It’s about 5 olclock. Im in room 330 at the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. My mom called me around 7 this morning to tell me that uncle Kim was out of control. I immediately jumped out of bed and threw on some cloths. I jumped in a my car and took the 3 minute trip to my mothers. My uncle Kim is a 57 year man with down syndrome. He is the kindest man I’ve ever known, and he taught me what it really meant to be compassionate. My mother has taken care of him for 36 years. We never had any clue how he would turn out the older he got. But, we were all dedicated to making sure he had a great life. When I got to my mothers I raced from my car towards the front door. I could see her standing by the door on the phone. As I walked in I could see Kim upstairs. Mom looked at me and said be careful he is violent today. So I ran upstairs immediately try to restrain him. He had been throwing things and trying to hit my mother. I quickly grabbed him and helped him to the ground. It’s so hard for me to see him this way. Kim and I have been like brothers my whole life. For half my life I shared a room with him, and he will always be my best friend. Kim was screaming as loud as he could. He had no clue that it was me sitting with him trying to make him feel better. My heart sank with every punch he threw. I could see my mother crying downstairs. She was still on the phone. By this time she was on the phone with 911. I held him for about 30 minutes until my mom yelled the deputy is here.
When the deputy got there I was relieved and also I thought to myself, what the hell is a deputy going to do? But none the less I was glad he was there. My mom pointed to where we were and he started his way up the stairs. When the deputy walked in I couldn’t believe. It was a friend from high school. I said ” Hey Kyle, I think we got a problem here.” He said ” Hey Jeremy, I’m sorry to see you under these circumstances.” At this point I notice he is putting his taser away. It was hard to imagine that the situation with uncle Kim had come to this. The whole time Kim is still screaming at the top of his lungs and throwing punches and kicks. Kyle Kept asking me what he could do. I kept saying, I don’t know man. They went through their normal routine of asking all kinds of questions about his past/medical history/shit like that. By this time the whole medical parade was there, EMS, Fire Department, Cops, other people I don’t even know. They kept asking him questions realizing that he was not capable of giving an answer. Finally they said “we have to get him out of here.” So we proceed to go through one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. We had to restrain him and carry him to the ambulance. He is crying and shouting like I’ve never heard anyone shout or cry before. They asked me to ride with him, with hopes that it would make it better. But he had no clue who I was. It’s sad when someone you have known your whole live stares into your eyes and you can see that they don’t know you, and worst yet that they hate you. The EMS assistant was actually kind of freaked, and said helped me hold his legs down. So I did. It’s hard to believe this frail old man can be so strong. Luckily my mother lives about 2 minutes from the hospital.
When we arrived at the hospital, I could see that medical professionals were ready for us. We opened the door and they immediately realized this situation was serious. Kim was kicking and screaming and completely out of his mind. They rushed him in the ER sort of blindly. They don’t really know what to do with a man like Kim. They roll him in and put him in a room and of course it takes about 2 hrs to see a doctor. The doctor finally comes in and says I’m calling his doctor we don’t know what to do with him. So by this time Uncle Kim has calmed down and is relaxing. We are all relived that he is finally out of his so called funk. We wait in the ER for most of the day and finally they move Kim up to a room. We we get into the room, kim still feels good. Having fun and joking around in his own way. The relief is great at this point. We are all exhausted from the mornings events. A little while goes by and we notice Kim is getting aggravated. Kim fell right back into his hell. It lasted for another 2 hrs. They finally gave him some Valium thinking that it would help. It didn’t. It was so hard to get him to calm down.
And now….. as I sit here…. waiting for him to lose it again. I can’t help but think that this is it for the Kim I once knew. His dementia has taken over. Im so thankful for being raised with him. He taught my sister and I so much. It was such a gift. I don’t know what is going to happen from this point on. Im sure it will get worse. Im sure it will be hard. But I will be here as long as I can. I love my uncle kim….. Im sad it had to end this way. I just cant talk about it anymore.
January 2, 2010
New Years eve is overwhelming so much pressure to get smashed and be an idiot. This year I played wii and wrote another song for my sad collection of songs.
New Year please click new year. Farewell……
January 1, 2010
A while ago I started writing a blog about my friend jimmies wedding and never posted it. I started rambling. But here it is anyway.;)
This past weekend Ava and I drove to St. Augustine to attend one of my best friends wedding. It was a joyous occasion. We all chipped in and rented a really nice house right on the beach. It was great. The view was to die for. When we arrived we were immediately hit with a bombardment of friends and celebration. I was really happy to see a lot of my old friends. Friends I had not seen or spoken to in many years. It’s always a bit awkward to just try to pick back up where you had left off. But it only took a few minutes and we were back at it. Swearing at each other or punching each other in various body parts. It’s amazing how barbaric I become when I see certain friends. The first night was fun. It was the official bachelor/bachelorette party. We walked what seem to be about 5 miles to another house where there was a party happening for the bride and groom. After hanging there a minute the grooms party decided it was time for shots.(oh Neat). So of course being the good sport I walked down to a crappy bar called Jacks and took shots with my good friends. You feel like such an idiot doing shots. Getting drunk that fast and shouting and putting aside all manners and moral code. But for some reason, it all felt right. My friend was getting married and he is a great man. When I really start to recap and think about the night. All the moments of shouting and cursing and shoving were brought on by the sharing of old memories. We have so many memories of what that crew of friends has done together. Things I will never forget. Some happy, some sad. Some funny, some tragic. We have done our best to stay in touch, but like all friends do at some point in life, we have grown apart. Nothing intentional, but life goes on. We grow older, we get married, we have kids, we move far away, or we never move away. At some point in our friendships, every single one of those friends have been there for me in some way at some point.
