Death

TankThe tank is empty and the filter has been turned off. All that remains are Fred the Undead’s pirate ship, “Bob” spelunker, and Gary the Snail. There are a few goldfish flakes left in the canister, but not much else. Fred the Undead…has died.

Fred the Undead was our goldfish. He had been a member of our family for 11 years. I bought him before GWE and I were engaged and he existed long before there was ever a ‘Justin’ or a ‘Garrett.’ Fred lived with us in three different homes and he probably has the distinction of being the only goldfish in history to have been driven up the 405 to Northridge once and across the 101 to Woodland Hills another time. Over the years, Fred’s gold coloring turned to white, his fins fell off, his tail fell off, his right eye fell out, and near the end – a cancerous tumor grew where his eye used to be. Regardless of all of these setbacks, Fred was in the same spot every morning waiting for me to feed him. He was happy and he was ours. And now, he is gone.

Auntie Shayna and Uncle Jesse have written a eulogy that far surpasses anything I could have written:

Fred (the dead)

“I’m too sexy, right?” said Fred

Yes you are, previously undead Fred

With your bulging eyes

Your tumors, too

Your fins were practically held on with glue

But you were loved

Like no other

For you, dear friend, had two human brothers

Your mom and dad got you before they wed

You knew their love for you they often said

Your orange fins you often shed

And they loved you still Fred the now dead

Present were you at many parties

Family fun and events, even there for dads morning farties.

You almost made it to your bar fishtzvah day

But it’s a good thing you did not for we’d schvitzah ok?

You see, it was your time to swim with the fishes

And we know your life was a good one and fulfilled all your wishes

So Fred the dead, always loved you’ll be

And very much missed by your family. Justin,  Garrett, Mom and Dad, they’ll think of you often, because you were so rad.

You’re still sexy, yes you are

For you will live on, among the stars

Fred1

Fred the Undead – you will be missed.

Duck 1
Duck, Duck, DEUCE!

In my quest to locate turn-of-the-century, Railroad Grade pocket watches (my expensive hobby), I’ve begun dragging my family to flea markets. The first time we attended a flea market, we were nearly killed by gusting winds blowing items off tables and collapsing canopies. The kids were bored, hungry, and afraid of being squashed by furniture older than their great-grandparents. GWE was a trooper…but that lasted for about 20 minutes, plus the time it took to eat a couple falafels. I decided not to push my luck and I figured I would come back the next time by myself.

Yesterday, I asked Justin if he’d like to come out for breakfast with me and attend the monthly flea market by our house. To my surprise, he said yes!

We left the house at 8:30, stopped at IHop for breakfast, and then rushed over to the flea market. When we arrived, Justin asked, “Why are we here?” I informed him that we were going to the flea market that I told him about yesterday. He rolled his eyes into the back of his head and cried, “NNNNOOOOOOOOOO.” Apparently, he wasn’t listening yesterday and he thought we were going someplace else. I’m not sure where. I didn’t bother to ask…because we weren’t going wherever it was. I finally coaxed Justin out of the car by saying, “You never know what we might buy.” (In all fairness, his response was pretty good. Justin said, “Why bother going, daddy? You’re not going to buy anything.” Usually, I don’t.)

With a sour look on his face and an extra-slow step, he held my hand and walked into the flea market with me. There was every sort of oddity, knick-knack, fake jewelry, and “unidentifiable thing collecting dust” that you could imagine. And then, Justin found the man selling bugs in amber.

Justin was totally grossed out and amused by the giant spider paperweights, scorpion pendants, and mummified bats. He even picked out a shark’s tooth keychain for his backpack. And then, we saw “It!”

Are you my mommy?

Perched on a wooden stand and covered in glass were two-headed ducks, two-headed mice (wearing bowties,) and a two-headed chicken. Justin and I marveled at the sight of the two-headed duck. It was the cutest, yet most horrifying thing I had ever seen. It looked like it came from “The Island of Doctor Moreau.” I kept joking with Justin about all the things we could do with it. Finally, I suggested we get it. Justin was deliriously excited at the prospect of getting this very strange two-headed duck.

I said, “Look, I think we need mommy’s input on this.” Justin immediately looked deflated…and the guy selling the two-headed duck didn’t seem that pleased either. Both of them were certain that this would be the sale-killer. Here is the text:

Text

I ignored the text and turned to Justin. “I really think we need a two-headed duck. Don’t you?” “YES!!!!” he replied.

I paid for the duck while it was properly wrapped in bubble wrap and sealed in a box. The man selling the oddities handed Justin the box and off we went. Proudly, Justin carried his two-headed duck to the car with the care of carrying a Faberge Egg.

We’ve been thinking about name(s) for our two-headed duck. (Because he has two heads, we thought he deserved two names!) We’ve narrowed it down to “Tim and Jim,” “Bob and Bob,” “Batman and Robin,” “Huey and Dewey McDuck,” or ““Franken-Duckie!”

What do you think we should name him/them?

 

For a school assignment, Justin had to write a poem. It could be about anything. He chose to write a poem about our fish, “Fred The Undead.”

Fish2

Ode to Fred

I have a fish named Fred.

He’s missing one eye from his head.

He used to be yellow.

Now, he’s just mellow.

That’s why we call him “undead.”

