Friday, September 13, 2013

Silence is Sound, and Love, Profound

When I realized I was alone for the first time in a while, here in my sisters Dixie and Charlotte's house, I actually started laughing with glee! It's such a nice place. Compared to the amount of space we'd been living in in San Diego, it's a positive mansion, though it's far cozier with two bedrooms, two baths and two big living rooms and a great kitchen and dining nook and computer room (where I sit now with the door open and everyone home, Dixie busy with Chili Mac). The front yard's comforting and flowing with flowers; the back yard's full of lively little dogs at play. It's the kind of place a deer might appear any given morning. Just to sit next to the window and smile and know I am loved and trusted in this place and I'm free to work on anything I enjoy? Wow, take a walk and run over the story I've just been hired to do for a friend? And eat anything in this fridge? And the Replacements are back together and my friend April Star Davis, the jewelry crafter, has posted their set list for three shows? I literally couldn't squeeze in everything I could enjoy---I had my guitar out practicing, too---and it turns out the Sisters were having a fun time with a couple of girl friends, at Traci's place. I would've had fun no matter what I did that day. This one time, being alone and welcome was precious beyond measure. It set the tone for this visit, too. I have a room full of people to socialize with, and a healthy list now unpacked and progressing.
Speaking of progressing lists, the one in Dixie's head gets check after check; her Peacock feathers from Hong Kong are the most likely contents of the package Charlotte brought in, to join a cornucopia of wedding ceremonies purchased since our last visit. It's such a romantic companion to our visit in Georgia, that it's given me the green light to write all about love again, and take inspiration from what love has taught me in many forms. The Stephen King memoir on writing I'm reading just affirmed my readiness to start assembling Loving Kaya, believing the emotional strength of our little emergent community here will keep my days bright enough to connect with the best of an experience that will take some daring to relive, some levity over recounting what was once believed, and the verities that shine on through. The hope was to tell a story of deep securities and lifelong trust, and a version of it, offered, broken and renewed as its true form. It was just so personal that it could only be told when one is ready to deal with the insecurities the telling may raise. A little levity and reasons to smile should be in plentitude, other things, free to come to mind, if one is to tell of great light and love descending into darkness and not spend undue time in misery over a dream.

A heartbreaking and tender story may have heartbreak and memories of joy, but its truth resonates even as the next story that will come true begins to do so.

What has come to me is that we are here to directly share in some of the heartbreak of our loved ones, more directly.
It's wonderful to have a chance to make art and try to shine lights into these lives, yet sometimes we are simply called upon to understand and take some share of a common pain. Depressing as some stories are, sometimes people just need to talk to you about what's happened, what they lost, who they miss having at hand to love. While they are being here for us, we're here to be there for them, too. All of them still have good moments, good memories left to make, too, and that's so much of what I want to do here!

The quiet of my father's birthday
Other pieces of story telling inspiration---of living in my own, real life's story--- came together on my dad's birthday.

I was so excited, the first two weeks or so we were back in town, I couldn't sleep more than four hours at a time, for anything! Going to sleep and waking with daydreams, plans that needed to be pushed forward with research or practice, and some bright fantasies that just maybe could come true---thoughts that are meant to be some comfort and make life better, regardless.

It was the potential of everything, you know: yes, no real face on a lot of things yet, still getting the lay of the land, but our hopes and the sense of family were everything. How much we can inspire, how much good we can keep doing for ourselves and encourage in others as they are ready (and that's the big thing: when people aren't ready for a change, they don't find the energy for it, because why bother?). Plus, there's so much I wanted to accept, to experience, in them and in our surroundings, just as they are. I wanted to watch the Waltons with Mom and Project Runway with Dixie, do some of their things with them, listen to them. It's really only myself and the changes I've tried to take on and keep that require my attention; it's tricky not getting lost in them, while still participating and appreciating them and what we could do. That's why I went to my Mom's rec center and ended up doing karaoke with the senior citizens while she shot pool! It's taken me to church many times now. I walked outside on Gayle Way, remembering all the imaginary stories I put together walking that one piece of road, or that place in the trees behind the house, still playing, in a way. I just wanted to enjoy the peace of thinking out on a road aside from the highway, in front of a house I felt at home in, again, like those years before. I found the activity a pleasant surprise. I used it to re-assess my hopes of bringing joy tomorrow at lunch, of helping my truly heart broken people feel motivated about their health again. I realize when I tell my story, I'll have to tell theirs, too, or they wouldn't be leaning on me. There's a lot of love story in there, too, so I'll have a lot more to pick from than I did in the days when my focus suddenly narrowed on Angela and Kaya Ba-Doom, re-centering my imaginative universe.

