Life in the Rearview
Life in the Rearview
By E.M. Fredric
As life is currently in a state of constant change and emotions I’ve taken much time to not only reflect, work on me – always – but have discovered some writings from years ago and this piece is typical of how my mind works on the fly. So, to those who remember or know about colonics and the huge deal they were and may be again – I don’t pay attention – this started with a meal out with friends at an Indian restaurant in the Palisades a decade ago as I sat in quiet observation - at first.
Beginning: This blog (my old one) is sincerely about unclogging my head, no easy task. My mind often erases the most serious of snakes that any Roto-Rooter dude can tackle… yeah, perhaps a bit too visual but after having Indian food with two girlfriends and their very good looking biker guy friend who proceeded to discuss the benefits of colonics in vivid details while eating… it left me sleepless in Studio City, on the edge – just in. If you have a parent from a European country you already grew up with their mistaken belief that (forgettabout starve a cold, feed a fever or vice versa – discussions) you knew what was coming your way. My mom would whip out a douche bag quicker than a gunslinger's showdown to reduce fevers. Some people swear by the whole colonic therapy, cleansing, and detoxifying experience and with an enormous grin will excitedly relay in graphic details how they benefitted from it.
I personally don’t recall ONE good experience with an enema bag, having lived through more than a few experiences of water rushing up my bum making my stomach feel like it would burst. Makes me wonder if having had three brothers that perhaps it was why they tended to be a bit on the homophobic side… just a thought – not fact… can they sue me? They would if they could… I used to call them eenie, meanie, miney, more or the mostest. One has to retain a sense of humour in Krazytown because it is a mirror - whether it's a dream in the sky or pies in the fields. Where I come from, we call the latter cow pucky.
Yes, love your family from a distance some times - Christmas is coming! - or just plain accept their eccentricities because I certainly have my own… If reading this confuses you, well there you have it, right? I’ve been asked since I can remember, “Does your mind ever stop? How do you sleep?” In living color, baby… (when I do - insomnia visits nightly since a child)… which I prefer because I also remember when I couldn’t dream at all… Or when the big people looking down at me would constantly tell me what I could or couldn’t do (while asking, “How old are you? Where are you from? No, not this town, where in the world?”) My parents used to ask me what planet I came from because I apparently was so starkly different than my siblings. What does that even mean - they made me. Adults rarely encouraged me with things that I could do or explained how limitless that “can” really is. In hindsight, I don't think they were very aware but I didn't know that as a child.
The way I see it, if a can is full of worms – I would be catching a lot of fish or sitting on the bank lost in thought dreaming of not having to be where I’m at – so they serve multiple purposes. Plant that next seed, one never knows where things pop up and grow and when your field is just spinning with various ages and stages of ideas – it seems like a miracle but you just forgot and moved on. Lesson learned.
Wow, I just recalled what I added to that dinner discussion which had everyone at our table laughing… oddly enough, the rest of the restaurant was pretty subdued compared to the four of us and I know they heard the tales. Moving along… when my kid was around 12ish, the school rang with and yet another “I’m not feeling good, gotta come home story”… You know that one, the trying so hard to be sick you almost make yourself so? It reminded me of the time I made a concoction of raw eggs mixed with every spice in my mom’s kitchen cabinets and drank it to try to upchuck, look ill and get out of another boring day at school - I wouldn’t recommend it – doesn’t work, tasted awful and left me feeling off for the better part of the morning as I was told to get on the school bus, "Now!".
I raced my boy to the doctor and get an opinion of, “Well, he could have appendicitis." I had mine out, it hurts – a lot before you end up in the emergency room headed for surgery. The doc continued with, “Well, his white blood cells are a bit low, we might want to do some tests to be sure…” So, off (kachink, kachink) we went and I was so behind in my writing that day for some actual paid work, hadn’t eaten which tossed my blood sugar off, forgot my wallet on top of having only one partial cup of caffeine – I require at least half-a-pot of coffee - if not more depending on what I’m doing. Habit and do love the taste but it amounts change like I do.
