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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Always & Forever

Yup.  Jet lag.  I've got it.  Asleep at 9:00 p.m. ... up at 4:00 a.m.

I got home late Tuesday night.  Everyone said it was a "lovely service."  I didn't find anything about it "lovely."   Religious people are so weird about death.  I don't get the "tradition" of the wake, or the "mystery of faith."  But ... whatever.  I guess the wake and service were comforting to some people.  That's great.  I'm still quite angry he's gone, am still awaiting the medical records to see what the hell happened, and I'm sure all of this will eventually hit me like a bus.

Anyway, my son couldn't be there, so he asked me to take a few photos of the wake and service, which I did.  There's nothing creative about these photos, as I wasn't really into doing this, for obvious reasons.

We got there, and his daughter, Kerri, picked us up from the airport.  Jill and I stayed at Jeff's apartment, drove his car, and I even wore his hat and sneakers.  It was surreal.  It was as if he just vaporized.  Everything was the way he left it as if he was just going to the store or something and never returned.

I'll tell you what was really neat to see ... the love of his friends.  My brother had some very very good friends.  Large, Italian, mob-looking type guys who are really going to miss him.  There were people from all walks of his life, including the little old lady that works at the diner where he frequents.  Jeff was an amazing man, and the world lost a good one.  Damn cancer.

Anyway, I went to pick the dogs up from Jaenne's house yesterday.  I figured they'd be happy to see me.  They ran right past me and wanted to see ... eachother.  Thanks dogs.

Jammer's cute.  I'm going to smash her, though.  She's decided that the place to pee is in her crate, not outside.  So rather than having a very large crate to hang out in, we're going back to the tiny puppy crate with not much room but enough to turn around in.  I need to nip this in the bud.  Yesterday was her first day here, and I am already sick cleaning up pee.

I walked her down to Dean and Brooke's yesterday, and on our walk, we passed by my sheep, who are now on the other side of the irrigation canal.  Jammer's never been on my irrigation ditch before, and when we walked near the sheep, they spooked, Jammer saw them and went to chase after them.  She was on a long line, so she takes off, launches herself as quickly as she can, hits the end of the longline ... right over the center of the canal and falls into the water!  Well ... needless to day, she now knows there's water there.  And she's obsessed with it!  She played in the water all the way along our walk, and by the time we showed up at Dean and Brooke's, she was a muddy mess.

Once the sun came up, I started cleaning up the backyard.  I was going to do it before I left for Jersey, but that didn't work out.  Got it mowed and raked, and I need to get rid of a pile of brush I put there.  I'd also like to fence off my "junk pile" so Jammer can't get into it and hurt herself.  I still never built the dog run, either.  Ugh.  So much to do.

Anyway ... here are the photos.  I was hanging out at the airport in Phoenix waiting for Jill. 

I noticed the "people movers" ... which is just a horizontal "escalator" so you don't have to walk if you don't want to.  I thought to myself, "how lazy can someone be?"

So I chuckled when I saw Jill.

Here's Jeff's apartment.  Lower level.

And what his complex looks like.

This is the house he and his ex bought that his ex still lives in, along with the occasional kid joining her.

Jill and I took a ride to the beach a couple of times just to clear our heads.  It was comforting to see a familiar sight.  

I don't know how to describe it, but the sand is so much different on the east coast than on the west coast.  "Softer" would be a word that would come close.  

It rained on and off the whole time we were in Jersey, so we were never really able to hit the beach with the sun out.  And I forgot about this fencing.  It's everywhere.  I love it.

And the funniest thing happened.  While I was taking photos of the beach, a guy walked up, got into position, and someone shot a photo of him ... PLANKING!  I couldn't help it, I had to take a photo, too.  I wonder if he put his photo up on one of the planking sites.  I'll have to check it out.

The Boardwalk:

Mmmmmmmmmm .... REAL pizza!

Across the street ... just thought it was a cool building.  "Borough Hall."  As you can see, my creativity was at an all-time low, and I didn't care.

Back at my brother's place, I spotted another familiar sight ... squirrels with those awesome silver-tipped bushy-ass tails.  So cool!

Here is the restaurant where we held the re-past luncheon after the mass on Monday afternoon.  But those of us who needed a drink before the wake on Sunday met here in the bar, so I snapped a few photos while I was there.

I'd have just stayed here and continued to drink if I could have gotten away with it.  A bar is a great place to remain in denial.  Here's my sister, Jill, and her very dear friend, Pegie, who was a great help to us all.  Pegie, if you read this, you are a wonderful human being and I love you like a sister.  I felt more comfort from you than any of the pomp and circumstance of the services.  I miss you and I hope you are well.

And across the street was the wake.

The funeral home was lovely, and the staff was very professional and handled everything very gently and kept things moving along.

These photos were taken before anyone else got there, obviously.  Here is one of the photo boards Kerri (Jeff's daughter) and I put together.  There were very few photos of Jeff alone, which says a lot about him.

Here is one of the photos we opted to enlarge.  It's Jill, Jeff and I ... 25 years ago. 

And here is the other one.  Here he is with his own girls, Kerri and Faythe, this year at Kerri's college graduation.

The funeral home put together a slide show for us.  Kerri and I gathered about 50 photos from the time Jeff was a baby to present, and put them in order and they played the slideshow on a loop the whole time.  It was very nice to have there.  Here's a couple of photos from it.  

(I think this photo is Jeff from high school...)

And one of the very few photos of all five of us kids together.  Jeff is the oldest in the back.  I am the punk in the middle, and Jill is to my left at the bottom.  The other two are Jack and Judy, two of my siblings that live in Southern California, last I knew.

Isn't this a nice way of displaying the cards?

Here are the flowers Pegie donated.  Aren't they gorgeous?  I love the ribbon.  It's slightly altered lyrics from a Grateful Dead song, Not Fade Away.

Monday, the day of the service.  Our chariot.

Jill talking to some of the guys from the funeral home.

I stopped taking photos.  I was having a hell of a time finding anything to really take photos of.

The last photo in Jersey I took is this bee hive that was hanging from the eve of one of the buildings in my brother's complex.  We asked one of the locals what kind of bees made a hive like this, and they said, "Blackjacks."  I think they are just black bees.  I would have loved to have someone spray the bees so I could keep the hive.  Cool looking hive, isn't it?  Hell, the Devil Dogs didn't survive the plane ride, there's no way this would have! 

Anyway, I'm glad to be back home.  Jammer is a cute distraction, if I don't knock the white off her for peeing in her crate.  And Reese needs hugs like every ten minutes.  That's ok.  So do I.  

I went up to turn my irrigation on ... and ran into a critter of a different sort.  

Do you see it?  Reese didn't ... yet.

It was a good, healthy 4 foot long, and looked like it had eaten recently.  Lumpy belly.

I got it to hiss at me, but not really well enough to get a photo of it, and all I ended up succeeding in doing was making Reese very aware of it.  Probably not the best idea on the planet.  Oh, and no worries, it's just a gopher snake (aka "bull snake").  They bite, but it's not venomous.

There's a new, permanent addition to my blog.  It's a small version of this.  Thank you, again, Pegie, for these flowers.  They're gorgeous.  Jeff, I still can't believe it.  Seriously.  I know it hasn't hit me yet and won't for a while.  I love you and I miss you.