Posts Tagged ‘ death ’

Crowdsourcing My Own Biography

I have a favor to ask of you.  I want you to write something about me.  It could be anything — a memory of me, an experience weImage shared together, a relationship we have had and maintained, a relationship we had and left off, a first impression you remember about me, an overall impression of me that you have…it can be anything.  It can be good, bad, or indifferent.  I want it to be anything that you think my family, friends, or the rest of the world would want to know about me.  

Here’s the thing:  I will never know what you write.  

Every single thing that you write will be sent to a third party who is sworn to keep it sealed and locked away until my death.  Let me give you a bit of the backstory.

Since high school, my dear friend @thehandsomeweasel and I have looked ahead excitedly in anticipation of what our futures might hold.  You know — all of those “firsts” that you just can’t wait to experience, some of the “firsts” you never wanted…we approached everything new as an adventure, really livin’. However, for all of the late night political and philosophical discussions we’ve had, we are still both keenly aware of the fact that, at some point, both of our lives will come to an end.  

I have been an avid journaler for nearly 17 years now (as this link will further explain), and Weasel and I arrived at an agreement one day over beers, at least a decade ago:  If I kick the bucket first, all of my journals will be sent to him, at which point he’ll go through them, pick out some of the passages I’ve written that are really characteristic of “me,” and put them together in a book of some kind, to be given to family and friends who would want to learn a little something about me they maybe didn’t know before.  I hope to provide guidance (or cautionary tales) to my own sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, even after I’m gone.  Afterward, my tomes will be sent back to my wife, who I hope will keep them in good stead.  If Weasel pushes up daisies first, I’ll be happy to perform that same service for him, should he request it of me.  

Some whom I’ve mentioned this idea to have asked with a smirk, “What makes you so sure your wife won’t go first?”  I usually reply by mentioning that my grandparents all lived to between 67 and 77, if memory serves me, whereas Alli’s family has longevity on their side.  Her grandmother passed away a couple of months ago at 93 (I think), and her grandfather is still around and kicking at 95.  I’m fairly certain that, unfortunately, she’s going to have some time to herself.  

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The Life And Times Of Gufferson Q Grana

The entire point of this exercise is to take all of the (probably thousands by now) of pages that I’ve written and will write, and distill my life on paper down into something a little more palatable for everyone I care about to read when I’m gone.  It sounds morbid, but it’s not. I want to be remembered for something significant to those I love just like anyone else, and I figure that my journals will do that for my wife and kids (if we have any), as well as for family and friends.  (I wish my Dad had been even an “armchair” writer…there was so much locked in his head that he took with him when he passed away that I’d give anything to hear him talk about now.)  And you are about to contribute to that goal in a really meaningful way.  

So please, do this for me.  Right now.  Take a second to try and remember what you know about me.  What you like(d) about me, what you don’t (or didn’t) like, something great I did, something sh*tty I did, something I did or said to affect you…it doesn’t matter to me, I just want it to be true and authentic so that all of you who survive me in the future can look back and really get a clear picture of who I was at various stages of my life.  Once you do this for me now, you’ll send it to my friend Weasel at kevinrmarten@gmail.com (that’s Kevin R Marten @ gmail.comdon’t forget the middle R).  He will take what you send him and sock it away for later compilation.  Also, don’t forget to include your name, your relationship to me, when you knew me, how old we were when we experienced whatever you are sending him, etc.  Details like those will help make it so that you will have real ownership in the shaping of whatever my legacy turns out to be, as those details will be included in the final compilation of my biography.  When you shoot the email, be sure to put “Project SunshineBoy” in the title line, and he will know that you are sending him something related to this project.  (SunshineBoy was a nickname my Dad gave me when I was a kid, supposedly because I smiled all the time.)  Remember, I’ll never read what you write, so don’t be shy.

Also, don’t be shy about this project of mine, either.  Share this on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and whatever else is out there now.  Forward this post on to anyone you know who knows (or knew) me.  The more help I get from you, the more fulfilling it will be to read in the future, long after you’ve forgotten you did it.  It’s free, takes only a couple of minutes of your time, and really could turn out to be something wonderful because of your participation.  