I’m not going to go into great detail about the wedding. But it was great to see my friends Jenn and Jimmy get married. They have worked harder than any couple to make it work. To me they represent what it takes to be devoted to the person you love no matter what. Jimmy is one of my best friends. In the past 5 years he has been there for me day in a day out. He is never too busy to take time out and call me to make sure I’m hanging in there. So thanks Jim:) Going back to St. Augustine can never be the same for me since I left. But I’m thankful for this wedding and this time with friends. It taught me that once again life goes on. Life gets better if you make it better, and no looking back. I mostly likely will never feel the way I once did about St. Augustine. But I’m so thankful for the time I spent there and the friends I made.
December 8, 2009
My cousin is a remarkable person. He has overcome so much, and become a great man and a great friend to me. I just read this essay he wrote on the elitefts website and I thought anyone who has overcome adversity should read it. Enjoy:)
Health for me is about non-acceptance. It’s about recognizing all the
crap that life throws in your way but more importantly it’s about
recognizing that you can change all of it. It’s about seeing your life
and your world and realizing that no matter what happens, the only
factor that you have any power over is yourself. That one thing, that
one small part of that incredibly large whole, is worth more than
anything else you will ever find. Health isn’t about your cholesterol,
your VO2 max, your total, or whatever other metric you can find. It’s
about becoming more.
It’s about having your life in shambles, realizing you’ve alienated
everyone you considered a friend, and deciding to stand up and fix the
shit you’ve created.
It’s about having a bad relationship with your father, but working to
find that common ground where you can look each other eye to eye with
respect because you know how important your family is above all else.
It’s about being the fat kid your entire childhood, then being the
national division 1 athlete with a top ten team.
It’s about thinking seeing that girl you thought no normal human being
had a chance with, and dating that same girl one year later.
It’s about sitting in a doctor’s office and having them talk with your
family outside the door in low voices because they think you shouldn’t
hear just how bad things really are with you.
It’s about having those doctors say two years later that they have
never seen someone make such a recovery.
It’s about taking all those things that have beaten you down and using
them to test yourself rather than tear you apart.
How many times have you felt like you couldn’t? How high does that
mountain have to be before you decide it’s too tall to climb? What
makes you decide to quit? Health isn’t about seeing obstacles before
you and deciding to live with them. Health is about seeing those
obstacles and deciding that you’re going to get past them no matter
what it takes because you might not know what’s on the other side but
you sure as hell know that you aren’t where you need to be.
My personal health? It’s something I’ve had to fight for, tooth and
nail at times. It’s what has let me break all those boundaries set
before me in ways that no one else thought I could. It’s not just
about taking control of your body, it’s about taking control of your
life and of the way the world affects you. It’s what has let me build
up the will to change things when they aren’t going like they should.
It’s what has made set me on the path to becoming the person I want to
December 5, 2009
Because of my last few post. I have been unable to spill the beans. Its funny when you let so much out, you almost immediately shut down. I have so much I want to say. I have written probably 6 new blogs, but have not published them. Its a wall, a wall that I hope will soon come crashing down. Please be patient. And thanks:)
September 14, 2009
After the trip to Arizona, things seemed to slow down for my dad. He didn’t seem to care as much. His shop would lay dormant for days, sometimes weeks. Business was at a stand still. He never made any money from his business anyway. But it was the center of his life, his……..purpose. He had what I like to call an “organized mess of a shop.” Everything was sort of out-of-place in my eyes. His desk had about 1000 post a notes on it, but he knew what they all were, and they all had their place. The workspace got messier and more cluttered. I guess at the time I never realized how much the shop went downhill after that. He had always been so meticulous, organized, clean. For years I never understood my dad’s obsession with organization and cleanliness. It was constant mockery for me. Dad was always teasing me about my windshield. I’ll never forget it. If I were sitting in the drivers seat of my car, my dad would come up to the windshield and say “hey! Jeremy! can you see me from in there? hee hee.” I always thought it was funny, but deep inside it was important to my dad. Dad always had really nice cars: Caddie’s, Lincolns, Mercs, but by the year 2003 it was Impala. You know, one of those big black giant sleds. It was beautiful and he loved it. He took really good care of it and, yes, the windshield was spotless. The days became numbered at the shop. My father was growing older and by this time his neglect of diabetes was finally settling in. Dad had been a diabetic for years. Like I said he was a large man, and never seemed to pay much attention to his health. So many years of alcohol, drugs, and just plain abuse on his body. My dad had become an insulin dependent diabetic. Taking shots of insulin daily was no good. My mom is also a diabetic, but she became diabetic because of a staph infection she got on her arm. It poisoned her pancreas, and her pancreas pretty much shut off. Some people are dealt the worst cards. My mom never deserved that hassle in life.
