Dénouement

white rose2

Apologies for being so quiet of late. In the first hour of November 10, 2019, my beloved and seemingly invincible Mom died, and I just haven’t felt like writing. Or reading or commenting.

Mom was 94 and had recently undergone emergency surgery for scar tissue blockage in her intestine. During tests before surgery, the doctor also diagnosed severe liver cirrhosis. (Seventy years of hybrid martinis can cause that. But my parents did cherish their evening cocktail time.)

Anyway, although the surgery was successful, her failing liver and age-related fragility couldn’t handle the surgical trauma, and Mom decided it was time to join Dad in that mysterious ether on the other side. “I’ve had a good life. Dad’s waiting for me,” she told me in the hospital. So our family placed her in hospice care until her peaceful end.

Unlike with Dad, who died suddenly in his sleep 13 years ago, I had opportunity to repeatedly tell Mom that I love her. I was able to apologize for the times I got angry with her, and for forgetting cards and flowers on her birthday and Mother’s Day. I also thanked her, albeit clumsily, for everything she’d done for me, and for us as a family. So despite her feeling “like hell…H-E-L-L” (a direct quote), for me there was some of that merciful closure which we all value, yet which many of us are sadly deprived of.

Therefore, I’m hoping I won’t need individual and group therapy like I did with Dad’s death. We’ll see…there’s still time. (You know me, Mom.)

“Writing for yourself is self-serving. Writing for others is pandering. You write for the thing that needs said”—Unknown

Speaking of time, now is a good time to take stock. I began longitudes seven years and 170-odd posts ago (and I do mean “odd”). It was originally called Latitudes, and I launched it to promote my blubber book. But like rock ‘n’ roll, it soon grew out of control. If you’re interested in seeing how quickly innocence can evaporate in an Age of Treason, here’s my very first WordPress article: a rather insipid story about Lynn and me visiting Ohio Amish country in October 2012. If I recall, we bought some award-winning Guggisberg baby Swiss cheese for Mom on that visit.

I discovered not long ago, during my never-ending quest for an uncomplicated life (which the Amish also strive for, though for slightly different reasons), that—while I will always have an urge to write—social media platforms are not as imperative as one might think. I also plan to expend my writing energies on another Pulitzer Longitudes Prize-winning book, rather than WordPress. So my activities here are going on hiatus with those on Facebook and LinkedIn, up there in the barn loft.

It’s a bittersweet moment.  I love writing these miniature “mind blasts.”  While some are spontaneous, most I labor over for days, occasionally weeks.  I’ll be driving to work, or running on the bike trail, and one word will spring to mind to replace another that I’m unhappy with.  Or something will sound too sour, and I’ll return to add some sweetener (getting harder to do these days).

I’ve saved all of these diverse essays in hopes maybe my grandkids will one day pore over them, just to see how weird, and maybe prophetic, their Grandpa was.  That is, assuming humans still read things longer than 280 characters, and our atmosphere is intact, and our puerile leaders haven’t, in their ever-increasing hissy fits, pushed any red buttons.

But since I haven’t packed up email communication (yet), I would love to stay in touch with fellow readers and WordPressers. So please drop me an email, if not old-fashioned letter, once in a while, and I’ll do the same.

Thanks for reading and for all the great conversations, everyone. Like Paul or Ringo, longitudes may threaten to do yet another tour. It depends on the amount of pressure in my shrinking brain matter, and how compelled I am to release it. Or whether I need to shamelessly plug my next Pulitzer Longitudes Prize-winning book.

***

Me, after Dad’s death: “Mom, I think we’ll all be reunited somewhere, in some way.”

Mom: “Maybe. I don’t know. My father always said ‘When you’re dead, you’re dead. That’s it.’”

Well, assuming your father’s wrong…save some vodka for me, Mom.

29 thoughts on “Dénouement

  1. Very sorry to hear about your Mother’s passing, Pete. I understand that pain.

    And I selfishly hope you will continue writing “Longitudes.” I’d hoped by now to be writing a blog myself, and still hope to get that going in the new year. We’ll see. Either way, “Longitudes”has been an inspiration for me to get on it.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Robert, and great to hear from you. I’ve had a great time with this blog…maybe again down the road apiece. Please let me know if and when you get started on your own gig.

