Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Dixie dear & other thoughts

All that glitters is not gold .... or is it? Here is one more photograph from an "adventure in the days of old," the location and the subject of which, I assume, a few people might recognize. For any who do not, once again I will (for now, at least) allow these things to remain a mystery. Perhaps, I should put a warning notice on this post because it sort of is about suicide .... but, only in an analytical sort of way. The music ties in for two reasons -- one obvious, one unknown. Obvious (maybe): Two of the four original members of the band Badfinger -- Peter Ham and Thomas Evans -- committed suicide. Ham wrote the song and is the lead singer for "Baby Blue." Unknown (for sure): You might note that the song is being sung to a young lady named Dixie. Well, the first young lady who ever chased me and caught me was named Dixie, and, like the lyrics go, I still hold a special love for her. She was absolutely sweet and breathtakingly beautiful. I am not exaggerating. I could not believe such a stunning, big city girl would ask a country clod like me to be her boyfriend. This, the day after we had met, when I thought I would never see her again. We were both twelve, by the way, and bravely entered our teenage years hand-in-hand. First love. She and I still exchange occasional notes.

Pick your own moment to place the period

Death fascinates me.

I assume everyone thinks about death now and then, and I have encountered a few people who like to talk about it and theorize about it and, like me, are fascinated to some extent by it. As a college boy, one of my friends was a "brand new" Catholic priest. He and I would argue (whoops, I mean talk) for hours about death, suicide, god, religion .... well, you get my drift.

The only thing that worries me along these lines is that if death truly is the end, I will not realize it and be aware of it and, consequently, I will be unable to complain about how boring and tedious it seems to be to me. (That sentence was half-serious; half tongue-in-cheek.)

What brought death to mind was the recent suicide of one of my mother's cousin's sons. I am not certain of the correct terminology for my relationship to him, and I am not curious enough to do any research to learn it. Anyway .... this fellow had some legal problems, so to speak, and was "lying low in old Mexico," the last I had heard. (Sort of sounds like something out of a wild west film, hah?) He is back home now, in a manner of speaking.

He was the second relative of mine to do himself in -- at least, the second of whom I am aware. The first was Hellik, one of my grandmother's brothers. Health problems were the motive behind his action.

I was still in high school the first time someone I personally knew killed himself. That fellow was age twenty-five and the best shot with a rifle I had seen before or have seen since. His wife was running around on him. I sort of think he went out with style and like a real man. He did not shoot his wife. He did not shoot his wife's lover. He only shot himself, and he did it with his favorite rifle.

One of my high school classmates killed himself about a decade or so after we had graduated. Money problems.

The man who was my best friend for a few years killed himself. It took him three tries and a lot of liquor. He was intelligent and handsome and had a charming personality. Those three ingredients could not win out when battling clinical depression.

My favorite suicide in literature is that of Carlo Alfred Thomas "Cat" Shannon in Frederick Forsyth's novel, "The Dogs of War:"

He died a month after the coup, the way he had told Julie he wanted to go, with a gun in his hand and blood in his mouth and a bullet in the chest. But it was his own gun and his own bullet. It was not the risks or the danger or the fighting that destroyed him, but the trivial black mole on the back of his neck. That was what he had learned from Dr. Dunois in the Paris surgery. Up to a year if he took things easy, less than six months if he pushed himself, and the last month would be bad. So he went out alone when he judged the time had come, and walked into the jungle with his gun ....

At least there is logic to such an ending -- nothing to do with losing a woman or losing money or mental disorder. Maybe, Hellik and Cat Shannon had it right: When the end of your story is inevitable, pick your own moment to place the period.



TheChicGeek said...

A year ago almost to this day one of my best friends killed herself. To this day it hurts and I believe it always will. She was young and had so much to live for. She felt hopeless over a breakup of her marriage and hung herself in the backyard. Her adult children found her. Since then her two amazing kids have done so many great, great things. Her son just had his first child. Every day I think why, why, why...she had so much to live for. They say it is always darkest before the dawn. Had she held on and had hope I know her life would have bloomed again into a beautiful place of love, happiness, joy, acceptance. Losing is always difficult but with God's grace I believe there is always hope and a new day to begin again.
I love the sweet song. It is funny you posted it because I was listening to it last night...never heard it before but I do like it.
Stay well and onery, Fram
Much Love :-)

Kaya said...