So, while in this off-centered induced state of hunger and concern, I confess I told my son, a bit harshly, that I didn’t believe it was anything other than his skipping a meal again or not drinking enough fluids and that it was costing me a LOT of money to be there, so – this better be good... and real. He just gave me that look, the one that makes you feel like maybe, just maybe, you’re wrong and wish you hadn’t said things quite like that or how much you truly just love him and are scared – in spite of the fact that my gut was telling me the little shit was probably making the entire thing up to avoid a school test… sorta like I did when I was small but I was too afraid of doctors - thanks to my mother - which had me reverse raise mine to think a trip to the doctor was like going to Disneyworld… especially if the doctor was female.
What started out to be a smooth welcome, turned into an all-day nightmare which I did my best to make light of (remember I hadn’t eaten, just was beginning to get caffeined out) by wheeling my son around the hospital in his temporary wheelchair, singing, making dumb jokes and giggling from test room to test room. Then I got the info that he was about to receive his first enema in order to take an x-ray. Oh no… man I felt awful but no time to look concerned, I knew that feeling all too well and I thought okay, I have to make this boy laugh because it won’t be for long. In the most dire of situations I learned that humor had to be a part of easing the blow.
I leaned over as he was in the x-ray bed and sweetly asked, “You know how you’ve been wanting your voice to change?”
He innocently replied, “Yeah…”
“Well, baby, it’s about to really change but I’m right here and not leaving, k?”
The young male nurse about to do the procedure burst out laughing but managed to say, “You’re just like my mom, you’re cool.” My son wasn’t about to think so.
After the insertion the water hit and POW! The tears and crying erupted and it took all I had to hold myself together because I truly know that feeling of violation… OUCH! I won't go into how they fed him dinner and I got nothing after 10 hours of being there and then trying to leave the parking lot with a pass that wouldn't let me pass the female guard... that's another talk-show. We got out and home.
To hell with colonics. Drink or take herbal supplements to cleanse, it’s easier and more importantly – painless in comparison. Certainly not invasive… what got me onto that story was how my friends kept reiterating how wonderful the process of colonics was! I just had to try it and wow their skin had changed and they all felt like they looked 20 years younger as a result. When the good looking biker guy looked at me and said that after the women - he became just a regular Joe. Hmm… maybe in 20 years I’ll think about it – doubt it but I realized that no one had ordered dessert and not one of them looked younger than their respective ages - if anything they all looked older than their birth years. Confusing at best. To this day I've never been exhilerated by the sight of any kind of enema bag or bottle coming my way.
I don’t think you’re supposed to randomly choose to shove things up where things come out unless it’s a doctor’s ordered medical test, k? Or a lifestyle call, no judments here, they're two separate conversations not to be mixed or offended by.
My son never made a story up about a tummy ache to get out of a test again... that was part of a happy ending.
Yes, time to play again.
Oh, this just entered my brain, no matter what’s going on in your life in this precise moment, take time to really enjoy it. Hell, I grew up with a dad who worked the prisons and even prisoners have fun – kids of those who work there? Nott so much. My father used to complain how they would burn their mattresses… and to think, women just burned their bras - but both had reasons for it and made a point. I think they all had fun. So, have some. My personal choice? Some Curly or Chappelle.
By E.M. Fredric
March 23, 2020 – Headline: News Propaganda Is Rarely Questioned Amid Global Pandemic of Covid-19, the Coronavirus… As I walked this morning, fully prepped with my raincoat, mittens - that I spray with disinfectant before leaving my place and wash and disinfect upon arrival – I wore my hat I bought a few years ago, dubbed the “terrorist cap” by my girlfriend who refused to walk with me at the time. She was afraid we’d get shot walking the streets in Los Angeles. We laughed about it at the time but it wasn’t blatantly implausible in our over-reactive world today.
I bought the hat to help prevent sun damage and keep mosquitoes at bay during summer hikes and then along comes the pandemic Coronavirus - instantaneously making my headgear - a fashion statement. From terrorist to pandemically prepared!
