...This is exactly what the title said. I do not consider myself an artist, so take this blog lightly.
I liked this pic from Mike Bowden, because it was just kind of a cool looking Thing. The hands are huge, and it's obviously where the artist put the most work, along with that front foot. The hand on the right of the page is running off, because that's just what my printer did when I printed it off- the original had a complete hand. I used to draw...not well...but it was passable for no training whatsoever. I had never tried inking before though. I had traced my own drawings with felt tip pen, but not actually with ink. So I saw this, obviously scanned from the pencils, and thought I'd give it a try. I don't have all the fancy tools, so I just used my favorite pen- a Pentel R.S.V.P. BK90 Fine point black.
Not too bad, if you artist guys can tolerate my personal opinion, unrefined for art as it is. I wasn't going for any embellishments here. My goal was simply to darken the pencils, tracing the pencil lines as accurately as possible. I didn't add any shading or other extras, although I felt like I screwed up the back foot. I wanted to see this puppy colored, but I didn't want to mess up my original inked copy. So I ran it through a copier.
The copier made it darker still. That seemed to help certain areas, but hurt others. Whatever though, I took one of the copies and colored it.
Basically, my reason for two-tone coloring is this: I did this when I came home from work, and I was tired. Simple as that. I wanted to see how this Thing looked if I used orange, and if I used a yellow. Being tired overruled my dedication though, so I went half-and-half on this one copy, using my oil pencils, which have been stored away for...let's just say many years. As you're looking at it, the left hand side of the page is colored with an "Orange (2)," and the right hand side of the page is colored with a "Yellow Ochre." The trunks are done with a "Blue (1)" and "Black," and I used the Black again to thicken some lines around the hands and head, to separate them from the body parts they overlap, since they were the same colors.
There is some unintentional shading in the Yellow Ochre shoulder. I did not intend for certain chunks to be a lighter yellow. That's just me putting a different pressure on the pencil. So it was unintentional, but I kind of like it- I think it works.
I wanted to see both colors, because I was curious which would look "more right." My opinion is that the Yellow Ochre is the usual color used for the Thing, but that the Orange (2) would be good for more intense moments, for deeper lighting, or if you just wanted to emphasize the monster over the man- I think that orange hand looks like it belongs in a horror comic. ...Yeah, so that's my non-artist opinion. However...
I am not aspiring to be a comic inker or anything. This was just a fun exercise for me. Still, I always want to know what others think, so if you have a comment, a pointer, or whatever, let me know. Thanks for checking it out, for reading, and thanks for stopping by.
Richard Dragon was originally introduced to capitalize on the Kung-Fu craze of the 1970's, and clearly meant to compete with Marvel's Shang-Chi. Although the Kung-Fu Fighter never achieved the popularity of the Master of Kung-Fu, he is supposed to be DC's martial arts best-of-the-best. His 1970's title is responsible for introducing both Lady Shiva and Bronze Tiger- crazy good fighters in their own rights. Nevermind Batman, who (barf) is the greatest at everything, Shiva overtook the imaginations of creators, and emerged as the top martial artist in the DCU. Richard's status as top fighter has been further muddied over time, by creators jockeying other characters near the top slot (just below Shiva) to prove their badassery. These include Connor Hawke, Cassandra Cain, Black Canary, Sin, an improved-by-further-training Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), and even Robin (Tim Drake), who got his training from Shiva herself (some Bat-guy may have helped with that too). Nevermind the varied writing on the aforementioned Bronze Tiger, or The Question (Vic Sage), or that Sensei guy from League of Assassins that everyone seems to forget about. Or if you want to screw the debate even more, you might bring up multiple visits to the 20th/21st Centuries by Karate Kid, who knows alien forms of martial arts that we've never even heard of.
To clarify a little, in 1998, Brotherhood of the Fist (see WUBI #3) had established Connor Hawke as the number two martial artist of the DCU. Sometime after that, Cassandra Cain beat Lady Shiva, and screwed the DCU ranking all up. Of course, sometime after that, Tim Drake beat her through strategy, temporarily paralyzing her with a poisoned mint on her pillow, and promising to kill her if she ever returned. That's just me muddying the waters again though.
