Hey dad, 1 week from today you’ve been dead 21 years. TWENTY ONE YEARS. I miss you.
You know, you’d think it would get easier to write these each year but it actually gets worse, not harder, just worse. I don’t remember what you sounded like at this point, what you smelled like, some days I couldn’t even describe what you looked like without looking at a photo. It’s not just you either… Joe, Nikki, Jack, Dick, 2 of my barbers, Mr. Pedigo, Herman and Mary, the list of the dead and slowly forgotten continues to pile up and I’m not even 34. You know, Mr. Pedigo sent me home with that camcorder when you were sick… told me to record you, told me to ask you questions, because he’d been there and was trying to help me save some portion of you… what did I do? Recorded my television with it… original episodes of Battlestar Galactica, ugh.
Oh yeah, mom lost Mary and then Herman some months later last year. In both cases her sisters didn’t tell her and she found out after the fact.
We moved to Plainfield like I said we were going to, it’s not Speedway but it’s not too bad.
I told you they remade Death Wish in last year’s email oddly enough I watched it again yesterday… that’s an interesting coincidence.
That man called Elon Musk is still a character, a couple of television shows in the past year or so have even had fictional characters that were blatantly supposed to be him. He’s a weird guy, he hasn’t done anything crazy like launch another car into space but he’s still pushing hard to make a spaceship that’ll take men to Mars. I think you were 16 when Mr. Aldrin and Mr. Armstrong hopped around the Moon, I’d love to see mankind set foot on Mars in my lifetime, our future is in the stars… ad astra and all that.
Last year someone was very nice to me and did something for me. A week or so before the race they lost someone too and I tried to share as much wisdom with them as I could to help equip them to deal with the loss and told them how I write these letters. I hope they’ve found some way to keep the memory of their loved one alive like I have with these letters. They are a really interesting person doing some neat things, and while they’re also an enigma, I just hope i was able to return even a fraction of what they’ve done for me with the advice I gave them. At some point they saw something in me and that’s so foreign and unusual or out of the norm, the past year their interest in my life was definitely a noteworthy thing.
I went the farthest from home ever last year too. At the end of June I was invited out to San Francisco, I had a layover for an hour or two in Texas on the way there. Within an hour of landing in San Francisco I saw a completely naked man walking down the sidewalk just out for a stroll. He walked by multiple uniformed police officer over the course of several blocks and they all just laughed. Pretty much everyone has cellular telephones now and they have cameras built in, the police just laughed at him and some took pictures as he walked by. There were road closures due to a parade and I couldn’t get to my hotel so had to walk several blocks and couldn’t find a way around the barricades so I tried to ask a group of police, while holding my suitcase, “move along, KEEP MOVING” shutting me down not wanting to listen to me… this happened a few times before I came upon 2 motorcycle cops “excuse me officers, I’m trying to get to my hotel, where does this barricade end” and they both gave me a good look up and down, including my suitcase, before one curtly replied “you want to go under the street” to which I replied with a quisitive ‘ok’ “No listen, you want to go under the street” and pointed down the road a bit to a sign. Turns out there are subway/train stops that release underground and empty to either side of the street.
Overall San Francisco was weird. They have some level of problem with IV drug users and discarded syringes are here and there on the sidewalks, I also saw human feces here and there on the sidewalk and some areas had a definite stale urine smell. It was a depressing experience, I’d never really seen homelessness before. You know what Indy was like as far as homeless, I don’t really think it’s changed much and the way it was out there was alarming and just sad. I knew it was a problem in major cities but reading it and seeing it first-hand are very different things. I had to literally step over people that were asleep on the sidewalk in broad daylight and from the windows at my 4-star hotel I watched a man sleep on the sidewalk until the morning traffic woke him. It was strange.
I was only there for about 2 days but I had fun. I didn’t get to see much but I did see the Golden Gate bridge, kinda, as I flew out. I upgraded my seat on the way back, I didn’t pay for the trip, so I could have a window seat and a little more leg room and seeing all of the desert on the way back was interesting and shocking. Wind power has also become quite a thing as of late and it was amazing seeing how many massive wind turbines there are dotting the country. In the nearly 21 years you’ve been dead we’ve done a lot to harm our planet but some are trying to retard the damage we’re doing and save us, some solar panels and those wind farms on the way home were somewhat refreshing after all the desert and homeless persons.
I didn’t pass the broker’s exam, I didn’t think I would though. I’m not suddenly successful or rich, I still have very few people in my life, I didn’t make it into the woods last year but I have the morel statue you gave Jack that one year in my bedroom, I see it every day and night as I get in and out of bed.. I’m looking at it right now actually.
I also went on a Nazi U-boat that we captured during WWII, U-505 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It was that one they had when I went up there in scouts and we camped at Indiana Dunes State Park and you didn’t go with us. They had it outside in a courtyard back then but some years back they moved it underground and built a big cavern of a room for it. It was neat walking through it, I barely fit through the engine room… I can only imagine what that was like with those engines hot and firing, diesel and oil fumes gathering. Walking along side it/underneath it was overwhelming, it was so big on the outside but very compact on the inside. You could even see bullet holes from when we captured it. It was amazing!
I doubt too much will happen exciting in the next year. I can’t get anyone to give me a better job, they all want degrees and I don’t have one. I can’t get anyone to take a chance on me because there are people that look infinitely better on paper. I can’t afford to do exciting things so I probably won’t have anything on that front but hey who knows, when I wrote last year’s letter I didn’t think I’d see a naked guy walking down the street or that I’d have visited California so hey who knows. Maybe I’ll surprise us both!
Talk to you in a year dad, Bun says hi!
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave bereft
I am not there. I have not left.