What a difference a minute, hour and day makes during these horrific but survivable times. At first embarrassed to wear it - within weeks I’m greeted – at a safe distance on the streets – with friendly hellos or… stared at. That lessens by the day.
I need to walk, work-out and stretch my limbs for both pain control and to sedate the voices that tell me things are completely doomed – whether it’s my own thoughts or ones planted by the news or through well-meaning friends sending videos or sound bytes. You know the ones, it usually starts with “my friend” in the Pentagon, or military or CDC (insert British accent on that one) giving us insider information (my favorite is the CIA) – new info that NO ONE has to help keep you and yours safer and alive if you’ll only forward it. The PANDEMIALS are going to have stories to tell! Yesiree… Pandemials are the next generation of babies born to parents during Covid-19 and they’ll be ingrained with family tales as we all were – depending on your generation and what photos they’ll have to look back on.
Where they were born, how they were delivered, how they were conceived. Wild stories they should be and I’m sitting here reading a quick message the LA District Attorney Requests Temporary Custody of Harvey Weinstein a day after he reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus (none of his reps will confirm or deny) but somehow it’s important NYC release him so he can be tried in LA? He’s already gotten 23 years but this during a pandemic it is now deemed critical that he be transferred to face trial. Last I heard all the courthouses were shut down. My attorney friend left the state to be in a less dense population until things get better. But I’m veering off… just wants to make me want to scream and so should you. Just to release stress – go ahead, scream, no one’s coming for you… yet. I’m kidding or save it for another Podcast right?
This virus, like many addictive diseases knows no boundaries of gender, ethnicity, race or class and makes me wonder if there will be a slew of OCD meetings on over-cleaners in the future like I’ve speculated (tongue-in-cheek) that thumb doctors will become a new specialty in medical schools from all the rapid/vapid texting learned by kids straight outta-the-womb. Going around the room one can almost hear the stories beginning with, “My parents had sex in a food bank.”
“I was conceived in a park, in the dark during stay-at-home city warnings.”
“Really? I was too but it was a closed one and my mom said they had NO oral contact. Doesn’t really matter at least we were born with immunity!”
“My obsessive cleaning is ruining my relationship with my older boyfriend, he doesn’t understand why I have to wash my hands 20 times a day?! WTH?!”
“I was born in a tent in a parking lot while my dad watched on his cellphone… remember those? I know… so 2020, right?”
“Oh wow, my parents conferenced my birth, their wedding and divorce on an iPad! The doctor wasn’t even in the room!”
“Yeah, well my aunt sneezed on a metro platform and was shot dead-in-the-head by a social distancer!”
Oh, those Pandemials…
I noticed the lines are less frantic today – less than nine days ago the local Trader Joe’s was so packed I walked in, saw lines to the back of the store and exited. Science Fiction becoming reality. Everywhere news showed stories of blatantly obesive fights over toilet paper and other cleaning goods at local markets. I even saw a man filling up a 5-gallon plastic container of gas with a haunted look in his eyes as ours met at the station’s pumps.
What I have taken real note of is how this earth seems to be healing visually. The air is cleaner, the plants in the wild seem brighter and happier… maybe we all could take a cue from that. Yeah life right now as it stands is beyond difficult and the isolation is sometimes intolerable but if you pick up a phone - not text - pick up a phone and call someone so they can HEAR your voice – you might find it helps you more than it helps them. I just know that yesterday I heard from friends I haven’t heard from in some time and they’re all going through variations of hard times whether it’s the finances, health or a parent is at end-of-life.
If you don’t remember the ’92 Riots that set Los Angeles ablaze, Waco, the ’94 Earthquake, OJ Simpson - other than you couldn’t watch Barney the dipshit purple dinosaur that made parents go insane or the Kansas City Bombing – maybe you recall 911 or the bombing of the Boston Marathon as one of so many tragic atrocities this country has faced in the past three decades and the many decades before, dependent on your birth in the generational pecking order. What am I saying you would have to own an attention span to read this or anything I write so you’re not a Millenial – pass it anyway.
