The Phoenix – Part 2

The only person that could keep him here with us was him and he’d already purchased a ticket on the last train to nowhere.

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My sister Janice called me and told me that dad was in really bad shape and that this could be the end. I called my friend Rob and asked if I could use his truck to go visit my dad at the hospital.  He was fine with it. I was going to run down there on Tuesday to see what was up.

 

I was at work when I got the call from my middle sister that Monday.

“Hey Chaz. It’s April. Dad died.”

I was carrying some proposals and some client files and they fell from my hands to the floor.

I stepped into my editor’s office and of course my horrible sales manager was in there bugging the shit our of her for some inane reason.

I told them what had happened and they said: “Go home”

I knew that wasn’t option for me. I knew my sisters had everything well under control. There was nothing I could do now. I knew for months this call was coming. He had checked out a long time ago, and there was no coming back to us or anyone else.

I worked out the day, and kept in touch with my sisters. I had to keep working and I had to tell my daughter Lorelei.

I couldn’t stay home and do nothing. There was nothing to do.

I spoke with my daughter about it and she was a little sad but she just knew her grandparents as really old people that she saw once a year at the holidays like I did growing up.

My sisters took care of everything. They were in Jersey and were close to it. I knew this day was coming. It wasn’t a matter of if… but when.

On the phone with dad in his final days I would get him talking about something fun and would tell him I knew his life was still in there. That he wasn’t finished.

But he was. The only person that could keep him here with us was him and he’d already purchased a ticket on the last train to nowhere.

Janice planned the funeral and picked the day they would put my parents into the ground. My mom could finally get off the dining room table and into the Earth.

I was at the office the Sunday night I was to drive down to Cold Springs, Cape May where they were to be buried next to my grandmother and grandfather.

At that moment I remember my father once saying he wished he would fall off the jetty down at 2nd street where he used to go fishing.

“I fall in and the fish have at me to get back at me for eating so many of them.”

It made me think back to when he taught me how to catch a fish. Fond memories from a dark time in my young life.

I was there working on a proposal when I got a text from my bank. Apparently someone had gotten a hold of my debit card information and had withdrawn $800 from my account over the weekend.

Talk about insult to injury. I called my bank and cancelled the card. I then packed up and went to my friend Robert and Laura’s house up in Fairmount. They weren’t home so I was standing outside for a while. They finally came home and I told them everything. Rob handed me the keys to his truck and they paid their respects. I took the truck and put it in a parking garage near my house.

The next morning I dressed in black and went straight to my bank the moment they opened.

I told the girl at the desk what had happened and that I had to bury my parents and didn’t have time to dawdle and she produced the proper affidavits and I signed them. She was so amazing.

I later wrote a letter to her manager praising her outstanding performance.

It was a tough drive to the shore. Because whenever you go to the shore it’s always happy.

It was February, but surprisingly it was a warm and mild day. Almost eerily warm.

I pull up and park.

There are many people gathered by the gravesite. I approach and there is the sad outpouring of grief and quiet sadness of loss.

The missing.

I see my co-worker Rocco came and it relieves me to see someone from the office there. I think he just wanted the day off but I’m grateful he came.

My friend Jim who I used to be in a band with that I’ve known since he was 14 was there.

Everybody was there.

I walk up to the site and join my sisters.

The sun is shining on a very dark and dismal day to dissipate our sadness.

I remember telling my ex-girlfriend Michelle many years before that I wanted to speak at my parent’s funerals. It was what I could bring to the family with my words. That’s really all I had left.

The priest begins and does his thing. I scan the crowd. I’m in bad shape. I feel unsteady so just like at my wedding I remember to put one foot forward to steady myself.

This is a bad day.

As I write this I’m listening to the band Steppenwolf for comfort. They were the first band I ever really fell in love with. My mom disapproved but later liked them when I got into a wilder band called Aerosmith. But that’s a different post. (A way happier one!)

I remember my mom always like Scottish bagpipes. I never understood that but her people were Scotch Irish and maybe that music was in her blood. She comes from a musical family and I believe that runs through me and Lorelei to this day.

