ed_rex: Soccer (Soccer)

Back when I was a still a smoker, my father would regularly regale me with a litany of death in hopes of convincing me to give up the filthy weed. He was a journalist in the bad old days, starting in the 1950s, when booze and cigarettes, cigarettes, cigarettes were almost as mandatory as was the wearing of a fedora hat in the brim of which a card labelled PRESS was inserted.

And so it was that, around the time he turned 50, he started paying attention to the obituary columns. Former colleagues started dropping like flies, and almost always from heart attack or cancer.

And now it's started happening to me. Or rather, I'm observing the same phenomenon.

Not that most of the people I used to hang with are or were journalists, but the vast majority of the were smokers(and too many still are). In the past year or two I've learned of the following deaths: a cousin a couple of years my junior; Nik Beat, a long-time denizen of the indie writers' scene in Toronto; and Lura (no, not Laura!), a one-time friend and briefly a girl-friend. All within five years of my age, all dead of heart attacks.

I'll tell ya, nothin' says mortality like death, even at a distance.

And yet, life goes on. And so does coincidence.

Another death happened last week. Maureen Cassidy, whom I had known as a teenager better than most teenagers get to know the mothers of their friends (she and her husband Mike took me and another friend to see Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger once upon a time, not to mention giving me shelter for several weeks, among many other kindnesses), was preparing to head out to help out at Paul Dewar's campaign head-quarters the night of the election when she collapsed. It was a stroke and she died on Wednesday.

I learned of it via Facebook and another friend, who had similar memories of Maureen, will be coming up to Ottawa tomorrow for the visitation. I also reconnected with one of her sons on Facebook (we've been "friends" there for some years, but haven't really communicated much; you know how that goes).

But that's not the coincidence.

See, we've been having some maintenance issues at our apartment. In particular, and now a priority, with winter breathing down our necks, is our front door. It's warped and doesn't keep a lot of the cold air out; our vestibule is not at all far off the temperature on the far side of the door.

Anyway, CCOC's Maintenance Department has its issues and this morning I stopped into the office to make further inquiries as to the State of Repair. I was told that my last email had been forwarded up the line for a decision, but that That Guy was sick and maybe I'd hear something tomorrow. I made some frustrated but not-yelly noises and departed. I have the CEOs name and number in reserve and decided I would use it by Friday if Action Did Not Occur by then.

Image: Cover of The Dance of Lifey Death by Eddie Campbell. Click to buy at Amazon.ca
The Dance of Lifey Death, by Eddie Campbell. Click here to buy and support Young Geoffrey at the same time.

I guess my frustration got noticed. Because a half hour or so later, just as I got home, I got an email from the woman I'd been dealing with telling me she'd issued a work order and that a contractor should be calling me "soon".

I was in the middle of sending Raven a text reporting on that apparent success when my phone rang and the contractor himself asked for me.

"Speaking," I said, and he started to laugh, very unprofessionally. "You have a faulty door?" he asked, still laughing, and I said yes. "Geoff," he said, "I knew it was you! It's Ben, Ben Cassidy! I'm you're contractor!"

I was nonplussed to say the least. But pretty soon was offering condolences and then he asked if I would be around later on in the afternoon. I had the day off work and so, of course, I said yet. He came over later and we spent a couple of hours catching up on the last 15 or 20 years, sharing news of parents and siblings and kids and exes and ... well, you know. He even remembered, when he left (with his mother's ashes in his car; he's had one fuck of a roller-coaster of a week), to measure our door-frame so as to order a replacement for our damaged beyond repair number.

And of course I'll see him at the visitation tomorrow (if I can get off work) or at the celebration of life on Sunday (if I can't). And I rather suspect we'll get together in fact, not just in intention for a beer or six, sometimes soonish after that.

ed_rex: (Default)

I'm writing this entry (or at least, will have started it) at YOW, the Ottawa International Airport. I am not here to work but rather, to await the return of my sweetie, home soon after almost three weeks over-seas.

Three weeks: not an insignificant amount of time. Close enough to 6% of a year, if you want to put it in perspective.

And temporal perspective is something that's been hitting me a lot lately. More or less since I turned 50, come to think of it.

Unlike any previous milestone, this one gives me pause. I suspect the physical deteriorations of my parents, and a favourite aunt's early-stage dementia has something to do with it, but so to does the sheer extent of my own existence.

To put it another way: If three weeks is not an insignificant length of time, than 50 years is a fuck-load of it.

It's not just a lot of time in terms of a human life. Think about it. The first half of the 20th centure — 50 years — saw not one but two World Wars and a Great Depression, not to mention the widespread adoption of technologies like the automobile, the airplane and the televison, but also the invention of entirely new art forms: film, comics, jazz, rock-and-roll.

My own half-century is even more spectacular. Space-flight. Computers. The internet. Fifty years ago, homosexual acts were criminal acts, and a husband could not, in law, rape his wife.

All of which is to say: though I don't feel old (or even, much older), I've rather suddenly become all to aware of the passage of my time. Of goals and dreams unacomplished, of mistakes made. Of the sudden tangible reality of my own mortality.

I have become aware of death in a way I never was before. Or rather, of my death.

It's not that I am afraid of dying. I'm an atheist. Death holds no terrors for me. Rather, it's that I feel ... disturbed at the prospect of just how little time I have left. Let's face it: the odds that I have another 50 years ahead of me — never mind 50 good years — are not in my favour.

I dunno, really. There really isn't much point to all these words, other than a sudden desire to articulate what has been inchoate sensation, this realization that time is running short, if not quite (yet) running out.

I hope it proves to be a spur of some sort, something to goad me into making better use of my time than I have in the past. I do still feel as if I have the talent and brains to make something at least somewhat memorable of my life.

But by god, I guess I'd better get cracking!

Right. Speaking of time, Raven's plane will be landing in about five minutes. Time to wrap this up; time to pack away my miraculous portable computer, time to stagger downstairs and wait to hold her in my arms once again.

Life may be short but, as my mother has taken to saying, lately it has also been good.

September 2017

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