Right about the time Dads shop was losing steam, I had started playing with a bunch of guys around town. An indie band of some sort I guess. We were fairly cheesy but none the less a good band. Dad was really excited for this band, he was trying to do everything he could to help. We practiced a few times at his shop, only to play for a few minutes before the law arrived. Cops are so bored:) He called me one day to tell me he had found me a place where maybe I could practice. He said he had a friend that owned a big industrial type building near the shop. So one summer afternoon my father and I tore out for this place. It was down one of the weirdest roads I had been down. You know the roads Im talking about, the really long roads leading into the deep unknown of your town or city that usually a concrete business or the dump would be on? Well that was this road. We finally got to the end of this road and wouldnt you know it, it was a concrete plant and metal recycling plant. I remember telling dad that this was weird and he assured me that his friend was legit. So we met up with his friend and Dad was right, this guy had a great offer for me. It was a huge two room loft type space. It had two sets of double doors and actually was really nice on the inside and it had a bathroom and shower. I was really pumped for this situation. He told me it was only 400$ a month, for everything. Dad said, “We will take it!” The place needed to be fixed up, so I swept it up and my friend Spencer, whose dad owns a flooring business, gave me all of his previous years samples. I made a multi-colored flooring that looked divine. I was really proud of it, and so was my dad. I know he felt so satisfied to have done something for me that made me so happy. This new place facilitated a new beginning for me – an around the clock practice/recording space. At this point I wasnt much of a recording engineer, but I genuinely loved the idea of it. I eventually would move a bed out there and basically make it my apartment. It was a great place. We would have parties, jam sessions, movie nights or just recording. I named it “the factory.” It seemed only fitting to be named that considering I was actually surrounded by a factory. This building would represent where I would do my first real recordings. Little did I know at that point, it would turn into my career. So the band continued on and we started wanting to play out-of-town shows. Of course I spoke with my father about this matter. He was, of course, the best hook up known to man for finding a good car or truck. I told him what I needed and his neighbor at the shop just happened to have an older conversion van. So Dad went over there and talked to him about it. His neighbor traded me straight up for my truck. In some ways I was so excited, but in others my heart was broken. I loved my truck. It was a gift to me from my family for when I went to college. It was hard to let go of it, but I knew this had to be the right thing to do at this point. This van was really tricked out. It had 6 captains chairs and bench/bed. It had tv/vcr, and get this……strobe lights. Super weird. After the trade I came to learn that this van actually use to belong to a man my dad went to high school with. It was weird because that guy now owned a strip club and had for years. The van immediately felt, I dunno, ummmmmm kind of dirty. But it didn’t matter, we had our van. We started playing some out-of-town shows, and having a great time. We played one show in Montevallo at an old pizza place. I don’t recall the name but it was fairly known for having great shows. Some friends of mine had gone to see the Get Up kids and Jimmy Eat World there. “Must be legit” I thought. This show turned out to be a landmark show for us. There were two bands, Liars Academy, and Brandston. We played well and the other bands seemed to enjoy. Little did we know that Liars Academy would take our cd to a big time producer they knew and he would end up calling us. Long story short, this was our ticket to Atlantic Records. I remember calling my father and telling him what was going on with Atlantic. He was surprised and hesitant. My father was such a skeptic. He would say,”Who is this guy? What does he know about anything? Is he screwing you already? You know son, the Beatles got screwed!” I would always laugh it off, when in reality I should have taken his advice. He would always encourage me to be myself and never let anyone have more control than me. He was a marvelous bossman, I guess thats why in the past he did so well owning and running a business. I would always relay different things this label would talk to me about, and most of the time he would get defensive for me. I honestly wish I had listened to my father more. As the band progressed on, there was a lot of weird pressure. Our sound, our art, our weight? I was a big guy, college football player to be exact, and I was told I couldnt be a star if I was a big guy. A hard pill to swallow, but I went on and lost 110 lbs. I looked and felt great. Dad was always telling me I looked sick. I just think it was the shock of seeing his son so thin. We toured for years, day in and day out, constant touring. Our album came out in august of 2004. It flopped. It was destined for failure. We were a product of something not of ourselves. I had no clue who I was. In so many ways I forgot where I came from and that I was just a good ol boy born of two southern parents.
Throughout touring I would call my parents consistently, always checking in. I started to notice my dads deterioration. His diabetes had finally started to eat at him. But this didnt seem to matter to him. He still ate a basket of peaches a day, and a flat of scuppernongs a week. He was visiting the doctor more frequently, and he had started dialysis. I honestly never realized the magnitude of it all. I know a lot of attention was on my grandmother, who lived next door to my dad. I was not close to her but my father loved her so much. She was suffering from Alzheimer’s. When I was home from tour I would go visit them. It was hard for me, my grandmother hated the boys when we were all growing up. I always felt like she was taking crap out on me because of how my father acted all those years growing up. This was surreal for me, seeing her in this state. She was such a hard woman for so many years, and now, she was acting like nothing more than a child. She would always say to me, Julius(my grandfather) im tired? This broke my heart, I did not know what to say. I cant imagine not realizing who someone is or was. My grandfather was a hard man, and they never seemed to like each other. Alzheimer’s baffles me, it always seems to take someone back to when they were happiest. I’m probably wrong about that, but it always seemed that way. I knew my grandmother had a hard life and to know that she was happy made us happy. About two years into touring we had settled in la for a bit to try and make some headway. What a joke! A pointless time in my life. LA is not for me. My band was at the end of its life. We were so miserable. touring was making us hate each other. By this time we had no clue who we were. We didnt know at the beginning of the tour and we had no better clue by the end of it. We decided to end the band one summer on the side of a hill in Burbank. It was the right decision. We were headed no where fast, and the abundance of bands and so called musicians popping up were making us sick. In some ways we were giving the world a break. Who needs another run of the mill band playing run of the mill songs. Two of the members stayed out. and the rest of us headed home. At the time I lived in St. Augustine Fl and nice town with too many cool people. I remember the feeling of relief when I returned. Almost as soon as I got home I got a call from my sister, she was crying. She could barely speak. ”Grandmother has died” she said. I didn’t know how to respond, like I said we had never been close. I guess I had no clue how sick she really was, I had visited her in the hospital on my way home from California. She looked really tired and fed up with this world. I had a feeling it would be the last time I would see her. I think she went peacefully, she deserved too. The same week my grandmother died, my father had been hospitalized. He had a weak heart. I remember traveling