The Moment For Which You’ve All Been Waiting

Half A Leg Trimmed

Yes, yes, I know. You want to see the damned pictures of Lou FCD in the red dress he wore to his Aunt Helen’s viewing.

I warn you, the utter provocative sexiness inherent in the pictures below the fold may be hazardous to your libido.

I assume no liability for any damage the pictures may cause to your relationship, and I must politely decline any offers of marriage or sexual favors as I am quite happily in a monogamous marriage. Head below the fold at your own risk.

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Twenty One Guns

21 Gun Salute

I was holding up pretty well. Fortuitously, whenever I began to feel the pain creeping up, someone would come by and smile and hug me and laugh about the red dress and how much that would have meant to Aunt Helen. Family members from near and far, Aunt Helen’s friends and fellow nurses from the Navy hospital on base where she worked as a civilian for years and years before she retired, funeral home staff, some people I didn’t even know.

It was warm, but not yet uncomfortably so just yet. Standing in front of the funeral home this morning, smoking a cigarette in my blue pinstriped suit with only a red silk tie to symbolize her defiance, I was still holding it together.

Watching my cousin gave me comfort. She wore her loudest red dress, great big tropical flowers on it, bright red nails on fingers and toes, and a red sweater. It was a beautiful dress on a beautiful woman, and more than that it was a great big “Fuck you – Love, Mom” to anyone brazen enough to consider opening their yap about it. She was simply stunning.

Though she was the most redly dressed of us all today, a quick glance around told who was saying what with their wardrobe. Red hankies, red socks, and even a pair of red sunglasses flashed here and there. It was quiet solidarity, and it was moving.

I was relatively calm inside until I saw them. It was only when I saw those nine faces that I began to lose it.

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The Priest, The Queen, and The Road Trip

The Road to Ragged Mountain, by Chris Seufert @ FlickrAunt Helen’s funeral is later this morning, the viewing behind us now.

It went as well as could be expected. Aunt Mary and some of my cousins, and both of my sisters were a little shocked upon seeing me, not having known about The Red Dress. (Janie’s got the full story here.)

It went over well, better than I had expected. A few sarcastic comments from Aunt Mary at first, but then she got over it, mostly.

The Catholic priest seemed a bit unsure, and tried to be politely discreet about inquiring of The Admiral (Aunt Helen’s eldest) about the dude in drag. There’s nothing discreet about Luis. He took the priest by the arm and marched him right over to ask for himself. Loudly.

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corner, by Bukutgirl @ Flickr

Half a tank of gas looking for a red party dress in my size that didn’t look like it belonged on a 75 year old big tittied grandmother in a bad wig:


Strapless red satin party dress at Ross, size 8 (eat your hearts out ladies, I’m rubbing it in):

$6.50 – marked down from $59.00

Generous opinions and assistance from Ross’ changing room attendants, cashiers, and stock girls who came to watch me try on several different dresses and help me choose the one that looks best on me:


The look on the face of the cashier who checked us out and was not in attendance through the fittings and who was about to smack me on the forehead and start speaking in tongues to heal me:


I have to go start shaving now. It’ll probably take all night.

From whence came the art:

That photograph is titled corner, by Bukutgirl.

Ladies On The Sofa

Ladies On The SofaI don’t know who actually snapped this photo. I’m guessing by the appearances of the ladies and their dresses that it was taken sometime between 1954 and 1956 or so. You can click it for a larger version at my photostream at Flickr.

From left to right, Aunt Helen, Grand Aunt Elaine, Grand Aunt Louise, and Aunt Catherine. Because my Great Grandfather died rather young, my Great Grandmother remarried, and Aunt Elaine and Aunt Louise were a bit younger than my Grandmother. Because of their (lack of much) difference in age, these four girls were more like sisters than Aunts and Nieces.

Lovely girls, no? Aunt Louise is now the last of them. I expect I’ll see her in the next few days, if she can make the trip down.

I wonder what they were thinking when this photo was taken.

From whence came the art:

That photo I call Ladies On The Sofa, and it was sent to me by a cousin, photographer unknown, and resides at my Flickr page.

Two Thousand, Nine Hundred, Thirty-Eight Miles

Mourning Tree, by Destiny's Agent @ Flickr

Garrapata State Beach, California.

It sounds lovely, even though that’s not where this first picture’s from.

From Wikipedia:

Garrapata State Park is a California State Park operated by the California Department of Parks and Recreation which has two miles of beach front, with coastal hiking and a 50-foot climb to a beautiful view of the Pacific. The park is located on Highway 1, 6.7 miles south of Rio Road in Carmel, 18 miles north of Big Sur. The park offers diverse coastal vegetation with trails running from ocean beaches into dense redwood groves. The park also features outstanding coastal headlands at Soberanes Point. Sea lions, harbor seals and Sea Otters frequent the coastal waters and California Gray Whales pass close by during their yearly migration.