  2. I’m so sorry to learn of the loss of your mother, Pete. Loss of parents is so hard. I’ve enjoyed your posts and will miss them . . . I have your Evergreen Dreaming and when I get back to reading (I haven’t been too well lately) I’ll review it if I’m able to start doing reviews.

    • Thanks, Leah. Yes, it’s difficult, especially when you’re a close family like we are. It’s part of life, unfortunately, but having friends like you that understand is real helpful.

      Thinking of you and Franklin, and hope you feel better real soon!

  3. Pete, I send my condolences. I’m very sorry about your loss.

    I don’t know your email address. You’ll find mine at the bottom of the email that WordPress sends to you to let you know that I wrote a comment. Let’s stay in touch.

    Neil

  4. Peter your mom seemed like a no-nonsense lady with a good midwest mindset. May her memory always be a blessing to you! I assure she is proud or you, despite your many doubts. Looking forward to seeing your next book. Do NOT drift away somewhere.

    • I’ll stay close to WP, and your blog, Phil. Lots of memories of Mom. You hit the nail on the head, she was definitely no-nonsense. “Feisty and stubborn” (descriptors I added to her self-penned obit). While she had many years in the Midwest, she never totally lost her metropolitan NYC roots. Very sophisticated taste in art, clothing, and food, and made many trips to Europe.

      See you ’round the campfire, or at the next Tom Rush show!

      • Actually, she was from Glen Ridge, NJ, but the town is essentially a NYC suburb. She and my dad both worked in Manhattan until I was 3. We then moved to Massachusetts, then Ohio when I was 5. Her full obit is at “Nancie Kurtz.” (I added the feisty and stubborn paragraph after she died!)

  5. So sorry to hear about your mother. She would be pleased with your essay. It’s humbling to go back to our early writings that were full of confidence and energy (and spelling errors and descriptions that seemed clever at the time that now make us shake our heads).
    You write beautifully, and I always learn so much from your posts. I’m happy you are working on more books. If you ever need a beta reader, just let me know.
    I’m not sure how long I will continue this specific blog but I do have a schedule for 2020, so one more at least.
    Best wishes for your upcoming projects. Looking forward to watching them as they climb the New York Bestseller list.

    • Hey, thanks so much, writelife. I’m glad I discovered your blog (a couple years ago?). There aren’t enough of us who want to keep alive old television. Those shows are fascinating historical documents, some are works of art, and they’re reflective of our culture at the time. Will be popping in once in a while, in 2020 and hopefully beyond!

  6. My condolences to you and the family, Pete.

    I haven’t been following long (or been around WordPress much of late), but I’ve enjoyed reading. I’ll hopefully read your book(s) one day, too. All the best.

    • Hi Robyn…thank you for the condolences, and the compliments on my writing (although all I can ever see is mediocrity!). Keep on doing your own good stuff, which I’ve really enjoyed. Maybe we can rendezvous in Edinburgh some time…I’ll buy the whiskies. 🙂

  7. Please keep writing, if for nothing else, to honor your mom. Putting your thoughts onto paper or screen is a form of therapy and will help with your grief. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

    • You’re welcome, Phil. I totally agree about writing as a way to help deal with grief. I did it with my dad, and even a few of our pets. I’ll probably be back, but want to at least take a sabbatical. Thanks much for reading my essays, and Happy Thanksgiving.

  8. We will stay in touch fella. We have more to talk about. We’re not done yet.
    Couple things in your last (I’ve seen those decisions changed) take. Are there any better words “Than I love you”? When I could finally say those words my life got better. You saying those to your mom sums it up. You put a tear in old CB’s eye. Good stuff Pete.Your grandfathers words are right up my alley. My kinda guy. Later PK.

    • Yes, we will certainly stay in touch, my friend. Longitudes may be up and running again some time, we’ll see. My mom was an interesting person. She could be very emotional when the family was involved, but she was also tough, opinionated, and sometimes indiscreet. (Like me, come to think of it.). I was amazed at her resilience after Dad died. She helped me recover!

      Anyway, all the best, and let me know when your film comes out.

      • She sounds like my kind of person. Refreshing in this day and age. Plus she probably earned every bit of it. Great stuff Pete.
        You will be back and yes we will stay in touch. Later fella.
        (Just reading Stegners ‘Crossing To Safety ‘ and i was thinking of you)

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