I had a bunch of posts I wanted to do, I have been traveling for work, hanging with husband. Sadly though Ghost had taken a turn for the worst. Yesterday he wouldn’t really get out of his blanket area except to go check out the outside when we opened the kitchen deck door (he hated outside before this apartment).
So yesterday we contacted The Good Life, the same vet that helped him a few weeks ago to have her visit today and help us say goodbye. However, Ghost will do what he wants and he passed away after we went to bed last night.
The hubby has been sweet, he tried to keep me from having to see it or deal with it. I have helped with all our other animals and while it is a lot harder to not cry right now and I appreciated his effort, it was my duty to help.
Goodbye old man cat, Mr. Pinchy, Ghost… We love you very much and I really do hope something like the rainbow bridge exists. Take care.
Prepare to be bombarded with cat pictures. We will get back to my regular thoughts after I can get back to it.
I have never been afraid of dying, and I would actually say I have been (and sometimes even now) am more afraid of living. There is a whole slew of reasons for it (toxic masculinity, fucked up upbringing, and a ton of others that probably includes the trans thing). However, the one thing I always hated about the idea of dying was that all the stories in my head wouldn’t be able to get out and that so many stories I hadn’t even spoken to others about would die.
When I was young I would draw, write, and run roleplaying games. As I hit late teen/early twenties the writing and drawing slowed down to a crawl and then mostly disappeared. The roleplaying games I run are the only way I have consistently been able to express my creativity (plus it is a great socializing thing). So roleplaying games (including larping) were my only outlet for everything I wanted to tell the world.
Instead I focused the rest of my life on school, work, etc and I thought I wanted to make more money, get myself out of poverty and take care of my family. I did do a lot of that. We took care of my parents, got the hubby’s health back online and transitioned, but I found I am not happy. I miss the creative side. I can buy stuff, but it isn’t what interests me.
So I decided I am going to forego pursing my CPA. I already hate 9-5 work. I make enough now with my degree that even though I am going to be paying forever on my loans, I can get by. Instead I want to get back into art.
I want to start drawing/creating images again, so I have a few digital art programs I am learning. I have an art pad with paper and an ipad if I want to use a pen like item, and I have started to write again. I even now track my roleplaying games in in-depth websites supporting all the content so I can go back later and tell the stories on paper/in images that we told around the tables.
That means I am going to be posting my old artwork. I am aware a lot of it is not good. I am also aware though that I have to be able to let it be public. That shyness about it is one of the reasons I stopped twenty+ years ago. I need to be ok with people to see my creative stuff. I won’t get better if I can’t accept what I did before (both good and bad). This means you will get a lot of my old stuff and I will add the new as I create it. After all, that is the goal of what is in my head isn’t it?
What I want to do is unload as many of the stories in my head into the world before I shuffle off this mortal coil.
MY FATHER’S PASSING, PART 1 – THE BEGINNING
I have been circling this writing for more than a year. It was by far the most horrendous event I have been witness to in my personal life. More so then when strange men came into our home when I was a teen with guns, threatened us and caused us to have to live in a car for over a year with an actual contract out on our family. Worse then being evicted from multiple places to live. Worse then not having enough food so that I would get stretch marks that didn’t go away until I was in my 20s from losing weight by the end of of the month. Even worse then horrible nights when there is an alcoholic rampage in the house.
It bothers me enough I still haven’t sat down and cried, instead I am so very angry at so many other people that I haven’t really talked to anyone about this but my husband Wolsey. I have found that trying to unpack it is a large undertaking and to be honest I don’t know if this even covers everything. This is about the circumstances before, during and shortly after my father passed away. I know I will miss details as I go. Hopefully Wolsey will point them out and I can update this post over time.
My father was a very complicated man. He loved his children very much, he had been in trouble with the system for most of his life, and he ended his life in poverty. He had an endless supply of love and acceptance for me and Wolsey. He would support us no matter what. However, his decision making had been damaged due to PTSD, mental health and most impactful was alcoholism.
We tried to help as much as we could, but he was proud, and he also knew we had our own bills so the best we could do was help out with some bills, some food and some extra stuff I knew they would like (below is a video of 60th birthday from March 24th, 2008, he always liked carrot cake).
That video is four years after he was diagnosed as terminal. He had been terminal for close to a decade. The spots on his lungs kept growing, but he kept trudging on. We didn’t realize how bad his health was, he kept it to himself, but even with as bad as it was, he still might have made it a couple more years.
