Saturday, March 31, 2012

"He Went to Chicago...."

During medical school and residency, slang phrases for death were inevitable, especially amongst the surgical trainees  Thinking back, I'm wondering if a certain wild and crazy resident from Argentina named Mario K might not have invented his own terminology for the act of passing on into the great unknown. I first heard the phrase come out of his mouth and then from others who worked with him. After leaving Texas and my training roots, I never heard this expression again. A Google search for synonyms for  the verb "to die" spews forth all manner of  crude expressions as well as the more generally accepted phrases that one might hear from a funeral "departed", "passed away", or "left us".

Mario referred to the act of dying as "going to Chicago". I remember coming in for rounds one morning as an eager, yet terrified third year medical student and hearing him (as senior surgical resident) say of someone who had died during the night, "He went to Chicago".  I recalled thinking this an odd blend of disrespectful, weird, and funny, a not uncommon situation in Medicine when stress-busting humor commonly borders on the edge of decency, if not beyond. Medical types typically limit our not-so-professional-speak to times when we're in the company of others of like mind or those who wouldn't take offense. Discretion is key.

Yet, "going to Chicago" isn't really an offensive term for dying. The only question I had then, and still do is what happens if someone dies in Chicago?

**also posted at Back in the Day

Lazy (Rainy) Saturday Afternoon

Bought at a Houston Fiesta Grocery....yum

There's  not much going on this afternoon. With Seattle's third wettest March on record, it's raining (AGAIN). There's just no point in braving the elements. However, it sounds reasonable to break off another piece of Dickies peanut pattie and sit back with a sugar free Red Bull, this time poured over ice and enjoyed with a straw, of course.

The tub of spreadable cheese won't go to waste either. 

Hard to believe that a week ago we were arriving at the venue for Carrie and Robbie's wedding; seems a long time ago. Every moving forward.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Left Houston: Arrived Seattle

How much can be packed into 72 hours?

Our trip to Houston for Carrie and Rob's Wedding weekend whirl-winded us into a good understanding of how much can be accomplished in three days. From the time we stepped off the plane on Thursday afternoon in Houston to the time we took our seats for the return flight home we were on the go (except for those hours spent supine in dreamland). These hours of so called slumber passed with rocket speed and we awakened each morning to the call of the day ahead. Move, eat, see, chat, reflect, celebrate, hug, cry, and.....then, more eating. And then, more eating. Repeat all activities with abandon.

We had a wonderful time and left with many memories.

We also had our moments of angst, frustration, and divided objectives. This is an honest accounting of time spent in the close company of five other loved ones. Despite the expected ups and downs, the bottom line was a kick-ass fun time. Two in our party had never been to Houston and introducing them to the delights the rest of us have enjoyed in this southeast Texas "Mecca" was great.

We enjoyed three amazing family events: the rehearsal dinner party at The Cadillac Bar to honor Carrie and Rob, Tejano style.

The wedding ceremony the following evening was a creative, wonderful blend of joy, love,and humor,  punctuated by moments of surprise including bold music (the bride walked down the aisle on her father's arm to electric guitar music from AC/DC) and two lay officiants. The service reflected perfectly Carrie and Rob's personalities and left me with such good feelings about their lives together. They were made for each other.

Then it was on to Brennans, the French Cajun inspired restaurant with old world charm, for the reception, dinner and dancing. Why do wedding celebrations pass in an instant?  The clock moved quickly towards the new day and all the festivities; food, drink, dancing, and merriment came to an end by midnight.
Carrie Made the Cake


On Sunday, J.T. and Trish hosted a goodbye party for Carrie and Rob who leave for their honeymoon tomorrow. The party was low keyed and all about family and close friends of the bride and groom. A two person steel band played Caribbean tunes as we feasted on more great food and more of Carrie's great cake.

Congratulations to Carrie and Rob!  We had a blast at your wedding weekend!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Kirby Drive

If you roll down the car windows along Kirby Drive between Bissonnet and the Southwest Freeway, the sweet smell of smoked meat coupled with the pungent bliss of grilled fajitas permeates the air. This morning we didn't have to open windows at all, so dense was the savory wonder of those aromas. This is Houston to me; the olfactory pinnacle.

