Monday, May 7
REST EASY, OLD MAN.
and everything is still the same-
no half-mast flags, no laying in state, no national day of mourning-
we'll go to work, we'll go to school, we'll do what we have to do-
nothing even feels close to the same-
there's no replacing what's missing...
a.k.a. the guru, a.k.a the source, a.k.a the dude;
somewhat less savory, ignominiously known as: the crotchmire;
government name: albert charles carocci,
he'd been dying, slowly, almost lazily,
at a near-infuriatingly relaxed pace, for fifteen years.
we'd all had plenty of time to get used to the idea;
but, after countless surgeries,
and near-miraculous fourth-quarter comebacks,
and a dozen missing pieces removed in as many surgeries?
to be honest, it's still something of a surprise, and it's not okay.
when my sisters and i were kids,
he was completely out of his mind.
i don't mean he was a wacky character, i mean he was clinically insane-
listen to me when i say this:
DRUGS ARE BAD.
drugs are inherently an outlet for selfish people.
and he did a LOT of drugs.
all of them, really; all of the time; and for a loooooong time, too.
was he trying to hurt anybody?
was he trying to hurt his family?
my understanding, as an adult looking back,
is that he was haunted and hunted by the demons of his own hard life.
it wasn't us he was trying to hurt, even if we caught a collateral lumpin'.
that's not to say it wasn't brutal at the time,
but dammit, he did what he could to make amends.
it wasn't until i was much much older that i recognized just how much
of a struggle he was going through every day.
and how much of a struggle he made to get out from under it,
and get back into our lives.
in the end,
the pricetag for the time he misspent was impossibly expensive,
and the complications it accrued eventually took him away.
my father is dead,
but he lived ten lifetimes in the first fifty years,
and still hung around for almost twenty more after that.
he had one helluva life, too-
he loved his girls.
(heck, in some ways, he loved all the girls.
truth be told, he was kind of an A*-hole like that.)
but what i mean, more specifically, and more accurately,
is that in truth,
he loved our family-
all of them with all his heart.
that's a fact.
throughout the roller-coaster tsunami-earthquake-tornado
of his mr.-toad's-wild-ride of a life,
his affection for my mother, and his connection to my sisters was constant,
he wasn't always kind, he wasn't always gentle, he wasn't always nice-
but, in the end, he couldn't ever escape the fact that deep down,
underneath whatever the hell was wrong with him,
his heart was theirs for life, until the very end.
now, that said-
if he was gonna love you,
he was gonna love you SO HARD,
only, he was for sure only going to show it in precisely NONE of the ways
you'd ever have asked anyone to.
you couldn't ever get what you wanted,
but like it or not, you were gonna get what he wanted you to have if it killed him.
my mother, his ex-wife of twenty-something years,
was never ever not his wife for life.
he relied on her, and leaned on her, and was absolutely lost without her.
at the end, they were a quintessential old italian couple-
i can't say it was a cinematic love story,
but it sure was somethin'.
i'm curious as to where she'll be able to fly to without that anchor on her ankle.
he was the proudest of my sister mary.
he mentioned her, and her success, to me at every turn.
who knows if he told her, but i know it to be true.
he enjoyed strutting his stuff around her and her staff,
and she kept the legend alive with her love and support.
i think she knows he depended on her,
and i know she knows i love her for it.
...and my sister anna?
well, they were the same.
with scary similarities, uncanny overlaps of attitude and outlook-
only she managed to surpass his penchant for excess,
and preceded him into the big beyond.
as for me?
i am the man i am because of him.
that's no joke.
i took away the lessons i needed,
and i heeded the silent cautions that his actions screamed at me.
i learned equally what to do and what not to do from him.
he taught me to ride a bike under the threat of violence;
and also he saved my life with a surprise backflip of metahuman agility
when a drunk imbecile smashed into the motorcycle we were riding.
we got arrested fishing in protected lands (his secret spot).
he took me to my first concerts.
he showed me the shadowy underside of the world,
and unwittingly opened my eyes to the perils of poor decisions.
he tried, god knows, to un-gay me (it worked, i was never gay!)
with exposure to garage life, motorcycle culture, illegal gambling rings,
the real ghetto, the surreal ghetto, the big rig long-haulin' truck life,
and the enticements of cookies-candy-and-gum-
vanilla cokes and special lunch spots-
i see it so clearly now:
all those little subtle bribes to spend time and connect with the man-
...the guy coached a soccer team, for god's sake.
yeah, he was terrible at it,
and we were by far the worst team in the league- 100% loss rate.
he did it so we could do something together.
he did that for me.
he wanted a regular son to do regular father and son sh!t,
but he got me instead.
i couldn't relate to the wild-eyed manic maniac that juggernauted
directly into every situation and we still felt lost relating to each other
well into young adulthood and fatherhood of my own.
that's real talk.
little did i know that in time, i'd have a LOT of his attitude,
a slew of his mannerisms, and much of his hairline.
the more i grew up, the more i saw my father as a person-
we found a place where we understood each other,
and accepted each other,
and respected each other.
we loved each other.
in the end,
he shaped the way i see the world,
in word and in deed, i leaned more than i thought,
from someone who knew more than he let on.
he will be remembered:
he was a legendary anecdote and party story for anyone who ever met him.
he was uncensored in every way.
he was preposterously confident in quantities that belied his assets.
he was rock and roll and rhythm and blues and gospel all rolled into one.
he was proud to be italian (even if the DNA doesn't support that claim).
he was an old hippie.
he was an old black dude.
he could sing like an angel.
he could play the effing bugle!
he was an outlaw biker.
he was literally a bad-mutha trucker.
he was a dreamer, a schemer, and a habitual hoper.
he could drive, pilot, or operate anything with a motor.
he was defiant.
he was a fighter.
he was a face-slicing delinquent.
he had an innate unerring sense of direction,
and a far-off-of-true north moral compass.
he never ate a pea not once in his life.
he was an absolute expert-level ball-breaker,
and untold pairs of metaphoric testicles will remain intact with his passing.
he kept the same friends for half a century or more,
and somehow outlived more than half of them.
he was a terrible and also a fantastic husband.
he was my dad.
and he will be missed, daily,
when the phone doesn't ring for the thirteenth time in the same day,
so he can ask the same questions, again,
in his gravelly fred sanford-sounding voice.
i'm won't proclaim him a hero.
i'm won't say he was a victim.
i will say, with confidence,
that he was a man who loved and fought with all his might;
who outlasted his expiration date by a decade;
who stayed the course (albeit a collision course) with his passions;
who was subject to the consequences of his choices,
and that his choices were made with a flagrant disregard
for rules that clearly didn't apply to him.
rest easy, dad-
december 7th, 1949- may 7th, 2018;
never quiet, never soft....
this hot fire spat by Albie Rock