Friday, June 04, 2010

James: One Year Later

(Photo courtesy of Jennie Isbell.) 

Today would have been James Lacey's 42nd birthday.  Sunday will be the first anniversary of his death.  People who know more about this sort of thing than I do assure me that once the Year of Firsts is over, things  will change.  The grief won't disappear, nor would I want it to, but it will change.  We'll see.  There have been many emotional ambushes lately, probably because of the impending anniversaries, but also, as I mentioned earlier, because of the trip.  Before I left there was also a very weird week where about five plays or TV shows I saw had dead sons/brothers as surprise plot points.  Man did that get old. Finally, after one too many times sniffling and snorking excessively until intermission, I learned to have tissues handy at all times.  So, there's that.  

My friend Ellen, who is also grieving the loss of a younger brother, did something a few months back that I really liked.  On her brother Mark's birthday, she asked her friends to have an Entemann's double chocolate donut -his favorite - in his memory.  Our mutual friend Marta happened to be visiting at the time, so I bought a dozen (or was it two?) donuts for she, Bill, and I to share.  DAMN they are some good donuts, but I don't recommend having more than one at a sitting, or even in a single twenty-four hour period.  I think my heart palpitations only stopped a couple of days ago.  

So, I want to suggest something like that in memory of James.  There's nothing quite as clear-cut in the way of favorites with him, at least I'd be hard pressed to pick a single food he really loved.  Actually, he'd probably have loved those same donuts, but the one food I can remember him getting really excited about was, well, salad.  The man loved his salad.  He always complained after devouring one in a restaurant that "it was too small."  And I use the word 'devour' advisedly.  Mary always said, seeing James eat a salad wasn't pretty.  It was a bit like watching a lion take down a gazelle. And I'm not talking the quiet aftermath when the lion munches contentedly on the slightly-quivering-but-mostly-still corpse, I'm talking the heart-pounding terrifying scene of the lion literally taking down the gazelle.  Lotta gusto.  He got in the habit of having salads as his afternoon snack.  Mom and Mary nearly strangled him when they learned that.  It's just unnatural, is what it is.  Snacks aren't supposed to be good for you.  He was as much of a foodie as the rest of us, and always enjoyed big feasts, but seemed to be constitutionally unable to over-do in most cases.  He never had more than a single glass of wine, for example.  A second one always gave him a headache.  Maybe the Quaker genes were just a bit stronger in him than they are in the rest of us.  Little weirdo.  

So, like, if you want to have a James Lacey commemorative salad, well, that's swell, I guess (ya little weirdo).  But here are a few other suggestions for things you might do over the next three days, if you've a mind, whether you knew him or not.    

Snoogle a big dog.  Extra credit if you take it for a long walk.  

Take a housebound (or merely carless) friend grocery shopping.    

Call, visit, or invite over for tea anyone you suspect is hiding from the world, due to a divorce, job loss, or any other psychic wound.  Risk being a bit relentless about it, a pain in the ass, even. 

Go bowling with friends. 

The man loved Tweety-bird.  I have no idea what to do with that, but if that inspires you, more power to ya.  

Invite friends over for board or role-playing games.  Snacks, if they are provided (and why the hell wouldn't they be?), should be served in bowls.  And don't worry, he always served good snacks (no salads).  

Get friends (and snacks) together for a Mystery Science Theater 3000 Marathon.  Star Trek, any of them (well, maybe not Deep Space Nine) works too. 

Amendment 6/5/10:  PIE!  I can't believe I forgot about pie!  James loved it, especially blueberry, but he'd pretty much take his pie any way he could get it.  Maybe I had blocked it out, since 'pie' was one of his stock responses to virtually any question, whether food was involved or not. Basically he just felt any situation could be improved by pie, I guess.  It's an argument worth examining, I suppose.  Thanks to friend AJB (see comments) who learned this fact from visiting Mom yesterday, while she was baking a blueberry one in James' memory.  So, that's another fine food you can have in celebration.   

Hug and kiss everyone you love, in greeting and parting.  No need to go overboard with this one; I don't think James did it with many people outside the family circle (which of course includes the dog and cat), his bowling or gaming buddies for example.  But don't miss any opportunity to say good bye to anyone.  

