Over seven months…stream of conscious rambling

Five weeks since my last post. Last week was both “30 weeks” and “7 months.”

Tonight’s 31 weeks.

Several days into August here…meaning it’s been 1 year since that scare with Chloe. 1 year since my new, as yet-unused eyeglasses script. Nearly a year since the Claremont signing at CNJ. A year since Drew’s and my first visit to Mike at his new house.

So much that rings differently a year later. As so many other things have, and will, in a rolling basis.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last 9 weeks or so working on the comics accumulation. And finishing up my run through the original CSI series.

Started watching CSI from the very beginning back in late March or so, and finished the most recent season of CSI: Vegas last night. I’m not sure that I really WANT to dive into CSI Miami or CSI New York. I’d watched more of both of those than the original when they were airing as new episodes. But while I made it through 20 seasons of Law & Order: SVU 2018 into early 2019, this CSI run has proven a bit darker, touched by me being at a whole different place in life.

And frankly, I’m coming to the conclusion that I’ve had enough of the darkness and death and seeing people (albeit fictional) on the worst days of their lives. At least for awhile. That was part of why I stopped watching The Walking Dead. The comics were black and white, drawings on a page; easy enough to read and take in the story but they stayed art on pages to be read. The tv show put actual people and “live-action” to it all, and that got to be a bit much.

Back in June, I’d brought my X-Men boxes back upstairs. 15 shortboxes, plus boxes and piles of stuff accumulated over the past couple years SINCE May of 2020 when I organized those boxes. And I got stuff shifted around, re-consolidated….and THIS TIME actually “inventoried” the stuff. As of this typing I’m at just over 4100 comics officially in the X-Collection.

I’ve spent much of the last few weeks hauling up the longboxes, and this week the shortboxes, such that THE bulk of my COMICS are now in the cave. I’ve got some stacks on shelves and such left down there that I need to consolidate and bring up; but that part of the process should more or less be done by this weekend.

The goal being NOT to “take over” this cave as much as to make use of the larger space to spread out and have the comic boxes spread out and open to facilitate the first all-accumulation sorting I’ve attempted in 24 years. The last time I did a “full accumulation” organization was Fall of my senior year in high school–Fall 1998–and I maybe had 5 or 6 longboxes and a couple shortboxes at the time. Total.

I could ramble more on details–stuff I’m most looking forward to finding and bringing back together and having quick/easy access to…but THAT may well be better suited over at my comics blog.

31 weeks, and broken record that I am…I’m getting by. That early “shock and horror” seems to have faded…but it’s definitely left a significant hole in me, my heart, my life, not having Dad here in-person.

He’d have been SHOCKED (and impressed) at alllll these boxes and just how many comics I actually HAVE; I know he knew I had a lot, but even I myself am somewhat surprised at the visual volume seeing so much in one space, not divided between a house and an apartment, or divided in different parts of the basement and upstairs, etc.

I picture him grudgingly having agreed to let me do this as it is…shortly before Christmas, I’d had the idea of bringing all the comics up to use the space here in the cave, get comics sorted properly, and then back down to the basement. Dad almost certainly wold have readily agreed to the PLAN…though I’m sure he’d have expressed some doubt at the volume; and reminded me several times to keep stuff moving and that they weren’t going to STAY up here, etc.

(But on that, how many other times in my life has he sacrificed for me, or otherwise given me space, support, encouragement, etc. and so on?)

As I sit here typing, I’m in the cave…both cats were over here, and more space for Daisey, so I brought the laptop to type here before I figure out something for dinner.

Chloe’s curled up on the couch, doing her upside-down-head thing, snoring. Sarah’s curled up in Daisey’s “spot”. And Daisey’s here in the chair with me, warming my lap and chilling/snuggling.

I’ve allowed little silence over the past months. I pretty much always have some audiobook going overnight. Usually just background noise overnight, though sometimes whatever audiobook works its way into dreams, or I wake in the wee hours and have to switch to music to not stay awake for the rest of the book.

This comics project is also giving me something concrete to DO…something that NEEDS doing…that is far beyond just some weekend project. I tell myself to do SOMEthing “making progress” every day. Whether it’s carry a box upstairs; inventory some sorted comics; do SOMEthing furthering the process TOWARD an organized and inventoried collection.

Such a focal thing that I keep going back to that AS I type along here, stream of conscious-like. Blah.

Saw the new Top Gun a couple/several weeks ago. Wasn’t sure what to make of it. It could NOT live up to the “hype” I’d heard…BUT I still definitely ENJOYED it.