We don't like to talk about death in our western culture. We don't like to think about it either.

What is interesting that Japanese have a very different attitude toward death. They try to teach their children to accept it as a normal and natural thing. They try to teach their children not to be afraid of death. Can you imagine, Fram that a little Japanese boy is writing a composition in the school about death? I still have mixed feelings about it.

Once I read a book about the writers who committed suicides. I still have this book at home but I will never reread it again. There was a line in this book that all these gifted and talented people couldn't pass a very important test that life gave to them. Test - to have a courages to continue to live.

Apparently, suicide is an easier way to end up all your problems. I think also that its a very selfish way to end up your life because you didn't think about people who love you, who are your family. You don't think about how they live with it in the future always thinking what they missed, what they should and shouldn't do....

There is a very good book written by Mitch Albom Tuesdays with Morrie. It's about life and it's about death. When I read it I cried, laughed, it was a very moving and gripping book. And most important I understood that you can discover life again through death.

You wrote again post, Fram which not many people would dare to write.


Gert Jan Hermus said...

Indeed. A lot of people find it very difficult to talk and write about this subject. You know your way with words Fram. My compliments ;-)

Greetings from the Netherlands,

Fram Actual said...

I was not sure if I had encountered some manner of time warp or if I was hallucinating when I looked at the comments this evening. There were Kelly and Kaya. The past had come alive again.

You are aware how I distinguish in my definitions/concepts of friends and acquaintances, but that does not mean I do not wonder (and sometimes worry) about people I have known on the sea of blogs and with whom I have little or no contact. So, it is very nice to see you "galloping" along through my blog again.

It is difficult when someone who is or has been close to you commits suicide. There are other suicides I know in addition to those I mentioned, and one in particular bothers me a great deal. Then, too, my "best friend for a few years" might be an instance similar to your friend. He and I had not seen each other for about a decade, and only exchanged emails or spoke on the telephone a few times a year, so the distance between us had grown in many ways by the time he took his life. But, I have purposely not inquired how he did it nor have I been to his grave. That way it seems less real to me and more like he still is alive in Florida, and one of these days the telephone will ring and it will be him. I am trying to avoid reality.

Yes, "Badfinger" put together a number of really neat and nice songs, and Peter Ham had a fabulous voice. I ordered a CD last night so I could listen to the band more often.

Never fear for my well-being, Kelly. I am the meanest "whatchamacallit" in the valley.

And, really .... it was great to see you here.

Fram Actual said...

As I wrote to Kelly, Kaya, it was like a step back in time to find a comment from you two on my page. Even though you and I have written comments on each other's page a couple of times in recent days, we did not for so long that it still is a nice surprise to see one from you.

There are cultural differences both in a historical sense and existing around the contemporary world regarding death. But, in another sense, I am not so sure feelings about it vary from era to era or from culture to culture as much as the way it is treated by people in public. People mourn in different ways. They feel and express those feelings in different ways. Individually, we are alike, yet different, both aspects in so many ways. What I mean is that how people feel inside and what they reveal in public might be very different.

Some people are worn out by life, some people find it tedious after a while, some are running away from personal problems, some have terminal illnesses. There are other reasons, too, but suicide is a very individualistic act done for individual reasons. For some, it no doubt is an act of cowardice. For others, it is acceptance of the inevitable and simply finishing life in your own way and in your own time.

It also might be an act of selfishness, and I agree with you that no one should do it without really trying to understand the ramifications it will have on others in his life.

Ernest Hemingway is a writer I have admired since I was a boy. He wrote a short story, "Indian Camp," about a very unusual suicide. Hemingway's father committed suicide. Hemingway, himself, committed suicide. It probably is an exercise in futility, but there are times when I try to find some unity -- some connecting logic -- in those three aspects of his life. You might find the story interesting.

