Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In Memoriam: Madame Guy

Guy's mother died this morning. I feel like crying, mostly because I wish it was I who had the opportunity to truly comfort Guy, when I heard the news on the speakerphone in the car.

Let's take a break from dissing him for a while.

From "How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjli":

"But luckily for us, energy is like a muscle; it grows stronger through being used. This is a very simple and obvious, yet perpetually amazing, truth. Every creative artist knows those days of apparently blank stupidity and lack of inspiration on which he has to force himself to work. And suddenly, after hours of toiling, the effort is rewarded; ideas and enthusiasm begin to flow into him. In all our undertakings, the little daily effort is all-important. The muscles of our energy must be continually exercised. Thus, gradually, we gain momentum and purpose."

I never met her, but I heard her of a matter of legend. She raised, I believe, 7 children, with a largely absent doctor husband.She had to be one tough broad.  Guy tirelessly tended to her as the only sibling living in Chicago. He was rather matter-of-fact on the phone tonight, not surprised, but I could sense the hurt in his voice. I've said before: it doesn't matter if you're 11 or 57, when you lose a parent, it's a traumatic, life-altering event.

I heard the details of the siblings flying in from all over the country, and I broached the subject of coming to to the wake. I didn't feel welcome there as sort-of-special-friend. But Guy said the wake was for family, and I was family. Alrighty then. I'm terrified to go alone, so I asked Meg, but she might be late. I asked Pastor Dave, but he hasn't gotten back to me yet. His kids will be there. His brothers and sisters will be there. Lady GuyGuy will be there, and we all know how well she and I get along. I'm going, don't get me wrong, even if I have to brave face it and go solo. I'd do for Guy anything.

Yes, George, "all things must pass away," but even amid lengthy illness and turmoil, we're never quite ready for that moment of goodbye. I certainly wasn't when my father passed away suddenly. I think Guy said he was at work when the news came in...then back to work after he'd just heard that his mother passed away. His strength is admirable.

I'll check on him tomorrow, but texted him the 2nd half of the last verse of "All Things Must Pass."

I haven't a clue how to handle an Irish Catholic wake. Mass cards and all that hoohah. I think the last Catholic funeral I've been to was my Nana's in 1994. Swear to God. I won't go to the funeral--that's more for the family anyway.

In his loss, I wish I was the one who could wrap my arms around him and hold him closely if he felt the need to cry. I wish I could ease his suffering. I wish I could make things better. Alas, nonesuch. I'll stand on the peripheral as a general mourner, with Guy in his heart knowing that he has all of my love and support. It's as much as I can do.

For all the saints, who from their labors rest, Madame Guy. You raised a fine man whom I love very much, who saves lives every day and still (occasionally) finds time for tots and a beer. For you, Madame Guy, we should not pity. We should congratulate, for you are in paradise.

God bless you all, far and wide, for safe journeys to and fro.

Much love.


Rob Cheney said...

Nicely written and Annie's friends please make sure she doesn't go on her own x

Andrea Miklasz said...

Meg'll probably be able to go with me but it'll be later in the evening. At least I hope.

Still waiting for Kate to give me Irish Catholic wake protocol & general Catholic information, unless anyone else out there knows and wants to comment. Though Madame Guy was German....

Rob Cheney said...

I think your funeral services are a bit different to ours We have a mass in church followed by a burial or Cremation then a wake afterwards either at a family house or Pub/Club

Andrea Miklasz said...

Traditionally in the US, traditional deaths are wake first/funeral next day/luncheon-meal-drink gathering after the burial, which may or may not be private to the family or open to friends, or invite-only.

Me? For future reference (Luke already knows this, as does BMF, in the unlikely (?) event I pass before he does): Cremation, no wake, no funeral service, big, huge, gorging food-laden, drunken music festival/memorial service, and "My Sweet Lord" with the chants to Krishna left intact.

Andrea Miklasz said...

Well, I figured out how to get a mass card for his mom. That's one hurdle down. And I wrote him something special with a token dear to my own heart and my family's and put it in a card for him. Of course, I'll get a generic family sympathy card too.

BMF said...

My buddy,

I'm not really sure what to say to you about Guy's mom's passing. Your compassion is outstanding, your love unending and true, for your friends, anyone you really love.

I know you wish you could be more in the midst of Guy's suffering, but think of the clusterfuck of all of those people and be glad you just have to go to the wake. I hate wakes too, and don't want one. I honestly think they're kind of gross in a perverse way. (At least here in America, so I'm hoping I die in the UK, where things seem so much more pleasant for all.)

You told me what you wrote/are giving him, and I think it's absolutely lovely and loving. It's certainly not something the average friend would think of, but you're not the average friend.

Not the mass card. I did't even know what a mass card was until you explained it to me, after someone explained it to you. I thought it was slang for a "massive card" or a card signed by a "massive amount of people." Ah ha!

If Meg can't go with you later in the evening, is there any way you could wrangle your mom into going with you? I know that's not ideal in any fashion for anyone for any reason, but I agree with Rob that you shouldn't go alone. And that's not a platform for Lucas either.

Anonymous said...


I have lots of friends. I have a big family. I know literally tens of thousands of people, some better than others, but I meet a lot of people along my life's sway and I gain a lot of insight.

Still, I know of no other person in my life who understands the concept of the soul better than you do. I know a lot of it you picked up from studying Harrison and Eastern philosophy, but your spin on it is simpler, easier, gentler. You see the soul as eternal, which is so true. Whether that comes from philosophy, Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism is immaterial. Is Guy Friend one of your soul mates? Definitely. In some respect that only the two of you will be able to figure out. And you will, I know it.

With your permission, of course, I read what you sent BMF of what you wrote for Guy, and it's so beautiful. I won't elaborate on any of it so's not to give away anything you wanted to tell him. But you wanted feedback from your closest friends, so I'm giving you feedback.

I'll say this. Your being a huge fan of existential psychological theory is almost too well suited for you. Most of it's about where we're headed, what we're doing with the time we have now, and how to deal with and capitalize on those moments, even when it's tough. As much as you want to work with addicts, which you'd be great at, I'd think about working with folks facing end of life issues. (Though I know old people drive you nuts.)

People who say your blog is self-absorbed are full of shit. It's your autobiography, courageously put out in public. I know you. You're the most compassionate person I think I know. Selfless.

Andrea, try and mend things and make peace with your mom. I know things are dreadful at home, but she's your living parent, and she deserves some modicum of respect and is trying to help you, not hurt you. I was kind of like Guy..the go-to guy to to do things around the house, care for her, despite my schedule. When I lost her, I was devastated.

I agree with what you said Kate told you earlier that Guy's heart is broken. Keep tabs on him. Be available. Just be yourself. That's what he loves the most anyway.

BMF, even I knew what a mass card was, why didn't anyone ask me?

Andrea, I'm available if you need to vent or talk. I don't care where I'm at. Please do convey my condolences to the Guy clan. I feel like I know them so well, though most of what I know is through you.

You will make an amazing psychologist not that far in the future.

Love ya too!

Andrea Miklasz said...

Thanks, guys....I ran out of steam writing a new blog tonight, but just so you know, Kate lost her mom yesterday morning after a long illness. We'll be in touch.