View Full Version : Christmas Killed My Father

31st December 09, 03:23 AM
My father died of a massive coronary infarction on Christmas Day in the Year of Our Lord 2006. His last words were ďpig sty.Ē

That was his 61st Christmas. He was only 60 years old. He got to live a Christmas over what he should have because of when he died. Whenever Dad would talk about a dead male, heíd always remark ďHeís a lucky son of a bitch, heís dead now.Ē I guess Dad is doubly lucky, getting to live long enough to see an extra Christmas and all.

He was born Richard V, Jr. in Lubbock, Texas. His father was Richard V, Sr. His mother was Anita V. Anita, my grandmother and the second most ladylike, generous person I (or anyone else for that matter) could know, is now named Anita J. She remarried shortly after her husbandís passing. Her new husband, one of my grandfatherís best friends, was a wealthy man. He used that wealth to make an even bigger fortune selling gas on the side of the road. These road side gas stations were called ďconvenience storesĒ and started off just selling gas, cokes, and smokes. Eventually, my step-grandfather made more money selling cokes and smokes than gas. But what did my paternal grandfather do? He was a roughneck in the Texas oil fields for 30 years before getting a degree in Geology from Ole Miss. He used that degree, and his 30 years of experience in oil fields and his innate mathematical abilities, to tell oil companies where to drill holes. The oil companies wanted these holes to tap into massive reserves of liquefied dinosaur corpses. It was said of my grandfather that in the ten years he told oil companies where to drill that he never failed to find tens of thousands of dinosaur corpses for each hole. I donít know if thatís true or not, but Iím proud of it despite never having met the man.

My grandfather also died of a massive coronary infarction on Christmas Day, but in the Year of Our Lord 1966. My grandfather was 52 when he died. I donít know what his last words were, but I do know that my father was twenty years old when his father died and that he was very upset with him. He was so mad that he went hunting, even though he knew his father was very sick and could die at any moment. My father always told me his father used to ruin every Christmas.

My father had a degree in Political Science from East Texas University. He was no Henry Kissinger though, so he had to sell steel to make a living. Thatís what he was doing when I was born. I must have convinced him to try to make it rich in the convenience store business, because thatís what he tried to do shortly after my mother (the first most ladylike, generous person I or anyone else knows) gave birth to little olí me. I wish I never would have opened my big, baby mouth though, because even though Dad was really good at selling steel, he just couldnít make it in the family business. When Dad died, he had been an artist, an apartment superintendent, a steel salesman, a failed novelist, a failed small business man, a supervisor, a manager, an auditor, a truck driver, and a damned fine fisherman. He had a Masterís degree in Business Administration from Mobile College. Now that college is a called Mobile University. Itís still a college though, even if it is a really nice one.

I was also twenty years old when my father died. However, unlike when my fatherís father died, one of my fatherís sons was with him. Little olí me.

I have a degree in French for International Trade. Iím no Jean-Paul Sartre though, so I had to go to law school. When my father was my age, he was married with a son. That son wasnít me; it was my brother, Richard V, III. Heís handsome like his mother and tall like his father. Iím ugly like my father and short like my grandfather. Some assholes get all the luck. My brotherís son, Richard V, IV, is handsome, tall and smart. I think he gets his smarts from his mother. Sheís a real nice lady too.

Iím single though. No wife, no son. Maybe itís because Iím James V the First? If I had a Jr. or a VI next to my name, maybe I would have that special allure that drives women wild with desire? Maybe maybe maybe.

I loved my father. Not just because I was my fatherís son, even though I was. Not just because my father sacrificed his pride and hopes and health to provide for me, even though he did. I loved my father because he always tried his best to understand me. Toward the end, when the cancer had eaten away his body and strength and cried foul when it couldnít devour his mind or spirit, I think he finally got who I was. I wish the lucky son of a bitch would have told me what he found out.

My favorite memory about my father is the time he took the five year old version of me fishing. Itís actually an agglomeration of similar memories because he took me fishing a lot, at least when I was young and cute and wasnít yet what he called a ďpunkass.Ē We lived in a small, rented house on Bit Ní Spur Road just about a mile south of the University of South Alabama. The memory goes like this: Dad would walk me down to a small pond on the periphery of Southís campus. There were hundreds of golden, foot long fish in that pond. Dad always brought along a small Zepco rod and reel and weíd take turns casting it into the pond. Before weíd cast it, weíd dig up small, wiggly worms from the wet ground near the bank to spear with the hook. We never caught any of those golden fish though, even though Dad was honestly a damned fine fisherman. Maybe if we had brought better bait. Maybe maybe maybe.