I bet they would like the idea of having a Pandemial as a term for their kids. I would!
Remember this. We will survive this virus as we continue to survive the spreading of hate and false information and hopefully, just maybe we might become less divided by it all. A divided nation we need not be to the extent that we’ve become. We’re better than that… one can at least hope and dream… I do. A famous and wonderful leader once talked about that and I think right now it goes for every single one of us. Be nicer and love more and give invisible hugs throughout this virtual world we reside in wherever and whenever you can! It does and will make a difference.
"In the Garden of Memory, in the Palace of Dreams... that is where you and I shall meet." Lewis Carroll
This has been published many times by various outlets. I raised my child while watching him in my rearview mirror as we drove daily learning new lessons. He wasn't raised in a car, but you get my drift. I could see/sense what was going on with him without his knowing. This worked to great effect over the years until he moved to the front seat! But nothing prepared me for the day he showed me how angry and hurt he was that he never knew his dad.
Death visits gutting our senses – in this case, with little direction on how to discuss it with my child. Often, we’re the students and they’re the teachers.
Michael has a dad, and I don’t!” screamed my then 6-year-old son as he slammed our front door, then stomped past me and held his bedroom door open; looking at me with disbelief, he screamed louder, “My Daddy’s dead!”
The bedroom door slammed shut and I heard his muffled cries of anguish.
I sat on the sofa and listened, tears streaming down my face as I fought the impulse to race to Dylan’s side and make the hurt go away. It wouldn’t go away, it would change but it would never go away. I couldn’t bring back the father he never knew, that death that happened when Dylan was only 4 months old. He died in his sleep next to me.
I thought back to when I saw a therapist when my boy was 9 months old. He was confused by my need to understand how to deal with death when Dylan couldn’t speak yet. To me it was important to know how to tell him, what to tell him, when, where, how much?
David, my short-term therapist, gifted me with wise words. He gently offered, “You answer what he asks and never add to it. Your son will not ask you things he isn’t prepared to handle so be sure you never overly explain a question. There will come a time when he’s fully ready to discuss it but only he will know and he will tell you.”
Was that time now, at age 6?
I entered Dylan’s room when the crying ceased and slowly opened his door. He was facing me hugging his teddy bear and fast asleep in his bed. That innocent, beautiful face lined with dried and dirtied tears streaked across his cheeks lay against a pillow. I sat next to him and brushed his damp hair back softly with one hand and watched him go deeper into an exhausted slumber.
Later, I found out that it was a special day for fathers and sons but the announcement paperwork—as happened frequently—didn’t make it into his backpack the day before. I had sent a young boy unprepared to discover in front of all of his friends that he didn’t have a male figure, a guy or a buddy there to help him out. I hadn’t remarried, and we had just lost my father, his only grandfather, a few months prior.
Dylan knew his father was dead, he would tell anyone who asked but it was this one particular day that he felt a deeper loss. It was the first time I had ever seen him cry over his father. Dylan has had a wall dedicated to his father since he was able to crawl, has watched him on the one video we have of him over and over, and yet has only known his father through stories from me or those who knew him.
We had mother-and-son talks about his dad, and he always wanted to know what he laughed like; was he funny? Did he love me or him? Would he ever come back? Did he think you were pretty, Mommy? Do you miss him? Why? Daddy’s star is brighter than Poppa’s! What would Daddy do?
Always, I answered him. We laughed, or sometimes it was serious, but usually it was informational. Even on that day, the only talk we had was how Dylan was angry with Michael because he had something Dylan didn’t. For some reason it didn’t matter that the other boys had fathers, perhaps Michael and his father’s relationship stuck out as something particularly special that Dylan wanted and was missing.
Teachers, counselors at school, all were on alert to deal with Dylan if he had questions and we spoke about what was told to me: to never add more information and just to answer his questions. I instructed them to not treat him differently because he already was different. The kids would alternately tease and make fun or be very protective of him.
