so it would be clear for whoever read it.  That took a couple of tries, unsuccessfully.  So I tried different tactics with the printer, also unsuccessfully.  Back to writing it out by hand again, now panicking because I was running behind.

By the time I’d taken a shower, tried on two blouses, (twice) fought with my hair, and checked the clock every five minutes to make sure I wouldn’t be late, (since I’d agreed to take two of my neighbors who don’t drive) I was a nervous wreck.

My heart was pounding as we drove.  I think I chattered nervously most of the way there.  One of my neighbors who had known Paul longer than I did kept repeating “Poor Paul.”  She’s been saying that, with her Arabic accent, almost constantly  since he died, “Poor Paul, poor Paul….”  I tried to explain to her once that it’s really poor us since we’re the ones left behind with our grief and he’s finally without pain.  She just repeats, “Poor Paul, poor Paul.”  Well I guess whatever works for her.

paul on the coast

 

A brother’s loss

Living with Grief. One Father's Journey

Seriously… I am not doing well.

Holidays are hard. Grieving. Missing my son. Thanksgiving. Christmas…

I want to check out. Take a break. Get some kind of breather. But it is only a week until Christmas break, so taking even a single sick day seems a little lame. So I soldier on. I’ve been painting koi. And that helps. Koi.

I’ve done nothing about finding a new doctor or getting any kind of help for depression. And then my brother died a few weeks ago and the bottom seemed to fall out. And I just haven’t gotten around to it. Of course exercise would be a good thing. But I haven’t been doing that either.

I guess I was able to hold it together okay, and deal with what I need to do and take a trip to clean up Paul’s stuff. And then there was Thanksgiving. And then back…

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