I think about it now though; I think I knew he was closer subconsciously. One day in March the year before he passed I had traveled up to Bellingham by myself, in a rare non-Wolsey trip. For some reason a song came on my iPhone on the way home and I had to pull over and cry, I was worried about my dad and mom’s health out of the blue and I realize now I was already grieving.
He survived much longer than anyone had expected. He had gone back into the pulmonologist that had originally diagnosed him six years before and they all came out to visit. None of the staff thought he would have made it a year, let alone six. My dad just smiled and told them he was immortal, no one could kill him.
There was a saying all my friends and family joked about since I was 18. No mere mortal could kill John Bradley. He was tough, resourceful, and just enough luck that everyone believed he would survive just about any situation. In the past he had taken on multiple cops, Vietcong, members of other outlaw clubs and abusive family members when he was a child. This saying changed as he got sick though. Our saying didn’t change much, but it went to “He has one more good fight in him”, even his last year where he couldn’t walk very far from his chair we said he still had a good thirty seconds in him, and to be honest thirty seconds would still be enough for most circumstances.
I tell you all of this to give you some background on him. In the future, I will probably have a lot of amazing (and some terrible) stories about him.
It started in January of 2016. His health was fairly poor, and like usual he went in and out of the hospital as his lungs were getting worse. He had gotten out and was recovering. We had been up there a lot to look over him and my mom. Things seemed to be getting out of the weeds and back to normal.
It was then that we started preparing for the hubby’s top surgery. He was ready to go, and the night before my dad received news that an old friend of his Joe had passed away and this was a huge blow to my dad.
Most of my dad’s friends were gone. They were hard living outlaw motorcycle club members and he was on the other side of sixty. This meant those that didn’t go to prison and die there already were all in bad shape. Joe was the third to last friend my dad had (Jimbo and Dennis were his last friends). This is out of literally dozens of hardened men I grew up with and called family. It set my dad into a tailspin of depression.
I should have picked it up earlier. He had mentioned to me once in passing that lately he was missing my grandmother. She had passed away 30 years ago and I now realize he was probably feeling depression, lost and just not in a good headspace. It didn’t help that he was bipolar, and had severe depression/mania episodes.
He called me one night, and I could hear the exhaustion and depression in his voice that night. I talked with him, reassured him and reminded him that the hubby and I would be up the next weekend. He perked up a bit and was excited about the surgery and the results. I hung up thinking everything would be fine. Things weren’t fine, and wouldn’t be fine for the next year.
The next day Wolsey went into surgery and while it was a successful surgery it was inundated with a lot of complications. No one had told us how bad he would leak from liposuction portion of the surgery would suck. The actual mastectomy went well, healed quickly, etc. The doctor’s office messed up though, they sent him home long before they should have and it left me by myself to take care of him. He couldn’t move well; he couldn’t clean up after his wounds and he was just hurting too much.
At no point in time did I begrudge that. I am here for him, just like he was here for me for everything. It didn’t bother me to have to put in that effort of getting up every 20 minutes, help him to the bathroom, while he was in there clean up the bed, change bedding and then put him back to bed and give him more pain pills. He is my life, and it was the least I could give to him.
It was also at this time I got a call from my mom. My dad had gone back to the ER and his O2 wouldn’t stop falling. They had him on positive air and he could talk. They were discussing options about how to handle it.
Something snapped in him, or maybe it’s better to say a decision was made by him. He took the positive air off his face, got up and while the doctors were talking he went downstairs and had a cigarette. When he came back up, they told him he couldn’t do that anymore and that he would have to use the positive air for a large part of his life, or at least until they could get the O2 under control. I was told he just shrugged and told them to fuck off. He was done.
He checked himself out of the hospital, meanwhile they were telling him he would die. He wasn’t going to let himself loose anymore of his freedom. I also think he had hit a depressive point again, his closest friends had passed, they weren’t ever going to make it back down to Lake Tahoe, or pretty much anywhere out of their apartment except for when I could take them places.
He decided to do this on his terms and he took their info for hospice and went home and determined that is where he would pass. My mom told me this over the phone and in my head, I was freaking out. My dad was dying, probably wouldn’t be longer than a week or so and I couldn’t leave that night at all since Wolsey couldn’t take care of himself.
