hello, you must be going

A strange start to my day today: got up an hour earlier than I would have otherwise so as to have adequate time pre-work shift to peruse the racks at Goodwill, in an effort to remedy my current wardrobe’s complete lack of anything even remotely funereal.

A trip back to Maine is, all of a sudden, in the works. Long overdue, still way sooner than I had planned, precipitated by the expected but still sad event that is my grandmother’s passing this past week.

I found something just close enough to black to avoid actually being black, in good fit and condition.

I’m in good stead and then some in the shirt department, but I’m always on the lookout just the same, especially for grey-tinted off-white. Not yellow tinted, not brown. Grey. Oyster white. It’s the only shade of white or almost-white that looks good on me, and it’s proven itself over the years to be an elusive hue. One in my size, in near new shape, revealed itself. I grabbed it, and immediately saw the label. Hathaway. I knew what the “Made in The USA” label meant, and for good measure, I scanned for and hell, yes I found the embroidered fine print: Waterville, Maine.

Just my size. And my color.

And my destination.

And my origin.

So I now have a passably appropriate suit coat, and an impossibly appropriate shirt for the event.


Yeah, that’s me, sitting in my grandmother’s lap.

It dawned on me in reflection of the news, which I got yesterday, how nearly funny it is to describe someone’s death as unexpected. Everyone may expect it. Beyond that, it’s a matter of shades of probability and of timing. That aside, it had become clear pretty recently that a trip into the white light was in her very near future: capacities had diminished to a level such that the assisted care facility that had been home for her for the last decade were no longer her best option. Only a few short weeks ago, she was transferred to a nursing home, and we all just kinda sorta knew…

Tough, strong, wise, creative, and incredibly funny woman. Loved her grandkids beyond measure, and my brother and I–being the first two of many grandchildren, and the only for well over ten years (my, God, the only two grandkids that Mort, who passed 35 years ago, and to whom I bear unmistakable resemblance got to dote on as well…)–enjoyed a big ol’ heaping dose of her grandmaternal largesse.

To the extent that what I have / do may be construed as “artistic talent” in any way, it comes my way through my mom, from hers. I’m lucky to have received a couple of her created-late-in-life watercolors, and they are only by surface appearance simple. They are brilliant in composition, and in color selection. Credit / blame for the absurdist underpinning of much of my illustration resides elsewhere.

Shortly after I came to terms and came out, my mom and siblings thought it would be best for her–a deeply devout Catholic–to not know. It stung like hell, and / but I understood in full. Within the last very few years, my mom had a change of heart and thought that she deserved to know completely who her grandson is.

I’m given to understand that the reaction was an indifferent shrug, almost the sort one might give to the news that the specified brand of mustard for one’s sandwich is unavailable, but how about a very similar competing-brand substitute instead?


Travel well, Grammy; hope you’re enjoying the ride.

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About dave bois

Freelance writer with a strong pull towards environmental matters (water issues especially) that remains fueled by my study of and early-career practice in geology and hydrology. Music, food, dogs, current/political events, and visual arts combine to command much of the portion of attention not ceded to ecological concerns. Also Monty Python. I've sold a few pieces of original art and have made cab fare home playing saxophone. Native Mainah

3 thoughts on “hello, you must be going

  1. god, DAMN it, i see it like it’s yesterday:

    7th grade. that chunk of time after some pittsfield and before more pittsfield. she helped us so much then.

    so, i’m getting off the bus in front of 45 silver street, taking the school’s tenor saxophone home for the first time.

    the horn, in its case, is heee-yoodge. i forget the full extent of my runtitude, but it was legendary. i’m maybe 4-foot-6 and 70 pounds soaking wet with a turd in each pocket. and i’m wrangling this thing with a fury, hell bent on making some manner of music with the damned thing. if only i can drag it across the fucking street and heave it up to my room…

    and i look across the street, after the bus peels away. grammy’s standing on the porch. barely standing, owing to how hard she is laughing. not *at* me.

    rather, about me.

  2. Very touching tribute. I couldn’t help but imagine Mort putting that Hathaway shirt in your path. And while I don’t recall being witness to the saxophone incident, your description certainly paints a delightfully vivid picture.

    Thanks, and see you soon.

  3. Grandmothers.

    They either rock your world or make you wish the world would open up and swallow them. I’ve had both sorts and gosh darn if the good one didn’t die first. She’s still floating around somewhere, I feel her smiling on me from time to time, but I still miss her. I used to go to her place on Tuesday mornings and make raspberry french toast. We’d eat off the TV trays and watch The Joy of Painting. Bob and his happy little trees.

    Safe passage to Dear Grammy. She sounds like she was a real hoot and you were lucky to have each other.

    ((((hugs)))) to you. I’m sorry for your loss.

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