up to his room not having any clue what I was going to say to him. His mother had just died. What do I say? What do I do? This is the most real I’ve ever felt. My father was like a child. He loved his mother with all of his heart. No matter how much bad he had done, and no matter how much he had lost of hers. You can never take away that bond of mother and child. I walked into his room on the 4th floor of the hospital. I knew almost immediately that the roles had changed. I had to be the strong one for my father who was now, so weak and mourning his mother. I hugged him but there was no comfort my hug could provide. I had never seen my father cry, that night we cried together. He kept saying, I miss my momma. I cant even describe what this does to a son. There is nothing I can do. There is no way to bring her back so that he can once again feel that comfort of his mothers touch. She was gone forever and I dont know if my dad was ready to face that. He kept trying to muster up the strength to talk about it, but he himself was battling a severe heath condition. The dialasis was wearing thin on him. It had put so much strain on his heart that he was blue. He needed a pace maker and was scheduled to get one in the coming weeks. My grandmother funeral was scheduled for two days from then. I remember the day off my dad called me and said come break me out. I guess if he left the hospital all hell would break loose. But he didnt care and neither did I. This is his mother and he had to pay his respects. I got him his close and stole a wheelchair from down the hall and put my father into it. I got him down to the car and he started to cry, the realization that his mother died was coming in spurts. I was so hard to see the strongest man I’ve ever known so weak, and broken down emotionally. I’ve never had more respect for my father than that moment. He himself was dealing with the hardest thing life could offer, death. I got him to his house so he could change into something nicer. This moment would forever become one of the hardest moments of my life. My father was too weak to shower, change, brush his teeth, nothing. I gathered up all my courage and helped him into the shower. I shaved my father and helped him bath. I brushed his teeth and combed his hair. I helped him put on his pants one leg at a time. I tied his tie, and finally put on his coat. I can imagine the humiliation my dad was experiencing. He was having to have his son do everything for him. This was so hard, I guess I never realized how sick he really was. I got him back in the wheel chair and took him out to car and we raced to the funeral. We made it there early, and my dad wanted to be wheeled right down front. I asked everyone to leave the room since my father had not had time with her or a visitation. He asked for me to push him forward so he could see her. I did this and did all I could to hold back the tears. I sat behind my dad and watched him suffer, suffer like I’ve never seem someone suffer before. He asked me to wheel him back so I did. He would cry the whole service. After the service I took him back to the hospital, I know by now he must be weak. I stayed with my dad for many hours until his wife and the rest of my family came up to see him. We all sat with him and laughed and did whatever we could to take his mind of the funeral. I think we really helped him. A lot of friends came to the hospital to see him. It was nice to see him so appreciated. I stayed at home for about a week and finally asked dad if it was cool If I headed back home. I had not been home in a long time. He seemed to be getting better so he didn”t mind at all. A couple of weeks went by and he and I would talk on the phone and he seemed to be doing ok. I knew he was sick but never knew how sick. My mom would give me updates and say she didnt think he was doing to well. But for some reason I kept my distant. A decision that would forever plague me. About two and half weeks after I left I got a call from my step mom. She said “Jeremy, I think you should come back.” I asked her well how is dad? She said, ” he seems peaceful.” At that moment I knew what had happened. He had given up. She said during the pace maker operation that he had a massive heart attack. He was now brain dead. I was in shock and in some ways I think I had formed a defense from my grandmothers death. But everything exploded right in my face. I had missed the last two years of my fathers life for a band, I had come home after his mother died, I felt as If I had failed him in every way imaginable. What do I do? Do I cry? Do I throw up? Do I break things? I had no clue what to do. I immediately called my closet friends and of course they gave me there best wishes. But at that moment nothing seems right, or fare. I felt cheated by god, and this so called life. The person I was dating at the time flew in from new york and I picked her up at the airport. I had nothing to say. Nothing I could say. We started towards my home so I could attend the funeral. I remember during this drive it all started to settle in. All I wanted to do was call him. But if I called his number, no one would answer. No one was on the other end. No father was on the other end to hear my problems and tell me how to fix it. Nobody was there to tell me how to beat the situation. I feel like this was the first time ever in my life I was helpless. I arrived in Pensacola at the hospital where my father was kept alive by machines. I remember my step mother saying “would you like to see him?” I said of course. I walked back trying to not look at everyone’s faces, it seemed so pointless at this time. I walked in my fathers room only to a my father body being pumped up and down by machines. He already looked dead to me. The blank look on his face. The color of his skin. My step mother said Ill let you be alone with him. As soon as she closed the curtains behind her, I broke down. I couldnt stop crying. I sat next to him and stared for a while. I decided that this was my time to tell him anything I needed to tell him. So I said,”Dad, I hope you know how much I love you, and that I hope I have become a strong man like you. And Dad dont worry about everyone, Ill do what I can to take care of them.” I said more but I honestly dont remember what I said. I think they were words for just him and I. I starting walking back out to the waiting room when I saw my mom in the hallway. I broke down again, It was so hard to see her here also. I wanted to be a strong man for my mother. But sometimes you cant be what you hoped you would. You just have to let it be. Me, my two sisters, my mom and my step mom all gathered in a private room to talk about what to do. The machines were keeping my Dad alive and we just didnt think that was right. We all decided that the best thing to do would be to pull the plug. As we walked back to his room, everything seemed to be in slow motion. There was no noise. No beeping of monitors, no announcement on the hospital loud speaker. I was blind and deaf to the world. We walked into the room, all of us. This was it. The nurse explained the situation and said it would take about 20 minutes. She unplugged him…… it took a moment and finally his body started to suffer. We all immediately broke down crying. I had never felt so helpless. I watched all the most important people in this mans life all come forward to tell him what he meant to them and how much they will miss him. His wife, my mother ,my sisters. I was next to him the whole time. So before he drew his last breaths I leaned down and said ” Dad, I love you more than you will ever know. You are the greatest father I could have ever asked for.” I meant this with all of my heart. With all of my being. I started singing the song “don’t” by elvis. It was my fathers favorite song. I sang it the best I could intermitted with tears. A moment before he stopped breathing all together he turned to me as I sang. I know he was brain dead. But for one last time. He could hear me. He was proud of us. We loved him, and we will always love him. My Dad died at 10:48 May 1st. We sat with him for a bit after he died. He immediately turned colors and it immediately set in. He was gone. A moment I could never forget and wouldn’t trade for anything. The worst thing I could have done was not be there with him when he died.
