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For My Dad

November 13th, 2017 by unkle lancifer · 21 Comments

I haven’t posted in a while because my Dad died. He went to the hospital complaining of back pains and he passed away three days later. It was cancer and there were complications and I’m not going to elaborate further. The important thing for me was that I got to see him, look into his eyes and hear him say my name. I’m shell-shocked but am grateful for the fact that he looked peaceful when he passed and that he was surrounded by loved ones. I tell myself every day that today is the day I’ll get back to “normal,” knowing there’s no “normal” to get back to. If normal still exists, I can’t see it from here and if it should show up I’m not sure I’d welcome it. I’m kind of pissed off at normalcy right now. It feels like something fraudulent I’ve trained myself to tolerate. Suddenly my usual inspirations feel trivial and my go-to mental preoccupations reek of pettiness. I thought I was an expert at dissociation and denial but maybe this coat doesn’t fit me anymore or I’m too tired to put it on. There’s a non-stop avalanche in my head.

What’s more appropriate for these pages is that I tell you that my father is directly responsible for my love of horror- for the therapy of horror – for the catharsis of being terrified for a moment and then being comforted seconds later by purring privileged safety. One of my earliest memories takes place in Allison Park, Pa. Many of my cousins are visiting and there must be at least a dozen of us kids. It’s early summer night and I’m sure there would be fireflies. We’re sitting on a wooden patio my father built or on aluminum fold out chairs. You have to be careful where you place your chair; this backyard is known for underground wasp nests. My brothers and I are often dumb enough to throw rocks at these hives in order to agitate them. My Dad is telling a scary story that might involve the house that burnt down next door, the end result of smoking in bed. When my father comes to the climax of the tale we’re slowly starting to believe, my Uncle, draped in a white sheet, jumps out from behind a bush wailing, sending all of us screaming in every possible direction. This is pure thrilling joy for me, an explosion of excitement. Suddenly all of us cousins, no matter age, size or gender are a unified mob in our shared fear followed by elation. Like every kid ever, we all beg for one more story.

I was a fearful child due to the fact that a giant hand lived under my bed that wanted to drag me to who knows where. Plus, there was “Mary Wolf” to contend with. Mary Wolf looked like an African mask I spied on the cover of a children’s Encyclopedia (which I’ve yet to see again) and I think the she-devil was born from my mishearing the title of the comic strip “Mary Worth.” Oh, and someone thought it was a great idea to put a clown painting on my bedroom wall. When cars drove by the house, reflected headlights lit up his stupid face at vexing intervals. Listening to my Dad’s scary stories was like lifting up the trunk of my fears and letting a few fly away or at least lose some power. It’s no wonder I got addicted to the sensation. Each scary story made me a little braver. Eventually my father brought home a scary-story telling machine. We were the first on our block to obtain this life-changing device; some folks called it a VCR. This machine showed me things that my father would likely not approve of but thankfully he let us rent anything we wanted and paid zero attention to ratings. This might not seem like a good idea to some but to me it was the greatest gift in the world.

My father and I were not very much alike. He appreciated sports where I thought soccer was a game in which you monitored ant hills until a ball rolled towards you and people yelled “Wake up!” He was organized and meticulously clean while my home looks like a cross between the set of SANFORD AND SON and the trash compactor scene in STAR WARS. My Dad was a great, accomplished businessman with an incredible work ethic whereas it took me weeks to write this tiny blog post. You get the idea. We’re basically opposites but he let me know that was O.K. I learned countless lessons from my father but the most important lesson was embossed in our very relationship and that is that you don’t have to agree with somebody about everything to love them. Truth told, as conservative as my Dad sometimes seemed to me he had an artistic streak that was impossible to ignore. Nobody in my family will ever forget when he broke against the established decorum of the neighborhood and painted our front door the most amazingly garish, nearly fluorescent, leaning toward fuchsia, red. My brothers and I could see that door from literally miles away as we explored the golden California fields around our childhood address. It was so bright that we could never get lost and we always knew our way home. The only beacon that shined brighter was my Dad.

I’m not going to post a picture of my pop, I’m not sure he’d be into that. Instead, here is a picture of TED KNIGHT with a chimp because I know it would crack him up. I Love you, Dad. Maybe it’s time for me to repaint my front door.