The bagpipes were sad and beautiful as they played in the background.

Perfect.

Because my father served in the military they did the whole folding of the flag thing. That was very moving and respectful. I like how they handed the flag to Janice and not me, his only son. But what have I really been to him, Not much really. A disappointment for the most part.

But all is forgiven.

I know my sister Janice was worried about me saying that I would make a speech at our parents funeral because I wouldn’t follow through. I get it. Track record. I once was supposed to transfer all of the home movies from VHS onto DVD and never did it. My baby sister ended up doing it.

Another fail on my part about nonsense.

I’m sorry. I was busy surviving in Jersey City trying to hold it together in New York at the time. But I do love that there was fear that I would come up empty-handed in the final reel.

Janice read and it was good.

Really good. I’m sure there was so much else she felt and had been through with this that it was hard for her to express what she really felt, and you know what? Whatever that was, it’s probably not for this audience or this venue.

I was surprised when my middle sister April read. It was good to hear her words and interesting to see it from her perspective and what her experience was through all of this. I don’t think my baby sister read, because she was in bed for most of our family memories. (Kidding! Gabrielle you get the joke!)

It was my turn now. I looked at all of the friends and family that had gathered upon this sad but inevitable occasion.

I looked at the table before me. On it was the little wooden box with the pretty bird on it. That was mom in there.

Next to that was a Lionel toy train standard gauge train station. I remember my father telling me he wanted to be cremated and his ashes placed into that toy train station.

After he had passed, Janice was taking the station down from one of the train cabinets and found a note under it.

It said “Gang, It’s been a great ride, but it’s time for me to pull into the station for my final stop.” Dad

He loved his trains. Now it was time for him to rest at the station and be done with the life he had created for all of us kids.

The Priest turned to me.

“Would you like to say something, Charles?”

 

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Annabelle – 2013 to 2014 – Chapter 4 – My “A” Game Lunch

I wasn’t sure, but I sure felt the euphoria of Annabelle. It had nothing to do with her, but at that point, neither of us knew that.

I had sent an email to Annabelle sometime after our “First Date”  thanking her for a wonderful time. I also asked her if she’d like to meet me for lunch at Jones (Stephen Starr restaurant at 8th and Chestnut) I knew the General Manager and knew I would get the exclusive hook up.

She got back to me and said yes!

I made a reservation, and got there early. My table was clear and I took a seat. the staff knew what to do. I waited. Annabelle arrived and I waved her over. She she had a t-shirt on and was wearing a pair of denim cutoffs that showed off her long slender legs. I hadn’t seen them before, but at nearly six feet tall, she had incredible pins.

She said she had just come from the pool where she had been swimming. I didn’t care. I was just happy that she had shown up. She had this scrubbed, day at the beach air about her. I liked it.

Within minutes a bowl of their signature mac and cheese, (which is glorious at Jones) arrived with a side of siracha. Annabelle was impressed. She wasn’t accustomed to going to restaurants with older men that made things happen. I could tell this. She was a simple girl who was surrounded by artsy people who had nothing.

We dug into the mac and cheese with great fury. Baby was hungry and liked to eat. We chatted, and I was happy to see this beauty again. I did my nervous talking thing I do with all new women in my life. But she was laughing a lot and I knew it was working. I was still friends with Michelle, but she was moving on with Delaware Dave, and I was feeling the power with this one. (See: Michelle – 2007 to Present – A Brand New Day)

I gave her a dvd of “The Art of the Steal” the documentary about the Barnes museum that we went to on our first date. I also brought her two miniatures of Chivas Regal’s Maple Whiskey, or as I call it, Hangover Nightmare Juice. At some point on our first date she mentioned that she liked maple syrup. Annabelle was delighted. How crazy will it be when I go to her apartment and find that she has no DVD player or a TV???

Sadly, I was still in love with the idea of love and didn’t know what I was getting myself into. If someone had pulled me aside and told me that this whole thing was a mistake that would have been great. But I know I would have done it anyway. I missed the drug of love I once had with Michelle and wanted it again. Annabelle was twenty-six and I wanted her. I didn’t even care so much about her age, I just needed to feed the addict.