Clearly, there's only one thing you can do when things have gotten screwed up that badly: ignore it all and ask Chuck Dixon to revitalize the character, somewhere in the neighborhood of the Bat-Family. In 2004, that's just what DC did. When the first issue of Richard Dragon hit in July of 2004, Nightwing and Robin were still running strong and very popular. Birds of Prey was just past it's halfway mark, Batgirl was just a little less than two years away from ending its run, and Azrael: Agent of the Bat had just ended in mid-2003. So it was a good time to release another title into the Bat-verse, and remind people just who DC's top martial artist is. Dixon is a master of street level characters, and since he wrote the largest chunks of those popular Nightwing and Robin titles I mentioned, letting him loose on Richard Dragon was a no-brainer for DC.
For whatever reason though, the title only lasted a year. I'm not sure what fans were expecting to see, but clearly they weren't willing to wait for Dixon's long build-up to whatever he was planning for the character. Still, this was one danged fun ride while it lasted, and I think it deserves a trade paperback.
For the cover, I was going to just go with the cover to the first issue, which I think is kind of lackluster, but none of them looked great to me. Then I saw the virgin art for issue #7, and decided that was the best shot of Dragon. So that's my pick for the cover.
With the title, there are a few options. The series was broken into two six-issue story arcs. The first was "Enter the Dragon," but that's obviously borrowing from Bruce Lee, and invites comparisons to the man that the character cannot live up to. The second arc was called "Out of the Past," and that seems really appropriate for this series, since it's pre-New 52. However, since no New 52 title exists for the character, I decided simply going with the series title was the best idea. So Richard Dragon it is.
Would you buy it? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.
...I wish I could explain what my grandmother's death means to me, in such a way that you could really understand. The fact is though, unless you've lost all of your grandparents, you won't understand it completely. ...I have found as I've gotten older that there are truly some things that cannot cross the generation gap. This was my last grandparent- an entire generation of my family is now silenced...gone. It's incomprehensible. The only lessons left to be learned from them are lessons from memory and retrospect...and in the things they left behind.
I loved my grandmother. I loved all of my grandparents of course, but honestly, she was probably my favorite. She grew up on a farm, lived on another one with my grandfather, raised chickens, hogs, a couple horses. She worked at a chemical plant. She loved Perry Mason, Murder She Wrote, and Matlock... Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy... crossword puzzles, word finds, the newspaper's jumble, big dictionaries...Bicentennial quarters... Mandrake the Magician, Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Superman... and me.
She loved me... She fed me chicken on Sundays (yep, fresh from the ones she raised)...let me play with the cat's kittens...let me dig behind her bushes (found a Civil War bullet once)...let me help her shell peas, snap green beans and shuck corn...let me live with her when I just had to move out at seventeen (by the way- if you're younger, don't do that to yourself- it can wait another few years. Go to college). She put up with so much from me...
...and yet the thing I loved most about her is something I didn't really realize until after she'd died: that she shared and supported my love of comics. She didn't collect 'em like I do- she read the newspaper strips she loved, she watched the George Reeves Adventures of Superman TV show, and she had a few comics tucked away here and there, as I have come to find out- whether they were ones for her, or that she'd held onto for me, I couldn't say. Whatever the case, I find myself once again looking at a comic I didn't know she had, and wanting to share it with all of you.
I hope you all liked it. This will be the last comic I scan in its entirety like this. I don't have huge qualms about these two, because they are promotional comics, and the promoters who published them probably won't mind the free advertising. I do feel that I should be able to share anything I want from my personal library, in any way that I want, as it's mine and I paid for it (or inherited it, in this case). However, that's something that someone else is going to have to work out with publishers- it's not waters I want to test. Again, I hope you liked it. Thanks again, grandma. And thank you for reading.
