Birthday for the dead

I am undecided about which day to begin my trek “home.” In discussing said indecision with my mom, she mention that they had plans Saturday, which could surely include me. It’s rare they “have plans.” Plans require… you guessed it, planning! I definitely inherited the non-planning gene.

Anyway, it turns out the plans are a birthday party. For a dead guy. Okay, that sounds a bit insensitive – and I certainly don’t mean it that way.  Although it was a bit insensitive of said dead guy to commit suicide last winter. He was a really, really cool guy. My step-dad has known him for many years, and he was a part of this guy-gang (not that kind of gang – more like a hippie gang) of all these eclectic, (now) old-timers. There’s a millionaire (no wife), a German, a Brit, this guy who was the artist and chef, and a few others I never knew well. I’m pretty sure at least one was a musician.

This guy really used to love life, and thankfully, that’s how I remember him. I even forgive the time he held me down (I was about 9) and tickled me until it was SO not funny. My mom wanted to beat him up for that, and so did I. One of my fondest memories is from when he was a taxi driver. One thanksgiving, we cooked up a bunch of turkeys and pre-made sandwiches. Then we loaded them in coolers (no mayo) and went around San Francisco and handed them out to the hungry and homeless. People with dogs were willing to go without just so their dog could have some food. That broke my heart. Of course we gave the dogs their own sandwiches, plus some extra. I remember his (now) wife clued me into the joys of a good head-rub when I was about 11. I learned that during one of our many summer camping expeditions at one of the music festivals.

This guy’s art was incredible. He could draw cartoons, and probably just about anything, but his forte was wildlife. It all had a very 70’s feel, with an almost Indian vibe. He was a very accomplished cook/chef and really loved wine. I remember many parties in their backyard, and I always see him with a big goblet of red wine in his hand. He was kind enough to come to my wedding over ten years ago. His gift to us is still treasured – a copy of the Joy of Cooking. While I don’t use it that often, each time I do, I smile and think of him (even before his death). He inscribed a lovely message inside the book, as well as a nice note that I tucked inside. He even drew a little something just for us.

A few years back, he had an accident that resulted in a head injury. Unfortunately, it altered his personality. Depression ensued. Depression so severe, he eventually took his own life.

His wife wanted a way to honor him and remember the good about him. Like my mom said, you really can’t do that in the form of a wake when someone commits suicide. So I guess I understand about the party, but I’m still not sure I’ll go. After all, it’s been years since I’ve seen any of these folks. But then again, it could be a really good time.


2 Responses to Birthday for the dead

  1. izziedarling says:

    Whether you meant this as a tribute or not, it was realistic and nice.

  2. Thank you. I didn’t really write it with the idea of a tribute necessarily… more to help me work through whether or not I wanted to attend. I’m glad I did.

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