That was me back then. I suppose that was me always. The failure that could always close beautiful young women. I wanted Annabelle to feed my addiction to love. I was the guy who couldn’t have a healthy mutual relationship with a woman. I had already gone down in a ball of flames years ago. A failed marriage, and a string of bad relationships. Nearly more than I could count. The last few had failed because they were younger than me and wanted marriage and kids. I had already destroyed that and had a kid to prove it. A hundred thousand dollars blown on child support and a broken family. Nothing worked. I wasn’t cut out to be in a relationship, let alone a marriage.

I think maybe I should just be alone. I love women. Desperately. But what if for some reason I am only in love with the idea of love and I am unable to actually be in love. I want Annabelle. She’s receptive, and artist, blonde, long legs…

I’m a fool. I am only chasing and courting her because she is young and beautiful. Just like Michelle. That unattainable gazelle that is just out of reach. I must have her. But do I really know her? Is it a match? She works in the arts. They’re a bunch of weirdo losers in the “arts”. We have nothing in common. Just this common connection. A girl I met in a bar that is kind of finding her way in life.

But I’m happy in this moment. I love the sound of her warm voice.

The lunch goes well. It’s the 17th of July. My father’s birthday. He’s 83 today. I picked this day because 17 is a common number in my family. It keeps turning up. That’s why this second date is happening. Annabelle is along for the ride. I’ll call my father tonight and tell him all about it. He’ll listen intently and live through me for once. But not really. He’s had his life. It has been so much more colorful than mine. Just like when I’m talking to him and telling a story. He’s not listening. I know he’s just waiting for me to shut up so he can talk.

He’ll ask her name, and I’ll tell him. He’ll access her heritage and maybe approve. If she sounds western European she’s good.

I remember when I was out in L.A. and working as a musician. My girlfriend at the end was a nineteen year old black girl. I remembered when we finally packed it in and came home. I loved and trusted my dad, because he was awesome. I told him about the black girl and what had happened. I’ll never forget what he said, ” Are you into blacks now?”

I should date and fall in love with a beautiful black girl just to smite that motherfucker. Yea, I can call my dad a motherfucker, because he fucked my mom and made me.

But I digress…

The lunch goes really well. She was excited about the pair of miniatures of Chivas Regal Maple.(The shit tastes terrible)  I also told her I would have asked her out to a second date sooner, but I was waiting for the Art of the Steal DVD to be delivered in the mail!

I have to go meet with the nice people at Chris’ Jazz Bar and she has to go to a photo shoot.

We go outside, and her bike is locked to a pole out front. A bicycle. A simple girl. She’s young and beautiful. Oh, those legs.

I’m in love with the idea of love.

What’s wrong with me?

I tell her I have to go and we hug. I remember very specifically, I went in for the hug…and went for the kiss on the cheek back by the ear. I think we all want to kiss on the lips. But you must sometimes settle for the cheek. It’s just the stupid rules of dating. Especially in the beginning.

She tells me her birthday is coming up soon.

The baby seal is hot. She’s been sitting on the rocks with her mom. She decides to jump into the sea to cool off. The water is crisp, and frothy.

Twenty five yards away, a dark grey dorsal fin cuts through the  water, sensing the life. Feeling the drug of the next love affair. Ready to feed.

I tell her I have some good ideas for her birthday, and she agrees. (I’m so going to make this happen)

I kiss her cheek and say that she’s great.

I walk west on Sansom. I text her that it was amazing seeing her and want to see her again.

When I get to Chris’ Jazz Cafe, I’m waiting for the general manager, and I get a text.

It’s Annabelle. She agrees, and gives me the XO

When I saw the XO I knew it was on. I kissed her on the cheek. That’s still the friend zone. But you can cross over. If a girl throws you an XO in an early text, you’re in boys.

I wasn’t sure, but I sure felt the euphoria of Annabelle. It had nothing to do with her, but at that point, neither of us knew that.

She wanted her dad, and I just wanted to be loved by pretty girls when I was thirteen. So here we are, and we’ll have to see what happens.

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 9am EST.

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