I will feel so much anxiety if I don't do the Cease ill things, but I wanted to open up and spend time with these people, and hopefully more, now that we're back in the neighborhood. I don't want my pursuits to be all talk, and they need dedication in order to grow, but we human beings have more to offer of ourselves than simply our talents. In fact, it could just be a matter of time until more friends come along!

And what then?
The agony of pulling apart from all these people is the backside of the dream of finally going overseas.
It's always a field of possible disappointments, and many happy moments that will reward us all later with some sadness. We can only try to really tuck away as many good times as we can, and keep on the look out for what's best as days go by.

I didn't come home to my Dad, this time, and I never will again in this life, except in thoughts and memories of him. I dug into the pictures he kept with Mama, though, as she took them out of the closet to make space. I was so tired, but there's only so many days quite like that one! I wanted to bring back times when we were all younger, with us. Just let me bring a good time with me wherever I go somehow, you know?

So, I dug out a Ronnie Milsap song I loved as a boy, and an Elvis song, and a Hank Williams song, and some Dolly Parton. I found out Mom really doesn't stay home much during the day, but there were a couple of days of Seventies Country Music over the TV, and I so looked forward to challenging my music skills with songs my Mom, my in-laws, and my cousins would love! Anything could still turn out to be a big time, at that point. I tried not to put too much pressure on us, but for days there we were putting together the biggest cookout possible, to have a really big crowd. It was at least a precious dream to have for a while, seeing the faces of those I invited, picturing us all out there at Lock and Dam. I wanted to bring a real sense of festival to this sleepy place! I wanted too to embrace all these forgotten pieces of happiness from my youth.

So, things have finally had a few chances to fall beneath such idyllic expectations. At least now I'm sleeping straight through! But the high of all these possible mini-dreams that preceded getting to work on them in earnest deserves some artifact, some verbal talisman that can conjure again for me in the future the thought that I could be so very happy, and maybe avoid noticing the dreams that had been swept aside. I really do have to have some quiet moments to empty my mind, though.

I would have liked to spent that time happily having dinner with Dad and doing something he liked, but it now must be done with his memory and spirit. It was already to deal with, passing a day that would be so special with me, Mom, Dad, and hopefully Debra, Angela of course if me, and other friends of theirs. Some of the others who celebrated before are not quite at hand anymore, too, through death or other social separation. Dad's old plans and charms and discussions are gone now, and somehow they seemed to be the deeper bond that made at least some of Mom's friendships possible. She's put together a busy little retired social routine herself in the effort to keep living, to keep things interesting, while being true to her nature. I gave Mom extra hugs and was glad to be around her on Dad's birthday, though. She granted me a particular request: to finally go back to his graveside for the first time.

He isn't there, as she says. For her, who spent thirty five years by his side every day, that makes a very real difference. It's okay if that place is more empty of him than her home they shared for eight years, her memories, her children. Because of her generosity, I would have a chance to sit and use that place, that grave site, for a while: to make some time just be all about him. All about me and him.
Mama pulled right up to the spot. Somehow, we missed it and made a wide-ranging trek, individually, all over Floyd Memorial. Sure enough, as if laughing beneath our notice, there lay Dad's marker. In fact, Angela Dawn found Mom's marker first, beside his.

I was admittedly a little sad, as is the case when loved ones are together and can't celebrate the day in the conventional sense with the person to whom the day seems it should belong. I enjoyed talking to my Uncle Roger, who even tried to clue me in on a job lead with the fair in Calhoun. He just asked me to stop by and tell his brother "hello, and I love him and think of him!"

I felt a bit miserable that we'd be sharing the graveside visit with my cousin and his wife, who I thought would be there to wander off track without reverence, but I told Mom okay, I'd manage. It was the first real sorrow I'd felt since we moved from California. I sent a picture of a flower to the one person with whom I'd just lost those few corrosive moments a day, being angry. She sent one back. I was surprised! I didn't think she'd even find that carnation. It was good to feel there was peace between us, even if we couldn't simply pick up with the love we thought we shared. I told her I was visiting Dad's grave on his birthday. I'm not surprised she didn't know what else to say. I wonder if she realizes the significance of a carnation, versus a rose. But then, a carnation was all it took to begin truly winning the love of my life!