Iím about to tell my least favorite memory about my father or anything else. Itís about the time my father died. Iím going to tell you the story in vivid detail. Itís going to be very graphic, and, if I donít get too melodramatic, very sad. If I do get too melodramatic, or if you just think itís funny, feel free to laugh. If you think itís a waste of time or that itís self-indulgent, then itís like my father used to say, ďFuck Ďem and feed Ďem fish.Ē Youíve been warned.

It was late Christmas day. Call it Christmas dusk. Dad and I were taking his daily walk. Dad was supposed to take daily walks to try to keep his weight down as to prevent a heart attack. Doctorís orders. After the cancer tore through his bladder and kidneys and stomach, he had a hard time getting around, so it was a pretty big chore. That didnít stop dad though. Before the dog died, heíd walk it everyday. After the dog died, heíd only walk when I was home. My dad weighed over 300 pounds the day a large chunk of plaque broke loose from his arteries and blocked blood flow to his heart, ultimately causing my fatherís and his heartís necrosis. Maybe I should have been home more. Maybe maybe maybe.

I just thought of something. Sci fi writers like Kurt Vonnegut and Jules Vern and Issac Asimov and L. Ron Hubbard have been selling us stories about humans with artificial enhancements, ie cyborgs, for years. These cyborgs are always stronger and faster after they get attached to whatever artificial part replaces their natural appendages. Thatís a bunch of fucking bullshit. When the doctor tore out my fatherís bladder and replaced it with a plastic bag, ie turned him into a cyborg, my father didnít get any fucking super powers. He couldnít even get an erection anymore. I want my $7.50 back from the Vonnegut estate.

I bought my father three things for Christmas 2006: a blue tool cart, a blue hydraulic rolling jack, and a blue rolling pad for him to lay on so he could fix his truck. He never got to use any of the three. It was a blue, blue, blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas.

I was mad at my father the day he died, just like he was mad at his father. I was mad at him because he had made my mom angry three days before. I was mad at him because he was sick and old and poor. I was mad at him because heíd tried to get me laid by making fun of how infrequently I had sex with women. I was mad at him because I didnít know that within 24 hours Iíd be clutching his lifeless body to my chest, wailing like a homosexual man. Not that thereís anything wrong with being a homosexual man.

It was just like any other walk: there we were, crossing Three Notch Croner, a road that had during my adolescents metamorphosed from a small country road into a thriving, busy thoroughfare (Quite an apt analogy, eh?); making the long circle back to recross the road; and then finish up the walk by going through the church grounds for the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Cathedral. We stopped under the picnic awnings and there I received counsel from my father. It was part of the ritual of these daily walks. What I hated most about these counselingís were that dad was always right; his advice was always the best, the way things should go and I always wound up taking it. He knew the theory behind life and he had all the experience in the world.

On that particular day Dad was telling me about how I needed to make sure to pay extra attention to my Kaplan LSAT lessons so I could get the highest score possible on the LSAT. How to do so was a bone of contention between my father and me. The ďhow toĒ always was. Dad thought that the best way for me to really excel on the LSAT was to make sure I kept my trailer up in Auburn clean and neat so I could rest when I got back from studying. Not like a pig sty. By the way, LSAT stands for Law School Admission Test and itís the test all asshole lawyers have to take before they can even begin learning how to be asshole lawyers. Iím pretty sure itís what starts us to being such assholes.

ďNot like a pig sty,Ē he said, his exact words. Then his head suddenly dropped so his chin rested on his chest. I thought he was joking. His breath became short and shallow and then he vomited, after which he breathed no more. What a cruel joke.

I leapt out of the bench we were seated at and flung my arms around my fatherís back and lifted him up and out of the bench. I was strong enough to lift his heavy body out of the bench, but not strong enough to lay him softly on the ground. His head hit the pavilionís gray cement floor with a muffled thud. Dadís hair had grown back after his having lost it during chemotherapy. If heíd been bald, the thud would have reverberated throughout the churchís modest iron picnic awning for few a moments, and then forever in my head. Thank God for small favors.