When Dylan was in second grade, my uncle was dying of cancer, and Dylan came along to meet him. He was my godfather and only uncle. I was devastated but kept myself together. On the road trip, Dylan sketched in a book he aptly titled, “Dylan Bond.” In it were drawings of a boy getting a man out of jail and scribblings of “Pow-Pow!”… Gunfire. I read the pages and on the last page it said in a child’s handwriting, “I am going to save my friend.”
The irony - a few months later my uncle ended his suffering with a small pistol to his head.
In watching my child and really hearing him, Dylan taught me when we would discuss his father and it has happened many times. As Dylan got into middle school, he already had had one Big Brother from the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, which lasted for a year. With the new added stress of leaving elementary in 5th grade to start middle school, I made sure he got another Big Brother. Fate connected the two, who would remain buddies throughout Dylan’s high school years. They still connect today on occasion - what a meant-to-be necessity that man fulfilled. My eyes always tear up thinking about the value of Jacques.
With all of the medical advice I’ve read or gotten and counselors’ or experts’ opinions, it was David’s advice that rang true for me because it had proven itself year-after-year to slowly reveal what Dylan was ready to accept when it came to his father’s death and how well he bounced back from other losses that we all have in life.
I never told Dylan any deeply religious ideas about death but everyone has a different idea of what happens when a person dies. I let him know that his dad was in him always and if we were lucky, maybe he could see us. One morning on the way to school, Dylan giggled and asked, (age 7) “Mommy? If we died tonight could we hold hands in the sky and look down on everybody and wave?” I smiled acknowledging his visualization of what he felt about where his dad was and where we go. I also noted the joy in his voice. He got mortality in that he felt energy never left.
The story titled, Sunshine’s Great Death – shows a child’s first realization of deep loss. Sunshine was his dog until age 8, and Dylan demanded to be with Sunshine when she had to be put to sleep. Against a teacher’s advice, I listened and did what was right for him – I let him be with her.
I believe we all have the right to form our own beliefs, religious or not, our own ideas of what we have the inherent right to believe. I found that being honest and listening and watching my boy’s face for clues, was what worked best for us. The day came in high school that we discussed his father and it was really much ado about nothing by then.
My son has had many fantastic mentors and friends but no one can replace a parent that is gone. That mysterious person one never knew or the one that was known and loved – (or not) – is gone with varying values and weight imprinted in us – until it is our own time to leave. It would take his adult years to come to terms with others have lost the same or more but I never took away his right to feel what he needed in order to grown as a human being and young man.
I have learned through being raised with my child that as I watched life grow through the level with which he perceived the world, that I could and would grow again, painfully so at times, but never, ever without beauty and laughter. I believe my son has taught me more about death than I ever could’ve taught him.
Death through a 10-year-old’s eyes, errors included:
Sunshine’s Great Death
Sunshine, my dog, came into my life when I was seven years old. Sunshine and I were best friends for a very long time. Once when my godmother and I went to MacDonalds we gave some of our food to the dogs. Those are some of the special things we did, but there’s more.
Sometimes we went to shops and Sunshine and I ate pork chops together. We also used to have dinner together and breakfast. Sometimes we would go for walks and have lunch or go to the beach. When I was eight, we took Sunshine in for a grooming and I got to help.
Later on we also played games and also went to the pier. Sometimes we would go to the market and Sunshine and I would look at boys (for her) and girls (for me). We’d also go to special events on holidays. My friend came over and we played with Sunshine for hours. Later we would sometimes bathe Sunshine with soap and water and when she got finished she smelled wonderfully clean and soft. I also like the way she shook around and the water went flying everywhere and I would then dry her off.
When I got older Sunshine got older and was starting to die. On the last day she lived, the pet doctors put her to sleep and I watched her fadedly go away and cried. Later when my godmother got a new dog I was happy, but I’ll never forget Sunshine. My first best friend in the world.
Dedicated to my best friend, Sunshine – 6/01/01