Especially for seeing it in the theater, witht he big screen and theatrical sound system. I realized I hadn’t paid NEARLY enough attention when I “watched” the original back in…April or May or June. So I may try to rewatch that and see how I take it 2nd time through.

The new one definitely hit differently for this point in life.

For one thing, I’m pretty sure that at the least, Dad and I would have watched it…albeit as a rental here at the house. Knowing what I do now, how stuff has gone, if I could go back in time, I’d surely push to get him to the theater to see it, with all the complications that’d include. But we would have watched it. Probably would have gotten Mom to watch it, too; made a family night of it.

I often felt like I could be a bit “off” in assessing what he’d think of certain movies…though that may have been MY enjoyment of “superhero” movies that to me have plenty of action, but never really grabbed him at all the same way. But I do think he’d have enjoyed Maverick quite a bit, and I suspect it would have spurred some definite conversation for us.

I was never in the military, myself. But through Dad, and then over the years through several friends who’ve been in, I’ve gained a new appreciation for those who have served; beyond what I’d already known/seen/”assumed.”

And watching the film, I saw a lot of the multi-generational aspect of things; characters interacting where it was relatively easy to picture Dad there, and wonder about HIM and HIS friends. To appreciate the direction someone might come from looking back on a career and newer/younger up-and-comers; interacting with friends’ adult children, or being one of those adult children interacting with a parent’s friend.

Plenty of similar thoughts and half-thoughts and such.

Dad probably would have also been shocked whenever that was, to realize I had NEVER SEEN TOP GUN before 2022. I always knew OF it; I may have seen parts of it; I was aware of “Take My Breath Away” and maybe other music from the film; but had never actually specifically watched it.

New DRAGONLANCE book came out yesterday, officially. “Classic” Dragonlance; “Dragonlance Destinies” vol. 1; “Dragons of Deceit.” First new Dragonlance novel in over a decade. By original series authors Weis & Hickman. First new Dragonlance book I’ve gotten since Dad. First new physical book I’ve actually started reading since Dad.

While I was with Mom at that used books store in Pennsylvania back in August or so 1995…whether it was the one Grandpa went to or not, I can’t remember for sure (I may be thinking of two separate stores), that was when I came across some Greyhawk book by Rose Estes. I believe it was the 3rd book in a series, and I couldn’t find books 1 or 2, so put it back. I may have looked for a Shadowrun book, but couldn’t find one that was an obvious starting point. But I DID find the first two books in another fantasy series–Dragonlance. “Dragonlance Chronicles” vols. 1 & 2; Dragons of Autumn Twilight, and Dragons of Winter Night.

My friend Jim gave me Dragons of Spring Dawning a few months later; and I remember checking Waldenbooks and B. Dalton at the Mentor Mall for other Dragonlance stuff frequently.

I remember being at that Waldenbooks with Dad when I bought the collected Legends Trilogy, using Christmas money from Grandma K. And some time later, I recall being with Dad at Waldenbooks buying the first books of the new “Fifth Age” stuff; as well as a couple of the box sets of the new RPG at the time.

Whether I ever shared in detail with them or not (or if it’s part of a lengthy letter I remember writing to them in college that I never sent), I remember thinking of Dad (and Mom) with a quote from one of the Dragonlance books, that has stuck with me. “We raise our children to leave us.”

Not that parents necessarily kick their children out, but they raise them to be able to leave.

In my case, I stuck around fairly close. I went 2 1/2 hours away for BG; about an hour for Kent; and it wasn’t until 2016 that I officially moved back in with them, ostensibly to help with Dad and get ready to find a place of my own…which turned into 5+ years and being able to be so much more “help” for/with Dad than any of us imagined.

I COULD live on my own somewhere; or I can be around to help my parents. To help Mom. No great need for me to “live alone” just for the sake of “living alone.”

But anything “good” anyone sees in me…I’d charge that that comes from Mom and Dad. So much I got from Dad that I never realized. Surely plenty of same from Mom that even now I don’t realize.

31 weeks. Over 7 months. Pushing an hour or so of sitting, thinking, typing, rambling, whatever all this post has been. No tears. My heart aches in that way that I’m sure it always will for the rest of my days. I miss Dad. I miss what WAS. I miss sitting out here in the cave and talking to him, watching tv and/or movies with him. Being around this house and simply knowing he’s around; that we’re under the same roof.

So I keep occupied. Try not to “think” too much (not that I’m always successful). Push this comic project along, cuz it’s something “tangible” and long-term that’s already taken a couple months. And put one foot in front of the other, take one day at a time, and….something.

Six Months

As I sit here typing…it’s been six months since my initial falling-apart in the kitchen. Just a little before 8pm.

