Well, That Was Unexpected

Real life is stranger than fiction...depending on which authors you read, of course.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Erv's death and buckthorns

Oh, I generally have the hateful relationship with my body that American women are socialized to have. I wish I was smaller, taller, a baller, all that. But yesterday we were sifting through the remnants of my grandfather's things after he died from cancer, pneumonia, and spite; there were piles of thermometers, Ben Gay, Mucinex, pills, maalox...virtually nothing was functioning correctly at the end of his life. In addition to feeling sorry for him and a certain confusion at going out so lamely, I have been having moments where I keep thinking "praise Jesus for my wonderfully functioning body." I do all sorts of crap to it: I eat processed fakeness, then organic, I diet, I gorge, I poison it (a lot, but not on purpose) and it still works. It hikes 15 miles, it digests, it has pain when it's supposed to, it responds to painkillers like it should. It just works. So, August 22, 2010. Love and thanks for the body I will surely despise in mere days. Yay corpus!

Dealing with an estate after death is surreal. Things that all had a purpose, maybe a mad, ridiculous purpose, but a purpose nonetheless; you know, it was liked, or it was interesting, or it was smoked, or whittled, or delicious...now it's just useless crap for other people to sift through and decide to sell or throw away. Can I eat a dead man's Cheez-Its?

We're to take all the possessions of my Grandma's that Grandpa had kept. I have come into an incredible amount of costume jewelry. The most valuable thing I have found so far is her wallet that had her IDs and pictures. She died when I was five, of all sorts of shit, but there are many vivid stories, and keepsakes, of how she loved me intensely for those 5 years, so I am always trying to figure her out and grab any clues that remain. New things always come out in the reminiscing. I hope I can hold onto them long enough to write them down and reconstruct them. I wonder if it will just be something that will be deleted once I'm dead. We've also come into some paintings done by her biological mother, one of which is a most hideous painting of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, still hanging on Grandpa's wall (can't have made an already cranky man any happier, could it?). Dad's side is full of all sorts of tangled lineage. Anyway, I've been thinking more about Grams than Gramps, and since the best thing about him was how devoted he was to her, honoring her is sort of like remembering him. Or the best part of him anyway.

Today we went into Glacier National Park to go up the North Fork to visit our beloved Polebridge Mercantile and Gramps' favorite lake, Kintla Lake (aka the only lake he ever said anything positive about). We stopped along the way because we saw the most incredible huckleberry patch. We picked over a gallon of huckleberries marveling at how neither professional pickers nor grizzly bears had found this trove. I was all ready to use Mom's recipe to make pie and go on Punk Domestics to find some tips and recipes for jam. I'm so rarely domestic, but huckleberries are something you can get me really excited about. We got home and tried a few of them...and they tasted like a chemical burn. Like what I imagine napalm in a berry would taste like. Because they weren't huckleberries at all, but buckthorns. which the ethnobotany desk reference online has helpfully informed me are totally poisonous and used as purgatives. Which is why my stomach has been cramping ever since. But, yay corpus for responding correctly to poisonous berries!

5 Comments:

Blogger One Womans Life said...

I wanted to tell you what a powerful sentence that was ...cancer, pneumonia and spite. I hope we don't die that way!

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandpa passing, I hope all is well with your family. Is this the same one who got you the fur lined underwear?

...and I was in Glacier a week and a half ago! Going to the Sun Road on a motorcycle is frickin heart quickening.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Julie Hartle said...

Hey Chris, where are you these days? Can't believe you were just in Glacier. Going to the Sun is heart quickening in a car, can't imagine on a motorcycle. but the park is gorgeous right now, totally worth it.

This was not the fur lined underwear grandpa, I will werite an epic poem when he dies. This is my dad's stepdad. We weren't very close. his choice. you know, whatev.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Right now I am sitting in business class seat 6A about 36,000 ft above the north atlantic en route to London- but I usually hang my hat in Seattle.

If you want to chat sometime, you can reach me at my hotmail address.

2:42 AM  
Blogger Naomi said...

"Yay, corpus!"
This one's going to come in handy.

10:44 PM  

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