It's been almost a month since I did one of these, and that's partly because it's painful...partly because I kind of turned the corner in my grief, shortly after Grandma's Bible...partly because I've been working a lot, and trying to deal with some real world stuff...and partly because I had to create wiki pages for Eager Beaver and The Eager Beaver Space Book, before I could properly do this blog. (I mean, duh, I have to have a forum to post it in, right?)
...These blogs are incredibly painful to do...I mean, grandma was my last living grandparent. I lost my other grandmother not quite ten years ago, the only great grandfather I knew twenty-plus years ago, both of my grandfathers thirty-plus years ago, and the only great grandmother I knew (ever so briefly) even further back (f___ me, that makes me feel old). This grandmother is the grandparent I was closest to, and as stuff finds its way to my desk from mom's trips to the storage sheds of my grandma's stuff, I'm realizing that she is probably the only person in my family who has ever shown any kind of support or interest in my chosen hobby and dream to be in comics...I miss her so much.
Especially when a couple of gems like this pop up. The Eager Beaver Space Book was a comic/ activity book that was put out by Cities Service Oil Co., the year after Alan Shepard became the first American in space (a close second to Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human in space). A comic gem from the company that would twenty years later become CITGO, the story finds Eager Beaver chosen to become the first beaver in space- something he sees as an opportunity to serve his country. It's full of delightful cartoon antics, and a few different activities. Keeping in mind that thirty-two page comics weren't made in the 1960's (thirty-four, if you count the inside covers), this comic is huge!
I was shocked to find that grandma even had these, because it wasn't something I had given her. The comic predates my birth, and she had two of these- which tells me that they may have belonged to my mom and my aunt. Unfortunately, the activities in the books had been done, to one degree or another, but that kind of made them all the more charming.
I don't normally scan full comics, but this was such a delightful find- a comic new to me, that came from my grandmother- I just wanted to share it with everyone. The pages aren't perfect. The activities were done, and that includes a page in the middle where the activity was to cut the parts of a rocket out and glue them onto the rocket outline on the same page. The books got closed before the glue dried apparently, so I did the best I could to separate them, but there was some damage. There were also pieces clipped out of another page, and the coloring/drawing pages were colored and drawn on. I added a closeup from one page, to make it easier to read, and used Microsoft Paint to connect the dots on another page, so you could see what that page looks like when it's completed (they didn't do the dot-to-dot?! I knew they were weird!). Despite all that, I hope you enjoy this gift from my grandma.
Cover, inside front cover, pages 1-8:
Pages 9-17, closeup of info on page 16, page 18:
Page 19-27, dots connected, page 28:
Page 29-32, inside back cover, back cover:
There's one other comic that I want to scan, that came along with this one, but I'll show it in the next blog. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did (although I'm not sure that you could). Thanks, grandma. And thanks to all of you for reading.
*The is there for archive purposes. This alternate universe is no longer active, so please don't try to sign up. Join the main MIA universe instead! See the links in the section at the top. Thanks. -cb
A Handy Guide To the Writers of The Marvel Iron Age:
I've been pissed off since Tuesday night, and I've spent my Wednesday (now into early Thursday) really mulling all of this over. ...It's not the sword. It's not the gun. It's not the money... It's the lies... I am so sick of all the damned lies.
My aunt has lied about cashing in CD's and bonds made out to me and mom. She has lied about changes to the will. She has lied about things grandma said. She's lied about the gun. She's lied about the sword. She lied about my stuff that was in storage. And she continues to lie. I have just wanted her to look me in the eye and tell me that she cashed those bonds/CD's in and put them with the rest of the money...and why. If the issue had been grandma's care, fine, but there's at least a quarter million dollars left after grandma's death. If grandma's care was the issue, then why hasn't she restructured the money since grandma's death, so that I'm included again? I can only conclude that she simply wants a bigger cut, and made it happen while she had the power of attorney. She won't tell me to my face that she did it, because obviously she would look bad.
The stupid thing is that the gun and sword are nostalgia items to me. They're not that great a value- they won't bring that much money to my aunt in a sale. But she's playing these games? I'd shrug my shoulders and walk away from it, but the lies behind it have gotten my hackles up, and I'm kind of inclined to pursue this to the bitter end, just on principle. That's the damnable thing though...
