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the death brigade

so, i have a big family.
stop me if you've heard this one...
no, i really do have a big family. my father's family is catholic - he is one of seven. each of my paternal grandparents - one of double digits. each of these people who has gotten married? many childrens. thanks for making condoms a sin. my paternal genetic background is a monty python skit.

when still based in ohio, many of my father's cousins (both my marriage and by blood) intermarried with another sprawling clan in the flat parts of the swing state we all love so.

this created a mass of catholics not to be messed with (since most of them weigh in at 6'1", 200lbs min).

over the years, this mass has gotten cancer, spawned more children, gotten in fatal dwis, gotten married, gotten divorced, gone through AA, gone through detox, gone through the fucking wringer.

when there was a reunion in 2000, it was in chicago, so the whole clan could gather centrally. there were over 2000 people in attendance.

2000+. people. there are towns in this country smaller than that.

4 generations

blood and marriage

we rented a park. a city park. not a small one either, it had a lake.

not a pond.

a lake.

they had to bring in port-a-johns.

we had tshirts made up so you could tell, by the color of your shirt, who you were related to and how.

so, i have this one "great uncle" - john. he has lived three lives (he is in his 80's) and been married twice. he had three kids by his first wife, and two by his second. his wife is now in her 60's. john has alzheimers - he called me to tell me about the apollo moon landing, in detail, once.

then he called me in the middle of july another time to wish me a happy birthday.

anyhow, john is loopy, but not bad loopy, and certainly not catatonic loopy. his wife had a stroke 2 years ago, and us unable to move around without some heavy mechanical assistance. his youngest daughter from his first marriage, katherine, lived with these two, in the rolling hills of western ohio.

they owned a winter home in northwestern florida. kathy was care taking it and prepping it for the migration down there.

she was, for the record, quite an alcoholic.

so she was found dead of alcohol poisoning early this morning.

as i have discussed in previous posts, i have a fair aquaintence with death.

well, it is the civic duty, in catholic families of this size anyway, that there be representation from every branch of the tree when someone dies, gets hitched, or is born. i think it has something to do with the whole seven sacraments thing, but got mixed up along the way.

anyhow, it was my pleasure this evening to evade the responsibility of being a representative with my father of my limb on the tree. he is on his way to oho now, picking up an uncle en-route.

he has been priming me, for years, to be his second, when he finally gets too old/tired to make these journeys.

it is a mantle i am loathe to assume. it is, i am sad to say, one i am good at though.

i wonder if there is any money in being a funeral planner. not a mortician, or a funeral director - just someone who plans funerals. y'know, kinda like a wedding planner, with more flowers, and less colors to work with.

as Ice Cube once said - "fuck dyin".

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
gefiltebitch
Nov. 11th, 2004 07:41 pm (UTC)
wow. i'm sorry that she died... i can't imagine what it must be like to have such a huge family.
delascabezas
Nov. 11th, 2004 07:48 pm (UTC)
its kinda like
belonging to a country club in a county you don't live in
going to super wal-mart with some freinds, then pretending everyone in the store is a relative
a constant worry that you are gonna end up with someone you are vaugely related to
namfle
Nov. 11th, 2004 09:56 pm (UTC)
Brother, you and I got a lot in common.

One of the reasons why I don't, and won't, drink is because the number of family members and friends of the family that I personally have witnessed being put into the grave because of alcohol or drug related 'issues' ranges in the double-digits.

I was a pall-bearer at my Grandmother's funeral, a hair over 10 years ago this passed October. She'd been diagnosed with some form of cancer or another just 2 months prior. She drank a six-pack every day, minimum. And, she could drink just about all the boys in the family under the table. Many of those same boys, I'll add, are now under the Earth.

That same year, we burried her sister, who we were all surprised to see live as long as she did (alzheimers took her instead of the booze), but her grandson Richie was burried almost exactly a month later. He'd been dead 3 days and sitting in a morgue, waiting to be identified. He was found in a Macdonald's bathroom, dead for who knows how long of an overdose. He was only 36 at the time. And, the worst part? He was extremely likable. I talked to him at his grandmother's funeral, and was sad that I didn't get more hang-out time with him, because of the age difference. Those two memories still haunt me.

And now my dad has a heart condition that we suspect he earned through years of alcohol and drug abuse. He's coming around the bend to his 60th birthday. I pray, for my sister's sake, my sister who is his only child and who loves him dearly, that he stays healthy enough to enjoy the day. I suspect, though, I'll be burrying him before my son reaches his teen years.

I feel for you, man.

-elf-
delascabezas
Nov. 12th, 2004 06:53 am (UTC)
yeah
i just chalk it up to darwin at work. i have lost some good people to booze and drugs, but it was their choice y'know?

rough business, death by the bottle.
namfle
Nov. 13th, 2004 08:49 am (UTC)
Re: yeah
Death by the bottle, death by the straw, death by the syringe, death by the heated spoon...

*sigh*

-elf-
radiocity
Nov. 11th, 2004 10:51 pm (UTC)
addiction is a motherfucker. it stalks you, probing for the slightest opening. tries to talk you into things. it's very cunning.

they say, with addiction, the road ends up on skid row, in the crazyhouse, in jail, or in the boneyard. i've been to three of those places. i don't feel like going to the other just yet.

>time - he's waiting in the wings
he speaks of senseless things
his script is you and me, boy
delascabezas
Nov. 12th, 2004 06:54 am (UTC)
yeah
well, it is good that you put the breaks on before the fourth stop.
people can beat it, it just means cosntat vigilace against the beast, and an acknowledgement of the fact that you are never stronger than your body's urges when temptation is followed through.
wangch61
Nov. 12th, 2004 08:44 am (UTC)
COA
you already know my view on this post
delascabezas
Nov. 12th, 2004 08:48 am (UTC)
yup
it involves former linebackers who drink frozen drinks with umbrellas
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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delascabezas
The Son of the last of a long line of thinkers.
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