I’d been to the comic shop earlier in the day; begun finally sorting comics to clean the front room as Dad had been wanting; etc. I think I was in the middle of working through the Falcon and the Winter Soldier series, having just days earlier sprung for D+ as it was cheaper than purchasing a movie I wanted to watch.

And while I sat there watching–pondering what Dad would think of the show–I remember realizing a number of things. For one, there it was, end of 2021, and we’d not finished Iron Man 2…where I’d INTENDED to “subject” Dad AND Mom to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’d both seen several of the movies over the years…but after his health scare in August 2018, I’d intended to take him through the MCU. To get to share that whole epic with him. He’d have watched them if I pushed–he’d have wanted to make me happy, would’ve been thankful for the time together. But knowing he wasn’t terribly engaged or “enthusiastic” about them, I had NOT pushed, and weeks turned into months turned into years. So when we got him home from the hospital–whether it was a few days or (as we feared at the time) a few weeks/months again–I was gonna talk to him about it and re-gauge his interest IN the thing. (Of course, by that point, 2 1/2 years POST-Endgame).

I remember thinking about some conversations we’d had; stuff he’d shared with me. Snippets from HIS past, from before he’d even met Mom. I needed to talk to him and get more stories like that. (and remembering the look on his face and seeing HIM remember as he told me about stuff).

I remember thinking back to 2011 and being with Katie and Tim, talking to Katie’s grandfather, them recording some of his stories and such to share later.

And that I oughtta do that with Dad. Talk to him ABOUT recording some of the stuff. Get him to re-tell that story from college about putting a sign up cancelling class, and waiting around to talk to the professor. Some of thosse stories from his time on the ship. Him and Eric…him and Bruce. Him and Chuck. Compare notes on stuff from the Sandbagger Golf League days–stuff I’d picked up on as a kid, but maybe was either oblivious to or only had one side of things.

But I never got that chance, after the realization and intent. So many stories about his life, and his experiences. Stuff I never knew…and now, never will. Stories that I vaguely recall in the loosest sense that I won’t get to “firm up” or clarify details on.

I remember some years back when Eric came out to visit…and we were all out at some restaurant…I think it was that Mexican place over on 306 with the buffet, back in 2015 or 2016. Watching them talk and catch up and reminisce…and something that came up that had them both laughing, and Dad had tears in his eyes from laughing so hard and long at whatever that memory was that didn’t stand out to ME at the time.

I had my “breakdown” in the kitchen. Terrified of what could come; worried almost sick. Despite stuff we’d faced before, and however it now SOUNDS…I remembered that moment in an old Superman comic when Jonathan Kent was hospitalized after a heart attack…and Martha confiding in Lois (I believe) that she’d never been so scared she was gonna lose him (Jonathan).

My breakdown was as it hit me that we could actually lose him. That this was somehow different from the other times since 2017. Different from 2017. Partly hitting me because of Mom having her own bad feeling about things.

I tried to tell myself I was freaking out needlessly. That confiding in friends about my worries was gonna seem so foolish in retrospect. (Not the confiding but the worries; that I was totally overreacting).

So I got back to Falcon & Winter Soldier. Forced myself “through the motions.”

I texted Dad at 8:56pm Wednesday, December 29th. “Keep feeling better. Praying for you, thinking of you. Love you.” And sent two photos of Daisey, a photo of Sarah, and a photo of Chloe. Trying to keep optimistic and encouraging and photos to cheer him/brighten stuff. I’m not sure if I’d realized he hadn’t seen the text/photo from the night before. I was going to at LEAST text and share photos every day until I could get in to see him (the hospital’s one-visitor-once-per-day crap meant only Mom was able to see him that afternoon).

Less than two hours later I heard Mom hustling from the cave; my habitual question “everything ok?” getting a NON-standard answer/response. “They’re doing CPR on him,” as she hustled on by to get clothes for going out. I was moments from “crashing” for the night myself, but that changed immediately as I quickly changed into non-bedclothes and told Mom I was driving and was heading out to start the car.

That tense drive. 15 minutes? 20 minutes? Less than a half-hour. Familiar territory…I’ve driven much of that route countless times before in the previous half-decade; knew the area well from the previous three decades.

Rule or no rule, I was going in WITH Mom; NEITHER of us was being left to wait in the vehicle or a lobby or such. And, despite the rule and my readiness to FIGHT if needbe, no one stopped us.

Those final couple hours.

Those final moments.

That room. That monitor. The sudden change in tone/sound. Realizing SOMEthing was happening or had happened. Medical folks rushing in; Mom and me being pulled out of the room. Clinging to each other as medical folks crowded the space, “Code Blue” from the overhead speakers paging personnel to where they were needed. Dad’s room.