...How far do I go for principle? I could do some legal stuff to slow the distribution of the trust, but that would affect my mom as much as my aunt, and after her economy woes of the last several years, my mom's worried that this money from the trust is her last chance to set something aside that will take care of her in her old age. So of course I have to take all of this into consideration, and it's been on my mind heavily. ...Doing anything to slow down the trust would be vindictive on my part, but it would be satisfying on principle. Not nice, but satisfying. ...I don't really want to do that though. I'll probably just end up telling my aunt what I think of her and her actions, and leaving it at that- letting her and my mom sort out their bulls*** from there.
I keep thinking about mom saying she's got seven or eight good years left to work, and this money is what will provide for her if she needs to be taken care of. That's the thing that really got to me tonight. I've had this thought myself, concerning mom, all along, and have said as much, but it really made me think when she said it. Since she went to bed just after saying that, I walked away from it. I pulled out some cleaning chemicals, a light scrubber, and some paper towels, and went to work on one of those mildewed books that I brought home from grandma's stuff. It's one of her Bibles. It's white, and it had a weird mildew creeping across it that looked sort of like red velvet cake. I sprayed, scrubbed and wiped the cover, and followed up with a bleach wipe, and that seems to have mostly done the trick. It's forever stained, but hopefully, the mildew won't come back. Hard to say with all the ridges in that leather.
I set it aside for a bit, to let it dry off from the cleaning. I came back to it, and decided to look through it for anything that grandma may have earmarked. I found one dogeared page in the entire book, marking Matthew 5:36 to 7:22 (front and back of the page). Reading that, a couple things stood out. It's in King James, but bear with me:
...Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth the rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others?... Matt. 5:42-47
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your own life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat and the body than rainment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? ...Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself... Matt. 6:24-26, 31-34
And one of my favorites just happens to be marked on these two pages:
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again...
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Of if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?... Matt. 7:1-2, 7-12
Obviously, there's stuff left out, indicated by those ellipses, but this is the stuff that really jumped out at me today. I realize that many may think I'm foolish, but I believe these words. I try to live by them, and they have never failed me. I'm not the best Christian on Earth by any means. I can have a temper, and I cuss enough to make sailors blush and run back to their ships, sometimes. As I have often said: I have my a-hole moments. But the Bible is real to me, and I do try to live by it. It has done me very well. In this particular instance, I like to think that this dogeared page is grandma reaching out from the grave, showing me the better way of laying my anger aside, and dealing with my aunt another way. For that I'm grateful. It makes me miss grandma even more, but...<sigh>...everything's doing that right now. Thank you God, and thank you grandma. I love you both.
So, in Grieving For Grandma, I mentioned that I've been pissed off for the last two days, and I've had to think about why. It starts with my aunt. She's the executor of the will, she is in control of the trust, and when grandma was alive, she had the power of attorney. My aunt retired just before grandma died- thirty...two(?) years as a police officer. She was the city's first female president of the F.O.P. (Fraternal Order of Police) and she retired with a detective's badge. The detective's badge is actually why she retired. They were about to take it from her over something political, and she retired before they could do it, so that she could say she retired a detective.
That's kind of important, because my aunt has done a lot of things so that she could say certain things. She led my grandmother in conversations, getting her to say the words she wanted to hear, so that she could make changes and say, "That's what mama wanted." These included several questionable changes to the will. Even though grandma couldn't remember people, and couldn't remember things she said to you two minutes ago, my aunt refused to have her declared incompetent, because that way, she could legally say grandma was competent when she "requested" the changes to the will. My aunt steadfastly refused to ask for help with my grandma, and at times adamantly refused to let my mom or I help with grandma, so that she could say she did all the work herself.
Something else my aunt did while she had power of attorney was cash in every bond and CD that my grandmother had put away, and put them all in the bank account that she controlled. This includes CD's/bonds that grandma had set aside for me to inherit. I don't know how much money it comes out to- my aunt won't tell us- but it sure would have helped me with paying back taxes to the IRS, and generally getting out of the financial hole I have fallen into, thanks to our economy that is "not a recession." As far as I know, this money is now in the trust with everything else, slated to be split between my mom and my aunt, and it is not an inconsiderable sum. We're talking about somewhere between $250K-$500K. That's right: a quarter million to a half million dollars.