Thanks in advance, and have a great week!!

Winter’s Doldrums…

I used to think that Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) was a bunch of excuses for why lazy, whiny people aren’t happy during the winter.  I’m sure there are all kinds of studies which make SAD a legitimate condition–a lack of sunlight produces a lack of Vitamin D which somehow affects the dopamine levels in your head, for example–but my goal here is not to prove or disprove it.  I know exactly what causes my irritability and frustration levels to go up, and my patience level to go down, each year around this time.  I’m working to change these factors (or cope with them), but here it is.

My Dad’s been gone for a couple of years now, and it still hurts during this time of the year–his birthday is November 28th.  He would have been 68 in a few days here.  As it gets colder and greyer out each year around this time, I am constantly reminded that his birthday is in November, he won’t be there at Christmas in December, and he passed away in January (the 8th).  This part of the year more or less sucks for me (and my siblings and Mom), and that’s why.

There are other things that happen each year that don’t help things much–like rarely being able to make it home for Thanksgiving, and always having to beg, borrow, and steal for time off from work around Christmas–but these are things that will change as my career changes, at least.  This year, I’m merely frustrated at our financial situation because we can’t sustain taking two weeks off around the holidays to be with family (who can, these days?)…that time is so precious to us that it is Christmas gift enough just to give our families a hug in person.  But again, I have hope that my efforts this year will change that for next year.  It’s one thing to lack money, but another entirely to lack optimism. 

I guess it’s mere coincidence that Dad’s months of birth and death make a sandwich with Christmas, but it’s why SAD is true for me, at least.  I know that all of you have painful anniversaries and memories that are tied to the calendar in some way, and it occurs to me that SAD is a real thing, no matter what time of year it happens to you.  When is your SAD season?  I appreciate you listening to me, and if you decide to share, I promise to listen to you.

First Everything Without Dad

My Dad passed away in January of this year.  To say “it was difficult to deal with” would be to assume that I was done with it–I tried to be strong for my siblings and my Mom (I think I failed), and I gave a little speech at his funeral (which went over well)–but lately, things have been getting to me.  I can’t speak for those of you who have lost both parents, or siblings, or your closest friends, but for me at the age of 29, my Dad’s passing has taught me a lot as the time has gone on.

I am sure you’ve been steeled against all of the pitfalls of losing a parent/sibling/friend, and you’ve held it in and sucked it up as long as you can.  For me,  I gave everyone huge hugs at the wake, sucked it up at the funeral, accepted peoples’ condolences as honestly as I could…and got home, happy to have it all over with.  Then, three months later, while I was watching the end of “Marley & Me,” I lost my  mind on the shoulder of my best friend (my wife, in this case).  I have developed the belief that the amount of emotions inside of you is finite–it’s not up to you how (or at what time) they come out.  If your Dad passes away and you “suck it up” for all of that time, some time later, you will have it come out in a flood at the end of a completely innocuous movie about a dog, or a chick-flick break-up, or a country-music video, or whatever else happens to trip your trigger.  Whatever the release is, at some point, it will find its way out.

He won’t meet my first-born child, or my first dog…I count my blessings he met my (now) wife.  There are so many things he won’t see, which is frustrating for me because I spent so many years of my youth not caring enough to do things that would make him proud (I felt I couldn’t).  My, how that time goes by…

I make sure to compliment my wife every time she makes or does something for me; we go out and throw the baseball around, and I even make or set up all of the things in the house that need a handyman.  I tell you what, I do that for her and I am using my own learned skills, but I am still channelling my Dad.  He was “the man” at all of those things.

If there’s one thing you can do, it’s to take another look at your relationship with your parents and siblings.  Everyone has their own definition, of course, but even if they are the people you have the absolute least in common with, trust me, you will miss them when you can no longer have access to them.

I know that Fathers’ Day is this June 19th, and the thing is, even after you become a father yourself, you will still remember your own Dad.  If he’s still alive, give thanks for it.  If not, know that he is probably watching over you.  Either way, the memories he’s given you just can’t be replaced–so enjoy the good ones while you can.

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