DAMN! THE PAST—AGAIN!!!

Yesterday, I broke my own rule by indulging in a little memory lane traipsing.  I don’t normally do this as I stubbornly cling to a self imposed ethos that demands attention be paid to what’s ahead in lieu of what can’t be rewritten.

I’m not Gatsby: I leave the past to sociologists, historians and novelists (chuckle).

What's this? A novel?
What’s this? A novel?

The last bit about novelists is probably why I fell off the wagon. That, or a certain nagging sentimentality that’s been trying to get into my psyche since hitting the half century back in March.

madmen

NixonThe first thing I did was opine on Face Book and Twitter about the end of Mad Paul LyndeMen and of how much this incredibly stylish show impacted me. Not to contradict myself: it wasn’t the style…or the odd nomenclature of the culture…or the social ambiguities that we, today, find so astonishing, that grabbed me, but the realization that I was actually born to that era. Let’s be clear, I was a kid, but I did have eyes and ears. I grew up watching Nixon defend the war (his broadcasts always interrupted the Paul Lynde

show, which irritated me to no end) and my country’s enigmatic, larger than life Prime Minister Pierre PETTrudeau rage against the pequiste separatist movement in Quebec. Heck, I remember the lunar landing in 1969 if only for the fact that I watched it in my grandmother’s living room against a background sound and aroma of sizzling German doughnuts—kreppels—boiling up in the big pot on her kitchen stove.

It was a good time…for me at least.

DAD

Dad

Watching Don Draper twist and turn on the AMC show week after week, I wondered if grownups had it as rough as portrayed. I don’t mean the men and women who went to war—war’s awful at all times—or the marchers who put their lives at risk for something as basic and necessary as human rights equality; I mean the regular civvies born between the wars who’d made it and got the picket fence.

I wouldn’t know. I was born to that fence. But I was also born to plug in the wall record players, pellet guns with real pellets and neighborhood bullies who preyed on the small, awkward and buck toothed because it was expected and they could. I got my revenge: bully lived in a white clapboard house and there was no shortage of crab apples on crab apple trees to pelt his house with…and also, I had a big brother who gladly dispatched anyone who got in my face—you could do that back then.  My dignity was rescued from crass stupidity.

You could do a lot of things back then. Watching the Joan Harris character on Mad Men cope with sexism and exclusion reminded me of a time in the distant Eighties when grown men made sucking noises when pretty girls walked by. That I was fifteen —and obviously so— didn’t seem to bother them, but it sure as hell bothered me. I’m glad that’s gone, and I’m glad I won’t be reminded of it every Sunday night.

Bidding adieu to Mad Men took me to another place I hadn’t been for many years: 1979, a great year for many reasons—my braces came off, my disco moves were rad, I smoked my first cigarette and fell in love with Robert De Niro. Gritty realism in cinema had been de facto since Clute, but nothing prepared me for the august beauty and sheer power of The Deer Hunter. Released just four years after the war and probably meant to compete with Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (which I also liked) there was something about the nuanced performances in Deer Hunter that kept me watching and rewatching for many years. The set pieces, the dialogue, the unconventional “real people” look of the actors sharpened my senses to everything around me. Appreciate your time it seemed to say, because it doesn’t last. The future takes it away.

deer hunter cast

I know the ending where the mourners gather in the bar after a major character funeral and sing God Bless America was seen as a controversial move by some. I didn’t feel that. Not the first time I saw it, or indeed yesterday when I viewed it again. It reminded me that I always need something to believe in and as long as I have that, I’ll be able to press on, hopefully with great joy.

If the future steals the past, does the present arm us for that unseen thing in front of us?

That’s another discussion for another day.

In the meantime, I will focus on what needs doing: there are weeds to be pulled out back, and a sleepy old cat that needs his lunch; the truck tires could use some air and…

What? David Letterman’s last show is tonight???

I have history with that show.

I think I’ll watch Kimmel.

Adult, unapologetic and cognizant, I am

A.B. Funkhauser

Let’s stay above it.

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SPECIAL PROMOTION: BERNARD FOONG

initiationSo excited for my besty Bernard Foong. Not only is his agent shopping a screen play but he has a number of promotions coming up to highlight his amazing work. Good for him and good for me:  opening up my email and finding his words is reward aplenty:

“Hi A.B.,

“Glad to hear from you and that spring has sprung in your neck of the woods. I’m well and the weather is always pleasant in Hawaii. Never a ‘dull’ day. Lol!
“Meantime, for the blog, if you could include the special announcements listed below, I’d be very grateful…
* May 8th – Friday : the final sales promotion day for A Harem Boy’s Saga – book I – INITIATION. The book is at US$4.99 from the normal $5.99. This is a one day sale.
* A Harem Boy’s Saga – Book II – UNBRIDLED special sales promotion announcement;
Unbridled:
Increment Duration Price % Discount
1 May 25, 2015 at 12:00 AM (PST) 24h $0.99 84%
2 May 26, 2015 at 12:00 AM (PST) 24h $1.99 67%
3 May 27, 2015 at 12:00 AM (PST) 24h $2.99 51%
4 May 28, 2015 at 12:00 AM (PST) 24h $3.99 34%
5 May 29, 2015 at 12:00 AM (PST) 24h $4.99 17%
End May 30, 2015 at 12:00 AM (PST) Original list price $5.99
unbridledThat will be great if you can give this special promo a shout-out. Other than that – the other special announcement is:
* The screenplay TV Pilot for A Harem Boy’s Saga – I – INITIATION; a memoir by Young is currently scouting for potential film/television companies/producers by Gilbert Literary Agency. 
Interested parties please contact:
 
hawkspurrproductions@gmail.com

www.gilbertliteraryagency.com

or
Bernard Foong (Young)
Thanks A,B.,
Aloha & Mahalo!

