I need to call my Dad and Pick up Zappa’s Ashes

I’m procrastinating, I’ve received two messages that need action. My Dad called two times in the past month, once for my birthday, two days late, Betty and my Dad sang Happy Birthday to me, and again two days ago, he said “I Love You.” The first thought that goes through my mind, what does he want from me? Not true, first message I thought he was sick or dead. Second message, “What does he want?” I was going to fly him out for the christening. Maureen was still living with us at the time. I felt like having my Dad here too was going to be too much. My brother had gone to visit him right before the Christening and the report he brought back was not great. I’m not gonna say my Dad’s a bad guy. It does seem like he’s always looking at my boobs though whenever I see him. When I think about my childhood with my Dad I remember how he was scheduled to pick us up every other weekend. Danny and I would wait with excitement. Half the time he never showed, the other half he was hours late. One of his girlfriend’s made me sit at the kitchen table until I ate liver. “I don’t like it.” I said. I could hear all the other kids playing upstairs. I forced myself to eat the slice of liver, I puked. Ruth, the one he married, was the worst. She hated me and my brother, at least that’s how we felt. I moved in with her after Lynnette and I hitchhiked back to San Diego from Wyoming. My Dad was out to sea. The day before he came home Ruth kicked me out into the streets. My friend called me and told me all my stuff was on the sidewalk. I never went to get any of it. Several years ago Ruth was in a tragic car crash. My Dad called me to tell me about this and ask if I could send money for her funeral.

“Zappa’s Ashes are in and ready for pickup, we’re open 24 hours a day. “The message said from Bernadette at Pet Specialty Services. I walk into a room, I am picking up my cat. There are three boxes. I look in the first box, its Tigger, she’s alive. The second one, Crystal Bear, the third I don’t recognize, maybe Buster or Ernie? “They were all dead? How can they be alive again?” Then I wake up. Danny and I had collected four boxes of Pet ashes that had to be dealt with. There was Ripley and Mingus, my mom’s Rottweiler’s, we retrieved from her house after she had died.  Then I had Tigger, my last kitty cat, and Wiggley, my faithful pit bull. We drove to Limantour beach with Billy and the boxes of ashes. They were heavy and awkward to carry, I had a plastic bag in my car we used, but it tore all over from the corners of the boxes. Danny cradled them in his arms as we walked down to the beach. There was a conservation team doing clean up to our left. I got a nervous feeling, if they see us they will think we are bringing trash to the beach and stop us. The sand is deep over the hill, each step is a struggle. We get to the top and the wind blows sand in our faces. To gather our composure we walk on a little path behind the dunes, dropping and picking up the boxes of ashes, paranoid someone is going to stop us and we would be stuck with all these boxes of ashes again. We get to a tree, sit down, and realize we’re missing Tigger. Danny runs back to find her. We open the boxes to get out the bags of ashes, we want to pour them in the ocean like we did with our moms ashes. The wind is blowing, ashes and sand are hitting our bodies, covering Billy, the ashes are creating long triangle shapes on the sand, before the Ocean comes and washes it away. We are planning on doing the same thing with Zappa’s ashes, making a day of it, bringing the babies. I better go pick up those ashes.

And Call My Dad.

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Thoughts on Motherhood Through the Eyes of an Artist