So we picked up my cousin, and he didn't disappoint me with his funny, shallow theories on different traits of ourselves and life. I didn't hesitate to tell him the Ironclad nation mentioned in the Biblical book of Daniel wasn't necessarily Russia and the precipice of a present apocalypse, and he and his wife discussed road kill and how his sister and her rapscallion kids are doing, but I felt at peace now.

So, visiting this place Mom rarely visits, we spent an hour, walking the hillside. Yes, I think if we'd paid more attention to her hint we would've stuck to a smaller area, but we spread out, as if by compulsion. At some point, I stood there and thought: "I really loved her, Dad." If our talk of dreams did not come true, you can only imagine what it was like for Mom. I am glad she went on so many trips with him after Deb and I moved out. Who knew he'd die at 59? They looked forward to traveling the whole country in an RV-type camper. Even years after the fact, such heartbreak must be acknowledged and one must move on. Perhaps it's not so bad a thing now to have someone to share various stories of Dad, though I often wonder why Mom likes to recall the siliest ones. She is definitely someone who loves an old-fashioned laugh, and can remember the minutest of details when they tickle her.
As I stop barefooted in the cemetery, during the last of the sun, I see Angela there brightening the time. Down the hill were my cousin and his wife, maybe not the most capable pair, but made for each other, I would say. Angel, he calls my wife. She's carrying some blue flowers, with a name like Monmonts, one I don't know well, Marmots (is that a kind of mammal like a beaver?). I had bought a bouquet of them as a congratulation gift for a friend's promotion at work, and kept them on the table for our Labor Day weekend get-together, which lost people to sickness and other activities quickly, but still boasted the reunion with my cousin Lora and her daughters, her brother William and his family, my cousin Patricia, and dear Uncle Roger. Maybe taking the bouquet to our friend's job might seem too romantic a gesture, but I was going to offer them if she stopped by (she was busy with her teen son though). So, a small plan went unfulfilled. But strip off a few of them to take to Dad, I thought. Now I watched Angel descend the hillside, three crosses shadowing the sunset's golden blanket, smiling, unperturbed with the flowers. Not a day has gone by I haven't told her how glad I am she's alive and sharing my life, sometimes, in just those very words.

It's not the easiest thing I suppose to go hang out next to your own grave marker. I was grateful to Mama she did this for me.
What can I tell you of my memories there? I sat before his grave, we took pictures, and I finally quietly waved away my cousin in the middle of an off-topic question just so I could sit with Dad. Mom suggested we simply take out the worn cloth flowers and leave the one, to take in a little water and remain a while. I honestly don't know that anyone will visit there that knew Dad, before that flower fades. Outside of funerals, graveyards are pretty lonely places. I sat there and thought of going camping with him, hugging him and even kissing him until I was, I thought, too big a boy to bestow such sweet sentimental gestures upon my pop, who really deserved such affection. I guess I was starting to change in my idea of what a kiss should be by then, but by remembering when I felt I had outgrown the kiss, I also realized we all three must have hugged and kissed him good night often. I do know our childhoods were very happy times for my Dad. He had his struggles, too, but he also had the reassurance that he felt he was doing the right thing, at some point. When given the chance, he, too, came home, to my mother's people, to work at Shannon Supply Hardware Store (and Dot's Variety). For Dad, it was a way to settle down. He felt God's mercy and would testify in church with such earnest tenderness. He even taught my Sunday School a few times. He's the one who really gave me the dream of owning my own business, being my own boss. He's the one who taught me to drive, who took me to the spa to work out and chill out in the sauna and whirlpool. My Dad helped me get all three of my first cars in succession. He couldn't guess what to do with a person of my supposed potential upon graduation, but he'd always guaranteed he'd whoop my ass if I quit high school. Ha, in fact, a memory of an actual spanking he gave me brought a smile to my lips.

What a great Dad he was. I'm glad I told him. I never did enough for him. I understand why people love the afterlife so. I understand why people want a Heaven in which to see such a loved one again.

With all these desires to embrace my old life in Georgia, no wonder I chose so many songs from my life with him, the songs I listened to as Mom and Dad's son.

There has been one gift I could really give him, on his birthday and often nowadays. In addition to honoring his spirit, I could bless the woman he loved.

