December 21st, 2016

Scratch Things

Merry Christmas, really?

Christmas really is a shitty time of the year for so many people and for so many reasons, but I remember when they were magical which makes them feel so much shittier now.

Yesterday I received a letter from Nortel, a goddamn huge Canadian telecommunications corporation, the place where my father was an engineer for two thirds of his life. Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection a few years ago and the first thing they did was fuck the pensioners out of the money that was supposed to be there when they retired.

Over the years they cut and cut my father's pension and cut it again and now that he's dead, and Nortel didn't find out in time, they 'overpaid' him because my dad died right before the machine spat out his payment for November. They want their money back and they're going to get it but not before I fuck with them.

Justin was here when I opened that letter and as my blood boiled and my heart beat hard and fast, he told me to play stupid and incompetent and string them along for a while and make them work for this 'over payment' and I told him he was brilliant and that I was all in.

Six days before Christmas the collections guy decides this is a good time to stick the knife in and twist it so I threw a very sarcastic angry letter back at him, and I know he's just the messenger but I blew a gasket and gave it to him. I dropped that letter in the post office box before I got over my rage and decided not to send it.

Further, the United States government cut my dad's pension for serving in the US Navy in World War Two where he was a control tower operator on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid at Guantanamo Bay (how fucking cool is that?) but I can't be all that mad about that because they're also shafting the young men who come home from Iraq and Afghanistan missing limbs and suffering from PTSD, which my father didn't have to go through. So give the money to the honourable, brave, and injured young men who are fighting your useless wars, America.

Because Nortel cut off my dad's pension, my mother can't afford to live at the SENIORS residence, but I never told her that because she's been through enough. My sister and I slowly talked her into moving to Ottawa and living with my sister and my mother agreed. Justin and I drove here there last week with a few meager treasures she'll have room for and it's heartbreaking. I am grieving for her 'stuff' that holds fond memories and she hasn't said a lot about losing almost everything but I know she must be grieving for the loss of her possessions even though her grief over losing my father is enormous and all consuming. It's too much.

Anyway, now that my mother has moved, I have to empty out the entire apartment pretty much by myself and it's brutal going in there and packing up her treasured memories to give away. I was fired up all damn day because of Nortel's greedy shameless senior officers who didn't have to move out of their mansions and fire Jeeves the butler the day they decided to shaft the widows.

I had to go there today to pack up more things (it's exhausting) and throw away food before it turns green and walks away and at one point, my brother said how fucking horrible and vulture-like he felt taking this stuff away and eating some of it, and I thought about how my parents were horrified about letting anything go to waste as I threw food in the garbage.

I look around that apartment and see my parents everywhere and it's all just so goddamned sad. And I look around at my old house every day where Richard lived and see him everywhere everywhere and it's just so goddamned sad. And it's Christmas and I am trying hard to pretend I can catch some of that magic by forcing myself to decorate and buy presents and maybe bake sweets and find some joy in that, but it's exhausting and forced and fake and futile because there is no being happy.

I set out to buy a turkey yesterday and as I got into the store I walked by walnuts in the shell and thought about how my dad loved assorted nuts in shells at Christmas and I saw him in my mind, sitting on the couch cracking nuts and tears sprung to my eyes and I quickly got that under control because I can't stand for anyone to see my cry in public.

I broke down and cried in the aisle where they sell pudding and fruit in cups because we bought a lot of that for my dad as he was dying - it was almost all he would eat until he couldn't eat anymore. The lemon meringue flavor was the hardest to see because that was his favourite. When I checked out the smiley bag boy wished me a merry Christmas and I forced a smile and said it back to him while my mind said 'ugh, it's so not a merry Christmas and I can't see it ever being a merry Christmas again.'

When I returned to Justin's house my sister-in-law called to make plans with me for Christmas day dinner at her house and we talked about her mother dying in January and Richard dying in June and my dad dying in October and that is a lot of loss for Justin. When my mind isn't thinking about one of them dying, my mind thinks about another one of them dying and the death scenes play out in great detail to the point that I feel as though I am actually there living those moments, and they are as fresh and as clear as the day I lived them.

Before dinner we had our customary rum and then I had another and then I had another even though I risked feeling like crap today but the desire to not feel like crap for a few hours overcame my fear of extreme dehydration and general malaise. And instead of melancholy and cry on someone's shoulder drunkeness, Justin showed me videos of things like some guy hitting a golf ball on a frozen lake and falling through the ice when he missed and fell, and I showed him video of things like a cat slinking sideways down a stairway like liquid and we laughed.

We talked about getting half in the bag on Christmas day and singing karaoke and I asked him for a playlist so I'll know in advance what songs I want to massacre.

Alcohol: the reason for but the answer to all of life's troubles.