Fish 1

Last night, I came home from a very, very long day at work. I quickly grabbed dinner, plopped down on the sofa to watch a few moments of a client’s show, and then planned to pass out from exhaustion. During a commercial break, I grabbed my iPad and looked at some Facebook updates. All of a sudden, I saw this on my mother’s page:

Text2

I looked at it for a few moments and tried to process what I was looking at. I turned to GWE and said, “I think grandma died….4 hours ago…and no one told me.” She responded with, “What?!?!” as I showed her what I was looking at.

I grabbed my phone and texted my mother with “You awake?” (I didn’t call. It was midnight where she was and I thought she might be in mourning!) This was the following text conversation:

Mom: “Yep. Unfortunately, I can’t sleep.”

Me: “Is grandma ok?”

Mom: “Yep. Why?”

Me: “Saw a weird message on your Facebook page.”

Mom: “About her?”

Me:  “Yes. Asking about your ‘late’ mother.”

Mom: “Geez. Looking.”

Me: “It was posted 4 hours ago. Is this like the time my rabbit died you and didn’t tell me for a month?”

Mom: “Oh, brother. Headed to the kitchen to get on my computer.” Pause “OH CRAP! I just answered her.”

Me: “Delete it from your page before people start asking questions!” Pause “Glad I saw that before flowers started showing up at the house!”

Mom: “OMG! I feel like punching daddy until he wakes up to tell him.”

Needless to say, my mother called my grandmother the next morning to tell her what had happened. It turns out that the woman who posted on my mother’s Facebook page had left a phone message for my grandmother last Thanksgiving. Since my grandmother never got around to returning the call, the other person assumed the worst – that she had passed away. (I’ve had people not return my phone calls before. And, maybe I wished that they were dead at the time….but, I never assumed they were dead and then sent their relatives a condolence message on a social media site!!)

My grandmother called me yesterday afternoon laughing hysterically. I told her that for a dead woman who was calling from “the great beyond,” her cell reception was fantastic! She told me that it was cold where she was, but the harp music was nice and the angels seemed friendly. I told her that I’m glad we caught it in time, otherwise my parents would have come home one evening and found a Minyon (10 Jewish people needed for certain prayers) standing in their driveway. We laughed and laughed. (Yes – this is sick.)

It actually did make me wonder – what happens to our “virtual lives” when we pass away? I found two answers. The first is an APP called “If I Die.” According to the site -“Simply install the app on your page, choose three “trustees” (i.e. people who can be relied upon to confirm your sad demise) and record — by text, image, or video — a message that will be published to your feed, upon your death. “ Very creepy!

The other solution is to have a friend post something on your behalf. I like this better! I recently saw an article about two friends who had a plan.  When one died (cancer), the other waited a few days and then used the deceased friend’s password to log onto his Facebook page. He then began posting new status updates “from beyond the grave” as the person who just passed away. He did it for a week with per-arranged updates that they had worked out together before his passing. Here is another one: Dead

In the future, you better made damn sure someone is really, really, really deceased before posting something like that!! Nothing could be stranger than posting a virtual condolence note only to have it responded to with “I AM NOT DEAD YET, ASSHOLE!!”

Shortly after this picture was taken, I discovered Fred II floating by the filter. Clearly, the responsibility of watching our son was too much for the little guy to handle. It was unclear if he died from natural causes or committed goldfishicide. (There was no note.)

Services were held in the bathroom. Only GenXDaddy was in attendance. Fred II was laid to rest in our white, porcelain mausoleum with running water. (I was finally able to flush something down the toilet without having it costing me $1000 in plumbing repairs!!)

He will be missed…along with his predecessors: Yo, Da, Farley, Freds 1-6, and Ni Hao Kai-lan.

For the past few days, the whole family has been in Atlanta for GenXDaddy’s Sister’s Engagement Party. (Yes, I was charming and well-spoken at the party – but that’s a different story!) Since we brought the kids with us, we knew that Justin would need a playdate with someone his own age. Luckily, GWE’s friends (Peter and Jessica) have a little boy just a few months younger than Justin and a little girl who is a few years younger.

On the way to their house, we passed a cemetery. And, as we drove by, GWE and I noticed an actual coffin that was placed on two 4x4s ABOVE the grave site. I was really hoping that Justin had not seen what we had seen. I wasn’t prepared to discuss “death” with him yet. Why do we die? What happens when we die? Where do we go? Do we go anywhere? What happens to our bodies? Etc.

I began to mentally work through my “Age 5” appropriate answers on this topic, when all of a sudden Justin pointed at the coffin and screamed out, “DADDY, DADDY!!! LOOK!! A TREASURE CHEST!!!!!!!”

GWE and I looked at each other and then I said, “That’s right buddy! It’s a treasure chest.” Justin then thought for a second and then asked, “Can we open it?”

In unison, GWE and I responded “NOOOOOOOOO!!!”

(As a side note – I typically use my own photos for this blog. However, I discovered this photo of a Doctor Who themed TARDIS coffin and felt compelled to use it. I have no intention of dying – ever…but, should I be killed while rescuing Bunnies from a burning Playboy Mansion – it is my wish to be buried in this! I would prefer for my family and friends to think of me “having adventures while traveling through time and space in a TARDIS” instead of being six feet under and getting pooped out by worms.)