Time with my Mom. Her spirited nature, sometimes ornery, her giving, her laughter, her same story in the same words, her Republican Christian Conservative trip and her inner wild woman. She's got some really funny stories, my Mom.

The joy we've brought her would really make Dad happy. Yes, it's not really the massive success and impressive paycheck that people need from you, so often. It's really, "will you spend time with me?"

So, we laugh. We play her favorite board game, Pollyanna, and she tells us story after story about the people she used to play this game with, all now since passed away. But they live again, and she, too, revisits being a little girl, as we engage in sarcastic taunting, root for each other to get good dice rolls, decide whether or not to send each other home and take the extra ten spaces.

There are days I just don't quite know how we're going to leave her again one day, even for our dreams.
It turns out, having been caught by life and sent home, there's plenty of people to root for us to get out (on sixes, of course) and have a good roll.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Sort of Homecoming

I try to speak honestly as possible, so when we awakened on the Greyhound bus after a short doze, I can tell you a combination of relief from the end of a long and confining ride from Cali and sheer delight at all that we left behind and more, lying ahead, made us stretch those fingers out over the seat as we crossed the Georgia line!
After a thousand miles of prairie and desert, the lush swale of pine trees on either side stirred the memory child inside. Eight years had flown by since we could spend anymore than a few days here, where Angela (the Marc Kane) and I both grew up. We’d been back twice to bury my Dad and my Aunt Linda, and once, we pinballed from house to house before tilting again for the Coast.

Even thoughts of our rediscovered and continuing ideas and plans, Kayden’s company from Arkansas on, a daydreamy re-envisioning of Ghost Rider and the Defenders versus the Satantic rocker/ demon pawn, and pure meditation could only do so much to relieve two and a half sunburnt, cramped and even occasionally air-conditionless days. It was a kind of sweet torture, to heighten the joy of seeing Mom, of eating a bowl of grits again, of feeling a bit of gentle rain after none in months of San Diego microclimate, to feel roots reaching back throughout the past century to a slower way of life and quieter places with no less sheer nature and beauty.

No lack of consistent sleep could restrain the vibrations: we were home!

There’s the one you carry in your heart, so you can be at peace wherever you travel, whatever the change of time and place. Then, there’s that sometimes shifting locale, concealing layers of memory, as much a part of your inner life, a place not everyone has, really, a place so familiar as to seem like barely noticed wallpaper one day while you dream of the many elsewheres. But One day, you find it, sometimes filled with those you knew, filled with people who recognize the same things, though this place, too, may undergo its share of changes. In American culture, it’s practically considered stagnation, to find too much the same again in a city. Yet this is the South, too, abiding place of touchstones kept as a reference point to people remembered, days past.
I was thankful for every single bit of it. Eight years of becoming my own person away from here had made it an old friend, and how are you, old friend, anyway? Friendships that have grown in potential, family ties that could use a good firm tug…all the professional concerns aside for a moment, there were a LOT of hugs to give, bread to break, time to spend together, laughs, memories, and new ones to make.

There was Mom and Dad’s best guy friend Billy, awaiting our late bus in the rain, at the Dalton terminal that’s not quite a terminal. We hit Cracker Barrel on the way home---it’s where you eat in lieu of grandma, or now great-great grandma’s, country dinner. I said the blessing over breakfast, and thanked the Lord for everything that is Georgia. You may criticize, and anywhere has details to sort through, arguments and lives that are hopefully let to live, if you don’t care a lot about what people say. It’s stringent at times, for the truly adventurous, and yet…it’s so many old things no one quite wants to throw away, along with a lot of changes that sometimes needlessly scare those conditioned against them.

Can’t you find the charm in Gospel preachers, telling Bible stories, reminding us of the cloistered elderly, evoking values that may be found by many ways, yet all for the yearning of a better world? Do you know the birds, the Crape Myrtles in bloom, the waves of heat and the cool breeze of relief, the weeping willow, the sensation of being a rock skimming the surface, not dragged down by the long lingering life entangled beneath? I dressed quickly in Dad’s old clothes, as my dress shirts had not arrived (and never would!), and proudly accompanied my Mom to church without any sleep. It’s my roots! It’s a chance to do something with Mom. It’s a place to center my mind for a bit on spiritual concerns, as they reflect in my own inner being. Something once so confining becomes an easy choice, a matter of fact chore not unlike mowing the lawn---maintenance of the beauty of appearances, through simple action. What I am need not evaporate nor be pummeled by oppression, not when there’s no need to take in negativity, real or imagined. The mysteries of my own intrigue sit quietly in my pocket. Out of sheer nostalgia, and the desire to overjoy my Mom, I’ve eagerly taken to church attendance more regularly than many of the actual members!
Then, the shopping trip…Mama takes Angela out and surprises her by handing over most of her purchases, all made in the spirit of fun. Girl friends! Finally, another lady with sweetness and vitality to do things with. Besides, Angela’s her other daughter now, too!