One last thing. Death always takes over my mind to some extent when autumn arrives as it signals the approach of winter, which means the death, albeit temporary, of life in the northern regions. And, in my personal life, my mother died a year ago on September 22, so I have been sensing the approach of that day almost constantly.

You wrote a very detailed, very interesting comment, Kaya. Thank you, I appreciate that you made me put on my "thinking cap" this evening.

Fram Actual said...

I am glad you have come to visit my page and have left your words here, Gert Jan. Thank you.

Most people, it seems to me, are too engaged in their work, with their families, with their hobbies, with their own thoughts to discuss with others the more abstract and esoteric elements of life and living and, eventually, of dying. Such discussions make life worthwhile, from my point of view.

The sea of blogs offers the opportunity for discussions about anything and everything, and I try not to allow opportunities to slip away.

Kaya said...

I remember your post, Fram with a title The End of Something. There were no words, only title and...

We all tried to figure out what is going on in your life. Right now I understand why you wrote this post.

I am terribly sorry to hear about the death of your mother, Fram.

May your pain and grief will lighten in time.. Time heals our pain, Fram. When my dad died I thought that I will constantly grief and miss him. I still miss him very much, I miss our conversations, his advice, his love and faith in me but it's different now. Yes, time heals...

It's difficult to write and difficult to find the right words. Sorry about it.........

Fram Actual said...

I was not sure what to say a year ago, and I am not sure yet. I think "the end of something" like that takes months -- even years -- to accept and to absorb. It seems to be a simple process on the surface, but it is different to lose a parent, I believe, than to lose anyone else from your life except for your own child.

She had suffered a stroke which left her completely paralyzed on her left side. The last several months of her life were spent living in a care center and moving from bed to wheel chair, from wheel chair to bed, from ....

Her death was not unexpected, but came abruptly and caught me by surprise.

Besides adjusting to her death and the realization that I am now alone in the sense of the family into which I was born and raised, if anyone has noticed my theatrical complaints about being chained and imprisoned during the past year, it is because of the legal ramifications of having to administer her estate. Death often complicates and creates new responsibilities in a person’s life, which really are chains to someone like me.

I am getting very wordy -- which is not unusual for me -- so, I will end this note. Thank you, Kaya, for your sympathy. I appreciate it and will remember it

A Cuban In London said...

This is one of those posts that merits a second and third reading. From reminiscing about your own Dixie to the topic you write about so well. I am not afraid to admit that many, many, many years ago I contemplated suicide. Twice. The circumstances are difficult to explain here but it was a combination of factors that threw me over the edge. No one knows how close they are to that edge. Believe you me, they don't. Great post.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

Using old "Papa" Ernest Hemingway once again for illustrative purposes, he was a few weeks shy of his sixty-second birthday when he used a shotgun to end his life. In his instance, I would argue suicide was justifiable and appropriate since it was his choice and, I believe, a rational decision. This is especially easy for me to say since I am just a step or two short of your own position regarding religion, CiL.

Between age and booze, Hemingway was less than a shadow of his former self. He knew it. He did not like it. He knew all things come to an end, and he did not wish to live as an old man who "used to be Hemingway." Besides being justifiable and appropriate, I think suicide in his instance was an act of bravery. He could have lived on as a "literary lion" had he wished, but he knew that would make him a phony.

I would use the same words to describe the suicides of great-uncle Hellick and fictional creature Cat Shannon. Conversely, I think the majority of suicides are acts of selfishness and desperation by individuals who wish to escape from themselves in moments of extreme weakness.

As for your personal experiences, CiL, I would be most curious to learn about them. I might guess they date back to Cuba, but that would only be looking at the obvious, which might be a few thousand miles from reality. Seeing inside the mind of another is the most fantastic voyage an individual can make, and I think it can only be made during a long night of face-to-face talking. Someday, maybe.

I appreciate your presence, in more ways than one, and your words. Thank you.

P.S. Dixie was a living doll ....

Something special ....