Archive for the ‘mourning’ Category

I have been thinking about this all week: how to commemorate the 17th anniversary of my little sister’s passing. Then a friend commented on something relating to horror flicks: “I’ve basically been done with genre since ‘Night of the Lepus'” (Or something similar.)

I laughed. Out.Loud. “Night of the Lepus” was something I held over my sister. “Night of the Lepus” was EPIC. “Night of the Lepus” can never be replicated. It had a bit part in the movie, “The Matrix” (the children are watching it on t.v.).

“The Night of the Lepus” came to the drive-in theater out on the highway to McGill, Nevada, north of Ely. The year was summer 1973, even though the movie was released in 1972. We didn’t get first-run movies in Ely, Nevada, very often. I know the year because I had my driver’s license and my 1961 American Rambler four door sedan, and I took my sister and her friend to see the movie.

They got stoned before we left the house. I didn’t know that at the time, but on reflection, I know that. I was still rather innocent in 1973: cheap wine was my biggest sin, but my little sister had already experimented all over the board. Weed was cheap. She was often stoned.

The movie was epic. It was based on the 1964 book, “Year of the Angry Rabbit” by Russell Braddon. Some lab in the southwest of the United States tried to help some rancher in Arizona battle an invasion of jack rabbits by giving him a “special” poison. Jack rabbits, which are hares, ingested it. Then they disappeared into their burrows and all seemed well.

Less than two months later, it all fell apart when giant bunnies (rabbits, not hares, and domestic ones, to boot) dug their way to the surface. Only these adorable bunnies weren’t after their normal vegan diet: they wanted blood. Specifically, they wanted human blood. thousands of blood thirsty, adorable, domestic bunnies of gigantic proportions were loosed upon the earth. Think bunnies the size of wolves. Think bunnies with rodent teeth that slash human throats and leave victims bleeding out. Thousands upon thousands of giant black and white domestic bunnies of giant proportions flooded the Arizona desert.

Around the time the bunnies hopped their way into a drive-in picture show, hopping over cars and wreaking havoc, I realized my sister and her friend, Linda, were hiding under the dash in my car. The movie had freaked them out. Stoned, paranoid, and unable to discern the lack of reality in the movie, they were cowering under the dash in my old Rambler.

It is, perhaps, one of my very favorite memories of my sister. Cruel, yes. Hysterical, indubitably. Something to blackmail her with… FOREVER.

She never denied the movie scared her. She went on to love the horror genre, and raised her toddlers on movies I wouldn’t let my kids watch: “Nightmare on Elm Street” or “Friday the Thirteenth”. I never let her forget she hid under the dashboard when domestic bunnies hopped through the drive-in.

It was epic. It was sister-sister epic. And here’s the trailer for the movie.

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Twelve years ago, June 17 fell on a Saturday and was the day before Father’s Day. I woke up on the hide-a-bed in my brother’s living room in Sparks, Nevada. The back ache I’d left home with was miraculously cured: who would have thought a bad mattress would work in lieu of a chiropractor? I was glad to be pain free physically: the day was going to be rough emotionally.

The reason I was in Reno was my mom’s health. She’d been hospitalized several times due to complication with emphysema, but this time my brother told me to come down. My dad was staying in a motel close to Washoe Medical Center.

We visited my mom off and on throughout the morning, making life changing decisions for (and with) her. She could no longer talk because of the damage done to her larynx by the oxygen tubes, but she was aware of everything – or as aware as someone who is heavily sedated on morphine can be. She kept pulling the oxygen tubes out and the nurses would replace them. She did not pull or tug at the morphine feed. Each of us: my dad, my brother, and myself, told the nurses to no longer replace the oxygen tube. We understood the look Mary Lou had in her eyes: she was tired of it all and angry that they kept replacing the tubes. My mom could be stubborn.

We had to take frequent breaks from the hospital because he couldn’t force himself to do a death watch. And that was what it was now: a death watch. Mom died on the 17th, peacefully. My dad didn’t take it so well. I’m not sure any of us took it well.

On Father’s Day, my brother, my dad and I went for a long drive. And laughed a lot. I managed to be the butt of a few family jokes that day, some of which will go down into the family history. I blogged about the Nevada Guys and “What’s the blue stuff?” on the 29th of April so I will not repeat that story. Later in the day, my brother got an emergency call and had to make a trip to Gerlach with lights. There was a semi roll-over and my bro, as a deputy, was on call. But he let my dad and I ride shotgun since neither one of us had ever been to Gerlach.

The drive up to the wreck was in the dark. We were excited about seeing Gerlach, but we nearly missed it for the black night. It snowed. It rained. It was clear. My brother played with his siren in the silence of the desert just for us. Our return was in the early morning. We never did really “see” the country around Gerlach and all we saw of the community were the night lights. It’s one of those “don’t-blink-you’ll-miss-it” places located on a flat two-lane highway over several low mountain passes. When I say “flat”, I mean the corners are flat and you don’t want to take them faster than the recommended speed because you’ll roll over. Which is what the poor truck driver did: took a corner too fast in the middle of the night and rolled his semi.

My mom would have appreciated the laughs we had that day. She loved word plays, palindromes, personal family jokes, and adventures in the middle of the night. Dad and I joked that we were really undercover cops from another jurisdiction learning how Nevada cops investigated.

This Father’s Day marks my brother’s retirement from law enforcement. My dad is still getting around and he still misses my mom. And the weather is about as nice today as it was then, except we’re not likely to get snow in Portland. Maybe on the mountain passes in Nevada they will today.

Well that wasn’t a terribly cheerful post, but it will have to do. If my mom was here, she’d insist I add something to make people laugh. She’d be really angry with me if I wrote “Don’t Smoke Cigarettes” somewhere in my blog because it was the only thing she and I ever argued about: her smoking habit. I’m not terribly afraid of her ghost. 🙂
DON’T SMOKE CIGARETTES. And if your dad smokes, make him quit.

Mary Lou & childrenMary Lou

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