And the photos…I was bleary the day Mom began pulling out everything, from her great grandparents to her and Dad, a closet full of significance. Days of my childhood fall out onto the bed, even memories before of photos revisited, of times gone by before I was born. I hope to dig back into them again…it was so great to be the people who could share them.

Cutting the grass spawned a song, based on Frank Miller’s best Daredevil story, fans say, one I should complete. The push mower just made me want to sing, and riding the other mower in the back yard later gave me lots of cover to bellow my new melody, too.

It’s not cool. I’ve been cool. I’ve been edgy enough; I could still blow minds with a few things I think about. My future’s relatively unconventional. But I have values and integrity, too, regardless of post-modern modes and outrĂ© considerations. There is so much that will haunt you if you do not take it out of the pile and make peace with it.
Mom’s Pilgrims meeting at church on the last August Tuesday is a story unto itself. Watch for my blog about Free Trade, and one former lady lawyer’s efforts to meet needs in Haiti and Afghanistan. Let’s just say, elderly Southern women can really cook, and I had to have two plates of small portions to approach the grandeur of their generous sharing. We even had Pastor Mac sit with us, and for him to impress the Marc Kane herself with his earnest demeanor is no small feat! He was refreshingly forward thinking. Our Korean War vet companion was entertaining too, though without his Thirty-Aught-Six, he’s not likely to join our Sri Lankan expedition!
Peace has been predominant here in the nearly three weeks since arrival. The fun of being kidnapped by Dixie and Charlie for Steak and Shake, a weekend full of visitors, and a house and yard filled with animal life just increased that sensation: “I’m grateful for every last thing I sense.”

It took almost a full week for a touch of exhaustion to expose me to an afternoon where I missed just one person. California, it seems, will take some time to unpack---I just gave it a shot, three days ago---I shouldn’t miss her. Suddenly, a restless nap couldn’t compare to being with Angela, who was riding to the store with Charlie, and we would’ve been much too full of company then for any sad preoccupation. It would take me until Dad’s birthday to finally give in to a gesture between us. I don’t know if she loves us or the game she plays on the Internet, so why worry.

Meanwhile, I got to meet the Goddesses, my sister (in-law)’s god daughters, talented and full of promise and humor. I got to break the ice with them as well as anyone does; they are a big part of why we’re here! It’s that generation just coming up that really needs to hear about the bigger picture, to see small town people who went out into it and plan to dive back out there unafraid, who love them and their families and celebrate things back here as good, too. We need to demonstrate you can go out and take a big risk and hold onto your self, changing all the while into someone stronger. A future film maker and artist just might take a cue from us and reach their potential much sooner than we could!

That’s not all. Mama and Papa Bowman remembered being the young idealists, the hippie-type folks who enjoyed singing, playing, dancing with their kids, in an old-time family sing-along. To play our songs for people I respected so much, to accrue their praise before they even knew those were our babies, was a fine feeling right there beside the big hugs. The walk through Dixie’s volunteer flower garden was another of those pleasures I’d day dreamed about in San Diego, as Georgia, my past, became more and more, my future.

