As I’ve been traveling I also have been trying to finish my book Windowshopping for God, If you’d like to take a look at the latest chapter, keep on reading!
After my father died, my mother immediately cleaned out his closets and got rid of all his clothing. His illness had been long and drawn out, and it seemed to us that the memory of having his stuff around was far too painful for her to bear. The man she loved for 48 years had died, and she was lost. I imagine the only thing that gave her comfort was to clean and organize.
So, she divided up his stuff between my siblings and me. One of my brothers got his leather jacket, which had the word “GOODYEAR” written on it. You see, Dad had been instrumental in bringing the company to our town.
One sister got his ski sweater.
And I was given a beer bottle opener and three pens with no ink!
The absolute appropriate inheritance for a writer and recovered alcoholic was 3 pens with no ink and a beer bottle opener.
It felt like a slap in the face. I had been sober for ten years and worked very hard to repair the relationship with my family. I felt I had been a pretty great daughter, especially during his illness. Despite balancing a frenetic career, and raising two kids, I had made the drive from Toronto to Kingston corridor at least once a week, during Dad’s three-year sickness. He had heart issues, and after what should have been a routine bypass, ended up severe complications, and he had to stay in the ICU for several months.
He got every infection and had multiple setbacks. Over those months, I had received endless calls of “Come quick, it won’t be long,”… and I’d get in the car and sit bedside vigil and then somehow he’d bounce back.
Then after less than a year after this home, Dad was told he had lung cancer. The last six weeks of his life were brutally hard with one piece of bad news after another.
And surely to God, after all that, he wouldn’t have left his creative daughter something more fitting than 3 inkless pens and a beer bottle opener.
“Your father wanted you to have them,” my Mom insisted. I knew this was a downright lie.
In the weeks that followed, I’d wake up my husband nightly to rant, “Why on earth would Dad have given me three pens with no ink?”
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Putting a pillow over his head, my husband would mutter, “Not all the pens you buy work.”
“Of course, but maybe one pen would have no ink? Two? Okay, maybe! But three? Three pens with NO ink. There’s something fishy here.”
“Maybe he wanted you to have them.”
I doubted my Dad looked at the pens with the words “Richmond Township” on the side of them, and said, “When I die, make sure to give those pens to Deb.”
No, if pens were what he wanted to bestow upon me, he would’ve given me his stripper pens. You know that collection of pens many men in the ‘70s had, with a pretty girl on the side and when you turned it upside down, her shirt came off. I could see my Dad wanting me to have those.
Gwen, give those girlie pens to Deb. That will make her laugh.
It would not have made me laugh at all. It would have made him laugh. Because Dad loved yanking my chain.
Because I was a comic, he always saved his best jokes for me. One of his favourite ‘Dad’ jokes was:
“Two guys are looking over the fence of a nudist colony, and as a beautiful girl walked by the one guy says to the other, “Can you imagine her with her sweater on?” Then he’d laugh and say, “You should put that in one of your shows.”
And another thing, the past few weeks of his life, I knew he was not thinking of what items he was going to leave us. He didn’t want to die. He was fighting for his life. The night before he was taken to the hospital, I spent the night watching him fight to live.
Mom was worn-out and had gone to bed because “I need my sleep, or I will go crazy.” She took out her hearing aid so she wouldn’t be disturbed while I watched over him.
I still see him, sitting in his red long johns, barrel-chested, he leaned so far forward, he looked like he might topple over. That morning, the oxygen people had brought in so many tanks it looked like we were going on a scuba diving trip.
“When they bring the oxygen, the game is over,” He said.
I sputtered, “I know people lived for years with oxygen tanks.”
I didn’t know anyone who lived on oxygen tanks, let alone for years. It was one of the series of stupid things I said in order to offer hope.
That night, I watched him pace the floors, with me trying to get him into bed. When he was settled, I began to do a guided meditation by Louise Hay. As Louise softly said,
“I am a good person. I attract prosperity. I am enough. I have enough. I do enough.”
What a stupid thing that was.
Dad couldn’t stay still because his lungs were filling up with fluid. But, he was always polite.
“Deb, thanks for these nice words, but I gotta keep moving.”
He and I paced all night long. I don’t think he had walked that far in his life. He was the kind of guy who drove the van to get down the driveway to get the mail. So after walking up and down our hallways all night, by the time the EMT guys got there, he was completely spent.
While sitting on the gurney, with bony twigs for legs hanging down, The EMT guys helped lower his head on the pillow. He turned to me and winked.
“The Ol’ Tomcat is going out tonight.”
It was the best exit line ever.
Our last interaction was at the hospital. He took one look at me and winked. It still makes me cry.
My Mother hated this, so after he died, she said,“He thought Deb was me. He was winking at me.”
Maybe that’s why she gave me the pens.
She was jealous of me! She hated my first play. She hated my writing. And while we were at it, she didn’t understand how I could have let myself become an alcoholic. When I told her about my struggles with alcohol, she had said, “When did this happen?”
Yes, it was her idea, not his at all. She gave me those damn inkless pens and the beer bottle opener because she wanted me to drink and become drunk and then not have enough ink to write about it.
I nursed this grudge for two years, seeing every action my mother did as proof of how much she disliked me.
Then, years later, when grief had subsided, and my Dad’s loss was less painful, I asked her what she was thinking when she gave me those items?
“Three pens with no ink? What was that about?”
“I don’t know. I was so heartbroken I wasn’t thinking straight. I figured you could use a pen.”
“But Mom, why would I want pens with no ink?”
“How would I know the pen didn’t have ink?”
“It wasn’t just one pen with no ink; you gave me three pens that didn’t write. That had to be deliberate.”
“Well, your father always bought garbage. Besides, do you even use pens? You likely write on the computer.”
We were getting nowhere with this line of questioning. She wasn’t going to get off the hook these easily, so I changed tactics.
“So, what about the beer bottle opener?”
“You gave me a beer bottle opener!”
“Why would I give you a beer bottle opener? You don’t drink.”
“Exactly!” I feel ashamed for this, but I still had the beer bottle opener in my purse, and I took it out and shook it at her.
She put her hands on her hips and shook her head, “Well, that tells you where your mind is. That thing opens Coke bottles. I know you like to drink your Diet Coke from a bottle.” Then she walked off with a smug smile on her face.
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KIM POLLARD AND I WILL BE PLAYING THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS THIS SPRING!
Feb 25, 26, 27th, Comedy from a Broad: Writing Intensive for women that want to learn how to be funny! @The Second City Training Centre! Sign up here
March 1,st, 2020 . Rewriting Mother Writing Retreat Toronto( West End): Click here to find out more: or email me at email@example.com
March 26th, Exeter! Ontario. Benefit for Hospice. Tickets here
March 29th, Toronto Location TBD
April 3rd Holstein Dinner.
April 4th, Regent Theatre, Picton, Ontario. TICKETS HERE
May 7th, Kingston Octave Theatre, Kingston Ontario. FEW TICKETS LEFT