Uncommon

 

I was taken aback by the bizarre.

Did I want Jeff’s thumbprint on a gold charm? That felt sort of creepy.

Considering the size of his hands, it’d have been a heavy weight, whether it ended up on a necklace or bracelet, tucked into a jewelry box, or just something I just had to hold onto. Nor did I want a vial of ashes to wear around my neck.

When offered a photo-wrapped honor candle, my dull reply was, “I don’t really need anything.”

Roger protested. He earnestly wanted me to have something; a memorial to hold on to. Because it was so important to him, I agreed that a candle would be nice.

There’s a beautiful, golden-orange horizon sunset behind Jeff’s photo, reminding me of the days we spent in Florida before and after my father passed. I’ve only lit it once; for a number of reasons that are not easily explained and will only ever make sense to me.

It remains nestled in a decorative, golden-jacquard mini-trunk, along with sympathy cards, newspaper clippings, funeral pamphlets, and a laminated bookmark type obituary, also in blue.

Since then, I’ve seen more. … interesting … offerings. Ashes swirled in glass globe paperweights, baubles with secret compartments, rings and pendants and cremation ‘diamonds.’ Some quite beautiful, truly – just not for me.

I didn’t choose a decorative urn, but was told I could do that later when I picked up the ashes.

I won’t assign them ‘Jeff’s ashes’. They’re not his. They’re not him. They are only ashes. That’s all.

Quote for the Week: 2020 02 25 assign your feelings any name you want jakorte

 

 

 

 

Bits and Pieces

The first question wasn’t what I expected.

The first question was whether or not I had told Jeff’s dad.

I had not called Jeff’s father. Nor had I called Jeff’s sister.

Partial cowardice, partial propriety. I couldn’t.

I could not do that. Tell him. Tell her. Not on the telephone

I don’t know if my explanation was taken as a request or if it was realized that none of them would be able to make those particular calls, either. The news was delivered to each by the trio, in-person.

I can’t put a time on how long they hovered, statued in their spots. Where the entryway linoleum met the carpet, loomed a gap none of us would breach. I maintained my seat, way more than arm’s length away. As if being in closer proximity might alter the containment each of us were fighting for.

If any conversation of action took place with or without my participation, I have no recall.

In exactly the same way they appeared, the three men were gone.

The next bit, I recall standing outside of our bedroom telling Jeff’s sister, “No.”

“I want to see him,” she’d said.

But he was near-naked and undignified, and I unexplainably felt strongly compelled to stop her. It flashed through my mind so quickly, I’m not sure the thought was my own.  He does not want her to see him that way; to have that final picture stuck in her mind.

Much in the same way, I don’t remember anything else about her being there; her coming or going, who came with her or anything.

The next piece, I see myself sitting on the other end of the couch nearby Jeff’s Aunt on an out-of-place chair and a cousin sitting on the floor. I don’t remember them coming or going, either – just that snapshot.

Sadie was doing her best to make people happy, eagerly seeking out the sad and dropping her ball for distraction.

Quote for the Week: 2020 01 07 bits and pieces can be jakorte

 

 

Expiration Dating

Dodging the bullet didn’t seem to have much of a lasting emotional effect on Jeff. He did slow it down, but he never quit.

I’d still find an occasional bottle stuffed under the computer desk. I’d find an empty chew container on a shelf. “Oh,” Jeff’d p’shaw. “Those are old.”

One time, he even blamed it on his father. “Oh, Dad must have left that behind,” he told me.

“Does your step-mom know your Dad chews?” I snipped. “Maybe I should call her and tell her so you can both detox together!” “No, no, don’t do that,” he pleaded. “It’s mine. Dad bought it for me…. but I haven’t had any for a real long time.”

“Did you tell your dad about the biopsies?” I asked. “Yeah, he knows,” Jeff mumbled.

“Then, why the hell would he buy it for you?” Jeff answered that question slowly. “Because… I asked him to…. I just wanted a little bit…”

He held out his hand to take it from me. I didn’t give it to him.

“I’ll get rid of it for you.” I told him. “Aw, don’t throw it away,” Jeff whined. “It’s almost new. I promise… it’ll be my last one. I won’t buy anymore.”

“It’s your last one,” I agreed. I walked out to the back porch and dumped the shredded contents behind the house.

“Aw, dang it.” I heard behind me. Jeff had followed me out.

He stopped me before I walked back in. “Let’s just sit out here for a bit,” he requested. “It’s a  nice night. We haven’t done this in a while.” So, we sat, talking about non-important things: tightly holding hands until the sun went down – a settling, comfortable reminiscence of ourselves and who we were, together.

After a few more and more frequent “those are old” excuses, I embarrassingly became very belatedly suspicious.

The next tin I found, I kept to myself, having decided I would take it with me to Jeff’s regular Speedway station. I wanted to know if they were truly all old misplaced remnants or if  he was truly lying to me. How was I planning to determine that? By expiration date.

The very next day, I dropped off my last van pool passenger and drove directly to the source. I stood in line feeling angry and sneaky, betrayed and betraying: wholly conflicted.

I didn’t want to catch Jeff lying, but I didn’t want him to make a fool of me, any longer, either. I also didn’t want to cause a scene in front of other customers. So, I took deep breaths, trying to make sure my voice would be calm.

When it was my turn, I pulled the recently found Skoal container from my purse and quietly asked, “Do you carry this brand?”