Today we had Mexican breakfast at Goode Company Tacqueria and in a short while, we'll return to Kirby Drive and stop in at Goode Company BBQ. I'm not even hungry. But, I can eat. (Kind of lkike the lyrics on a totally different topic of Ms. Whitney..."It's not right, but it's OK". Sigh. You do what you must in situations like this.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Left Seattle: Arrived Houston

The six of us joined up with 3 Klebans and 4 McGradys at Seatac Airport this morning making an excited group of 13 bound for a wedding weekend in Houston. This is Carrie and Rob's weekend of celebration and we're thrilled to be a part of the festivities. Plus, this is Houston; say it again: Hous....ton Town.

As we trooped onto the plane I felt my Mom's presence; she wouldn't have liked bidding goodbye to 13 (wow, what a number on top of everything else) very special people all at once. Although I miss her, I was glad her spirit flies in a different dimension because if she is aware of our comings and goings, she's likely NOT worrying.

The flight buzzed by faster than usual. Just off the plane, we marveled at the sunshine and warm breeze having left the chill and grey of the Northwest far behind. It wasn't long before the pull of the first feast of the 3 day weekend  assumed priority #1. Not surprisingly, we picked The 59 Dinner. We all ordered the same meal: chicken tenders with fries and honey mustard dipping sauce with a milkshake or malt on the side. Oh my; the memories of yesteryear, the taste, the ambiance, the joy of introducing a slice of our past to Heather and Scott who see Houston with new eyes.

We've laughed more than we've stressed. The family dynamic is always slightly below the surface. Denny and I are surfing the invisible but palpable waves of energy emanating from our beloved, adult children. Once a parent, always a parent.

Someone brought this insanely big suitcase

The four young ones. I remember those days.....

A place for "eating heavy".

And tomorrow? We have our day mapped out. Three meals, multiple stops along the way to see our 3 former homes in Houston, various not-to-be-missed spots, the Texas Medical Center, and maybe a stop at Fiesta to stock up on  Dickies Peanut Patties or to share a pint of Blue Bell ice cream with 6 spoons.

Weddings bring families together like little else (except funerals...). Weddings are way more fun.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Durrance Vile

I love words; especially the myriad synonyms for some words.

D talked about one of his (long deceased) aunts tonight; an infamous family member with ofttimes scandalous behaviors who talked of intermittent bits of time held down in "durrance vile". Awesome, no?

This marvelous term is otherwise known as the...
or the oubliette.

Sorry, I can't help it. This make me laugh (out loud) and right now, that's damn good.

Oh, and also the joint; a synonym that popped into my head when I couldn't sleep last night.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mom's Stuff

There are still signs of my Mom everywhere even though she's been gone for over a year. Several weeks ago the lead caregiver at the adult family home asked me to sort through her makeup and perfumes which were still in a drawer of a small cabinet in Dad's room. I've known they were there; it just seemed that leaving them as they were was "OK". But, for some reason, the issue came up and I removed them. Most of the perfume was old and beyond use but I did save the Shalimar, a scent she rarely wore in recent years but a perfume she treasured.

The small, well worn zippered makeup bag I casually dropped in my closet, not sure when I would feel in the mood to look through it. Today was the day. Not much to keep; old Mary Kay lipsticks and eye shadows, a variety of make-up brushes, an eyebrow pencil and some fingernail implements. I pitched them all and the case in the trash after holding each one in my hands and mentally saying a quick good bye.

Remaining is a old train case containing all of her jewelry. One of these days MM and I will need to apportion the contents to Mom's granddaughters and perhaps the great granddaughters. We've already selected items for ourselves long ago, when Mom was alive. She enjoyed seeing us wear different pieces that were special to her.

I have all Mom's glasses in cases; she apparently kept every pair for the last twenty years. Apparently these can be donated at optical shops, suitable for recycling or reuse. I'll drop these off when I remember.

The process is surprisingly slow. but at least I'm feeling less emotional about all these things that belonged to Mom. Less raw, I suppose. They, after all, aren't her. They're just things she had or used in some way. It's time to let go.

The  larger task is Mom and Dad's former home. We'll be tackling that project in pieces. As Mom once told me....."You and your sister are going to have quite a job on your hands (what about our brother, Mom? Is he off the hook?) when it comes to breaking up that house." Indeed, Mom. Indeed.