Doctor Death Checks Out Prematurely- Posthumous ThoughtsFriday, December 07, 2007
When I was 21 I wrote some poems to Buenos Aires cemeteries. I evidently thought then that I wasn't immortal. Now, for a change, I am afraid not to die.
Jorge Luís Borges
I remember very well sometime around 1950 riding a colectivo (bus) with my cousin Wenceslao and my Uncle Tony. We passed by a cemetery on our way to General Electric Field in the outskirts of Buenos Aires to fly a U-control Stuka (It crashed and burned as the wings bent and done to scale made it highly unstable. In the photograph in the above link my Uncle Tony built a Stuka with more conventional wings and this Stuka flew well.) As the colectivo was rounding the cemetery my Uncle Tony told us, "Some day when I am dead, and buried in yonder cemetery you will come and visit me and remember our good times together." My Uncle Tony died a few years ago in North Carolina and I was never able to find his son Wenceslao so we will probably never share those memories again. Three prominent Canadians died recently and I wrote my little memorials here: Jane Rule, James Barber and Norval Morrisseau. The latter's death and my remembering what Chris Dafoe wrote brought a rapid, pleasant and funny response from Dafoe:
The obit in the Globe ran under the byline of Donn Downey (aka Doctor Death), the longtime obit writer (and former entertainment editor) who obviously banked this one way back when, figuring Morrisseau was likely to pop off at any moment. In fact, he survived Downey by more than six years. Then again, I suppose it is the hope of every writer that their work live on after they die. In newspapers, obit writers are among the few who can count on that happening.
Somehow I find that funny and it made me remember another incident, not funny at all, that happened to my mother, Filomena de Irureta Goyena when she was a child in Manila. She wrote about it in this poem penned in Veracruz, Mexico in 1965:
"Your birthday's coming soon
What will you have for then?"
"But it's three months away....
Oh yes, I want the doll house in the store."
"Let's go see it dear child
It will be yours, I promise."
October came & took my father beyond
(or so they said)
My birthday just a few days later
Brought with it the doll house
And the card "To my dear daughter
On her birthday."
"He can't be gone, Mother!
See his card, his gift.
He's here, I know he's here."
I didn't believe or understand
Till I was seven years old.
Even More Death
And Even More Death