I don't care about that though. I really don't. Partially because the money's not real to me. It's never been in my hands, I've never had any control of it, and my aunt has effectively cut me off from it...although I'm not sure why. My assumption is that it boils down to "the love of money is the root of all evil" (take note: the love of money, not money itself- it's a considerable distinction). My aunt wants more of the pie, so she cut me out, and set up the will so that the split between her and mom is 55/45, in my aunt's favor. It's not just the cash though. My aunt is sifting through everything my grandmother has ever owned, trying to figure out how to get the most cash out of those things too.
This includes things that my mom and I were supposed to receive, and this is the part that matters to me. Before my grandmother died, my aunt asked my mom and I what we wanted, of grandma's stuff. My list was small:
I had some things stored in grandma's basement, that got packed up and stored with everything else that was in her house. I wanted that stuff. It's not even grandma's stuff, it's mine. As far as I can remember of what was stored, I'm pretty sure I've gotten all of that back, but one box took awhile to show up, and I'm pretty sure that's because my aunt had given it away or claimed it for herself, and had to get it back.
There were some things that I gave grandma as presents. I'd like to get those back. Most of those have come back to me, and can be seen in previous blogs. There's a few bird statues that haven't turned up yet, but I'm not sure I mind. There's a little cardinal that I would still like to find. It cost about two dollars, if I remember correctly, but it was all I could afford that year, and grandma wrote my name on the bottom of it, that it was from me. ...And she always seemed so pleased with it. It's a silly little item, but I remember her smile when I think of it. I'd like it back. These are items that I bought, and there has been no real objection to me getting them back, so I've mostly gotten them back pretty easily.
I asked for a chance to go through grandma's books. I'm particularly interested in her dictionaries and encyclopedias- especially the ones she kept in her living room, and referred to often. So far, the only ones that have turned up were ones that were almost completely fallen apart, and ones that were musty and overtaken with mildew. I might be able to salvage them with some careful work. The good ones though- ones that could possibly bring money in a sale (i.e. a sale set up by my aunt, where she would get half the money)- have mysteriously not turned up yet. They're supposedly in one of the storage sheds we haven't gotten to yet- sheds that she hasn't let me or my mom see. The books are minor, really. They're just nostalgic items I'd like to have.
One of the last two item's is grandpa's gun. My grandfather used to hunt, and when I was nine, he showed me a rifle, and told me that I could have it when I was sixteen, and he would take me hunting. My grandfather (both grandfathers, actually) died when I was ten, I never got the gun, and as dad didn't hunt, I never learned to hunt either. I've only ever fired a handgun once (at an old spray paint can) so it's not like I use guns. I just want the gun because it's something grandpa said I could have, and I don't have too many reminders of him. ...It's why dreams of him are so special.
The last item is a sword that grandma said I could have. Something else my grandfather used to do was auctioneer at estate auctions. He was good- the fast talking auctioneer type that makes people laugh to hear it, but you can still understand what he had to say. He had a sword in the living room closet, likely from one of those sales, that I ran across as a child. It had a horse head on the hilt, and it fascinated me. I wanted it from the moment I saw it, but grandma wouldn't let me touch it, because she was afraid I'd hurt myself (or hurt someone else) so that was the end of it- I didn't play with it. Years later though, as an adult, I asked about it, grandma said she'd find it and give it to me, and I asked about it again later. She still said she'd give it to me, but it didn't happen before she started forgetting stuff. I want the sword mostly because grandma said I could have it, and a little because it's a connection to my childhood.
That's the list: my stuff, my gifts to grandma, grandma's books, grandpa's gun, and grandma's sword. Not a lot to ask, and note that nowhere on that list do I mention the money that grandma was leaving me. The money really isn't important to me. It's just that it seems to be the basis of my aunt's deplorable actions, and that's terribly, terribly disappointing.