The Funeral was a sad celebration. A lot of people came out to see him. Many friends and believe it or not many enemies. It was nice to see so many people there to pay tribute to my father, my anti hero for so long. But after so many trials and so many years. He has become one of my heros. No matter how much wrong he did, there was no denying that he was my father. I will always cherish the time I spent with him. In this world you only have one mother, and one father. My mother is the greatest woman who has ever lived for me, and now after all these years and after seeing my father pass, I can honestly say, my father was the greatest man who has ever lived for me. I will never forget him…. and what he taught me. Thankyou….
September 9, 2009
The decision to leave college to pursue music was a hard pill to swallow for a lot of family members. It’s like when you drop out of college you’re an immediate loser. The only real support I received for my decision was from my mother. I swear I could have become anything and she would have supported me. The phone calls with my father did not have the same temperament. I recall yelling and sometimes cursing and disgust in his voice. I tried to explain I wasnt doing what I wanted and that school was hard, but it was like talking to a brick wall. He was from a totally different generation, but he wasn’t like any other man from his time, so in some ways I figured he might be cool with me being a bit spontaneous and doing something new. He always knew I cared deeply for music. My mom was constantly playing guitar for me, or piano. She is really good:) She bought me my first guitar in 4th grade and taught me all she knew. She was a patient and wonderful guitar teacher. As a kid I never got gifts from dad that were compatible with my interests. He would always get me tools, or a 500$ remote control car. Who needs that shit? Im kidding, but it wasnt for me. He tried hard to get me to understand cars, asking me what size is this bolt son? Uh…… 1/2 inch?!? No!!!!!! He exclaimed, noooo. Cars or boats never interested me so much, I just wanted them to work, so it was a life time battle of Father and son trying to come up with a common ground to relate on. So when I quit football, I quit the one thing we had in common. It’s almost as if I had killed someone close to him. He did not speak to me for almost two years.
It was around Thanksgiving when he finally called. He said he wanted me to come over and have dinner. I was nervous. Like I said, my Dad was so intimidating. I remember he came over to pick me up and I went to his house. He had a nice house and had made a nice life for himself with his wife and child. I felt out-of-place, and in so many ways I didnt. It’s hard to explain, I’ve always been able to go into an uncomfortable situation and make the best of it. My Dad was really funny. Really brutal jokes and stories about his life that for some people sounded scary and sketchy but he could make them really funny. I recall one story where he pulled a gun on a guy at a gas station cause the guy was threatening him with a baseball bat. A- why was a guy trying to beat him with a bat? and B- why did Dad have a gun? Even this story was funny the way Dad told it. We sat down for a meal, and he explained to me how he wanted to know me again. How could I say no? I wanted that father figure, I wanted to be around him. I know he was hard to deal with, but I cared for him so much. So after that dinner, we started talking regularly on the phone and I would go up to his shop and work for him; sweeping or running to get everyone lunch. Like I said, cars and I dont really mix. This went on for a bit until I started to get the itch to do something. My good friend Shane had moved to Boston to go to Berklee college of music and was constantly telling me how much fun he was having up there. So one day, I decided it was time for a move. I thought about saving money or something, then going to college in boston, but I was ready to go now. I talked to mom about it, she was supportive of course, and I talked to Dad also. I couldn’t believe it! He thought it was a great idea. So Shane and I planned a move. Shane came home for Christmas and we planned to leave that January for boston. We rented a uhaul and did all the normal moving crap. Moving sucks! Especially a 2k mile drive. It was the great unknown and I was pumped. By the time January rolled around Dad and I had actually gotten close. We would laugh a lot, and he actually had a lot of good advice. While in prison my father got saved. Everything he said to me by this point was Bible based, but I didnt mind. It was better to hear the positive than the negative. The day we moved was actually really hard for me. I remember getting emotional with my mom - she is my best friend. Why the hell was I leaving? She said you have to….. this is your time to shine. Mom always says the right thing. My dad was sad to see me go as well, but of course his way of showing it was more manly and refrained. As I said goodbye to him he hugged me and put an envelope in my pocket. He said good luck son. Those were great words to my ears. My dad was actually supporting my decision. It felt so good to finally have some sort of approval that I had desperately needed from him for so long. When I got in the truck I checked the envelope, Dad and his wife had given me a large some of money to help get me started. He called me later that day and said ” I hope it helps, Im trying to make up for lost years.” I appreciated it greatly, who wouldn’t? Dad had become a great friend. A great giver of wisdom. It was really nice to understand what having a mother and father meant. I had friends all through the years who didnt understand my need to or desire to have that feeling. Parents……. I finally had them.