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21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Thru-The-BlindsNo Gravatar // Nov 13, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. I’m fortunate in that my parents (age 80 and 77) are still with me, but I did lose my younger brother (age 48) two years ago and I’m *still* reeling from that and missing him terribly. I don’t think you ever get over it so much as you just figure out ways to cope with it. This was a beautiful tribute to your father and I do believe both he and my brother are still with us and watching over us. ((hugs))

  • 2 Dylan Donnie-DukeNo Gravatar // Nov 13, 2017 at 11:51 am

    I am so sorry for your loss, Unk. What a beautiful post. My father and I had a similar relationship, being on opposite ends politically, but he was still an amazing, loving, and great dad. Much as you, he would bring home the office VCR on the weekends, and my sister and I had free reign at the rental store. Of my favorite memories of him (We lost him in 2005.) was a 3:00am phone call when I was in college. My little brother, barely two at the time, was awake, so then, so was dad. He called me to let me know that “Red Sonja” was on TBS, and he and I remained on the phone for the entirety, riffing and having a ball. For many months after his passing, those moments were bittersweet. Now, some years removed from the loss, I hold them deep in my heart, and he remains with me in those memories. I am certain that you will find the same comfort, and from reading your post, it seems that you already are. Much love to you and Aunt J during this time.

  • 3 RATSAWGODNo Gravatar // Nov 13, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    I am so, so sorry for your loss, Unkle Lancifer. This was such a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing it.

  • 4 wolf0230No Gravatar // Nov 13, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • 5 jimbo65No Gravatar // Nov 13, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    So sorry for your loss Unk.

  • 6 TreecatNo Gravatar // Nov 13, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    My heart goes out to you, Uncle Lance. I lost my Dad a little over two years ago and, like you, I have him to thank for my love of horror. When I was a small child, he used to let me stay up late on Saturday night to watch “Chiller Theater.” Then he’d fall asleep in his green vinyl La-Z-Boy recliner and leave me alone with the likes of “Plan Nine From Outer Space.” Later on in life, I was able to introduce him to a lot of genre books and movies that he greatly enjoyed. Weird memories, but treasured and good ones. You clearly have those,
    too. Take comfort in good memories and take care of yourself.

  • 7 micksterNo Gravatar // Nov 13, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Unkle Lancifer, this is an absolutely beautiful tribute to your father! I am so sad for your loss. Let your precious fur babies and Aunt John take care of you during this time.

  • 8 Dr. FutureNo Gravatar // Nov 13, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    Unk,

    I certainly share everyone’s sentiments of sincere condolences to you. I lost my dear father in March of this year, and my mother is now succumbing to dimentia in assisted living. This has been a sobering year for me too.

    I don’t know if you are a believer in God, but I am (hope that doesn’t make me “uncool”), and I get hope from knowing that I will get to hang out again with my dad for good, as demonstrated by a Guy who history says showed us how it was done. That’s partly why I don’t blame God for the stupid stuff other people do (or by me), and just thankful he keeps us out of the apocalypse at all. It even helps me better appreciate horror, or even the Walking Dead; even though good folks get screwed at times for a while (even to their earthly demise), just like in those movies, I can feel confident that true justice will prevail, if I have a long enough supernatural time horizon. It helps me roll with the injustices (large or small) I experience, yet it still empowers me to help the weak and vulnerable I encounter, even though I believe God will make it up to them, in time, in spades. [end of sermon]

    While, like you I admired my dad deeply, unlike you I sadly cannot say we shared a love of horror – he thought it was “silly”, I surmise. The same was not true of my mom – we watched “Fright Night” with “The Fearmonger” in Louisville in the early 70s most Saturday nights (the man who played him was the star of most of Louisvillian William Girdler’s early pictures, like Three on a Meathook), after mom and I watched local wrestling, West Coast roller derby and even The sons of Hercules (coolest theme song ever). Mom and I would even practice drop kicks on each other, until my 5 foot 2, 95 lb. mother would hurt me.

    My older brother (12 years older, sort of like an extra half dad) was the one who took me in 1976 at the age of 12 to see a revival of Night of the Living Dead; I never forgot, as a five year old when he came home from seeing it at the local drive in in 1969 and told me about it, before the cops came and confiscated the reels. Of course, at the age of 5 he also took me to the legendary WAKY Radio Haunted House, and around every corner he did not protect me from the monsters who jumped out, but actually threw me into the arms of the monsters.