The gun and the sword are becoming a source of irritation that is pissing me off beyond all reason though. My aunt's boyfriend/ finace ...officially, he's the fiance, but my aunt has privately confided that she'll never marry him- they're screwed up like that... but anyway... he collects swords. And he wants mine. Actually, he has mine. My aunt started playing a shell game with it. First, it was, "We've only seen one sword, but it doesn't have a horse head on it, it looks more like a lion." Then it was (to my mom), "Well, ask him which sword it is, because we've found three." Then it was two, and two is currently where the story is staying.
There's a similar shell game going on with the gun- there's three of those now too- but the difference is I can't really describe it to her, because I don't know enough about guns. It looked old back then, and I might know it when I see it. If the gun is as old as I think it is, it will probably sell, and I think my aunt has taken it to sell, planning to pass another shotgun off on me. That's frustrating, but ultimately, there's nothing I can do about it. I simply don't remember enough about the gun, and if she's hidden it, where would I find it?
She's given the sword to her boyfriend, and he doesn't want to give it up, so she's tried to pass off the sword with the lion head as the sword I am "misremembering." So I got that sword Tuesday night, and it's a cheap piece of crap that literally says "Made In India" on the blade, and bears no resemblance to the sword I remember. She gave it to my mom to bring to me, and when mom saw it, she even said it didn't look like the sword she remembered. My aunt immediately went to, "If he's going to piss and moan about it... bitchgripebitch." This has turned into my mom and aunt having it out over their own issues, and my aunt has displayed behavior so ludicrously childish that I don't even want to include it here. ...Family drama sucks.
After the last blog about my Grandma's Legacy - Grandma's Stuff, and Grandpa Visits My Dream - something just clicked. Maybe it was just the catharsis of writing about it, but I sat in my desk chair for about thirty minutes after I wrote it, and I found that I was just...more at peace. I knew that I wasn't done grieving, but I felt like maybe I had at least turned the corner in my grief. But for the last two days, I have been pissed off to no end, and I've really had to think about why.
I know what you're thinking: "There's five stages to grief, and one of them is anger." True: the Kubler-Ross model is: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The model acknowledges that this is not a complete list of the emotions someone can feel in grief (or other traumatic, life-altering event) and that they could occur in any order, but most people usually exhibit at least these five. I kind of went through denial and acceptance at the same time, before my grandmother died. I couldn't bring myself to visit her very often, because she's the strongest woman I've ever known, and it hurt me to see her in this weakened state. It hurt that she didn't remember me when I was standing in front of her. In an emergency room visit one day, she asked me who I was seven times- every time I walked out of and back into the room.
"Who are you?"
"I'm ___, your grandson. I'm [my mom's] son."
"Oh. Glad to know you."
Seven times over the course of...an hour or less? It was heart rending.
So yeah, I had a hard time visiting my grandmother, and I only did it a few times once she stopped remembering me. That was my denial of what was happening. At the same time, I was accepting it. Accepting that as sure as I had lost her, in that she didn't remember me, I was going to lose her to this awful thing that had taken her memory, and would eventually take her life.
If I did any bargaining, it was brief, just before the end, when I was sitting at grandma's bedside. It wasn't for "one more day" though. I just wanted her to acknowledge me. I just wanted to hear her say she loved me. I just wanted some sign that she hadn't forgotten me completely. And I got it. When everything else was painful to the touch, bringing about a weak, "ow. ow. ow. ow. ow..." she held my hand. I held one of her hands in both of mine, very carefully, so that she didn't "ow. ow. ow.," and then she put her other hand on top of mine, just patting it a little, or maybe her hand was just shaking. She did that for awhile.
When she was even weaker, eyes not even open, about to fall asleep, we went to leave, and I told her, "I love you, grandma."
She didn't open her eyes. She just said, "I love you too, sweetheart." I got to hear that two more times before she died, and...I think ...I'm pretty sure... that was the last thing I ever heard her say. Not a bad memory.
