In darkness I picked up a couple at a Motel 6 and dropped them at a Dollar Store. The gal moved slowly, as if to be around eighty but on closer observation probably around forty maybe fifty. A weathered hand tattoo showed the world she once had it by the tail or another appendage. As I opened the back for her walker she gave a grateful smile and a warm, “Thank you.”
For a moment I stared. For a minute she made me think of my deceased friend Dori; and not just because she looked like her.
My last good memory of The Swiss was picking up a family of three pre-Covid lockdown – first lockdown.
Dad was Liquored. He sat up front, mom and daughter in the back. He went on and on about how important it was to see live music (even if it wasn’t that good, like the band that night). He said they go there a few times per year and wanted to take his daughter there while she was home for the holidays from college. Then he went on and on about Vodka and he didn’t really appreciate the differences..
I told him, “Tito’s is my favorite, it has a unique smoothness. It’s made down south and they do things to support dogs.” He kept talking in circles (Liquored) so the daughter started teasing him, “He already told you about Tito’s.”
When I dropped them off in DuPont the daughter got out last. “Have a shot of Tito’s for me.”
She burst out laughing..
A couple of winters ago I drove a young guy home who used to work at the Pacific Grill in Tacoma until it became another Covid casualty.
In conversation he said, “Unsure what to do now.”
“Look at the jobs that don’t get locked down, if even for just a few months…years..”
His family had a memorial gathering for his dad at The Swiss before Covid came around and caused it to go out of business. I guess it was his favorite place. “We used to go there all the time to hear local bands and meet up.”
“It was a favorite of mine, they use to have car shows in the street out front.”
Some holidays feel like tombstones on the calendar
These days smell like dusty dishes, broken flowers and tired pictures
Flashbacks seem bright – some not
Numbers that don’t count
Food not cooked
Time for a New Tradition
My Grandma used to say something along the lines of “It happens in Three’s” – she believed it.
It is a phrase repeated by some when loss strikes… Why do we say things like this, is it a superstition carried-over from some ancient grasp for acceptance? Is there a power of three that some people cling to? Is it real?
I never really gave it much thought.
I wonder what Grandma would say now that one of her son’s has passed-away, the third branch of my family tree to die in the last sixty days.
“They go in Three’s?”
Saturday I read a text while on lunch break from a writing workshop. While walking my dog I learned that a favored cousin had died, that it may have been as long as a couple weeks before she was found. The small words on my phone almost sat me down on the wet sidewalk – once again my dog kept me moving. Nobody can see a tear in your eye if you eat alone in a dark corner of a pub, this was working until I was invited to sit with the group. I chose to save the news for later, join them and float in their conversation’s. I succeeded in not thinking about her very much and did the best I could with the rest of the day. As I began the three hour drive home over the bridge guilt clutched me for being able to put myself first. The tortuous lone drive home on wet roads through dark trees seemed like an appropriate time-out.
Sunday I learned that she left a note – she had chosen this ending. It felt like an asthma attack in my head. As this sad ending becomes another of life’s unsolvable cruel riddles that ride in on the monster we simply call “Loss”; I will focus on what I can.
Mary was ten years older. Being another only child gave us a special bond, our club of one’s. Most years we got together on my family trips back to North Dakota. Mary lived on a huge farm alive with animals, horses being her favorite. This contrast to living in a small Washington town appealed to me. One Summer I was given three little ducklings to care for at my Grandparent’s farm. Years later we’d meet for dinner and a night on the town to catch-up, a highlight of my annual visits. Mary’s adult life revolved around taking care of elder family and helping other friends, she seemed to delight in the role. Certainly as they passed away, chunks of her went with them and loneliness soaked in.
My cousin had a huge heart.
Her name was Mary.
“It doesn’t rain at the end of July, the forecast is wrong. My motorcycle trip to the coast won’t be cancelled.” I declared one beautiful sunny day.
“Okay, well yes it’s raining, but it’ll stop – it is July.”
Mike stared at me in silence.
Are Norwegian’s more stubborn that Swede’s? Ah who knows, I laugh at such things.
We put our rain gear on in silence and rode out into it. My open-face half helmet allowed the drops to hit me with a blinding sting. Twenty minutes later we stopped to buy a better helmet at the Harley Davidson shop in Tacoma.
“You riding in that?” asked the pretty cashier.
“Oh – really? Be careful!”
After the monsoon experience on Interstate 5 we stopped at a Barbecue Restaurant to warm up, eat and pour out our boots. No one said anything – everyone looked.
“It’ll let up, has to” I laughed.
“Sure, it’s gonna” Mike laughed back.
After the winding roads and fresh tarred construction we stopped for a beer at a Peninsula Dive Bar.
“Cheers to stubborn!”
As always I learned while enjoying the “Rain” writing workshop at the Fort George Brewery on January 23rd 2015.
Matt Love lives and teaches in Astoria, Oregon.
Retreating to land of sun worshipped silence.
Unwinding the mind with elder presence.
Unpacking a year on timeless earth.
Six days of …So Long
One day of Hello