    Keep this work going at Kindertrauma – not only for our enrichment, but as a tribute to your dad. I hope you and he will have some real supernatural adventures together in the hereafter.

  • 9 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Nov 13, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    This was heart-wrenching and beautiful. I wish I could have written like this when I lost my parents in 2005, but there were just no words. I know how hard this is, and I hope you found some catharsis here. You have a very good group of people at KT who love you and support you. And you know I’m always here for you. Sending love.

  • 10 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 14, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Thru-The-Blinds,
    So sorry to hear about your brother. It must be especially difficult losing a sibling so young. I’m in total agreement that your brother and my Dad are still very much with us. ((hugs back))

    DDD,
    Your Dad sounds awesome. I love that RED SONJA story. It’s so great how movies can connect people together. Me and all of my brothers are so different but we’ll always have great memories of the movies we watched together. I forgot to mention that my Dad took us to see GODZILLA VS THE SMOG MONSTER when we were a young age and we still talk about it! So glad you have those memories with your dad.

    RATSAWGOD,
    Thanks for saying that. You are the best.

    wolfo230,
    Thank you, I appreciate that. Best to you.

    jimbo65
    Thanks Jimbo65. Best to you too.

    Tree cat,
    Sorry to hear about your Dad. He sounds like a great guy. The number one rule of parenting should be letting your kids stay up late to watch TV (especially CHILLER THEATER). I’ll never forget staying up to watch KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER. Actually Darren McGavin always reminded me of my Dad (especially in A CHRISTMAS STORY) Thanks for sharing those memories. Now I want a La-Z-Boy.

    Mickster,
    Aw, Thanks Mickster! You know these cats are always taking care of me.

    Dr Future,
    Sad to hear about your Dad passing so recently and your poor Mom-my best to her. I hope she has the best care possible. BTW- I think you are VERY cool to believe in God. I’m not exactly sure what I believe- I’m not much into organized religion but I do believe in some greater life-force power out there. I guess I do believe in God just maybe not the robe and beard type. When my Dad died, I believe we got a few signs that his spirit was telling us he was OK. And I totally agree with you that spirituality helps you to appreciate horror. Thanks for telling me about “The Fearmonger” -that sounds awesome and your Mom sounds awesome too. My older brother also had a hand in my getting into horror. I remember him coming home from seeing FRIDAY THE 13th and telling me the whole story from beginning to end. That was back when they had the horror movie ads on the radio- they were terrifying! Thanks for sharing your view and I’m in agreement that supernatural adventures in the hereafter await us all.

    Amanda,
    I wish I knew you back in 2005 so I could have been as good of a friend to you then as you’ve been to me during this time. Sending love back.

    Thanks again to all of you for these thoughtful comments. They really helped a lot.

  • 11 Drew BluddNo Gravatar // Nov 14, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    I sent Unkle a brief email asking if he was okay and wondered where he was. I didn’t for a second thing it was something serious.

    I’m so, so sorry.

  • 12 kathryngraceNo Gravatar // Nov 14, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    I’m really sorry to hear about your dad. He sounds like a great man.

  • 13 downdownyoufoolNo Gravatar // Nov 14, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear it – my condolences, which I know aren’t worth very much. And thank you for sharing this tribute. It reminded me of my dad, who died in his 40s 18 years ago, and who was responsible for introducing me to horror movies. I still don’t think my mother knows half the age-inappropriate movies I watched with him. It’s still our secret.

  • 14 Ghastly1No Gravatar // Nov 14, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Fuck, that really sucks; I’ve written on here about my dad and how he introduced me to horror. He died several years ago and I miss him every day. The pain never goes away, there are two possible ways to handle this; first is to fall apart, the second and better option is to confront reality, accept it and get stronger so you can bear the pain more so than you were able to before. Stay strong.

  • 15 Madamoiselle MacabreNo Gravatar // Nov 15, 2017 at 12:41 am

    Unk,

    I’m sorry to hear about your dad. What a funny guy! Sounds like no matter what your other differences might have been, you both shared a flair for storytelling and a kickass sense of humor.