Grief and depression are not the same thing, so I'm not sure if depression has played into it. Certainly grief. The anger though? The anger is over the way my aunt has been handling things, and that has a lot to do with Grandpa's gun and Grandma's sword. I think maybe the thing that's going to get me through it is Grandma's Bible...but at this point, that surely needs to be another blog.
I've spent the last week going through all 137 currently existing pages on the Fan-Fic forum, just browsing for stuff to read, and I've found many gems. One that I've been thinking about the last couple of days is @razzatazz's Writers and Introversion/Extroversion. Mainly, the definitions she offered:
...an introvert can be more accurately portrayed as a thinker inside their head whereas an extrovert can be thought of [as] an outside thinker. Extroverts will fill a room with words, some meaningless, other[s] golden gems. They mostly vet their ideas by having others vet them for them. Introverts on the other hand vet their ideas internally. If you run across an introvert and ask them a question, they are likely to prefer to take a minute or two to give a response. An extrovert will probably start talking without really knowing the response and then move the discussion towards their answer as they talk. This is a fairly simplified version of the definitions.
I think I'm more of an introverted speaker. I generally don't like speaking to groups or people unprepared, so I much prefer to have my thoughts together before letting them out of my mouth. I was going to say that in my writing, I'm introverted for most things, but extroverted on my blogs, journals and personal e-mails- much more meandering when I do those. Which is really the point I'm getting at here: these blog entries I've been doing about my grandmother's passing and the things of hers that have been gradually coming into my possession...they're very much extroverted...sort of. By the time I get to the blog form, I've been thinking about it for awhile, but once I start typing, it's just me getting whatever thoughts out in whatever order, and hoping it makes sense by the end. I think I usually find my way, but I'm starting to have my doubts about this blog. So let me just say thanks for bearing with me while I get these thoughts out. If you got bored and moved on already, no hard feelings.
Yesterday, I did not spend the day sorting through the boxes of comics and other crap stacked up in my living room, as I had planned. Instead, I wound up spending the day helping my mom and my aunt go through boxes of books, magazines, old newspapers, and sundry miscellaneous paper detritus that my grandmother had squirreled away over her lifetime. Mostly, I spent the first hour or two going through some musty (some mildewed) books, and holding onto all of them probably for some latent fear that I'll lose some part of grandma if I let them go. The other four hours or so, I was watching my mom and my aunt go through boxes of paperwork, looking for anything that might be important, or that might catch their nostalgic fancies. I also found a box of plates and bowls I had been looking for, so hey, go me, the day was not a total loss.
I'm being a little bit flippant as a way of coping right now, in case that isn't coming through clearly. It was hard to go through those boxes, and that's only my third or fourth time getting to help. My mom and aunt have been having to do it for months since grandma passed, and really, they started before then, so I can only imagine how they're dealing with it. I mean, I ran across something silly sticking out of one of the boxes- a doll with a crocheted dress, made to cover a roll of toilet paper in your bathroom (both as decoration and for "emergency backup" purposes). It looked very much like the one pictured to your left, but the dress was red and black. Not the kind of thing I collect, but it took all that I had to leave it in the box, simply for the many memories of visiting grandma and grandpa's when I was little, which flooded my mind on sight of it. ...Isn't that silly? A stupid plastic doll that just couldn't look more girly, and I was seriously struggling with whether to keep it or not.
I picked up some other stuff too. Plenty of books. A set of encyclopedias and a few old dictionaries (love those for character ideas, as you may recall me mentioning in previous blogs). Some miscellaneous books that I just couldn't bear to get rid of. Something I was kind of excited to see: a set of encyclopedias on flowers. Flowers and other fauna have been a huge source of character inspiration over the years, so the more info I can have on those the better. Say what you will about books before the 1980's, but with the Internet not around, non-fiction books were, for the most part, very well informed on their chosen subjects. It's an excellent reference set to have, as far as I'm concerned.