Our Gay Boy friends came down to share delicious Pizza Hut, and the Goddesses’ parents came over for a galloping chat filled with enormous raw potential and alternative ideas that owe to science and comic books rather than tradition, and my head reeled as a new idea came loose and more of my plans unlocked in excited anticipation. This was before we spent the next day of four frolicking with a four year old daughter of a friend who Dixie considers family, and safe to say, we four adults embraced a much-needed playground work out with real gusto! Angela came away enthusiastic about her two new gal pals. It seems we’ll be watching our favorite show and much more with cute new friends!
I even got hired by our California friend Nikki, who remembered our D’n’A comic and my sketch of her, to make a brand new, hilarious comic book! We brainstormed online, and the next night, after a walk in the yard earlier by myself, I had a cohesive plot to draft. I’ve drawn the character designs since then, and before this night ends, I’ll start committing my fervent stick figures to paper in story sequence. I’ll try angles and storytelling tricks and envision and revise. My friend Mike loaned us Avengers Assemble by Busiek/ Perez and, hot dog, Lee/ Kirby’s Fantastic Four Masterworks Volume Four, with an annual full of pin-ups and the origin of Doctor Doom himself just for starters! The delight of that energetic early storytelling set the tone for the sheer fun I want to put into Nikki’s project, which will be the best Christmas present ev-ah for her man. Her ideas were a blast, too, just one absurdity to follow one joke after the next, like Christmas lights she pulled out gleefully as I strung them around the tree. Perez (and Pacheco) really inspire you with modern techniques on how to lay out a page and detail a figure, while Kirby can pace a tale you can’t put down, filled with Lee’s melodrama and wisecracks. It was a fateful one-two punch for me to peruse as I finally caught my breath a few days.

Speaking of Christmas trees, Mom never put hers away for the past years, so there’s THREE throughout the house, full of old ornaments and new. We’ll be here for Christmas! It hasn’t been like this in fifteen years, honestly. The white one in our room is so pretty. Ah, we have space…after eight years in one room, I can barely convey to you…!
If my bag hadn’t been found in Chattanooga, our party may have only gotten quieter rather than ending, but one Chinese buffet of delights later, I was drawing a picture of someone sweet I want to know better, in the back of Mom’s car on Interstate 75. To avoid an accident, we mapped some lesser used byways and I navigated while Mom drove, admiring the quaint charms of Ringgold and highway 41, famed in “Ramblin’ Man” by the Allman Brothers. Mom even saved our lives from an 18 wheeler and reported him for running us quite nearly off the road! She’s still “with it.”
So my shirts turned out to be filched, our vitamins opened by said scavenger…but Mom surprised me with some Good Will treasures a few days later. Besides, we were trying to put together a Labor Day Weekend cookout with lots of good songs and many more invitations than could be redeemed as we moved locations back to the house and hoped for no more rain. I was so reluctant to attend the Pow Wow after so much exposure to, well, people, and thought, “ah, a craft’s fair…but, it’s a chance to do something with Mom!”
So do I have time to tell about the Pow Wow, and the Great Spirit’s rewards to us for going with Mom? Or my old friend who was bright and strong and in need of a good friend, the girl I’d lusted after from middle school on, surrounded by her two kids and nephew as the Cherokee descendents gave a colorful grass dance, and the Marc Kane held a bird of prey proudly?

Not to mention seeing my cousins Lora and Patricia again Sunday, and my beloved uncle Roger, and my cousin William and his wife I’d not yet met and their little two year old Haven, and singing with and for them and catching up…I mean, this is why I can’t let blogs pile up!

Would you believe I enjoyed my dental visit? They cut off my whatever it was on my gums from a “hyperplasia” that usually occurs only in pregnant women (alas, no joyous news there, folks :-D) and I absorbed all they revealed in their routine check-up, my first since I was thirteen. I plan to drop off cards for our Elton John cover band. My intern surgeon was really cute but I tried not to stare as she worked. I wish her well if she goes to Lima. I read about Tarot decks when no one was around. I bought some bread for us and Mama and the cookout on the way home with her.

Did I mention I love Mama so much? We sit up with her every night, this week, playing Pollyanna, a game that’s nearly a hundred years old. She tells bathroom story funnies and tales about her tempermental Grandpa Huff, and we laugh about any ol’ silly thing late in the night. She sits up with ghosts, yes, but they are happy ones. Not one of those people would feel bad to see her laugh so with us, being a family again, what remains of our little family. Being the last of your immediate family, telling about trips with people who have all died, could be a much more morbid business, but instead it just feels like home. You know how the people you talk to about other people kind of sit in for those people, essentially? You ask them to carry the water, so to speak, to carry on the memories for you, of those you loved and lost? Do think of that as you talk to others, and try not to burden their presence over much with old antipathies for people once in your life. Invite them to celebrate those who touched your world.
Make yourselves some new memories. We are, none of us, here forever, nor nearly so long as we might take for granted and think, sometimes.
What can I say? I write these things to share something of depth in life, to refresh you with details of a life not so unlike your own, perhaps. It’s just one long letter to a friend, just to say: “we’re in Georgia, and everything’s all right.”

Good to be with you, friend.