Sunday, January 30, 2011

29 Days In

My cellphone rang exactly at 8pm yesterday.   I looked at the caller ID and wondered why she would be calling at this time of night.   I answered with hello.  I could tell she was hesitant.  Her first words were "are you at home".  My answer was yes.  Her second statement was "are you alone".  I answered with no.  She asked "the dog".  I said no Murray.  She said "ok, I'll just come out an say it.  Chris N passed away today.  I said FUCK in my mind and then asked how.  She went on to say he was hiking at his park and some visitors found him.  In one sense you think, well at least he was out there doing what he loved.  In the other sense, you just ask WHY.  And unfortunately the WHY can never really be answered.  I mean I suppose an autopsy will tell us something, but to me it still does not answer the question WHY.

He was a great guy.  He was a young guy.  He was a great park ranger.  He loved to golf, but I am not sure he was great.  HAHA.  He loved his wife, family, and friends.  He loved fine dining and a great bottle of wine.  But I am pretty sure he could rough it on the range as well.

And in a blink of an eye he is gone from our lives forever.  Yes, his memory will forever be with us, but his physical presence is gone.

I made it through the entire phone call strong until the very end when I let the tears fall.  I handed the phone to Murray, told him Chris had died, and walked away.  And then I started my phone calls.  The park service is very small and if you know someone, they probably know someone.  When I talked to Mel, she well I'm going over my list of people I need to call.

The worst call I made last night was to Pheebs.  About a month ago, Pheebs lost some friends to murder.  And I felt that she needed to hear this tragic news from a person and not facebook.  Luckily the call went better than I expected.  But nonetheless, making those calls are terrible.

The park service has had a terrible last couple of months if not last terrible 12 months.  Park rangers throughout the nation have taken their last heartbeat.  And the crazy thing is that most of them are dying from normal day occurrences, heart attacks, diseases, and in the case Chris the unknown.

Rest in peace Chris, give Gar-bear a huge hug for me, and enjoy the afterlife with him.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What We Remember

I find that it is amazing what we remember as we grow older.  What is the earliest memory you have? What age? If you read this blog, you have to comment.  You should be able to do it anonymously.  

Anyway, my earliest memory was when I was three years old.  This is what I remember...I went in to show my mom something I drew or colored or something and she was crying.  Then I remember my brother Mike and sister Lisa taking her outside to a car.  And then I remember my dad, who was wearing blue tennis shorts and a tennis shirt, telling me on the golf course by the oleanders that god had taken my mom and she wasn't coming back.  The one thing that I don't remember was that in between the hospital and death, my mom came home.  

Ok, that isn't a great memory, but I have a lot more random memories that I wonder why I remember them...I guess in some ways some made a mark on me, but others I find that were just odd to remember.  Why do we remember so much information that isn't at all important to our lives...

I remember in first grade Michael giving me a thumb monster.  I remember exactly what it looked like.  In third grade I remember finding the missing snail under the table lip only because I grabbed it in the hopes that I wouldn't fall as I was tipping in my chair.  I remember, gagging, Mrs. Crews sneezing into her hand and then sucking it back into her mouth.  I happened to be sitting in the first row for that one.  In junior high, I remember Mrs. McCormick and Mrs. Monteen calling me into the library in the hopes of straightening me up.  I think the next week Mr. Olmstead called me into his office and called us Motley Crue.  I remember Mrs. Ball actually calling us that when they called him in the teacher's lounge.  I remember when Jill was being pushed in the wheelchair a little too fast and ate shit.  I remember Mr. Wilson talking about his father for some reason and crying during class.  I also remember him throwing an eraser at the kid behind me, but hitting my desk instead.  I remember people hiring a belly dancer for Mr. Mullaly's summer school class.  And there are many other random school memories.  But for the life of me I can't remember that kid in my home-ec class that should crack an egg with one hand.  I can see his face, but can't remember his name---anyone?  But why.  I mean some are life changing, but no offense Jill--why the hell do I remember when you ate it in the wheelchair?

And the reason I am writing this post is because when I was young, my sister Amy and I traveled back to Iowa.  That is where we were born and we still relatives back there.  Since Amy lived until her teenage years there, she also kept in touch with  friends who still lived there.  We went and stayed or at least visited her friend Liz.   It was summer time and Liz was living in this dorm at the University of Iowa.  My sister Amy said that it was possibly a fraternity.  But I remember the place so perfectly.  I mean I can see how the first floor was.  But what I remember most is the coke machine.  May be this is where my addiction to coke cola came from.  The machine dispensed bottles.  As Amy and Liz went out that night I think I might have conned whoever they left me with into purchasing me one after another.  I thought they were so cool.  But I remember it so perfectly like it was yesterday. this is liz:

I remember weird things that should have no bearing on me living my life to any extent.  For instance, why is it that I remember the time Amy's friend Wayne babysat me.  Is it because I remember that his dog had puppies.  Did one bite me?  I just don't know why that one memory would stick in my mind so perfectly.  I remember the time that Michelle and I were having a rock fight with the neighbors and they hit her in the head.  They thought we had poured ketchup on her head.  I remember the time that Michelle, Joe, and I destroyed the fort at Rocky Ridge in Tahoe.  Some of the growing up things especially with the Stamm family will always stick with me since I've known them since I was three.  

I understand why some memories are there---the moments I remember about teachers make perfect sense to me.  Because they were some how shaping my life.  And surprisingly somehow for the better I think.  But sometimes when I remember a random memory, I think why in the heck do I remember that moment in my life so damn well.  Why do I remember that dorm in Iowa like it was just last summer?