Midnight Jolt Run

Caffeine tastes better when the city's asleep

Old Goats

Posted by Fiss on June 15, 2011

My earliest memories are a jumble of three images.  One was me, crying in my crib, angry at an imposed curfew but otherwise, just darkness, and a semi-out of body experience where I imagine seeing myself, howling into the night, raging against sleep, and eventually…succumbing.

The second earliest memory is of a car crash.  Truck crash, specifically.  I remember in great detail and environmental awareness of the moments beginning with me looking out a window in the Ford pickup being driven by my mother down the highway, and then crawling around on the upside-down-overturned truck cabin roof, avoiding the pebble-like broken safety glass that was everywhere, and crawling out onto the highway to the waiting arms of my mother who had, until that moment, assumed I had been crushed under the truck or thrown free of the wreck into a fence somewhere.

The third is much more green.  Running back and forth around the back yard of my grandparent’s lawn in Fort St. John at the age of…well, I was at the oldest four years olf.  I remember the feeling of the sloped lawn under my feet as I ran from the house to the small drainage ditch that broke the lawn up into a hill and an island when it rained.  I remember the smell of peas and ruhbarb and the taste of fresh carrots straight from the earth and the plesant cold sting of icey cold water right from the garden hose.  I remember countless times over countless years of that same backyard, and the layout of the home attached to it.  My Grandparents home.  With a simple one-story design, with a caveronous, adventure-sparking cellar underneith known only as the “Mole Hole” in which treasures like pickled carrots and mushroom soup lay dormant and pensive upon a noble and brave soul’s journey down the home-made rickety steps.

But better than all these images were those of my grandparents.  How Grandpa would make cryptic comments at the television when hockey teams I had never heard of before would score, or play “dirty” or get in trouble with the mythical “ref”.  I remember the bittersweet smell of morning coffee perulating on the gas fired stove in the kitchen that is green in my memories…proper ancient appliance green…and I still delight in that same perilating coffee pot being used decades after it first made an impression upon my young mind. I remember Grammy perpetually at the sink, or the stove, or elsewhere, puttering around with a purposeful smile on her face and a reluctant relaxed look when resting on the chairs outside on the lawn.  Always busy.  Always doing something.  Gramps teaching my sister and I how to paint a fence, or the smell of him as he exited the work-shed in the back….always smelling of paint.  White-picket-fence-paint if such a smell and colour could ever be locked in to eachother…it was that smell.

Dozens of tiny moments…cooking, cleaning, running, digging, running, playing…always with the watchful eye of Louie and Elsie nearby to make sure I didn’t get into anything too terrible.  I remember a thousand splinters, salt-melted-slugs  and broken spiderwebs and the incredible rush of the first rear-seated ride in the Ford Mustang I would later own myself and learn stick with.

I remember later years in which some kids fall out with their extended family due to their own pigheadedness.  Thankfully, I remember them much as day at home…with loved ones…always comfortable, always loved, always well fed and well hugged.  I remember that, even though they didn’t quite understand why I was so excited, my grandparents let me mess around with their VCR and record the Smashing Pumpkins on a LP VHS tape, and never once asked me to it down.  I remember the concerned calls when I was about to fly to Philadelphia for the first time to meet the beautiful woman who would one day be my wife, and how my Grandfather warned me that Chicago (my one stop-over/transfer) would be dangerous and I should watch out for all the black people…and how terribly sorry he felt when he learned that Asenia was black.  After this was realized, I think I learned more about my grandfather’s service record sharing with african-americans in one month than he had ever talked about before or since, just so I knew he wasn’t racist, and he had only been worried about Chicago itself.

I remember halloweens endless…were no matter the haul of the night, Andrea and I would always know once we got to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, we’d get several pounds of pennies for Unicef and as much candy as we could carry once we held out our pillowsacks to those smiling faces at the door.

Visiting them for the last time as they were…together…in that house, I always remember the strange feeling I had, as if that it was all about to end.  As if something was about to happen.

Grandpa’s health detriorated, Grandma broke an ankle, and eventually they moved to Alberta to be a little closer to us and found great doctors to help out.  But I remember the feeling…that strange feeling that my Childhood was over when they moved away from the source of all those memories.

My Grandfather died in a surprise heart attack during what was to be a routine kidney-stone removal.  The sunrise was particularly beautiful that day, as if to tell me that everything would be alright, no matter how I felt.

When my Grandmother had started having lung problems last year and and endless string of kidney and circulatory troubles, my mom took more and more time off and time during her free hours to help.  But we all knew.  I think we all knew.

But folk in my family, unless it’s a sneak attack, seem unwilling to go gently into that good night, and it wasn’t until years after Grandpa passed on that my mom calls me up one Friday and informs me that the doctors are estimating hours and days, not weeks and months.

We get to visit with just a handfull of hours to spare.  Grandma gets to see her great grandson one last time as he decided to wake her up with a well-meaning shout.  I saw my grandmother smile for the last time, holding my son up for her to see, then she went quietly back to sleep.

Before the night was out, she had moved on.

I used to think that my Childhood ended when my best friend Maury’s father died, but the more I think about it, I think at how silly such a notion is.  How I will always carry those memories deep in the core of my heart, soul and being, and how dramatically they have influenced my outlook on life, humanity, God and the Universe.

I think that, if I can be sure that people like my Grandparents existed then Good is exactly that.  Not perfect.  Not infallable.  Good is the smell of peas and ruhbarb.  The feeling of grass on your bare feet and skinned knees.  Good is the smell of coffee…a mystical adult elixer known only by a silver gas-powered chalice…and of course, the sounds of family.  Good is the feeling I get whenever I remember the decades past and imagine the centuries futuring from such a childhood.
I know, in my heart and soul, that everything will be okay, so long as grandmas and grandpas like them exist.

And I am so blessed by this truth that I wonder if these tears are from missing them both, or for happiness from knowing them.  Either way, I don’t mind the source.

Thanks, you two.

Godspeed, Old Goats.




Posted under Colapost
  1. Fiss Said,

    Had this one on the brain for a while. Figured I’d wait a month, though. Tears are best rationed through hard times.

  2. Mom Said,

    Thank you so much for the wonderful words dedicated to my Mom and Dad. Every parent wants their children to know their grandparents and forge a special bond with them. I know you and Andrea did. It was meant to be that way. Knowing how MY children feel about my parents makes me happy and realize that really, the only thing that matters, is the love we have for eachother. Thanks Chris, you made the pain of missing my parents a little easier today.

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