Seeing what I saw.

The pronouncement.

The realization.

And here it is, six months later. HALF A YEAR. Later.

I’ve not slept in a bed since getting up that morning of December 28th. Initially having “camped out” so I’d be handy and as aware as possible should anything “come up suddenly.” For the last six months because THE LAST TIME I was in that bed, I woke up to a world and life with Dad here in this house, with the expectation that things had to be getting better after the rough few days over Christmas and such.

I’ve managed to “force myself” to the comic shop every Wednesday. “Habit” or SOMEthing; it gets me outta the house, gives me SOMEthing “to do” each week that is not staying indoors here at the house. “Routine,” “motions” to go through, etc. For all that comics had BEEN through the years…Dad sure as heck would not have wanted to be “the cause” of me “dropping them” “cold turkey” or such; to just suddenly END something that had been a part of my life for 33 years…something that had given US something to tak about and bond over and shared experiences and interactions and such for so long.

I looked into “support groups,” but everything I found was video-only, or would require taking hours off work and driving at length just for anything “in person.” A group at a church 90 seconds’ drive away wanted people to wait til at least 3 months after their “loss.” Which for me meant at least the end of March. So I filed that all away and dropped it for the time.

Come end of March, other stuff going on. Mom in NY. I was getting ready for my first-since-2015 week-plus off work and roadtrip. Work. Day by day, getting by. Forgot about the support group stuff. A few weeks ago, it’s again bad timing. Gotta wait til August. Or do video. Or other stuff when I look that puts me off.

I’ve started “doing stuff” again, a bit.

Got a weekend with Mike and Drew in…February, I think it was.

Got to visit Zanesville with Mom in early April.

I went down to Alabama to see Sara in late April.

I got to go spend an afternoon with Katie and Tim and their boys at the one park beginning of June, and got to spend some time with Alana twice.

Couple weeks ago, got to spend an afternoon with friends playing tabletop games and just hanging out. Rather than just being at the house focusing on “Fathers’ Day.”

I’ve brought boxes and boxes of X-Men comics up to the cave. Tore apart part of the basement getting a shelving unit up here. Began re-sorting and “consolidating” X-stuff I’ve acquired over the past 2 years. And finally started “inventorying,” with an app I’ve actually PAID FOR for 2 years and now finally actively USING properly.

I’ve gotten some stuff cleaned up and dealt with that’s needed it; and some for naught as the mess has reasserted…but working with the X-stuff seems to be the most forward “progress” I’ve REALLY made in AGES in dealing with the comics, and so I chip away at THAT project while preparing to get the rest of the accumulation brought up and (eventually) sorted.

But not a day goes by that I don’t think of and miss Dad. That I don’t have that hurt and astonishment hit me that “he’s really GONE.” THat I canNOT simply walk across the house to see him. To talk to him.

I recall again the snippet of words of Sigfried Sassoon from his poem “Aftermath”:

Have you forgotten yet?…
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked a while at the crossing of city ways […]

And I have NOT forgotten. I’m still here, I’m still learning to deal with this new world…and for most everyone else, life has (rightfully for them) just gone on after that pause.

And the words of Tanis Half-Elven as written by a CT Pierson:

For though
My life moves on, my infant son lies dreaming
In his cradle, my thoughts still find you, old friend.
And though you would scowl to hear me tell of it,
And stomp and scoff, I cannot hide this plain truth:
I still need you […]

While I have no son, no progeny, MY life continues to move. But my thoughts still find Dad. He would never have wanted to be ANY cause of me feeling so much hurt and pain and such; would want me to keep on goin’ and all that…I still needed him. Need him.

And I have to live with that.

Even as those words from Castin Crowns’ song re-hits:

But I know you’re in a place
Where all your wounds have been erased
And knowing yours are healed is healing mine […]

I don’t know what sorta timeframe I’m looking at. Typing all this is the first time in weeks that I think I’ve (managed to?) shed tears. It’s not easy. It’s not over. It’s not right. It’s not what I had wanted or planned or intended or looked toward, etc.

But here I am.

Six months…26 weeks.

Somehow having “gotten through” hour by hour, day by day by week by month.

“Now” is the “another time” stated several years ago for an anecdote

I came across something I’d posted in my comics blog back in 2017:

“My earliest conscious recollection of Guy [Gardner] is one of the Eclipso Annuals back in 1992 (Adventures of Superman Annual #4, I believe–as I learned after the fact, the ‘transition’ for the character back from his prestige-format limited series where he GOT the gold ring to begin with). And his #1 issue–the first of this very series–was one of several issues I got at a Waldenbooks while out with a friend and his mom, using money my dad gave me (though I got 6 or so comics and had some change left, I recall his being a bit surprised he didn’t get MORE change…but that’s a story for another time).”

