Having trouble breathing.

Living with Grief. One Father's Journey

Blue on blue

Having trouble breathing
Past midnight
The power is out and there is a beeping coming from downstairs.

The carbon monoxide detector…
So I take the battery out and head up the stairs.
I will have to fix it later.
And I am coughing. And wheezing.
I can’t stop. I hear a gurgle in my chest.
I can’t fix it.
And it takes probably an hour to get back to sleep.
The next day is cold and there is no power.
Edison will have to fix it.
So I spend my time painting.
A portrait of my dog.
I spend all day working on it
Fixing it to look like her

My life is not bad. I have a nice house and good job.
I love my wife. I am comfortable. And I guess as happy as I can allow.
I have time.

I think about all the things we use…

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

East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines

paulpix

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 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

 

I’m just not in the mood to take pictures.

I love the Christmas season.  I really do.  The lights, the glitter and glitz! But as you can see by some of my previous posts, I lost my best friend a few weeks ago.  The grief hits when I don’t expect it.  I’m doing my usual things and then, surprise!  I’m in tears.  And they keep coming.  And then I’m okay, and then it hits me again.

He was my neighbor and I find myself looking up at his apartment whenever I walk outside, expecting to see him.  Whenever I see the plants he helped me plant I think of him. Whenever I see the vine we were watching, wondering if it would make it through the winter, I think of him. The plant is still surviving.  Unfortunately he didn’t.

His memorial is January 2nd, I’m looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time.  I look forward to meeting the members of his family that I’ve only heard about.  It makes me sad that he never got to meet his only granddaughter.

I look forward to hearing about things he did before I met him.  I’ve already heard some of it from him.  His time with the Moonies when he was selling tea and was the best salesman.  I believe it, he was quite charming and loved people.  He loved the atmosphere of family since his childhood was not a pleasant one.

He spent some time on a commune and he enjoyed that.  He liked the vegetarian food.  And he loved the children.  And once again there was the sense of family.

I’d heard about his time in rehab for his drinking.  He liked living there, and doing the work that was required of him.  He didn’t really want to leave. He liked the guys that were there.  And the sense of family again. He didn’t have any problem with not drinking then, but as soon as he left he started.  He would have liked to stay there, and work there.  I wish he could have.

I heard about the twenty years he worked as a gardener for a retirement community.  Of course he made friends with the residents.

When he was recuperating from from surgery in a nursing facility he made friends with all the nurses.  He knew them all by name and they didn’t want him to leave.  He also made friends with an old man who never had any visitors and never talked to anyone.  He said he was surprised at how much they had in common.  I told him I’d take him back to visit him sometime, but I never did.  I regret that.

So I have to prepare myself for the memorial.  I’d like to write something to be read, I really would like to, but I’m not sure what to say.  Maybe I’ll extract something from the posts I’ve written.

So I’ll celebrate his life with his family and friends.  And just be thankful for the years we did have together.  And for the fact that we considered ourselves best friends.  And as far as I’m concerned, we always will be.

I miss you Paul, and 1956 - 2015I know I will never have another friend like you.

Letters from Paul

Written by Sesshu Foster, Paul’s brother.

East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines

Paul Foster, 1956 – 2015

1956 - 2015

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015

11:30 AM

Myopia, part 741

Sesshu

Thanks for the postcards.

The book, ‘AUSCHWITZ AND AFTER’ is great. (Charlotte Delbo)

I haven’t gotten all the way through it.

Sidetracked into ‘THE GREAT GATSBY.’

Sidetracked again into ‘LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING’ by Tolkien.

Got stuck on that, through 388 pages —3/4 of the book.

Intermediately: Bukowski, like a fresh hot pizza.

John just took off for MPC, the community college, to play on their library computers.

Last night I made boneless pork ribs, browned them and then stuck them in the oven with barbecue sauce, on low heat for hours, covered with aluminum foil to keep the moisture in. With rice. The guys liked it. 3 lbs. of meat gone.

I’m waiting for my computer to come back from Ohio or some place like that, wherever Toshiba lives…

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My best friend died yesterday.

DSC01161And my heart is broken.

His name was Paul.  He was a talented artist.  But not enough people knew it.  I love him like a brother.

And my heart is broken.

He was my neighbor and we shared a love of gardening.  That was our first common bond.  The first of many.  I would make a mess pruning and such and he would come along after me and clean up.  Always pleased to help.  He would give me gardening advice, always very humbly.  We spent countless hours taking care of plants and discussing them.  He became a part of my garden I guess.  Always cheering me up.  I will never be able to garden again without thinking of him.  But he was much more than just my gardening buddy.

My heart is broken.

I could tell him anything, like best friends can.  When my husband was driving me crazy he would listen to me rant and rave!  Always patient and compassionate.  Never taking sides.  That bugged me sometimes, but he was like that.  He didn’t judge.  Well except that guy on the bus who kept coming on to a girl.  He did not like him.  Not at all.  I’m sure his concern was more for the girl.  He deeply respected women.

My  heart is broken.

He had a hard life.  He grew up in East Los Angeles.  Not the best area of California.  He was one of seven children.  He said he was the troublemaker.  His father left his mother with all the kids and no way to support them.  They moved in with her bachelor brother.  He never wanted seven kids.  But he was a good brother.  To a point anyway.  He and Paul didn’t get along.  He got kicked out of the house when he was fourteen.  I think that’s when he moved to this area.  He got married, had a daughter, and got divorced.  He said they were High School sweethearts and they grew up, and apart.

My heart is broken.

He was in a lot of physical pain.  He had back problems all of his life.  His spine was a mess.  He recently “jumped through” all the government hoops and got his SSI.  Finally he had a bit of money to spend.  Finally a little break.  He deserved many more of them.  Many.  Things were looking up. His brother didn’t have to help him pay his rent.  He hated that he needed the help.

My heart is broken.

I can’t sleep tonight.  I can’t stop thinking about all the time we shared. Some of it kind of weird.  One time I had to harass him into going to the emergency room because he had prostate problems and had to pee every two minutes.  He wasn’t embarrassed nor was I.  Our friendship was above all that.

My heart is broken.

My husband had to rush him to the hospital when he was in septic shock caused by a hole in his colon.  He was in pretty bad shape.  The doctors said he was lucky to be alive.  They performed surgery the next day.  But he was never quite the same.  He said it felt like they didn’t put everything back in right.

My heart is broken.

We had one other thing in common.  We each have our own chronic disease.  Alcoholism, his, bipolar disorder, mine.  I think that really might be why we became fast friends.  Although we didn’t know it at the time. We both knew what it is to suffer terrible pain.

I heard the paramedics take him down the stairs.  I thought it was just one of my neighbors who makes a lot of noise coming down.  I had no idea they were taking my best friend to the morgue.

And my heart is broken yet once again, just thinking about him.  He isn’t in pain anymore, but I sure am.  Lots of it.

And I can’t share that pain with my best friend.

My heart breaks once again over that.

 

 

Grand old beauty. This is in downtown Pacific Grove, it started out as a doctors office/residence. He must have done pretty well to buy or have this place built. It’s been a private residence once since I’ve lived here, and now is in the process of being turned into a restaurant for the second time. I just love seeing it in the heart of downtown!

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