Boston was great for me, I learned a lot. I worked at the Perkins school for the blind and sometimes Shane would have me come up to Berklee to play with him and some of his school friends. It didnt take long to figure out I was never going to make it into Berklee. The cost and the academics were too much for me. Boston was a wonderful town, so much to do and so much history, but I had no future there. I decided to leave Boston and head home. In some ways this felt like complete defeat. Mom of course was supportive and Dad was actually a little upset at me. He wanted me to stick it out, he said. But really, he wanted me to come home. I had saved a little money so I rented a van and moved back. When I got home, I had no plans, no future, I had no idea what to do. My Dad immediately offered me my job back. But this time, I decided to take interest in his interests, or at least try. It’s funny when you have no aptitude towards something but you still try to do it. I was trying everything: sanding, bando, primer, paint, fabrication. I sucked at all of it. Sometimes he would giggle and say, ” I honestly dont know if you’re mine, Son.” I would laugh it off, but sometimes it stung. A couple of years after Boston, my dad unveiled his masterpiece. It was a 1949 mercury coupe. He had chopped the top and done every possible thing you could imagine to it. This car was unlike most of my dads creations. It was beautiful but almost gaudy. My dad was known for being a bit gaudy but still keeping it classy. He named the car ” Heavens to Mercatroid.” Hilarious, but so awesome. What a bad ass! He made shirts, hats, all that crap. This car was the culmination of 4 years of hard work. My dad built cars for rich guys, investors. This investor had spent a ton of money, close to a half million. Ridiculous to be spent on the car, but some men are relentless. They decided to sell the car at the famous Barret Jackson Auto Sales in Scottsdale, Arizona. This was a big event for my dad. It was kind of his dream to go out there with all the big boys of custom and classic cars. Dad assembled a team, and we made our way to Scottsdale. 1, 759 miles of long lonely road to Arizona. I loved the idea. I had 1,759 miles to hang with my dad, 1, 759 miles to just be around him day in and day out. It was really fun; hotels, rest stops, big dinners, lots of laughs, the open desert. My dad told so many stories on the way out there. He had traveled this road many times. When my father was 15, he picked up his things, got in a car, and drove himself to LA. This was not surprising considering he had been kicked out of every school he had been in. He even got kicked out of military school. So a move to LA made sense for him. LA: a land of the lost and unforgiving, a perfect place for my father as a young man. In LA my dad worked for a bunch of mechanics and finally got into racing. I could be wrong about this, but I’m almost certain he said Nascar started right there on the beaches of California. My father met his first wife there, and had two children with her. I dont remember her name or the kids, but I do know that to the end of his life, his kids would not see him. In their eyes, he did not exist. This was hard for him. I know he thought of those kids and his life out in LA often.
By the time we reached Scottsdale, we were all geared up and ready to show the car. Dad was actually acting excited. We walked around the car show looking at all the great cars from famous people and famous builders. My dad always admired Boyd Cottington. I always thought his cars were ugly, but what the hell did I know? Dad’s investor was there, everyone was there. We prepared the car, getting it ready to be shown. Dad just knew the car would sell for a great amount of money. As the car rolled onto the stage, I realized that this was the most vulnerable my father had ever been. His masterpiece was being scrutinized by so many car lovers, arrogant car lovers, rich men just there to get a toy, you name it they were on the stage. I could see in my dad’s eyes the fear…. the one thought……. the sadness…… this was the end of his time with this car. At this point I had so much respect for my dad. I saw how much he truly cared for his craft. This was his art. This car summed up the last 4 years of his life. I think he was heartbroken to see it come to an end. Early speculation had Dad thinking the car would sell for a couple hundred grand maybe even up to the price of the build of the car. Dad’s investor was on the stage with him. He had been acting strange most of the day, and dad was suspicious. The bidding had begun….. the bidding will start at 50,000….. and no reserve. Dad was shocked 50k at no reserve. Someone was going to walk out of that building with his car for nothing. Bidding continued… 50!60!70! it actually looked like it might keep going. 80! 85????? 85???? anyone? selling the car for 85???? going once? going twice? sold!! to the man with the cowboy hat! We were in shock, disbelief. I could see my dad was really upset. He realized at this point his investor was just ready to get rid of it. The investor stated, “Too much money, too much money big griff.” It was costing the investor way more than he had planned to just have it. I guess at this point he just wanted to be out of it. What could my father do? nothing… Just time to tuck tail and go home. I can honestly say after this point my father would never be the same. His pride, his passion, his art had no value. The drive back home was a long and hard time. My dad was a bit destroyed over the car. In a lot of ways you can’t blame the investor. My dad went spending crazy on that car and spent way more than he ever should. I think he just got caught up in the game of being a car builder. I tried to console him, but I knew at this point things had changed. A huge door had closed, and a new door whether he liked it or not was opening. This would be the last car my father would ever complete…..to be continued………
September 1, 2009
