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Bloviating Zeppelin: Sunday Ruminations

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Ruminations

My parents' gravesite.

The house, for sale then and now sold where, for 60+ years, my family existed. It runs in our veins, it seems larger than life. And it will soon be forbidden to visit. I freely admit: I am having a very, very difficult time handling that aspect. This house will no longer be mine to visit or claim. At best, in the future, I could drive by. But what once was so familiar, what was once so comforting, was once so assumed -- will soon be occupied by Strangers. Strangers. Do you understand? Can they understand? Every memory I have of growing up -- I have it THERE.

I gave my parents a kitten from a cat I owned when I was first married, in 1982. They named their cat Scooter. Though I customarily got along famously with any and all cats, that cat hated my ass and I hated it back as well. It would never relinquish any opportunity to scratch me, and I never relinquished a chance to kick it or slap it. This mat still exists on the front of my parents' house, but only for a few more days.

They loved their cats. They had Pixie, a Lynx Point mix -- and my mother won the 1964 award for Best Household Pet at the Sacramento Cat Fanciers Association -- and a trophy -- behind Pixie. Who was then killed a short time later by a local Labrador Retriever named Pat whom I vowed to kill by meat tainted with rat poison. It barked and barked and barked. It later died.

When Scooter died, my father vowed he would never have another cat. He said it was because the cat was a pain-in-the-ass. In truth, it was because he loved the cat too much and didn't want to experience more death. He'd had enough. He'd invested too much of himself in an animal and he found that issue too painful. I could never convince him otherwise. He rumbled around in his house, after my mother's passing on May 14th of 2002, entirely alone. By his own choosing. I could never convince him otherwise.

Last week, the Estate Sellers entered my life. I don't blame them; they have a job to do and they do it wonderfully, precisely, considerably, professionally, tactfully, sensitively. They are and have been eminently wonderful. Here is the dispassionate photo of a sellers table displayed in MY living room in MY house. My first gut response: GET THE FUCK OUT. YOU DON'T BELONG HERE. Your PRESENCE is an abomination! But then I had to remember: not my house. Not for much longer. Calm the hell down.

It is my job to get over the transition of my family's house to another's house. But I will be the first to admit that this transition, amongst other familial issues, is keeping me up nights. I've not been sleeping much for the past few months, since February 11th.

Most days I purposely try to avoid specific thinking. I try to embrace uninvolved problems, issues, pursuits, tasks.

But at night, when the sun recedes, I am not so quite effective. I may wake at 2 or 3 am, then try not to disturb my wife. But my mind refuses to shut down, and still refuses. At night. In the dark. When it may wander where it does and is not so otherwise occupied.

I am old. I am rather old. And this should not, theoretically, shatter nor disturb my advanced world. But it still manages to do so, to my very own personal and sighing chagrin.

Here is my father's car in front of my cabin, last night. I will have to sell this car. It's a great car with few miles but that's not the point. It's another issue and aspect with which I must deal and put aside. I just want to drive it and remember.

I have boxes and boxes and boxes of my parents' items in my house. I don't have a garage so these boxes are littered all over my first floor. I will be eliminating some of my very own possessions so that I can accommodate theirs.

But I keep asking and postulating: shouldn't I just give it all up? After all, they're just things?

And more importantly, this question: what is the true cost of memories?



Blogger Z said...

BZ, wow, do you describe this whole situation and your feelings so well. It really touched me and feels so familiar in lots of ways.
A house is a part of the family, this is yet another death, isn't it.
I hope you keep that kitty doormat.....
Other than that, you've got me speechless. xxxx

Sat May 16, 09:13:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Thank you Z.


Sat May 16, 09:18:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

You are so pointed, Z.

It IS like another death.


Sat May 16, 09:18:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Shanksow said...

I know what you are going through. I have posted some similar things on my own blog if you would like to take a look at them BZ.


"Rotten Year"(

"First night" (

Sat May 16, 10:10:00 PM PDT  
Blogger JINGOIST said...

Oh dude my heart goes out to you. VERY well written! I have a situation somewhat similar to yours. My parents are still kicking--not very hard--and they have a big old house FULL of furniture and things I grew up with. Some it is gorgeous old antiques that are worth a fortune. I don't know WHAT I'll do with that stuff when they're gone...

Sun May 17, 04:32:00 AM PDT  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

You live with your memories and honor your father and mother as best you can: their faith, hope and goodness are vested in you. Your job is to take the best they gave you and live up to it, and beyond it to their full expectations - honor them and uphold their values even if they faltered in them.

I kept little from my father - two chairs, a table, a curio cabinet rescued in the 30's from the trash, a sliderule, a small pocket of drafting tools, a tri-ruler. These were not his best works, which other family members have, which he would put his workbench and tool systems in that category. Those are with my sister and brother.

While I disagreed with my fathers politics, his work ethic I never abridged and understand it far more as the years go on. I do not have his skills, but my own and even those I will never have the level he had in them.

And he said the same of his grand-father, that he would never have the depth of skills but that he would use his own as best he had.

He gave me the gift of reason and to apply it, and I do in all cases: those that use unreason do not look at what they work with and so come to no conclusion, no end, and only cause themselves suffering. I do not suffer as my father taught me well and I abide further than even he did in that realm, yet honor his hard work to give that gift to me.

In life I loved him and he knew of that. In death I grieved his passing. In memory I use his gifts in the way he would want me to, never matching in some, exceeding in others, and his memory lives by my works.

I do think that is what he would have asked for me if he knew his time was short: he did not and never gave any a farewell and words to live by. I do not do these things because I am bidden to do so. I do them because they are right and make me better than I would have been without him. Thus I lead my own life in my own way as I will, but I do honor my father, a good man and better man than I am. Thus I always have something to live up to... just as he did.

