Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It's my obituary and I'll cry if I want to

It's 4:30 in the morning and I've been running some ideas for this week's piece through my head. I just realized it was shaping up as something of a companion piece to last week's where I mentioned things I didn't want to have to write about.

Now I'm moving through my mind ideas that I DO NOT want to see in my obituary. Oh. Feel free to enter your outrage here. Go ahead. Take a few minutes. “What kind of pompous ass thinks we'd even care.” “Controlling to the end, huh Arnold?” “Are you TRYING to make people feel uncomfortable, or is that just a side effect of your free range ego?”

OK. My turn. First off, it's now 5 am. You really think this is the time of night when fairy dust fills the air and you just have to walk through said mist to pick up a positive thought?!?! After two years-plus of dealing with my health, my cancer continues to be taking a beating. Yay! After over a year, my stomach problems have me right back where I was when the issue started, over a year ago. Boo!

The latest anti-nausea medicine I was given has been pretty effective at it's given task. My general crappy feeling has diminished some, but it has been replaced by an overwhelming anxiety and difficulty sleeping that takes me back to the early days, early morning hours, of having cancer, where I was thinking about copying over “War and Peace” in pencil just to reduce the amount of excess energy that was whanging against the inside of my head.

So, here I am in my pjs, if you can call sweat pants and sweat shirt pjs, thinking about my funeral... again. It is probably getting harder and harder to convince you that this is not a negative run of thoughts. But it's not. We don't lie to each other, remember. It's just how my mind works and what, frankly, makes me laugh. Ha! Ha??

First off, he said maybe getting to the point, if you write about/speak of me after I'm... you know... “gone,” please don't refer to his “brave fight,” “courageous battle” or like that.

Wait a minute. You know what... Do/Say what you want. It's very poor form, as we used to say in the snooty school I went to in Scotland, to be telling you what to do... ever, even about my own... you know.

But, here's the thing. I don't want people to say things like that because, simply put, they aren't true. There's nothing brave or courageous in what I'm doing. I'm just picking and scratching and thanking God every day for putting the former Sheri Martin (not her real name when I met her. Well, Sheri was, though, officially, it was Cheryl. She did later change it to Sheri, legally. It was never Martin, though. And as long as we seem to be off the point again... When you get married for a second, or subsequent time, and take your spouse's surname, are you still technically giving up your maiden name? It seems unlikely, right? Oh how my mind does wander...) in my life to fight along with me.

Back to the postmortem ...Don't put anything about being a great husband. Right now, I'm doing a pretty good job, I think, but I doubt that my first wife would say how great I was.

I'm an okay dad. Maybe a bit better than okay, but just a bit. I love my kids, including step kids Jason and Kristie. (I hate the term step kids, by the way. It makes them sound like less than. Truth is, they just haven't been my kids for as long; but it doesn't change how much love I have for them.)

I'm a horrible grandfather. Horrible. You think I'm overstating it? Ask me how old they are? I have to add -ish to the number of years... eight-ish, 14-ish and so on. I do have a firm grasp on the date of three of their birthdays. But unlike horseshoes and hand grenades, I don't think close enough on the number of grandkids or their birthdays is a qualifier when it comes to grandpas being great. At least on most days I remember their names. Again, “most days” doesn't seem like enough for greatness.

When we get to the part about “Survived by,” we face a situation that is easy for me to write but probably hard for most of you to either understand or accept. My sister and I don't really care much about each other. Notice I said about, not for. We don't. My sister has her life and I have mine. I wasn't even going to let her know I was sick, because I knew she didn't really want to hear it, but a second cousin of mine insisted, saying she would let her know if I didn't. Which would have been fine, but I didn't want to put the cousin in that spot.

So, I let her know and the result was as I expected. A lot of hand wringing followed by nothing for over six months followed by a “That's nice” when we discussed how well the transplant had gone.

Please don't feel compelled to convince me that that isn't true, that she just has a hard way of expressing her emotions. She loves her family to pieces and I just don't happen to be a part of it, except by blood. The same for me. You've seen how much love I have in my heart. Let me be clear, though. I don't dislike my sister; I certainly don't hate her. I just don't care about her or her life. Hard to understand? Sorry. It is made easier, I guess, with us living about 500 miles apart.

Still, let me close with a more typical Arnold observation, though still obit related: I was born in Scotland, and lived there for my first 14 years. I'm very proud of being Scottish and was, even before “Braveheart” made everybody burst with pride about being, or even knowing someone, Scottish. Loved the movie, used some of the music in our wedding, but... watching that movie and believing you know something about William Wallace is like watching “Robin Hood” and saying you have an understanding of the English feudal system. Just sayin'

There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere