Miserable March – Goodbye Dad

Been away for awhile.

Been one of those months where – life happens while you are busy making other plans.

My dad – Anthony Glenn Sytsma – passed away peacefully on March 2nd, at the age of 81. He had been declining in health over the past year with many hospital stays. He went in on February 9th for the last time. Over his life, he carried a chronic kidney issue that ultimately undid him. Pretty amazing that he lived as long as he did taking into account the kidney issue and a quintuple heart bypass surgery done over 15 years ago.

11 – can’t believe it’s been that long already – years after my mom passed, dad is reunited with her. Dad was a larger than life character. Here is an excerpt from the eulogy I delivered at his funeral:

“Anthony Glen Sytsma was born on January 4, 1937 and passed away
on March 2, 2018.

Dad was a passionate man. And with that passion he often
made us laugh. Sometimes he made us cry. Occasionally he made us do
both at the same time. This was because his passion could run wild
when there was no one to help him rein it in. For most of his life –
nearly 50 years – mom provided the steady hand dad needed. They were
the perfect couple. Dad was the fire and Mom the crucible. They made
each other stronger and better.
So when mom passed that balance was gone and the bedrock she
provided was gone. The transition to being alone was difficult for
dad. The one constant for him was wanting to be together with mom
again and now that has come to pass. And while we are filled with
sadness at dad’s passing we also are comforted by the knowledge that
dad is back where he always wanted to be – with mom.”

See you later, mom and dad.

On a minor level, later in March, one of my wisdom teeth became infected and I had to have it pulled. So that was another week of pain and misery to close the month out with.

But the pain didn’t stop in March. It bled over into April. During the period between my dad’s passing and his funeral, I found out that my oldest cousin, Randy Klein had received horrible news. Going in for an operation to fuse several sections of his spine together to alleviate a crippling back issue, the surgeons found cancer. Cancer in his spine and cancer throughout his body. His prognosis was less than a year. Randy didn’t last a month. His funeral was yesterday – April 7th, 2018.

Gone at the age of 62.

I hadn’t seen Randy in over 10 years but he was always the coolest cousin and his memorial picture reinforced he still was.

So yeah, here I sit typing away, putting this all down contemplating my own mortality. It’s April, 2018 and my 60th birthday is hurtling towards me at the end of this month. Also the March delayed knee replacement surgery number one is less than two weeks away.

A tough month. A time of contemplation. I’ll cherish the good memories of my dad and my cousin.

And strive to create some more good memories for my loved ones to cherish before I go.

 

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Stringing Away February Blahs

February Blues

What’s your bluest month of the year? For me, it’s easily February. Ironically, the shortest month of the year feels like the longest, because nights seem endless and winter is at its deepest. Long, cold nights make for oppressive days.

 

Music

But there are things out there that can help speed up time by lifting one’s spirits. One such found treasure often resides in music.  Fantastic music. Check this out. This gives me Snoopy Happy Dance Feet!

Take On Me – aHa – Brooklyn Duo at Carnegie Hall. The Brooklyn duo are a couple team that do piano/cello covers of popular music. Check them out on Youtube, Spotify, etc.

Books

A Monster Calls, and while this is billed as a YA book, it is really applicable to any age group starting with teens and beyond. One of the constants of life is death. If we’re lucky it doesn’t happen to someone we know or love until later in life. For each of us, this first encounter can be extremely traumatic and debilitating. Death’s reach is everywhere. It can strike down anyone we know. Friends or family. Siblings or parents.

My mom passed away when I was almost fifty so I was very fortunate. Almost 11 years later, I still deal with. I lost a writing friend, last year to cancer. He was just one year older than me. Others I know have not been so fortunate. Some lost a parent as a child. A Monster Calls deals with a young boy and his mother’s battle with cancer.

The symbology in the book is heavy but the stages of grief the boy goes through are real. Love the book. Need to hunt down the movie.

Dark Matter, by the author of Wayward Pines, Blake Crouch. Crouch has mastered the art of the thriller. Dark Matter is written with a lean, mean style that borders of being near point form at times. But Crouch’s evolution as a writer from Wayward Pines to Dark Matter is quite visible. In Dark Matter, there is enough breathing room established that made me care for the characters, especially the protagonist, which Wayward Pines never did.  If you’ve read, The Flicker Man by xxxxx, you should check out Dark Matter.

Movies

The Ritual – an English horror movie that was getting some buzz but when I watched was left underwhelmed. It borrows elements of The Blair Witch Project and The xxxxx Man but offers nothing new or of note.

Thor Ragnorok – the most underwhelming Marvel movies have been the Thor movies. The character and the world he inhabits are just too goofy to take seriously. There is never any sense of true consequences or danger as this world is about gods and magic. Both of which means that anything that can happen can also be undone. But this installment was at least fun as director Taiko Watitiko has the proper sensibilities for such a universe. Playing off of Chris Hemsworth’s innate comic timing, throw in a dash of the Hulk, a pinch of Led Zeppelin, throw them all into a blender, and you get a silly, fun romp of a flick.

Cloverfield: The God Paradox – an interesting situation where Paramount, desperate for a franchise that can compete with the Disney/Marvel/Lucasfilm machine, felt that the latest flick in the Cloverfield film family was not strong enough to release theatrically. The God Paradox is easily the poorest of the three films so they dumped onto Netflix and cut their losses. They thought well.