When I was a kid, there were only a few undeniable facts in my life. 1- voltron reigned king, 2-I loved food, and 3- my dad was never around. My father seemed to be in the house only for a few moments a week. I can honestly say to this day that I don’t really know if he ever officially lived in our house . It always felt like,” hey! Here is my dad who is actually just my older friend that takes me on fast car rides and gets me thai food while his dry cleaning is getting done.” Dad always seemed to be wearing lots of heavy jewelry and was always in a nice suit. He would sometimes take me to business meetings with him that seemed more like a secret society gathering than a meeting. Shady characters, shady places, shady deals. I knew my father was a business man, but not the kind I would ever want to deal with. He owned various car, boat, and muffler shops throughout the southeast. I recall one shop called DynaFlight, which was a speed shop for racing boats. Dynaflight was downtown Fort Walton on the way to the sound(the inter coastal waterway). I remember this shop because it represented the prime of my fathers life as a business man, or whatever he was. Even as a kid I knew shady deals and wrong doings were happening behind closed doors at Dynaflight. There were always other business associates around that could make me feel 1 inch tall, something only a greedy business man can accomplish. But beyond the shady deals and shady places, was a man I called Dad, my anti-hero. I say my anti-hero because I knew I never wanted to be like him, but I loved him. He had charisma, he could talk to anyone, he was feared. To this day, if I wear a black coat and cowboy boots, I’m almost guaranteed dirty looks at any place where old timers that knew my dad would go. I supposedly look just like him now. He always had a beard, and I have a beard. He was tall, I am tall. He was big, and I am big. We share a love for a good pair of boots and a nice blazer. Its weird to look so similar to someone for whom you are so different. My mom would always say to me when I was younger and acting like a shit, “That’s just like your father.” At a young age I didn’t care, but as I got older, it became more real to me daily. I never wanted to be like my dad. He had the gift of intimidation, or rather the curse of intimidation. Dad had no reservations about fighting someone, or threatening them to fight if he didn’t get his way. I had friends when I was younger who’s parent wouldn’t let me stay over because of who my father was. I guess they didn’t want to get caught up in anything strange. My mom caught the worst of it. My dad was not a faithful man. He has children all over and had many mistresses. Its hard to understand why or how a woman like my mother, who is the most giving and honest person I know, could end up with such an outlaw, but she did, and I am here because of it. Dad taught me exactly how I didn’t want to be with women. My father was a bit notorious, always being watched by the authorities. He always had a reputation for being a bad boy. So eventually, the authorities would catch up with him. Dynaflight would become the demise of my father’s reign as a powerful business man. His partners from all the years of business would all come forward to rat him out. My dad lost all his money, businesses, and friends. He was indited for fraud. This was a huge blow to the family. My father had every one’s money tied up, including his parents and my mother. My grandparents lost their home on the water, and my mom went bankrupt. As a kid, I had no clue what this really meant, but I would come to learn fast. My grandparents took it the hardest I think. My grandfather, Julius stated,” I will never see my son go to jail” and he didn’t. Julius died two weeks before my fathers sentencing. My dad never got to say goodbye. This was even harder considering that Julius and my dad were not close. Having no closure with his father plagued my dad for the rest of his life. My dad was sentenced to 15 years in prison. I spent many weekends, Christmas’s, birthdays, etc, at the prison visiting with my dad. It was a surreal experience. You would be amazed at all the different kinds of people in prison. Some crooks, some in the wrong place at wrong time kind of thing, some musicians, politicians, lawyers, doctors. You often think of prison as a place only for the bad, but there were a lot of good men in there that I met, men that would stay friends with my dad and family for the rest of our lives.
My mother and father had split up a short time before his arrest and Dad had started dating his secretary. This was super weird and even I knew it at a young age. Mom and Dad still had business ties. Mom had lost everything because of a man she wasn’t even with anymore. His secretary was a good woman, sad to see her get dragged into this, but my dad had a way about him, a power. About fives years into my dads sentence, Dad and his secretary got married. Marriage in jail? What the hell? I had gotten older by this point and this new marriage was hard to swallow. But what could you do? Nothing. You just have to take what you are given sometimes. I think my mom was still battling her heartbreak from my dad. She always loved him with all of her heart. My mom’s love was unconditional love. It was hard to see her go through even more pain when he remarried. We kept at it, going to visit, trying to go on with our lives as a normal family would. My mom was constantly struggling to make money for us. She had two, three, sometimes four jobs just to buy us food and keep a place for us to live. I get butterflies to this day thinking about the hell she had to endure just for me and my sister and uncle. She is the strongest person I’ve ever met. Years passed and finally dad was moved to a half-way house. I was in my teens now, and had grown my own opinion and attitude towards the whole father son thing. The half-way house allowed me to see my dad a few days a week outside the prison walls. It was cool, you could tell he was trying to make up for lost time and that he had a life changing experience in prison. I think that’s what prison is really about, helping someone become a better person and not just punishment. After a year of half-way house, Dad was set free on probation. I don’t know for sure, but I think he had served 8 years of his 15 year sentence. I remember him calling to say he was out. I was happy but I knew my mom was worried. I think in some ways his imprisonment gave my mom some relief. No harm could be done while he was in there. But this was our reality, he was out. Years went by and I saw my dad a good bit. He had started a custom car business that never took off, but he was a craftsman. People always loved his cars and trucks. His attention to detail was insane. The years rolled on and on, and we had a semi normal relationship. He took interest in my interests, like football and music. I think it’s every American father’s dream to see their son play football. I think it’s hilarious but it made him so proud. The peak of my father’s approval came when I got a scholarship for football. I had received a full scholarship to the University of Houston Cougars. This is a little disappointing for a man who’s pride and joy was the crimson tide, but none the less, he was proud. I spent two years at Houston playing football, before I decided to leave college to pursue music. I was a bad student with learning disabilities, and playing football wasn’t my dream come true. When I left college my father was destroyed. His all American son became the all American bum, but for me, life was finally starting. When I came home after dropping out, my father was enraged at me. He couldn’t understand how I could not play. I don’t think he even cared about the academic part of it. So dad got mad and we did not speak for a few years. To be continued………….
