On Death and Dying

Filed Under (Life) by on 05-26-2015

My Grandma passed away tonight.  She had lived a full life of 91 years, but these last few months had not been good to her.  Complications from a condition, which caused pressure on her brain and ultimately kidney failure would lead her to take her last breath at 5:50p.m. this evening.  I’ve been fortunate, if death can ever be “fortunate,” in the fact that I haven’t had to face a lot of it in my lifetime.  A small family and a limited number of funerals, which came later in my life, has made death somewhat of a stranger to me.  A stranger that I have come to struggle with time and again.

My first real bout with death came as a teenager when my Uncle Jack died.  He wound up in the hospital suddenly, and me being a naive teenager avoided visiting the hospital.  On one hand I was telling myself he would be ok, on the other, I was afraid of what I’d see.  That the image of him in a hospital bed would be permanently burned into my mind as my only lasting memory of him.  He would ultimately pass away in the hospital and I never got the opportunity to say goodbye.  He was the closest thing I ever had to a grandfather and more than just family, he was always a friend.  Whenever we were together we were inseparable, and the fact I never told him goodbye haunted me until a year or so ago when I finally made peace with it.

That first experience with death made me fear it.  I got away with not having the painful memory of my Uncle Jack on his death bed, but I now lived with the haunting regret of never really saying goodbye.  Was this what every death was going to be like?

My next major bout with death came when my Grandma Norma, or “Granny,” as most people called her,  died.  This time I was an adult, married, with kids, and I knew I had to face it.  I visited her a few times during her final days and was fortunate enough to see her one last time just hours before she passed.  The memory still lives with me, but I suppose that’s natural when you’re watching someone you love slowly fade away and give into death, but it’s not burned into my mind the way I pictured it would when my Uncle Jack died.  Perhaps that’s because I knew she had accepted death, that she had already accepted that she lived a full life and more or less welcomed it, or perhaps it’s because my fear as a teenager was simply nothing more than the irrational fear of an adolescent.

When I got the news tonight that my Grandma Helen had passed I was sitting on the toilet.  My wife told me through the door after receiving a text from my parents.  Not because she doesn’t have tact, but because she knew that after she had asked if I had received a text from my parents that I would likely worry.  At first I ignored it, tried to tell myself I heard her wrong.  I went numb.  When I came out of the bathroom I said some things completely incomprehensible to my wife as a way to try and make sense of it and then began to cry.

I had told myself that this time I was ready for death.  Though her quick decline was just over the last few months, I had spent the last two years constantly facing the idea that each passing Christmas, birthday, etc. might be her last.  I was ready for it.  I had made my peace and said my goodbyes as soon as her mental health had reached the point where she could no longer hold a conversation with me.  I was ready to face death head on this time, and accept it for what it was.

It was one of the hardest battles I have faced thus far, not because I was particularly close to my Grandma, or because the death was a hard one to watch, but because it brought with it so many memories of those who had passed before her and left me second guessing the way I was handling her death.  I didn’t completely remove myself from the picture like with my Uncle Jack, but I also hadn’t been there by her side to necessarily say my goodbye’s as she was dying like with my Grandma Norma.  I had made my peace and said my goodbye’s in my own way a few months prior and had opted not to watch her slowly die.

The whole time I worried that other family members would judge me, that my dad would be disappointed in me, and of course part of me worried that I might come to regret it the way aI did with my choice regarding my Uncle Jack.  My entire grieving process has been tied to being afraid I was handling death wrong, or that my feelings about death were wrong.

What I learned is that there is no right way to deal with death and that no matter what you tell yourself you’re never ready for death.  When you brace yourself, the blow might not hurt as much, but it still hits you.  We all have to handle death in our own ways.  I know that now, but it still doesn’t make it any easier.

The Best Part About Angelina Jolie’s Kids Choice Awards Appearance That Nobody is Talking About

Filed Under (Movies & TV) by on 03-28-2015

Angelina Jolie’s appearance a the 28th Annual Kid’s Choice Awards made headlines this evening, but the media isn’t talking about what I feel was the most important part of her appearance.  Most outlets are highlighting it as a “surprise” appearance with her daughters, discussing her casual attire, and reflecting on the actresses recent New York Times op-ed piece where she explained why she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as a preventative measure.  But the highlight of Jolie’s appearance wasn’t her casualness, or an evening out with her daughters, or even the public appearance after such a personal op-ed piece.  The highlight of the evening was something I feel every kid in America should hear, and sadly over the screams of fans at the Kid’s Choice Awards, I doubt many of them did.

Jolie was awarded the final Kid’s Choice Award of the evening for “Best Villain,” for her portrayal of Maleficent in Disney’s 2014 film of the same name.  In an award show filled with slime, non-stop screams at ear piercing decibels, and lackluster jokes from Nick Jonas, Jolie took her moment in the spotlight to make a more serious, though playful, statement after thanking her fans.  The moment was powerful, and poignant, like something you would hear at a more mature awards show like The Academy Awards, and yet it almost feels as though it fell on deaf ears.

“When I was little, like Maleficent,” Jolie said. “I was told that I was different and I felt out of place, and too loud, too full of fire, never good at sitting still, never good at fitting in. And then one day I realized something, something I hope you all realize. Different is good. So, don’t fit in, don’t sit still, don’t ever try and be less than what you are, and when someone tells you that you are different, smile and hold your head up high and be proud. And as your villain, I would also say cause a little trouble, it’s good for you.”

As a father, this was the one moment in the hour and a half long show that got me excited and made me want to jump up and say, “Fuck yeah!”  In a world of bullies, violence, and so much hatred, these are the empowering messages our children need to hear, and who better to hear it from than from the actress that those same kids nominated as their favorite villain.  This wasn’t the Academy Awards, Jolie wasn’t on stage because a bunch of old white men voted her there.  Jolie was on stage because kids across America looked up to her and recognized her as an actress whose performance they enjoyed and Jolie was able to share with those children, what I hope is a powerful and lasting message.

If you missed it, I found it online below.  If you have kids, share this with them, tell them to be their own person.  Don’t let others tear them down and make them feel like they are less of a person because they are different.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Ogres?

Filed Under (Movies & TV) by on 04-13-2014

Tagged Under : ,

By now many of you have probably seen the new trailer for Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, if you haven’t you can check out the atrocity here.  The new film, which is due to hit theaters later this year, is the re-imagined story of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ beginnings.

While historically the turtles have had a similar look and feel over the years, the Bay production has made some adjustments to their look.  Most noticeably, the addition of noses and clearly defined lips.  During one scene in the trailer Michelangelo removes his mask when he encounters Megan Fox’s April O’Neil as a means of trying to reduce her fear.  What he unveils however is the most comical looking turtle I have ever seen throughout the years of Ninja Turtle incarnations.  In fact, their appearance with defined nose and lips actually reminds me a little bit of another famous green face that has graced film screens over recent years.

A comparison of the new TMNT and Shrek

What are your thoughts on the appearance of the new turtles?