I had my cell phone with me. I called 911. A black woman answered the call. I told her what happened and where we were. She told me to perform CPR. CPR? What the fuck was that? She told me what to do. It turns out I already knew exactly what to do, itís just I couldnít remember because of Dadís joke. I learned CPR once in Boy Scouts and again in Health. It was difficult to position my fatherís head correctly because of his size. I finally got it right. ďOne two three four five,Ē I said. Each number I pushed down as hard as I could on the space two fingers up from Dadís solar plexus. Then I gave my father a kiss, blowing as hard as I could into his mouth, my right hand cupping his chin up, my left pinning his nose closed. His chest rose, then vomit filled my mouth. I spit it out and pushed on my fatherís chest again. ďOne two three four five,Ē I said. Again and again, each time spitting out vomit and then going back to pounding on my fatherís chest. I was a human bilge pump! I did my father proud.

I pounded my dying fatherís chest until I heard the ambulanceís shrill ďwah whoo, wah whoo.Ē The ambulance went up the way we came in, but missed us and drove out the wrong way! ďCome back you fucking assholes!Ē I screamed. The 911 dispatcher must have heard me (she was on speakerphone) because the assholes came back.

I ran to them to catch their attention. They pulled up onto the grass and drove around the churchís small play ground and up to the picnic tables. Once they got out of their red and white wagons and brought their magic medicine bags and got to my by-then-probably dead father I fell on the ground sobbing. Iíve never cried like that before or since. I think heterosexual men only have one cry like that in them. Thank god. Women and homosexual men are tough and have my respect.

I didnít just cry, I also called out to a Jewish zombie for help. I never really believed that he was a zombie, but I always believed he was a smart, honest, good man. Probably the smartest, most honest, best man ever to live on the planet Earth. I never asked him for help or thanked him before my father died though, at least not sincerely. What did I say to this person exactly? I cried, ďJesus why? Please help! Please help!Ē over and over again.

The smartest, most honest, best man to ever live, who may or may not have been a zombie, didnít help me or my father. I donít blame him after I strolled up to his house on his birthday only to have my father barf all over his picnic table.

I believe that ultimately Christmas killed my father, just like it killed his father, just like it will likely kill me. That is if I donít do it myself by drinking too much whiskey or driving too fast on the interstate or telling a big, angry redneck to suck cocks in hell. So, if one day a nice young woman can look past the fact that Iím a little short and my head is too big and I donít have a Jr. or a roman numeral next to my name and marries me, sheíll know why Iím so suspicious of Christmas. Why Iím never quite in the Christmas spirit, no matter how big my smile gets, no matter how much I indulge the children. Christmas, for V men, is the Kevorkian of the holidays, mercifully murdering us when weíre old and enfeebled and canít run or fight or use our penises anymore. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.

31st December 09, 07:04 AM
Thank you Jim.

31st December 09, 08:45 AM
Nice work Henry Chinaski.

31st December 09, 08:46 AM
It's a shame you have to become a lawyer to make money. Try submitting stuff to magazines.

31st December 09, 12:02 PM
I also thank you for sharing.

31st December 09, 01:41 PM
This is nice and powerful. The first part before the event with your father can be a bit confusing and the people can mix up, but that might have been the format.

Almost makes me want to get in contact with my father. Almost.

31st December 09, 08:48 PM
Holy fuck..

You do know authors pull just as much tail as authors?

Thank you Jim, you are awesome.

31st December 09, 10:16 PM
You do know authors pull just as much tail as authors?


Still, thanks for all the feedback, particularly to Nun for calling me out on a poor title. I swear to God I mostly write about cool shit like haunted Mustangs and fist fights and drinking beer, its just this is what's been on my mind for the past few days.

1st January 10, 07:37 AM
I swear to God I mostly write about cool shit like haunted Mustangs and fist fights and drinking beer, its just this is what's been on my mind for the past few days.
This, I want more stories like this^^ Chinaski.

Yiktin Voxbane
1st January 10, 09:40 AM
Makes me miss my Parents .

Thankii for a soulful read .

1st January 10, 07:15 PM
That's a lot to read... I'll just watch "Gremlins" and call it even, oke?

3rd January 10, 04:16 PM

*ahem* Lawyers

I just have a hard time imagining you as one..

a lawyer, that is.

3rd January 10, 04:29 PM

there's no reason why you can't do both law AND writing.

you're a new lawyer, so you don't make shit. submit your work into a magazine already.