In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Finite Creatures.”
I’m trying something new today — I’m replying to a tweet posted by The Daily Post in which they ask, “At what age did you realize you were not immortal?” My answer to this one is as simple as it is complex and yes, it involves the album you see to the left.
It was 1976 when Dad passed away and I was a mere 7 years old. All I knew was that he was gone and “in heaven” or so I was raised to believe. (The whole concept death and Catholicism is something I won’t dare tackle in this post as I have very strong opinions on the matter. It’s a post, or even a blog, unto itself.)
Anyway, Dad was gone and my brother and I were actually handling it quite well, so well that it surprised everyone from relatives to our school teachers. We had each other for support and it definitely kept our minds off of things and in a positive state. There were tough times but we managed to make the best of them.
Three years later, Fleetwood Mac released their album Tusk which blew my freaking mind. A double-album, I listened to it from beginning-to-end-to-beginning-to-end and all over again. It was full of fantastic tunes including the title track, “Sara” and “Think About Me” but there was one track in particular that stood out and, to this day, still makes me relive my epiphany of which I remember every detail.
Side two of Tusk starts off with “What Makes You Think You’re the One” and like most of the album, it’s brilliant. My 10-year-old brain was digging the melody without giving the words much though. But then, while walking out of the Del Amo Fashion Center with my mom, through the parking lot to get to her brown 1977 Ford Granada and stepping over a red-painted and chipped curb with my blue Vans slip-ons, one of the lines hit me.
“What makes you think you’re the one? You can’t live without dyin’.”
The song is right. Dad was gone and one day, I will be gone.
And at that very moment, at age 10, I realized I was not going to be on this planet forever.
From that point, naturally, the questions began.
How long it eternity? What if there really is no heaven? What happens after eternity? When earth — the universe — eventually dies? Are we coming back?
They went on and on and eventually they nearly broke me. I had a seriously bad time when I was teenager regarding these questions and my mind just couldn’t process them anymore, so Mom decided that I needed to seek the intervention of Father So-And-So at church.
We went to the rectory. We had to make an appointment. As shaken up as I was pondering the questions of life and death and everything in between, they wouldn’t let me see him.
And that’s when my faith in Catholicism started to wane. Again, I won’t tackle it right now.
I’m now 47 and I’ve outlived Dad by 5 years. My son is 11 and I plan on being around for him a long, long time. While the questions surrounding my eventual demise still bounce through my head (and sometimes jolt me from a peaceful sleep), I prefer not to let them interfere with my daily life and do the only thing I know how to do: move on.
Unless Fleetwood Mac comes on the radio.
He would have been 78 today.
Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, and rest in peace, Dad. We all miss you.
Louis was the UPS delivery guy on a route that included the medical center where Ann works: an orthodontist office where he was also a patient. And although I only met him a few times, I feel compelled to write about him today for whether he knew it or not, he had an effect my entire family’s life.
You see, Louis died yesterday while making deliveries–I shit you not. He was 35 and word is he suffered a massive heart-attack between deliveries, where he was found lying on the ground unconscious. Sadly, he was already gone by the time help arrived; attempts to revive him would have proven futile.
When Ann was still working full-time, I don’t think I can recall a single day that she didn’t have some sort of humorous anecdote about “Louis the Loser” as she and Anthony jokingly called him while the kid innocently flashed the loser “L” at him. (Ann would occasionally bring Anthony with her when she only worked a few hours and they had no patients.) He was a good guy that had his share of health problems, including survivng a form of cancer, but still continued to plug away for the simple sake living.
And he was quite affable. I often asked Ann if he ever completed his route on time as he seemed to spend a good portion of it chatting with all the girls at her job and the other offices in the center.
But that was Louis.
He once gave Anthony a tour of his UPS truck because, as you may know, little boys and big trucks are a match made in Heaven. And my God, he spoke about that day for months and whenever he saw a UPS truck, he always checked to see if his buddy Louis was driving.
I’m sure he’ll still habitually do it.
So imagine their heartache and the collective tears shed last night when Ann received a call from the co-worker that spoke to Louis last. Anthony was more upset that he wouldn’t be getting anymore toy UPS trucks from him; Ann was in shock at the sudden and unexpected loss of a business associate and friend.
And although he’s not even 5 yet, Anthony is fully aware that when someone passes away, he won’t ever see them again.
“He’s gonna be in the cemetery,” he sadly asked Ann. She nodded and up to this point I was good. But hearing his cries tore me up and then I began to sob over his passing.
Oddly enough, yesterday Anthony was playing in bed with the big die-cast UPS truck that Louis bought for him (see inset). He hadn’t played with it in a while for whatever reason but he chose to yesterday–long before Ann got the tragic news. Call it what you will.
The truck, by the way, was still in his bed when we tucked him in for the night. And once tucked in, Ann and I returned to the living room to talk a little more about the matter.
“Can you imagine what his funeral’s going to be like? Buried in a cardboard box with a tracking label…being carried to his resting place in a big, brown truck…a procession of UPS trucks behind that…lots of guys and gals in brown outfits…”
Then Ann had her say.
“And how would you like to take over that route? ‘Congratulations! You finally got that route you’ve always wanted!'”
Morbid? Perhaps, but that’s how we tend to deal with things such as this, and I would expect nothing less to be said after I fade into nothingness.
But it made her laugh. And I’m sure Louis would have chuckled about it, too.
So vaya con Dios, Louis. There’s a little boy down here that already misses you and will think of you whenever he sees one of those big, noisy, brown delivery trucks. And since you no longer have a schedule to keep, take it easy. Time is finally on your side, man.
Just don’t flirt with the girls. The ramifications may be more than you bargained for.
UPDATE: Last night, Ann shared something with me about Louis: even if he didn’t have a delivery for her office, he would still walk by and yell, “ANNIE!” and she would reply, “LOUIE!” That was it.
When she went to sleep on the night she heard of his passing, Ann had a dream of Louis running by and yelling, “BYE, ANNIE!” and her replying, “BYE, LOUIE!”
I don’t think there’s anything else to say.
In lieu of comments, I ask that you please consider donating whatever you can to your local cancer research institute, Children’s Miracle Network, The American Heart Association, Make-A-Wish Foundation, etc.
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