Aunt Helen left for California about 3:25 this afternoon. I got the call a few minutes later.

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Death, by Tanakawho @ FlickrNaida and Carol were cousins of Aunt Helen and my Pop and their siblings. In point of fact, they were daughters of Aunt Helen’s Aunt Helen, which I find kind of funny to say.

Aunt Helen used to spend some weekends at her grandparents’ home when she was young. When she did, she’d go with her cousin, Naida. Some weekends Aunt Helen and Naida would go, some weekends Aunt Catherine and Carol would go. It was sort of a double tag team cousin kinda thing.

I don’t really remember my great grandparents. Great Grampop Thomas went to California in 1963, four years before I was born. Great Gramma Mary Elizabeth followed in 1973 when I was six. I have only the vaguest of recollections of her and her cookie jar, in the upstairs half of their duplex that smelled overpoweringly of cedar. I’ve always loved that smell. Nobody else seems to remember that, though.

Before moving to North Carolina, I happened to rent half a duplex from my boss in a little town called Horsham. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was two blocks from my Great Grandparents’ home. The one that smelled of cedar and had a cookie jar and a red and white checkered tablecloth on the kitchen table. My Pop pointed it out to me just after I moved in. It’s smaller than I remember. I guess that’s because I was just shorter then. I wonder what happened to the big cabinet stereo. There was music without words playing on it back then. I didn’t know there was music without words, but I liked it.

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Family Updates

Livin Life in J-villeI know it’s rare that I post here more than once or twice a week, so I’m hoping I don’t cause any cardiac issues for anyone.

I just thought you’d like to know what’s been going on in the FCD family.

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The Man In The Red Dress

Red Party Dress from Target - $19.99Kay and I are just back from the hospital. James won’t go there. I think it’s just too much for him, and I’m OK with that.

Aunt Helen was awake for a while, and was sort of in and out of lucidity. She’s really struggling to speak, but occasionally manages to find the words and force them out. She asked Kay if there were any boys she liked, to which Kay replied, “No. Boys all have cooties.” I’m never really sure how serious she is when she says that, but it’s funny coming from her, and Aunt Helen thought so. She even laughed a little bit.

Going to visit gets harder each time for me. Each visit brings us one day closer to a trip to the ladies’ department at J.C. Penney’s. I’ve mentioned my promise to Aunt Helen before, that I would wear a red party dress and matching pumps to her funeral.

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Three Little Words




Aunt Helen Improves, Aunt Mary Departs

Aunt HelenLots of folks have publicly and privately expressed their concern, and I’d like to thank you all for your kind words.

Aunt Mary left to return for Pennsylvania this morning, after having spent a long weekend here, mostly visiting Aunt Helen in the hospital. That added a little more busy-ness to the family neighborhood, but it was good to see her and some of my Pennsylvania cousins again.

One of my cousins from that branch who couldn’t make it this weekend may be able to slip down next weekend, and that’s family-cool too.

Aunt Helen herself is improving, near as I can tell. That’s good news. Yesterday she sat up on the edge of her bed for a while, which is a great sign given the way things are going. She got to eat some real food, and had a milkshake, I understand.

I visited this morning, but she was sleeping pretty heavily. Kind of a bummer, but if that’s what she needs, I’m all good with that. I didn’t wake her.

We don’t have a solid long-term prognosis yet, but I don’t think that’s going to be rosy in any way, so I’m in no big rush to hear it.

I’ve just gotten some rather bad (though not unexpected) news by phone, so I’m going to leave it there for now and just say thanks for your concern and kind words, if you’ll please excuse the abrupt ending.

I just wanted to say thank you publicly.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Aunt HelenAunt Helen may be about to begin that long journey to California I once blogged about.

She’s been very ill, so I hadn’t spoken to her for a week or two. I didn’t want to call and bother her while she was so sick. I did call on Wednesday and talked to her a little bit, and she still sounded very very ill. My cousins spent the day with her on Wednesday and after they left, my oldest cousin called to let me know how she’s doing. He’s not optimistic. She’d been to the doctor, and it looks like she’s had a mini stroke. My cousin thinks we’re probably dealing with end of life issues.

Yesterday she called me, and though she actually sounded better than she had, it turns out she had fallen, and couldn’t manage to get herself up off the floor. I hustled over with the kids and spent about an hour getting her slowly onto her love-seat, one stage at a time. Read the rest of this entry »

Gone To California

Aunt Cass went to California just before Christmas in 2000

I was thinking about some of my family members who have died, and what we have to remember them.

(Mousing over the pictures will tell you who they are.)

Aunt Helen and I share a morbid little joke about dying. It’s funny how in my family, nobody “dies”. They don’t “pass on” or “pass away”. They just “go”.

“What’s she going to do when her mother goes?”

“When Uncle Ed went, Auntie Jo was a wreck.”

Y’know, that sort of thing. Everybody just “goes”.

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