Sun May 17, 05:00:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Rivka said...

Obviously another great personal post! You need to write a book.

KEEP the kitty doormat! You must keep whatever means most to you.

If there are things that have bad memories attached pitch them, or nothing attached, pitch them.. Just keep the best ones.

Other than that, I am not where you are at so I can't really relate, but you are giving me direct insight into grief when one loses his parents and that it is kind of a good way to prepare those of us who haven't yet because it is coming.

Great post again BZ!!

Sun May 17, 05:27:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Having lost both my parents -- they died about 10 years apart -- I can understand on a personal level everything you said in this posting.

My situation is a bit different, however. My parents sold the house where I grew up some years before they died and bought another house. I've managed to hold onto that house as a rental property, but it doesn't hold the same memories for me. I did avoid having to deal with estate sellers. Dealing with them is difficult because all one's memories go on the auction block.

I may, one day, live in my parents' second home. But I'll never have the same emotional ties to that brick and mortar as I had to my parents' first home. I now have to settle for cherishing various items I brought here from my parents' home. The most treasured one (Hard to choose!) is the telephone table that Dad had custom-made: he cut the black walnut tree from "the old homeplace," milled the wood himself at his own sawmill, and had a local furniture maker design and make the table.

The house I grew up in was demolished a few years after my parents sold it. I drove out there and visited the site before the demolition company moved in. I cried. And I collected a few sizable rocks -- flint rocks which had been in my grandmother's rock garden. You see, the house in which I grew up was built by my father himself on land from "the old homeplace," as Dad called it.

I still occasionally drive by the site of what I'll always consider my real home -- never mind that office buildings now sit on the site. I do see some of the orignal trees, however. Those were trees I used to climb.

About that welcome mat, I have one exactly like it but terribly faded. One of my dear friends bought it for me years ago, so I can't bear to part with that worn mat now that she's gone.

Life is filled with cycles, many of them much more difficult that we often admit. The minutes before I fall asleep are still difficult as I recall all the losses of life.

BZ, thank you for this excellent post.

Sun May 17, 05:53:00 AM PDT  
Blogger shoprat said...

You have my total sympathy. My parents are still alive but circumstances are forcing a sale and it's just unbelievable.

Sun May 17, 06:13:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Thomas Lawrence said...

I can empathize with you BZ. We had to deal with similar circumstances in 2002 when my mother passed away (dad in 1994). Now most of the stuff is gone, but I've found peace in knowing that my parents still live through me...and in my heart. The memories are vivid and sweet.

When mom died she left behind a 16 year old cat that, like your parent's cat, hated me with an all enduring hate. I put off bringing the cat home, electing instead to go by the house twice dailey to care for her. At last, one day while I was working, my wife brought "Jenny" home. Almost instantly the cat warmed up to me. She would curl up beside me and immediately start purring. She lived happily with us for three years untill she died. I think the death of that cat was harder on me than giving up the house where I grew up.

Thanks for sharing this touching post.

Sun May 17, 06:14:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Z said...

What wonderful comments..wanted to come back and see who'd written and I wasn't disappointed..
My Dad died the afternoon after the doc had given him a clean bill of health that morning; just sighed and that was it. Mom was there alone with him, imagine?
When we got there to the house later, I saw the straw with which he'd been drinking his favorite strawberry ice cream soda. I have it in a jug in my kitchen. And his robe hangs in my closet. I realize now I haven't caressed it in a long time...that's good, I guess, since he's been gone 15 years.

I grieve for all of that...and I grieve for kids who don't have that nostalgic, forever-lasting love for their parents.

Sun May 17, 12:38:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Carlisleboy said...

Wow BZ! Only you can make me laugh, cry, and fondly remember...
Thanks, I needed that today!

Sun May 17, 06:45:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Law and Order Teacher said...

You have my sympathy. My dad's passing is really hard to believe sometimes. I think about him everyday and wait for the phone to ring and have him ask me a history or government question. I miss those calls. Realize that your parents live on in your heart and know they are with God and enjoying themselves immensely. Peace to you.

Sun May 17, 07:42:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Thanks folks. Cathartic.


Mon May 18, 06:23:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Like Z, I had to return to this posting. Such an excellent reflection!

Mon May 18, 07:18:00 AM PDT  
Blogger cary said...

BZ - memories are reinforced by the items that you can relate them to. I have three or four tubs of family history stacked here in the office, I still haven't gotten through them all.

My dresser is an old family piece that my Dad used for years while I was growing up, it's really the only thing I have of his.

Thanks for sharing, BZ. Going through these feelings with you is cathartic for some of us, too.

Mon May 18, 07:34:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Tim said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Mon May 18, 08:14:00 PM PDT  
Blogger ASM826 said...


I had something more personal to say, and linked to this post from my blog.


Tue May 19, 08:12:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Precious memories, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred past unfolds.

Precious memories, how they linger.
How they ever flood my soul.
In the stillness of the midnight,
precious, sacred scenes unfold.

Precious father, loving mother,
Fly across the lonesome years.
And old home-scenes of my childhood
In fond memory appear.

Precious memories, how they linger,
How they ever flood my soul.
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious memories flood my soul.

As I wander down life's pathways
I know not what the years may hold.
As I ponder, hope grows fonder,
And the sacred past unfolds.

Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul.
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious memories flood my soul.

(An old bluegrass tune, I don't know the author, but I love the words.)

Thu May 21, 11:48:00 PM PDT  
Blogger cary said...

For an audio, go here.

Thanks for the memories, Anonymous.

Fri May 22, 07:55:00 AM PDT  

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