    I don’t know if this helps, but it’s totally okay to feel how you’re feeling right now. I didn’t lose a parent, but there was a time when I was doing some serious grieving. Trying to distract myself with my favorite obsessions made me feel worse. The one thing that did help was I pictured all my grief feelings as this sad little monster that was following me around. Instead of pushing Sad Monster away (that just made him start screaming) or trying to cheer him up (that little jerk bit me), I just let him walk with me and let him be. Some days I gave him a hug. There may not be the old version of normal to go back to (and that’s okay), but — when you’re ready — there will be a healed-and-better-than-ever new normal.

    Much love to you, Aunt John, your family — and your dad too, because good dads are never gone.

  • 16 Dr. FutureNo Gravatar // Nov 15, 2017 at 2:24 am

    Unk.

    It’s your very personal responses to each of us that make Kindertrauma seem so much like a family. A type of Manson Family, maybe, but a family nonetheless.

  • 17 jd666No Gravatar // Nov 15, 2017 at 4:46 am

    i just wanted to add my deepest sympathies in this difficult time. i believe when you lose a parent you become a member of a club you never wanted to be in but find that only those that have suffered that loss can truly comprehend.

    i’ll leave you with something a old friend of mine told me when my dad died and i’ve never forgotten it and pass it along to you now… he said “when a parent dies, it’s the last lesson they ever get to teach you.” i found that both profoundly sad and beautiful.

    warm regards and
    be kind to yourself.

  • 18 TriltaisonNo Gravatar // Nov 16, 2017 at 8:16 am

    I’ve been a lurker for quite some time, but never commented before and so I made an account specifically just to post here.

    I could not presume to know the extent of your suffering, but I have had an astonishingly bad and depression-soaked year myself. And although we have never met or spoken before, I wanted to let you know that you have been helping me get through it. Digging through the archives and discovering movies I never knew of, reading traumafessions, trying to identify movie images, and your amusing musings have provided me with hours of entertainment during the many nights when I couldn’t sleep. Kindertrauma has been helping to make my year a little less awful, and I wanted to thank you for that.

    That love of horror and cheesy B-movies is passing right along to all of your readers. I know the condolences of an anonymous Internet person may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but I do sincerely offer my deepest sympathies. Because you have affected my life positively during this year of horribleness and have helped me through my own pain, I wanted to reach out and specifically thank you for your help.

    I’m so sorry your family will be dealing with this loss so close to the holiday season, and send you all the warmest thoughts I can come up with. I know a comment isn’t much to offer compared to what you’ve given me, but I do hope it helped at least a little.

    Thank you, Unk.

  • 19 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Nov 16, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    You guys are incredible. Thanks for all of these additional comments and condolences.

    Drew Bludd,
    Thanks for reaching out and checking in. You are a true pal.

    Kathryngrace,
    He truly was something special. Thank you.

    Downdownyoufool,
    Your words are worth a lot to me. I’m glad you have similar memories of your father. Thank you, sincerely.

    Ghastly1,
    Thanks for that good advice. Talking to people like you who have gone through the same thing really helps.

    Madamoiselle Macabre,
    Thank you for your excellent advise as well. I love your analogy of accepting grief rather than trying to fight it. Very wise.

    Dr. Future,
    That is a lovely sentiment. I’m very grateful for our KT family.

    Jd666,
    I love what your friend said. Thank you for sharing that. It is very beautiful. Understanding that I’m not alone in this club and that it is a part of life has really helped. Thank you.

    Triltaison,
    It is a pleasure to meet you! I can’t tell you how much your comment means to me. I’m so sorry you are having a rough year too. If reading these pages have made you feel better or lightened your load in even the slightest way- I am so honored to have been a part of that. I have been struggling with depressive “why bother doing anything?” feelings lately and your comment is exactly what I needed to hear in regards to that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and please consider yourself always at home here. I’m so glad you found our KT family and Here’s to brighter days in the future for all of us.

  • 20 JennyD13No Gravatar // Nov 16, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss! Your post is a wonderful tribute. I’m so glad you had someone like him in your life.

  • 21 Ben SNo Gravatar // Nov 17, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    I’m so sorry Lance. What a beautiful tribute. Sending lots of love.

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