August 27, 2009
My mom called me at about 8 this morning to invite me to an estate sale just down the street from my house. I usually really enjoy these functions with my mom, not to mention my aunt was with her, who makes any adventure more of an adventure. They came and picked me up around 8:30, and we headed down to the sale. We drove for just a bit trying to spot what house was having the sale, and finally we saw a massive flock of cars and trucks. This must be the place. The house was at the end of a very old road called wagon wheel. Now I have seen this street for years and always wondered what was down it. There were many great houses and one house even had a stable. It looked right out of Helen Ga. I was thinking to myself, on the walk down to the sale and looking at all the wonderful houses,”Geez, some people have it all.” This is just my jealousy raging out because some people got lucky years ago and found a nice house tucked away on wagon wheel. The sale was being held at a huge house right on the water. Mom said to me,” I know the people who lived here, he was a doctor. I wonder where they are?” The house was great, huge yard, giant garage, balconys, only 1 neighbor, and most importantly…..beautiful oak trees filled with moss. For some people this might be a burden, but for me it’s beauty. If someone were asked to make a painting of the south, I’m almost sure that a giant oak tree filled with moss would be in the picture somewhere. The first place I walked into was the garage filled with old furniture and knick knacks – old tools, old signs, stuff hipsters would freak over. I came across this one piece of furniture and thought to myself, “Hmm, what a nice desk.” But this was no desk, this was a piano from the 1800′s. I always loved seeing this stuff. The craftsmanship that went into this piano was phenomenal. It was made of walnut and looked like someone’s life work. I stared at it for a moment not realizing what was sitting right next to it, a pump organ from the late 1800′s. I was blown away. I said to the salesman,”Does it play?” He said sure it does. So I pump it a bit and play a few notes, and that’s all it took. I was in love. I said “I’ll take it.” It was a great deal and I figured they had no clue what they had in there garage. The salesman told me to pay at the end before I left. I made my way into the main part of the house. It was filled with antiquities. I looked around noticing all the great things and great deals. I finally made it upstairs where my mom and Aunt were looking at some really old quilts. My aunt said, ” They must have owned a shop, cause there is so much craft stuff in this house.” It was true, every room was filled with sewing and quilting materials, fabric, cloths, collectors plates, fine china, you name it. Hanging on the wall, were some of the old quilts. Aunt Dee was really taken back by some of them. She was holding one quilt in amazement. She said to me, “This quilt is special.” It was a very detailed multi pattern quilt. I was impressed, but more impressed when she flipped it over and showed me the hand stitching. She stated, “They don’t make them like this anymore.” I sat there for a moment and pondered…… This quilt…..so much time went into it. I can only imagine what this person went through in their life while making it. We sometimes don’t think about where things come from, or what long road or path they came down to get to us. Especially art! Someone was going to buy this quilt today and never look back and never think about what heart and soul was poured into the making of this fine piece. I guess the same can be said about paintings, photography, love songs:) I was almost tempted to buy it just to preserve its legacy as someone’s creation. As I went through the rest of the house, I saw awesome furniture, decanters, tables, dishes, desks, coat racks. This is someone’s legacy… someone’s whole life…..and I’m here buying it up…taking it to my home for a new chapter. I can’t help but think where all this stuff came from. Where was it made? How did they get it? Was it passed down from generations before? It’s sad to see someone’s life come to an end, to see all they have cared about in the years to be sold off in a swank garage sale. But that’s how life works. I think Ben Folds said it best:
“And life barrels on like a runaway train
Where the passengers change
They don’t change anything
You get off; someone else can get on”
Life is always rotating, changing, evolving. I am just a speck. But I hope someone will play my new pump organ long after I’m gone.
August 26, 2009
I’m sitting here on a Tuesday night, half drunk and getting over a massive pasta meal that I prepared in honor of Ava’s first day back to college. College sucks.. In almost every way. Except for the few great friends that come out of it and the almost perfect feeling of camaraderie, if you attended a great college. I, of course, did not. But the college I did go to, The University of Houston, was so rewarding in a lot of ways. I made some great friends, and I made some enemies. Texans and Floridians don’t mix. Especially right wing republicans and a beach kid with close to liberal views. But Texas taught me a lot. It taught me to open up, it taught me to live a little, and it taught me there is a lot more out there to see. I think of my college friends frequently, and I wonder if they think about me. I did things there I never thought I would do. Drink, fish, and hunt. I still don’t like hunting, but the boys from the big state demanded I go shoot. I played only two years of football for Uof H, but I miss it daily. It’s a part of my life that I will never forget.
I just took about a two hour break from this blog, to experience one of the best video chats in the history of my doing video chats. It was with Ava (on my end) and two old friends, Chris, and Kevin. They are of twothirtyeight fame. Even though I had not spoken with them in many years, it was as if we had never missed a beat. Real friends are great, you can always pick up where you left off. We sat there goofing off and remembering old situations that were hilarious, like most friends would. I’m thankful we reconnected.
Everyday on Camborne seems to be better than the last. It was beautiful today, I hope it will be beautiful tomorrow…..