The worst part is Wolsey couldn’t take care of himself at all for the next few days. It was unlikely he could get up to Bellingham before my father passed. Meanwhile I knew I would have to drive up there daily (a 250+ mile roundtrip) that I would have to fit around being home to take care of Wolsey. I couldn’t imagine it ever being worse.
I was wrong, a thousand times wrong once the hospice situation happened. However, that part of the story is still coming up and I think I have mulled about it enough for today.
Here I am up at 1:30am thinking about Greeting Cards.
Lately I have been working on a project to scan all of our hardcopy photos and then getting storage containers to hold the photos themselves. The old photo albums are falling apart and are destroying the photos. This was spurred on by receiving my parents photos after their passing last year.
It was tough to scan old family photos, I won’t deny that at all. A lot of emotional baggage came up, especially since I haven’t dealt with their passing. Wolsey says it has set me off into a depression. While I want to say that isn’t true, I am not looking from the outside so maybe it is.
I had finished the scanning of hardcopy photos (I still have hundreds of negatives, but those I have in one storage book so they can be done as I go) so I switched to combining and setting up storage for greeting cards.
Greeting cards are always a weird thing for me. They have always held a weird place in my family, compared to other families I have known. No matter what was happening each event, my parents would get us a card with a handwritten message inside them for each birthday, anniversary, promotion, holiday or end of quarter (and a dozen other special holidays). No matter how poor they were at the time. There would always be in quotation marks the last two digits of the year as well.
Wolsey and I would always smile, thank them and get home joking about the cards. No one else I know of received cards on this level (a lot of times with flowers) for even random small events in our life. I have some cards from other family members, but our receiving them varied on if they were mad at us, if we had drifted away in talking, whereas my parents would have one every event, no matter what.
Yesterday I got my greeting cards storage box and went through the cards. I was surprised it was the hardest thing I have done. It was harder then going through the photos, harder then going through the remnants of their personal belongings in storage, harder then anything except maybe the letters my dad would sometimes write.
It was a quick process, and all the more sadder because it was quick. I had over the years kept most of the stuff they gave us, but we have moved so often, downsized and in general would lose some of them. Now I can see the holes in the different holidays because the cards are missing and it makes me sad. There were important events to Wolsey and I, that I realized the only people that commented/congratulated/consoled us were my parents. I think that is probably the worst part of it, knowing those will be the last cards I will receive from them.
I am glad though that something as small and eccentric like that was a habit they had. It reminds me how much they did care about the little things that happened with us. In that light, I am very fortunate to have the cards, and to have parents that cared about me and my husband so much.
Over the last couple of weeks my anxiety has been kicked up to an 11 due to Wolsey’s surgery, work and just a lot of stuff in my head. Last night I took some meds to go to sleep and ended up having dreams I mostly remember.
The first dream is we were in a house, a real place (sort of in the dream) that I lived at as a child. It mostly consisted of my dad talking to us, giving us shit. We were talking about a girl named Brie Larson who my dad had a fling with in the house (the reality is there was a drunken one night thing in the place I don’t think the girl was named Brie though). My dad was being huge and giving us shit about the place.
For some reason I turned around annoyed when he brought up the place and I said “Well, this is the place where you died too” and everything stopped. It wasn’t of course, he died in a place 30 years later. He just looked at me and I realized he was gone in the real world. He just gave me a small smile and said he loved me.
I woke up and found it was about 1am. I didn’t want to get up and I must have fallen asleep fairly soon after.
The second dream was more intense and longer, but I remember less of it as I am sitting here. I remember it was a hospital and there were many people there. My mom was in the hospital again to get surgery on her heart. In the real world I think I did this with her four times before she had the final problems she died from eventually.
We waited for her to come out and several others that went in for surgery around the same time she did had passed away. there was a lot of stress about her results. After some drama with the nurses and with my sister (which is too close to what happened in real life with my father) I was freaking out. Finally they brought her back out and she was ok. All I could focus on though was how thin her skin felt when I was hugging her. Thats when I woke up.
So there it is, the depressing dreams of the day :).
It has been a rough month since my dad passed. The funeral, the family issues, the constant driving to Bellingham. However, I am a very very lucky person, I got to speak to my dad as he was passing away.
There are no real lost words or expressions of love. We have always told each other that we love each other. While my childhood had a lot of problems with poverty and alcoholism, there was never a lack of love. That includes actually saying it and showing it, not just an “unacknowledged” understanding.
