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This Day in My History

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2004:  A Fable 



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11 August 2005

PJennings.jpg (15630 bytes)It's been a week of goodbyes, deaths, sad news.

Topping the list, of course, was ABC news anchor, Peter Jennings, whose brief hiatus to fight what ultimately turned out to be an unwinnable battle with lung cancer was entirely too short.

Jennings was, from all reports, a class act and he will obviously be missed by his peers and his fans.

Then there came the news of the lung cancer of Dana Reeve, Christopher's wife.  Hasn't the family suffered enough?  Couldn't they smear a little lamb's blood on the door frame so that angel could pass them by just this once?

Both lung cancer reports are a reminder to all I love--or like, or have ever met--not to smoke.  I remember when my aunt was dying of lung cancer (8 in my mother's family of 10 died of smoking-related illnesses, and now we've added my cousin as the first of the my generation to die of lung cancer).  My mother's older sister would go to see her dying sister, and then step outside the hospital room for a cigarette. 

"How can you smoke, when you see how she is suffering?" my mother would ask.

"Well, we all have to die of something," was the flip response.

Only a year later she discovered that there were more "pleasant" ways to die and I remember her telling me, pain clearly written across her face, that in spite of her cavalier attitude about smoking, in the end, it hadn't been worth it.

But death and dying are not necessary saved for slow painful deaths of those who have abused their bodies. 

Fishers.jpg (37578 bytes)In the realm of fantasy, there was Nate Fisher's untimely death on Six Feet Under.   One minute he's screwing his stepfather's daughter, the next his arm goes numb and he passes out, and then suffers a major brain seizure in the hospital and dies. Middle 40s.

Yes, it's only fiction, but I was so incredibly moved by how the writers of this award-winning drama handled the aftermath of Nate's death.  Every single segment of the parts of the story dealing with the family's reaction to his death and the response of others was just spot on.

Just ask me--I'm an expert in what happens when an adult child dies unexpectedly.

The episode seemed to be moving in slow motion as we followed each person's response, their anger, the depth of their grief, the feeling of being "lost."  So spot-on. 

I was able to watch the episode fairly dispassionately until the scene where Ruth, the mother, goes down to the mortuary's preparation room where David is washing his brother's body in preparation for the funeral the following day.

Ruth stands at the door, looking at her son lying on the exam table and she hesitates a moment as she approaches slowly.  You can read her whole world on her face as she lifts her hand slowly to stroke his head.  I can't really describe how the rest of the scene went because by this time I was sobbing uncontrollably, having put myself in that same spot, standing at the door of the emergency room, walking slowly toward the body of my dead son lying on a table, raising my hand slowly and beginning to stroke his hair.

It was a masterfully written episode and I can only assume that whoever wrote it knows whereof s/he writes.

And of course, since it's Six Feet Under, Nate's character will still be around.  Heck this is---what?---season five?  And the father, who died in the first episode, still comes by to chat with his family, when necessary, and Nate's wife, who died last season, stayed around to give Nate advice on his relationship with new wife Brenda.  Presumably Nate will stick around to aggravate Brenda and brother David as well.  I wonder if you get paid less to appear in an episode if you're dead...

QAF.jpg (29745 bytes)This week was the end of Queer as Folks, which aired its final episode on Sunday. I spoke of this a bit in the blog, but I've now watched the episode a couple of times, and cried at the "goodbye" special, with interviews of all the actors.

I suspect QAF slipped into the Showtime lineup during one brief shining moment when you could be open and honest about life.  I suspect the show could not be created today, even on Showtime, in this era when we seem to be sliding backwards with the moral majority pushing all the way, and free speech even on subscription channels coming under threat of censorship. 

But the creators of QAF were in the right place at the right time and suddenly it was OK for gay people to behave as normally as...daytime soap opera characters, or nighttime drama characters.  Gay people could live, love, have sex, fight, campaign for causes, go out to bars, etc., etc., etc.

I'm willing to bet that the show would be turned down, if presented today, because it would be "flauting" homosexuality.  Those queers are sort of OK as long as they stay behind closed doors--preferably alone.

But, as Michael ended the episode...

The thumpa-thumpa-thumba [beat of the music] continues; it always will, no matter what happens, no matter who's president.  As our Lady of Disco, the Divine Ms. Gloria Gaynor always told us:  We will survive.


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Peggy's latest kukaburra picture


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