The clerk quickly turned away from the register and grabbed a matching green one from the dispenser behind the counter. “Anything else?” he asked.

“Oh, no. I don’t want to buy it…” I hurriedly explained. “I just want to know the expiration date.”

The clerk stared at me. “Seriously,” I prompted. “It’s important. I just need to know the expiration date.”

He picked it up, turned the little package over and around a few times. When he finally located it, he pointed to the dot matrix printed notation.

I nodded my thanks and left without a word. I had my answer.

Quote for the Week: 2019 02 17 hold hands meet in the now jakorte

Cookie Season

I like cookies. I’d say I love them, but that wouldn’t be fair to cake. Especially, since cookies actually fall third to my super love: donuts!

Oh, who am I kidding? Unless it’s got a walnut or pineapple in it, I’ll eat any cookie that comes my way. It’s Cookie Season, now. I’m plumping up a bit, but that’s what New Year’s resolutions are made of.

Cookies weren’t really varied in my youth. Standard homemade choices were chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal. All crispy, all crunchy, all of the time.

With the exception of rarely made and ridiculously rigid sugar cookies, holiday cookies were softer. Concocted of a cream cheese enriched dough; featuring some sort of jelly, preserves or fruit butter. The same ingredients, just presented differently, depending on the celebration.

I had no complaints as a kid, but Jeff taught me about other confections. My contented hard-cookie horizon expanded to a galaxy of undiscovered soft and chewy treasures.

Jeff made marvelously moist Oatmeal Raisin cookies, often. I once (and only once) requested the addition of chocolate chips. He stared at me in confusion for a beat, then simply stated, “There’s not supposed to be chocolate chips in ’em.”

He didn’t understand rather involved Rugelach, but he made them for me, anyway. Minus walnuts, plus my chocolate chips. As far as I’m concerned, he invented the stunning combination: chocolate & unseeded-raspberry rolls of delight.

I’d never heard of a Crinkle Cookie, until Jeff made them for Christmas. They looked so pretty on a tray: gently sloping, round mounds of contrasting dark dough and a bright white, crack-emphasizing topping.

“Try one,” Jeff encouraged.

“What do they taste like?” I wanted to know.

“Like a chocolate cookie,” he answered matter-of-factly. “Try one.”

Death by Chocolate can be a very real thing. That pastry almost killed me.

Quote for the Week:2018 12 18 What's normal for one is novel for another jakorte

Cookies brought to you by J, T, V & Me.

It’s good to know folks who make cookies. Those who makes cookies are usually good folks!

 

MIS: Second to Last (part 2)

We were met at the door by a scrub-wearing fellow, who ushered us in.

The very first question asked was “How much have you had to drink today?”

That was an easy answer. “Half a bottled coffee and about two sips of Bloody Mary.”

“And how much did you have to drink yesterday?” was the second question.

“A bottle of coffee, a bottle of water, and two cans of Mt Dew.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah, that’s it.” As an after-thought, I amended: “I might have had two bottles of water, actually…”

“No alcohol?”

“No.”

“Use any drugs? Smoke anything?’

“No.”

“Are you sure?” He pressed, with more than a bit of incredulity in the tone.

“Yeah, I’m sure.” There may have been a bit of annoyance in my reply.

In retrospect, I’m sure it seemed highly unbelievable that anyone would drink no alcohol or engage in any type of illegal activity for a whole day at MIS. My annoyance increased when he turned to Jeff and asked, “Does that sound right to you?”

“Yeah,” Jeff affirmed. “She doesn’t like beer … or water…”

A wave of pain and nausea hit, accompanied by little black spots that seemed to be getting larger. Suddenly I was on my back on a gurney, being asked to describe what happened from the beginning.

It started in the middle of my back and then moved left. I traced the path of pain on my back, adding that the pain was even a little lower. By this time, it had turned into a constant zinging.

“It’s likely you’re dehydrated,” he commented. Then asked, “Ever had a kidney stone?”

“No.” I replied.

“Well,” he lead-in, “seems like you’ve got one now.”

I very much doubted that.

“There’s not much we can do for you here,” he told us. “We’ll give you some fluids and some pain meds to hold you over.”

“Oh.” I thought about the situation, and reluctantly realized what that really meant. “I’m so sorry, we have to leave, Jeff.”

His shoulders went down a little, as his voice went up a notch. “Before the race?”

“Yeah.” I frowned at that, feeling badly. “… and I don’t think I can help you load the van.”

As I was finishing thinking aloud, the medic turned, and announced, “You can’t leave.”

“Yeah, that’s right!” Jeff’s enthusiasm returned. 

“What?!” I was astounded. “Why can’t I leave?”

“You can’t get a vehicle out of the infield while a race is going on.” “Jeff explained snapping his fingers smartly. “Can’t drive the van off in between race cars …,” he laughed. “The only way to get out, is to walk out, and you’re not walkin’ very good. Then, we’d have no way of getting home unless we called someone.”

“Well, how do injured drivers get out?” I countered. Two dumb-founded men stared back at me.  It was Jeff that took up the draft on this one, by somberly stating, “The race usually stops for that.” 

Jeff reasoned it all out. “By the time we get out to the road, the race will likely be over. It’ll take hours for someone to drive in to get us. It’ll be faster to drive out… after the race.”

My response was a grumbled grunt. 

Quote for the Week: 2018 08 21 assumptions will be made based on company kept jakorte