Thursday, January 28, 2010

Accordion Angst

Well, a friend pointed out that it has been a really long time since I blogged. Three months ago seems like a lifetime. In the past 3 months,
1. my best friend finished the edits on her book,
my friend Wendy produced two of her new plays to rave reviews
3. I enrolled in a grief support group
4. Started working on my book again-draft 3
5. I bought a raw food recipe book.
6. my younger brother, Henry, died

my brother died. That doesn't seem possible. That can't be right. I'm not anywhere near acceptance on this. A perfectly good brother I have known for for 55 and a half years, was maybe a little worn out...well, completely worn out, the warranty was up on those parts. Spirit still strong, body trashed. We used to joke about 'well, if I'd known I'd live this long, I would have taken better care of it.' Yeah,'s to taking care of it.

So I'm doing it for him, taking care of this old bod in the hopes that my parts will last, all buffed up with yoga, walking, herbal cleansing, good nourishing thoughts, and let's not forget, music.

What it must have felt like for him to know 'the big one' was stalking him. It could have been either a heart attack or a stroke. Cardiologists couldn't figure out how he was still walking around. I'm sure he worried about harm to others, like if he was driving when it happened. I didn't get to talk to him about it. I didn't want to believe it was imminent.

Anyway, speaking of accordions. Brother Bill's joke: a guy wanted to get rid of his accordion so he took his car down to a bad neighborhood with the accordion in the back seat, left it unlocked, and when he came back the next morning, there were two accordions in the back seat. Ha ha

Bill's good friend Sam gave me his father's accordion, An Anderson System Dallape, purchased when his Dad was a kid. The box says 1936 on it. It is smaller than a lady's medium, made in Italy. No plastic anywhere. The following photos just show how much fun you can have without even playing it. I am in accordion kindergarten presently, but I love the sound which is somewhere between an organ, a calliope, and a train's moaning call.

See what I mean? This looks like the sound coming out of the accordion. Whoa.

Okay, Back to my brother...clearly part of getting over such a huge loss is time, but maybe also some effort. So Bill sent me half of Henry's ashes and the first installment entered the Flathead River last week by Buffalo Bridge.

Some of Henry's best moments were spent in, on and around water: kayaking Hawaii's coastline and running wild rivers in California, Oregon and Idaho. Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island can't possibly be the same without his kayaks sliding into the bay, helping tourists paddle over to the Captain Cook Monument, dodging dolphins, snorkeling crystal waters, and rocking on the tidal swell. Also bothering Fern Pule, at the heaiau which has been caretaken for centuries by the same families.

Henry's first wild river ride had to be the Carmel River.
A memorable and hair raising rafting trip had twelve year old Henry and his friend Michael Bull in a rubber duck
careening toward the sea, virtually airborn from the roiling swell. The frightened parents were racing to bridges in the car, screeching to a halt just in time to see this yellow missile flying under the bridge carrying their darlings alongside cartwheeling trees, dead animals and tidal waves of white water. It became part of family lore, how those two boys didn't die in the massive water spout produced by the collision between the flood level Carmel River and the Pacific Ocean at Monastery Beach. He was hooked after that.

So our plan is to sink Henry bones in all the rivers we can think of.
Bill and I already visited the Carmel River in December with a deposit. Then when I came back to Montana, Bill took off for Yosemite and in all the wild rivers Hen used to dip into, buck through rapids, and have near death experiences, Bill placed those ashes. Henry taught me so much over the years about how you rise out of the ashes of your own life again and again. He did it with some style and grace, honesty and humor. It was a life.


pvslayer said...

This is beautiful, Jul. I love the picture of Henry and your obituary is lovely. I prayed for my dad a lot after he died, and it was good. I'll pray for Henry too.
ps.your description of those kids is hilarious and perfect. I'm there.
thanks for mentioning it. I have to figure out what to do to make the transition from PVS...sniff.

Angela said...

Love you, Jules, and peace to Henry.

Cindy said...

Great tribute to your brother, Jule. It sounds like he lived life to the fullest and you've made him an inspiration to others even after he's gone. The picture of your reflection in the accordion is beyond cool!!!! Cindy D.

Gary said...

Great to see you blogging again, Julie. So sorry about your brother. All of us are reaching that age where these things happen. Your writing is as sharp and touching as it ever has been. Love you bunches,