Jello and I were fortunate though. Jello was able to talk with him on the phone before my dad lost the ability to talk that way. I know Jello wished he could have made it up to see dad, but the surgery results wouldn’t let him travel that far.
I was fortunate as well. While I was up visiting my mom as she and the rest of my family watched over him in the last week. I went into the bedroom, hugged him, kissed his forehead and told him that Jello and I loved him.
As if from a zombie movie, his eyes shot open and focused on me. There was a bit of shock on my part, he had been unconscious all day, hadn’t really even responded to me earlier. He grabbed my head and lifted himself up to kiss me, hug me and tell me how much he loved Jello and myself and how proud he was of us.
We talked for a few minutes more, but he was so tired and exerting so much effort that I just laid beside him for a minute and told him it was ok. I was there. He went back to sleep.
That was the last time I talked to him. I know he woke up and talked a bit with the rest of my family, and when I came up the day before he passed I sat with him for hours holding his hand as he slept. He would respond if I told him I loved him by squeezing my hand. I probably could have pushed him to come up again, but he was finally resting, no pain, no trouble breathing and he was calm. So I just held his hand.
Today was a little rough and down. Missing my dad, stress with work, Jello’s health (surgery) and my mom. I was thinking about my dad and it struck me today that one of his favorite things to say when I was anxious or panicky was the phrase.
“What will it matter in a hundred years?”
Meaning I shouldn’t worry, whatever it was, it wasn’t a big deal.
He would then laugh and usually hug me and say he loved me. This happened without fail, even if he was drunk, sick, or busy. I even have used that line when I quit a job when I was younger when the person I told to shove off said I would regret it. Even now saying that helps reduce the anxiety.
However, it isn’t quite the same as hearing it from him. I am kind of missing hearing that today.
Yesterday went well, got to see my dad and help take care of him a little. My sister and brother are really working hard at helping them as well.
We purchased the burial plots. Honestly they are really nice and in the older part of the cemetery near a lot of the large maple trees. I will post photos after I go up next.
The plots ran $3,428. It was expected and worked out fine. I had enough on my credit card to pay for it for now. The one thing I was not expecting is you can bury 5 cremations on top of the casket so each grave could hold up to 10 people if 8 of them wanted to be cremated (which funny enough is what my spouse and I would prefer). It means though that I can take care of any family, friends or others that want to be cremated.
I am trying to avoid pulling any money from here until he passes. The grave liner and opening/closing the grave fee is about $1,600 in addition to the burial plots (and the funeral services will probably be close to $4k) and I am hoping to not have to withdraw the donations until that point in time.
I don’t think I can thank people enough. The outpouring of not only financial but emotional support has been huge. I don’t even know what to say about it except we are touched.
Thank you for everything. I have attached the picture of the purchase. I think it is incredibly important that people see exactly where the money went and what it was for. I realize most people do not do this (and it probably isn’t needed) but I always want to make sure people know what is exactly happening when they have been this kind to us.
I don’t know how to thank everyone. The response has been overwhelming. I know that the GoFundMe page posted an update, but I will post it separately as well just to thank all of you!
We got up this morning and were overwhelmed with the help. None of us really know what to say except thank you. Anything helps, and just the outpouring of support has made this easier. I am going up today to visit with my father and to take my mother to Bayview Cemetery to look at plots. I will come back and post what we looked at and what we got.
On a humorous note concerning my father (is there really anything humorous right now, I guess only a Bradley finds it funny). My sister was in the apartment watching over him.
She was in the living room and he was in the bedroom and she heard a thump. She was worried he fell out of bed and went into the bedroom to find him standing there (he has been bed ridden since Friday before (4 days before). She shrieked and evidently he burst out laughing, thinking it was the funniest thing he saw that she screamed and was worried about a zombie for a few seconds. He spent the rest of the day in the living room, eating a couple pieces of candy corn and having a cup of coffee.
It doesn’t change what is happening, and I don’t know if he is conscious this morning, but in my dad’s typical style he never does anything the easy way. Even as he is dying, he is still doing it on his own terms.
When I pull any funds out I will share exactly where they went. I believe I owe everyone here so much, the least I can do is be exact on where the generosity I am seeing here goes.
I don’t know if I could ever explain exactly how overwhelmed (in a positive way) that we feel with the love exhibited by friends, family and future friends/family (no one who helps is truly a stranger).