Stories Live On In All Of Us

…and its Sunday. As everyone crouches in their basement, waiting for the Coronavirus to pass by their house as if this were the times of Exodus, I went out and got a cup of coffee at my local Starbucks. No line. Apparently the Christian faithful don’t hit the Starbucks around here before they fill the church pews. And yes, I do partake at the giant coffee box company – particularly when my Keurig is hidden in a mountain of cardboard in the garage. But such is life. We improvise where we have to. 🙂

#CoronaPanic

Oh? The Coronavirus thing? Easy. Wash your hands. Don’t pick your nose. Don’t pick your friend’s nose. And if you are displaying symptoms, either self-quarantine yourself or go to the hospital to get tested. Above all, DON’T PANIC. Doing so will only scare the shit out of your fellow human beings…and make things worse. Really, that’s all I’ve got. Hope you weren’t expecting more.

The Coming Days

For me, the coming days are filled with memories of the end of life, particularly for three people. Monday will mark the passing of my father. Wednesday will mark the passing of a very dear friend, Pam “Kid” Harris. Thursday will mark the untimely death of one of my “heroes”, Randy Rhoads.

Yes, I spend a lot of time reading – even when I go to the beach

Each of these three had major influences on my life. Of the three, the only one I never knew face-to-face was Rhoads. Randy’s death happened in Leesville, Florida from a plane crash. I remember reading about his death in the local paper in Shreveport. A founding member of Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band, Randy’s style of playing inspired much of the coming metal and hard rock scene – even into today. The band had played in Shreveport a few weeks earlier, but I was unable to go due to work constraints (I worked twenty-five hours a week stocking shelves and unloading a truck when I was a Junior and Senior in high school). I would have missed the article, if my father had not sneered at me and noted that some “druggie” musician had died. My father was never found of my musical tastes, which were far away from his 1950s country music tastes. As much as I had never met Rhoads, his musical styling was magick for me – and remains as such to this day.

Of the trio I have mentioned, my father’s death was next. I was informed of his death while I was at my first OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering. My mother had passed away six months to the day prior to my father. While her death was an expected one, his was a complete shock. I was never really close to my father. His bond with my sister was far tighter and much more sincere. She shared his ultra-conservative values, which probably helped tighten that bond. My mostly liberal perspective, along with my attitude of rebellion, probably helped spread the distance between the two of us. When my mother suffered through major dementia over the last three years of my life, my father and I attempted to rebuild our relationship. While it was a little stronger than before, the deep strains and chasms between our ways of thinking were nearly impossible to bridge completely. Most of our phone discussions were about our mutual health conditions of diabetes and high blood pressure – and the manners in which our respective physicians were treating each of us. According to the coroner, my father had died of a massive heart attack, most likely as he stood up from the table while having breakfast. His morning medications, along with his diabetes log, were set at the table – as he always diligently did each morning.

Pam was a true friend. We disagree on nearly every topic you could think of. A devout Christian, as a lesbian she was considered a social outcast just as I was as a Pagan. We met in a programming class, where Professor Richard Robins was teaching Pascal Programming. By the end of the third week of class, I had already worked my way through the entire book, and started helping other students to understand the language. Pam was one of the more difficult folks to get to understand the concepts. her brain was never wired for the abstract concepts that programming really requires of its acolytes. However, she understood the concepts of Psychology, a class we took together. We sat up front in that class – exactly in front of the desk, where Professor Todaro liked to sit and lecture. After class, the two of us would stay and talk with Todaro from time to time, getting her perspective on various related topics to materials. It was Pam who persuaded the college Library to hire me for their Internet Lab, a place where I flourished in helping students find research materials for their papers. When things were slow in the lab, I would walk the second floor of the library straightening things up and putting materials back where they belonged….an action that endeared me to the rest of the library staff. Pam, a big Houston Astros fan, would often invite me to her house to watch her team play against my team, the Cincinnati Reds. We had fun ribbing each other over our teams’ various mistakes. When I left college, one term from graduating, to work full-time in Dallas – we lost touch with one another. I found out about her death from one of my classmates from the Pascal programming classes, who has gone on to become the Registrar at the college.

As I sit here listening to Queensryche’s “Operation: Mindcrime” while typing all of this, I am reminded that excellent storytelling in the vein of this album is a manner in which the memories of those who go beyond the veil continue to be alive. Randy continues on with the music that was recorded. he lives with every song with his playing on it comes through a set of speakers. My dad continues to live on – not just in my memories, but the memories of other family members, and the memories of his friends and coworkers. Kid continues to live on in the memories of those of us who knew her, interacted with her – both frequently and infrequently. Her huge, loving heart is never forgotten.

So I’ll challenge you a bit…look around you. Think of all the people you interact with, frequently and infrequently. If they passed, what would you remember about them? If you passed, what would you hope that they remember about you? If you are unsure if they would remember you in that vein – do something about it…. #JustSayin’ Stories live on in us….

–T /|\

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