Monday, August 3, 2009

A Change Of Plans

This weekend I received a phone call from Betsy, my deceased wife's sister, one of three. When my wife, Ann was in desperate trouble, Betsy came out from Ohio, hoping that in coming and taking Ann back to Ohio with her, she might be saving Ann's life. It didn't work. Ann died in less than a year. That was in 2001, a month after 9/11. Betsy and I really like each other and have stayed connected through the years. She had news for me. Mary, Ann's elder sister has passed. Mary's death also, like Ann's, was an alcoholic death driven by mental illness. Now mother and both oldest sisters have died in the same general way. Alcoholism in this case is batting four for three. That is because within two months of his wife's death, Ann and Mary's dad died of a heart attack. I wound up writing a poem today about scattering Ann's ashes which I am going to post, jumping the queue. The poem records an event that took place in 2002.

Ann wanted her ashes scattered in Lake Erie and Betsy did that. Betsy held a portion of her ashes back for me and I still have a small stash that I may scatter sometime. I scattered Ann up at Willamette National Cemetary with her aunt and uncle buried there, behind our old house where we lived for more than ten years, under the dogwood tree here at this house, and I took her to Newport, Oregon, where we started out after grad school. It was her first job in Social Work, working for the State of Oregon. It was my first job as a designer after I had trained as a drafter for two years with a firm in Portland. We got married there in Newport. I dumped most of Ann's ashes (the small portion given to me) in a shallow depression I dug in the sand at the tideline, letting the surge take her where it would.

Mary had a harder time getting along with anyone as her illness progressed. Ann and Mary did not do well, especially at the last when Ann was so sick and now Mary has died a similar death.

By the way, there is more alcoholism present in this story. Ann's aunt was the victim of a drunk driving accident. Her husband was driving and they were hit by a drunk driver. They were hit broadside which spun the car around, and Ann's aunt was thrown from the passenger seat and died of her injuries at the scene. The couple in the back seat were also killed in the impact. Ann's uncle, who was driving, had the right of way, and the drunk ran a stop sign. Her uncle walked away without a scratch and so did that drunk. Ann's uncle has since passed, living over a decade without his wife. That is part of why I felt it right to put some of Ann's ashes at their gravestone. Now I can periodically visit them all. I do. I consider that place a power point in my life. None of the family are near. One year there were flowers from an unknown source on that grave. It might've been the kids. It also might've been the drunk, who we were told settled in the Portland area. The thing about the flowers, there didn't seem to be enough of them, nor of the right kind to have been from the kids.

I am pensive just now.

The Long Green Glass

With my friends I took
as you gave me your ashes
to Newport, the beach
we would walk early
in our years together, when
we had no money
nor did we know what

would come. I dug a tideline
hole for you, there placed
your dream as it poured
from the long green glass a thin
ashy stream as we
who knew you witnessed
the tide come for you and take
away from us all

old false empty hope.

August 3, 2009 12:59 PM


  1. 'Old false empty hope'...I am empathy for you today my friend.

    Love you


  2. Where would any of us be without hope though.

  3. Ah Christopher...Love and hugs to you

  4. No wonder you are pensive.

    It's a wonderful poem, so sad.

    Good that you are still in touch with Betsy.

  5. You have known sorrow, Christopher. You carry it like the long green glass of old false empty hope. So very sad for you.

  6. What a heavy sadness weaves through all this. There is something lovely about the beach and the ashes, and yet I feel my tears come at the thought of that false empty hope.

    And yes, as Linda said... love and hugs to you, Christopher.

  7. Sometimes the poem of the moment is where we have to be. Oh, {{Christopher}}, I am sorry for all the loss and sadness.

    The beauty and strength that you have is amazing to me. How through all of the loss, you have come here and given of ways that keep hope full and true.

    What a beautiful moving poem. Tears are definitly in my eyes...

    Love to you, dear one.

  8. Thank you all for being present, for assisting in making this blog a safe place for honesty.

  9. Christopher, that poem reads like the spill itself.

    I don't send hugs too often...feel all awkward and funny, but in this case, I can't help myself.

  10. Yes, false hope, it is sad when we let ourselves down and we let others down. Somehow that has always been difficult for me, I don't like to tell others that I will do something when I know I cannot keep my promise, it makes me feel worse. I too have had alcholism mess with my family. My dear grandmother was killed by a drunk when she and my mother were out on a walk together, my mom has never really recovered. My grandparents on my dads side struggled with it, especially my grandpa. I believe his dad did as well. The alcohol made him mean, he belittled and denigrated my father, who, although not alcoholic himself belittles and denigrates his children, us, me. It has taken a long time to fight off the feelings of worthlessness that his attitude gave me, it subconciously messed with a lot of my hopes and dreams. It is just now that I have been allowing myself to dream and hope, to believe in myself. It is a beast that I am shaking off, when I write, and when I fight for the right to achieve my goals I am winning the battle. I am striving to keep my own kids safe from the beast as well.


  11. ...I forgot a hug {HUGS} I hope your heart heals.

  12. What is really odd (or is it God?) it is just at this time that my old cat has wandered off in her fragile state. She was fine, and ate in the morning, was seen in the back yard in the late afternoon, and did not come home for dinner at 7. This is a peaceful place, where she has laid out in plain sight in my driveway day after day, and the back yard was new behavior for her, more secluded. She looked bad, but ate well. It would not stick to her and I know her kidneys were failing as they always do in old cats.

    She has gone into mystery and I don't think she will come back.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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