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.
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.
Tomorrow is Paul’s memorial. I have such mixed feelings about it. John upstairs is very excited! He was his roommate, and they were so cute together bantering back and forth. I don’t think I saw John smile or laugh very much except for those times.
One of the reasons I have mixed feelings is because I will probably never see his brothers, or any of his family members again. Meeting is brothers was almost like seeing Paul again. Well as least as close as it will ever get.
His brother wants me to read my previous post “In memory of Paul.” This scares me to death since I would rather walk over hot coals than speak in front of a group of people. I wish I had the nerve to do it, I’d love to do it for Paul’s sake. But there’s no way I could get through it without crying anyway. And if the roles were reversed I imagine he would feel the same, and that would be okay with me.
And I’m afraid I’m going to lose it completely anyway, and sob through the whole thing. I’m thinking his family members will wonder,”Who’s that lady over there anyway, and why is she so out of control?” Not being a family member I don’t feel like I have the right, as such, to be so devastated by his death. Silly I know.
And then there’s the decision about what to wear. I know it’s a very girl thing! I’m behind on my laundry as usual, so I’ll have to choose what to wash. Black is definitely out of the question. I have a sort of tie dyed blouse and he used to call me a “hippie lady” when I wore it. I’d like to wear it but it’s much to cold. I’ll figure something out.
And closure? I guess that’s the part I’m really dreading. He’s gone and now we all have to acknowledge it. I’d really rather not.
I’ve always felt so sorry for people/families who have lost a loved one around the holidays. I can’t even imagine the pain, it must be devastating. If you are one of these people, I just want to let you know that my heart truly goes out to you.
I have a friend who lost her only child to an extremely painful form of cancer. I’m not sure if it was around the holidays or not, but she was saying recently how hard it is to face the holidays without any children around. She says she and her husband just try to stay busy to avoid feeling the pain. I doubt that it really works. My heart truly goes out to her.
My best friend, Paul, died the week before Thanksgiving. I sort of rationalized that since it was actually before the holidays begin full swing that I wouldn’t be devastated about it every year. I thought I was doing so well. My heart goes out to his family.
Yesterday, just before Christmas dinner, I got a knock on the door. We really don’t get many visitors, and my first thought was that it didn’t sound like Paul’s knock, and it couldn’t be, unfortunately. It was one of my neighbors telling me the orange feral cat I ‘d been feeding, that I’d named Carrot, had been hit by a car. I was devastated. Lost my appetite for Christmas dinner that’s for sure.
The first time I saw this little guy was out my kitchen window walking on the five food hedge. I’d put water and food out there for the birds and he was drinking from the water dish. It struck me as funny that he was so light he could walk on the hedge, and that he was resourceful enough to find the water.
Later I saw his buddy, a tiny black and white one that I named Jersey. My husband warned me that naming a feral cat was not a good idea since you would only grow that much more attached. But since when did I ever take his advice (lol!) even when it’s good.
It took several weeks to get Carrot to come to me. I kept telling him he’d love pettin’. And when he finally let me pet him he did love it, especially around his whiskers. And he purred, they really know how to melt your heart that way! Jersey, on the other hand, was still very frightened of me and kept her distance.
Yesterday when I went out to feed them he wasn’t there. He had been known to disappear once in awhile during the day but was always back for the evening meal. But he wasn’t that afternoon. And not that night. And now I know, never again. RIP my little Carrot.
This triggered the pain I still feel about Paul and brought it to the surface as well. I’ve hardly stopped crying since.
Paul and I had four cats between us, we had three and he had one, Boo, who had been a feral cat. Within the last two years we helped each other bury them all. It’s one of the things that bonded us as friends. But none of them had died suddenly like Carrot.
When I went out this morning to feed Jersey she wasn’t there. I put out the food anyway and eventually she showed up. I doubt that she will ever be brave enough to let me pet her though.
So now I’m one of those people who will always remember the losses she experienced around the holiday season. And my heart goes out to me.
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 I know I will never have another friend like you.
Can’t stop thinking about my best friend Paul who died a week ago Friday. Miss him dearly. This is written by his brother, Sesshu Foster.
rain blowing through the cypress and pine forest across the peninsula/ but it was sunny the day we went to wendy’s memorial atop jack’s peak, first time i’d been up there/ i told wendy’s sisters i was very moved by their testimonial at the church in salinas/ you were tired, chose to rest in the car when dolores and i walked in the woods/ we looked south along the coast/ carmel valley below/ post-op, no chance for your stomach to heal, you were drinking again/ exhausted, napping in the front seat/
someone said you looked ten years older/ beard gone gray/
monterey bay unfurling to the north/ open to the pacific/ light and shadow on the water/ haze across the north/ i gave your computer to alba and little omar/ alba said big omar, deported to oaxaca because of dui’s, is drinking his life away/ little omar took the laptop…
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Written by Sesshu Foster, Paul’s brother.
Paul Foster, 1956 – 2015
Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015
Myopia, part 741
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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