Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Of Death, Appendix N, and no Longer Being 12 Years Old

I

 On May 28, 2012 my father went into the hospital. At the time, I didn't know if he would make it back home. He was diagnosed with advanced Cirrhosis of the Liver (he was not a drinker.) The illness caused a massive fluid retention, which filled his stomach and left him unable to eat or drink. The medical team at Shelby Baptist Hospital drained the fluid, only to watch him fill right back up.

 On June 12, his overall state took an acute downturn. He contracted pneumonia, his lungs now joining in with the rest of his body, in drowning itself. By that point, there was little doubt about the outcome. Thursday, the Doctor advised in-patient Hospice care, after my father expressed his wishes not to be resuscitated. I went to the hospital to sign the necessary papers. My ex-wife brought my son to the hospital, to see his grandfather. We left.

 Friday, the 15th, I woke up, got my act together and left to go back to the hospital. I pulled into the hospital lot and as I parked my truck, I received the call. A nurse, a student and the hospice nurse were in the room, the first two asking me inane questions. Curt civility, seemed the most appropriate response to their inability to grok that 10 minutes into my father's death, as I was staring at his corpse, wasn't the most welcoming time to ask me about his tattoos and piercings. Or, if I were his only child and where did he grow up.

 After a few minutes, another nurse showed up and they were then empowered to officially pronounce my father dead. I asked them to leave the room. I wish I could tell you that he looked to be at peace, or something. Actually, he looked exactly like he did the day before. Pallid, drowsy, his eyes half-open, mouth agape, as he struggled for breath. No breath now, though my mind tried to tell me, on a couple of occasions, that his chest was rising and falling. A close inspection disabused it of the notion.

 II

 To say that my father had a large media collection, would be an understatement. He loved books, movies and music, a love he passed on to his son. At the age of five, I was listening to his Rolling Stones, Kiss and Waylon Jennings albums, while reading his Marvel and DC Comics and waiting for HBO to begin broadcasting for the day.

 As I got a little older, 12 or so, Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, Heavy Metal and the Savage Sword of Conan became my go-to after school reading material. This led to his paperbacks. The De Camp Conan editions. Thieves World. Various and sundry fantasy, science fiction and horror novels. Then, the Direct Sales comics boom hit. Grimjack, Dreadstar, Sable, Alien Legion and many, many more.

 My father was taping damn near every movie that played on cable and building a soon to be obsolete collection of factory-made VHS tapes. A rather large pool, from which to draw my own Appendix N. I would be 14, before discovering Dungeons & Dragons.

 III

 My father got rid of most of his books and comics, several years ago. Then, immediately set about collecting more. A lot of his attention, over the past 15 or so years, was spent on his DVD and CD collection. There's well over 1,000 DVD's and DVD boxed sets, though I haven't taken an exact inventory yet. About as many CD's. 2,000 books? Not as many as he used to have. Only a few boxes of comic books and graphic novels.

I just ran across a copy of the graphic novel of DC's Identity Crisis, which James Raggi posted about, a few days ago. Mr. Raggi says its good, so I'll keep it.

 My father's tastes were... eclectic. He was also a pack-rat. It'll take me a month to go through everything. It's weird. Trying to sort and organize all this stuff, brings back a lot of memories. Being twelve years old and in my father's room, discovering some new book, or magazine, filled with swords, sorcery, rocket ships and horrific monsters. Adventure. Titillation. Ideas to inflame my imagination.

 Except I'm all pensive, melancholy and don't feel like reading, watching, or listening to anything at all.
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