We miss thee, James. 


Kate D. said...

My eyeballs are all misty and my heart is huge for you today. I will take pictures of my commerative moments and report back.

"Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality." - Emily Dickenson

Rev. AJB said...

Your mom was baking a blueberry pie in his memory while she and I were visiting this morning. It was great to see Margaret; and as she said, this year has taught her what empathy is all about. Wish I could have stayed to have a piece. Depending on my Sunday plans may be with your family at Olde Richmond Inn on Sunday night for dinner.

I got to meet all the MST3K guys when I lived in the Twin Cities....must watch some when I get home in memory of James...

Peace and love....


Marta said...

oh my, thank you dear one! so many wonderful ways to "remember" james -- funny how much i feel i know him... i will be eating salad and paying extra attention to dogs and misfits in the next few days! much much love to you dear twin. miss you like crazy, want to be in touch soon....

xoxo marta

Java said...

After hearing stories of James, I now think of him every time I see a wine cork. There is a champaign cork on the floor in my office right now that the cat has been playing with. I think of James, and I think of you, and my heart warms.

Kate D. said...

I'm still working on the other items, but I enjoyed a fantastic salad and raised my Newman's Own Dressing packet in James's honor this evening.

Ellen Skilton-Sylvester said...

Oh Patrick. I'm thinking of you and feeling so grateful to know you better in our overlapping grief. I love your list and will think of you and James and your whole family in this anniversary weekend. Much love to you all. XO Ellen

Patrick said...

Kate: Sweet Lady, how lovely of you not only to do SEVERAL items on the list, but then to document them as well! That warms my heart more than you can know. And Emily, she just gets it, doesn't she. Thank you for that as well.

AJB: Thanks for checking in with Mom, I'm sure she appreciated the conversation greatly. And how could I have forgotten about pie! I will amend the list shortly.

Marta: Dear twin, yes, dogs and misfits, that about sums it up (and as AJB reminds me, also pie). Hm. Dogs, Misfits and Pie sounds like a good book title. Feel free to use it, if thee likes. :) Can't wait to talk.

Java: I can never see a cork without wanting to add it to Mary's 'collection" too. I think James would have been delighted to know that trigger has spread to so many other wonderful people like yourself. I know you like a guy who hugs with conviction, and James was one of the best at it. I'm sorry you never got to experience that.

Java said...

I am, too. I'm thinking of you today. And with your mention of pie, I might have to do something about that in my kitchen today. I know a few people around here who would appreciate it. A James Lacey Memorial Pie. I'm thinking pumpkin.

I love you

Birdie said...

Oh, Patrick, my heart fills when you write of your brother. Your love for James shapes every sentence with laughter and ache. Such sweet memories, and true: we miss ALL of a person, not just the "good" stuff but the puzzling and maddening as well. The loss is complete. My love to you and your family on this anniversary.

Jeaux said...

Yesterday while hanging out in Naples with my friend Kathy, we trolled up and down 5th Avenue in search of lunch, settling, finally on McCabes, the big Irish bistro, with its outdoor tables and ice cold beers. We both ordered the Island Salad, sumptuous with grilled chicken, mixed greens, strawberries, pineapple and vinaigrette. When the server came to clear our dishes, scraped to the porcelain with scarcely a leafy fragment in sight, he said that we seemed to have enjoyed the salad. I was moved to remark that it was the best I’d ever eaten. I realize now that it was my James Lacey memorial salad. Thank you James. I was going to try replicating it at home, but I won’t do that. I’ll revisit McCabe’s instead.

Kate D. said...

Patrick, I've never seen a single episode of Mystery Science Theater before in my life. But guess what I did tonight?

This one is for James!

Greg said...

I've been gone from here a while, but I can attest that James is often in my thoughts, from the blooming of the Gypsy Princess iris to the rainbows on the wall...and yes, yesterday morning as I cleaned up after a successful dinner party and added to the Cork Collection that started just about a year ago.

It's been far too long since I've made a pie.