REMEMBERING HER FATHER, AUTHOR VICKI-ANN BUSH

author photo

I wrote this nearly two years ago. I had hoped the pain, anger and anguish would diminish a bit … It hasn’t. Since my Dad’s passing, I have spoken with many other family members whose loved ones were wrongly treated by the VA. Pacified with medication and sent off to die. I tried to do something after his passing to bring the VA accountable, but it seems they are protected …

The reason I am re-sharing my Dads story is that hopefully if someone out there is going through similar circumstances, they read this and know to get help. A second opinion outside the confines of the VA. It could save their life.

— Vicki-Ann Bush

Dad wanted to come home and my brother and me were determined that he would. We discussed and made the arrangements with the doctors for hospice at home. The doctor couldn’t give us too much time because once they stopped the heavy duty meds, things would start to fail more quickly. Everyone at Sunrise Hospital and at the hospice, worked together to get Dad home. And on Friday May 10, 2013, he did. Mom had them set up the hospital bed in the living room and Dad had a day filled with all his family and close friends. He got to see his great grand daughter, Olive, whom he had missed terribly the past six weeks he was in the hospital. He got to sing happy birthday to his grand daughter, Stevie, and ate lemon Italian ice, his favorite, that his niece Sarah brought to him. Mom got to sit next to him and watch their show on television, NCIS and talk to him about having to eat so he could get better…we’re Italian, food heals all. He was surrounded with love like no other and the kind of love that every person alive should be fortunate enough to experience. But we were merely a reflection of him. Of the life he lived, the choices he made and the love he gave to all of us.

V__C3FF

By night fall he had begun to experience pain. With each half hour it seemed to grow, until the meds the doctor had ordered earlier arrived. We gave him his first dose and it seemed to make him more comfortable but a few hours later the pain came back again and at one point when I was stroking Dad’s forehead, he told me he had wanted to die. Before long it was time to give him his second dose and instead of the first lesser dose, we read the instructions and gave him the second medium strength hoping it would last longer and he would sleep through the night.

I stayed with mom that night and periodically would get up and go check on Dad. She had insisted on sleeping on the couch next to him, instead of on their bed. The medicine seemed to work because he slept through the night.

I got up around seven and poured a cup of coffee. Mom was still sleeping on the couch beside Dad and they both looked so peaceful. I was happy that he was able to get through the night with no pain. A few minutes later mom woke up and remarked that we must of worn him out from the day before. I just smiled and nodded. As we sat and had coffee, it became eight, then nine and then ten in the morning. At this point it was clear…Dad wasn’t waking up. The family came and spent the day by his side, telling him how much he was loved and that we understood it was time for him to go and it was okay. We promised to take care of each other and mom and that he didn’t have to worry…we would carry through for him.

A little after two, we said our final good byes to the most loving, good man, that I had ever known. But we were very fortunate as a family. We got to say everything we wanted to and Dad got to tell us how much he loved all of us…something he managed to tell us the whole day on Friday. We had no unfinished business, no words unspoken. We had one day…one full day to spend with our father, husband, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, brother and friend, and we and he lived it…every minute.

I mourn the loss of my Dad everyday. I cry and laugh when I think of a lifetime of memories and yet they don’t seem to be enough. I can’t help but feel anger for those doctors at the VA who saw those test results and did nothing. Wait let me correct myself…they did do something. They patched him together long enough for him to spend six weeks in the hospital and one day at home. I know as time passes, so will my anger. But the paralyzing feeling that we can’t do anything for the next vet or their family makes me sick inside. My Dad believed that because he served his country, went to war and defended our freedom that those doctors would do the same for him…they didn’t and they don’t. How many other men and woman get pushed through and patched up? How many other families heartache can be prevented? Why is the level of care you receive judged by the wad of money in your pocket? Shouldn’t those who risk everything have as much preference as those who risk a bad day at the office? I have the questions…but not the answers.

Dad is gone and I will never be able to hug him or kiss him on the cheek hello again. I do believe I will see him again one day, but not like this…not like this life. I will live the rest of my life with a remembrance of how his voice sounded when he called me angel or baby, how his arms felt hugging me when I went to visit or how his face smelled because he had just finished shaving. My mom will go through life without her best friend by her side to watch NCIS, eat frozen pizza and massage her aching legs and my brother…my brother lost his buddy, his ear to listen too and his jokes to laugh with. And the VA medical care goes on…day to day in a never ending loop of fantasy. Because isn’t that what it’s called, when someone pretends?

I love you daddy…forever and always.

Thank you Vicki-Ann. I can’t offer words because nothing I say will ease the pain. Instead, there is friendship and there is time.

Bless.

ABF