Several times over the past 24-hrs I've stared at this blank page, unable to fill it with anything. The desire is there, even the need, but the ability seems to be missing. I've been having a lot of doubts about the old ability lately; the passion required to produce seems to be missing from my chemical make-up. Writers need passion and I can't seem to find mine. More than once I've felt that while I can write, perhaps I'm not a writer. Not a conclusion that I've totally allowed myself to reach because to accept it would require that I admit to the death of a dream and to be honest I'm terrified that I have very few dreams left.
But this post is not about me, and my apologies for rambling. But death churns up a lot of mental debris. Regardless of doubts, however, there are still obligations. I owe it to my brother-in-law not to let his passing go unspoken. On Saturday February 20, 2010, Roger, drew his last labored breath, succumbing to cancer at the age of 45. At 7 AM we received the call that his lungs were filling, his breathing becoming ragged and gurgling, so we woke the kids and told them we needed to go. We were all present when he passed peacefully at 7:50 AM, looking comfortable for the first time in months. We stood around his bed, silent save for a prayer and a well-timed fart from my sleeping nephew. No I am not kidding.
Hospice arrived and confirmed his passing. Phone calls were made prompting the arrival of friends and other family members. I busied myself making coffee. Food arrived. People cried and told stories. All the signs of a death were present.
Eventually, funeral personnel were called and arrangements were made for young ones so that they would not be present when the body was removed; wrapped in plastic and rolled into a van. The business of death, while necessary, is not pretty. But it is being handled. Services are being arranged; photos and pallbearers are being chosen.
After moving from Pacifica sometime around high school, Roger actually grew up across the street from my sister-in-law and her family. He was a fixture on their street; one of their neighborhood gang. It wasn't until years later that he and Nicole discovered something they'd apparently over-looked in their younger days – love. Their marriage joined him to her family, making brothers of two of his childhood friends.
To the end, Roger remained strong and positive, joking when he could and expressing his love and appreciation to those he spoke with. He leaves a wife and son along with many friends and family.
"An Italian will eat anything green." – Joe's uncle.
This is my dad and my uncle picking broccoli raab on the roadside.
On Monday the boy and I joined them for a drive to the summit of Mt. Diablo. On the way up, their Old Italian eagle eyes spotted this wild growing veggie, so of course a pit stop was required on the drive down. Like his father before him, my dad has been picking this stuff from fields and roadsides for more than forty years. Sadly this is but one more tradition that will die out with his generation. I wouldn't know broccoli raab from poison oak.
While they loaded up one of the plastic bags that my father always has in his trunk, the boy and I were throwing large rocks up the slope into the broccoli raab patch. Why? Because when the rocks roll down the hill, the shaking broccoli raab looks like swaying tree tops, signaling the approach of King Kong.