Tony and Tony

Tony Sirerol died today.
How often do we not see those that matter to us?

I knew Tony when I was 2. And 4. And 9. And 10.
Somewhere around, or just after that, we didn’t see the Sirerols anymore.

He was my Dad’s best friend. Tony and Tony.

Tony and Tony 1960

That’s my Dad bent over shooting something. And Tony standing.

 

I remember their house. The stairs, the hallway, the kitchen.
I remember the back yard with the big swing – two love-seat-sized wooden slatted chairs with a table in between. And it would shush over the grass as it swung to and fro. The grass was so long. Luscious deep grass, soft as moss. Springy and cushy. I’ve never seen a lawn so thick since.
I remember laughter and dancing and sometimes, something that resembled Feats of Strength.

One daughter my age with hair so beautiful I always thought of it as doll hair, lush and thick like the lawn. She was the first girl I ever knew to have and actual boyfriend. I remember her showing me his picture in her bedroom. And one daughter older – and oh so much cooler for it. She’s glamourous in my memories, so pretty and sophisticated.

Lush and rich – I guess that’s how I think of life around the Sirerols. Things were fun then.

Truth is, I’ve suppressed so many memories of my younger times. Like a door shut around age 10 or 11. Like my actual childhood ended. Not that I recognized it then (or any moment before this one here.)

Awful realities that juxtaposed the jolly times came to a dramatic end one afternoon and I was glad for it. But I never paid attention to the fault lines. The crack that opened and separated before from after.

After. I started to grow up. Almost a teen. Middle School, then High School. I didn’t look back. I stood next to my Mom and moved forward.

Somewhere in my late 40s I acquired the awareness of how completely I’d let go of Tony, my dad. When he left I was glad to see him go. I visited him when I was 16 or 17 (I never thought I’d forget!) and he died while I was there. I didn’t stay for the funeral. Yes, there were extenuating circumstances. But the fact still stands there – stark and bright.

And I let that go too. Completely. It was merely the first in a very long line of California adventures.

It was when I got real about getting rid of the detritus of my life. The boxes packed away when I was a teen, when Mom died, every time I attempted to clean.

So many stories here, all intertwined. How I became a packrat. A story I may never understand.

Bits of Tony appeared, and they made me smile. And I began to think and wonder about him. I carry so much of Tony in my heart, mind and soul. And I’m grateful for it.

I have much to apologize for in the way I treated his reality and even his memory for so many years. Discarded like a once favored dress.

In an old phone book, in shaky script, I saw it one day. A name I’d vaguely wondered about a time or two. I remembered how to say it – and I’d even googled a time or two with no luck – but there. Sirerol. That’s how it’s spelled.

Hello facebook. Are you there?
You are! Well hello!!! Remember me?
Let’s get together.
And we did.

Tony and Anne! Margie and Mary!
I knew them so well! Tony’s lovely smile. Anne’s eyes. Familiar laughs. Mannerisms striking deep chords. And every story ripped tiny openings in thick veils.

And we should do this again. Yes we will. We certainly will. Someday there will be slides and photo albums and more laughter and stories.

And we actually let a few more years slip by? What the fuck is wrong with us?
A call to attend Tony’s 80th birthday. I went. Buffet Brunch and good cheer, but no alone time.

We should get together again. Yes we will. We certainly will. Someday there will be slides and photo albums and more laughter and stories.

Earlier this winter I got in touch and said – really yes, let’s make this happen. And We will. Very soon. And then the weather set in and I went into hibernation mode.

And this morning I got the text.
And it hurts.

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Uncle David – Veteran

It really pissed me off.

My mother’s brother, youngest of eight siblings, did three tours in Vietnam.

That part didn’t piss me off. I don’t know the circumstances around his decision to enter the military, I don’t even know if he was drafted against his will. But he did his duty to our country and I’ve always respected him for that.

When I was a stoned teenager I enjoyed listening to his stories of sitting in jungle trees, high on acid, watching the tracer bullets.

And all of my life I enjoyed his perspectives and his unique sense of humor.

What pissed me off was in 2002 on a random visit to his VA doctor, when the doctor said to my Uncle David “We’ll I’ll be damned! You’ve got that same tumor the rest of your company got. And it’s as big as a grapefruit.”

Really US Veterans Affairs, REALLY?

If the whole rest of his company got “the same tumor” why weren’t you monitoring him for it? Watching him closely for signs??? Then maybe you could have gotten it when it was the size of a pea, or if that’s too much to ask of modern medicine, the size of a golf ball at least. Not a fucking grapefruit.

My Uncle died on Christmas Eve 2003.

Uncle David

Boy can Uncle Same make corpses

Boy can Uncle Same make orphans

Boy can Uncle Same make Wi-ih-dooooes,,,,

Easy as toast

Bah dah dah daaaaaaaah

~~~~~~~~~ Tuli Kupferberg, Ed Sanders (The Fugs)