Probably one of the coolest books I ran across was the little beauty pictured to the right: In time of Emergency: a citizen's handbook on ...Nuclear Attack ...Natural Disasters. This is a March 1968 pamphlet of Cold War paranoia from the friendly folks at the Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and the Office of Civil Defense. Pretty awesome? Grandma still had it in the original Department of Commerce envelope it was mailed in, with the government form letter that started off, "Dear fellow citizen." lol
Other weird stuff that I just had to keep yesterday? A couple of old keychains from 1965, that had phone numbers on them that began with letters, rather than numbers (an old style phone number, used back in the day). A metal coin commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of Reader's Digest (and a bunch of the RD issues, which I'm going to scan cartoons and joke pages out of). And a silver dollar from the year I was born, that was given to me by the grandfather on my dad's side of the family. Not sure how it wound up in the hands of the grandmother on my mom's side of the family, but whatever- it was a great find, and that was very special to get back. And lastly, an old white leather copy of the King James Bible, that had belonged to grandma, and needs to be wiped down for the mildew creeping across the cover.
There's probably a couple things I'm forgetting, but that's the gist of it. I don't know why I keep inventorying these things on Comic Vine. Some of it has been comic related, some of it hasn't. I guess I just need to get it out of my system. I have been surprised how much these little things turning up have just been tearing me up inside. Mostly, it's just books, for crying out loud. It's been very personal though- grief always is, I suppose- and I haven't wanted to share it all with my family. So I keep putting it up here for complete strangers to see, figuring at some point, maybe someone in my family will see it, and at that point, maybe it won't be so painful as it is now, but rather a wistful, wonderful reminder of grandma.
All this digging around through grandma's stuff brought up memories of grandpa though, and last night, I was dreaming about him. Those are always very precious dreams to me. Both of my grandfathers died when I was ten, so my memories of them are special, and when they show up in a dream- which is seldom- the experience is almost mystical. For one thing, when I see my grandpa in a dream, I usually know right away that I'm dreaming, so holding onto the dream is difficult, but it's usually etched into my memory when I wake up.
This one was helped by the fact that after the several hours at the storage shed with my mom and aunt yesterday, I stopped by the comic shop on my way home. Near the checkout counter, Ed (my LCS owner) had a stack of boxes of gums, and one of those gums was Juicy Fruit. When I was little, grandpa (on mom's side) always had a pack of Juicy Fruit in his shirt pocket, and every time we went for a visit, I was begging him for gum. I always got a stick or two of gum out of him before I left. And though I've kind of lost the taste for it over the years, Juicy Fruit holds a fond place in my heart as a symbol of my grandfather. That and "Toooo much Fonzie," but that's a story for another time.
So this dream last night. I'm at a doorway, and my grandfather is dressed in familiar colors: dark blue work pants, and a light blue button up shirt. Only instead of the familiar work shirts that probably had snaps instead of buttons, this was a crisp, clean, dress shirt. His hair was neatly combed (which is strange now that I think about it, because grandpa was bald at the top, with hair only wreathing his head around the sides and back) and he actually looked a little younger than I remember him. He was down on one knee, and oh how he was smiling at me, like he was so glad to see me, and God, was I glad to see him. I hovered at the doorway to get a good look at him, maybe half realizing that this was a dream and I'd better get a good look before it was done. But man, even though I was at adult height in the dream, all I wanted to do was run into his arms like I did as a kid, and bury my head in his neck, and soak up the smell of grandpa: Juicy Fruit, Marlboro cigarettes, probably a little sweat from work, and likely a hint of Old Spice [go ahead, whistle the jingle tune- it'll make you feel good]...
I woke up before I could do that. It's okay though- like I said, it's etched into my memory, and a little bit of grandpa's love goes a long ways towards shoring me up for the grief of losing grandma. Whether Divine gift or just a manifestation of my subconscious mind, I don't really care. I needed that dream. More than I knew.
As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for bearing with me in my time of grief. Hopefully, that'll draw to a close soon, and I can get on with the other business of life. Love you all, to one degree or another, even though we're just blips on a screen to each other. We're also fellow humans, and dangit, sometimes that should be enough. See you next time.
Until then, here's a few more of those odd things I found yesterday. Enjoy.