Well, over 4 ½ years later, I suppose that ‘another time” is now.

That Waldenbooks I’d referenced in talking about Guy Gardner #11 is the same one that yielded my first four comics that Mom bought me. For me, for MY comics collection…it is THE source, the starting point for my entire collection. Just a fancy spinner-rack in a bookstore in a mall.

Anyway, whenever this was—Summer 1992—I was going to the mall (and Waldenbooks) with a friend and his mom. Dad gave me $10 to have some “spending money” and I was able to get several comics that day. If I’m recalling correctly now, it was that Guy issue (#1) as well as several Superman issues—parts of “The Blaze/Satanus War.” According to my earlier-posted memory of getting 6 or so comics, that would’ve been 6 $1.25 issues…or $7.50. (a paltry sum nowadays in 2022, that would not even get you 2 issues of anything not-Spawn). Of course, as a kid, having $10 at my disposal and being able to get numerous comics…it was a Pretty Big Deal.

And the more I think on it, the more I’m pretty sure Dad would have simply told me that he “expected some change back,” which essentially (to me at the time) meant I was not allowed to spend the ENTIRE $10. As Dad did not specify an amount otherwise, if I really DID get those 6 comics, then yeah…$7.50 + tax, and Dad “got some change back.”

I’m not sure how much is actual memory now—whether jarred loose by actually thinking in-depth about this particular situation for the first time in a number of years, or my mind constructing something from semi-partial-half-remembered stuff, I can’t attest to 100%. But I think I vaguely recall “picking up on” Dad’s annoyance at the time…but other than having expressed surprise at not getting more change back, he didn’t really say/do anything on it. BUT it definitely stood as a good long-term lesson for me in communication on such things: to keep “transparent” on stuff involving his money like that, as well as general awareness of how something might be interpreted by others.

But looking back on that now, it’s also a reminder of his general generosity, and the way he was always glad to do stuff for me, even if “just” giving me a bit of cash to be able to get something while out with a friend.

The situation/”incident” also OBVIOUSLY left its mark on me in THAT I remember so much about the particular, individual purchase and that those issues stand out to me a bit to this day for a number of factors.

Just one day, his son’s going to the mall with a friend, so hey, here, let’s make sure the kid’s got a couple dollars to get something token while out. I’m pretty confident that had I brought this up to Dad 3 ½ months ago, he wouldn’t even have any recollection of it himself. (then again, maybe he would, or would remember some other time that I’m not and remember/know that this TYPE of thing had once unfolded?). Point being, I highly doubt this was anything at ALL remarkable or stand-out or singly-memorable to HIM. Yet, here I am nearly 30 years later writing a number of words about the time and feeling like I’m recalling even more detail the more I think back on it, if only in “feelings” of nostalgia and wishing he was here TO ask about his memory of this.

I think it also helped jog my memory that I’m beginning to read some Eclipso: The Darkness Within comics from 1992, and another early-for-me comic has an ad for that Blaze/Satanus War story.

Even as I write all this, though, I’m reminded yet again of how vastly DIFFERENT stuff is for me now; having lost Dad “only” almost 12 weeks ago. That even contemplating any scene with someone losing a close relative from a comic has a whole different impact on me and meaning now than it ever did as some “concept,” now that I know first-hand what it is to lose my Dad.

But because of stuff WITH him, FROM him, INVOLVING him…I do get to have all sorts of tangible objects as (in cases like this) pleasant, fond reminders of him and the impact he’s had and will continue to hold in my life…

Dad and comics

It’s amazing the little things–or seemingly-little–that stick with a person. For one thing, back in kindergarten, I was in Mrs. Greenlee’s class (how I remember that name, I don’t know). She introduced us to a secondary way of learning the alphabet: “The Letter People.” For some reason I wound up completely enamored with the “Mr. S” character. His “theme song” in particular. And I don’t know now if it’s my 41-year-old-brain with flimsy memories from being 6 or 7 years old, but I have this vague notion of Dad having borrowed that RECORD with the Letter People theme songs and being able to take it to work with him to use something there to record stuff to an audio cassette. Whether that’s what REALLY happened or not, in my memories it makes sense; and I “remember” this sense of picturing some mythical huge MACHINE that would have a record put in and transfer a copy to a cassette. Of course, as an adult, I realize it had to have simply been some stereo system that had both record player and cassette deck that allowed one to record to the cassette while a record was playing. And while I loved having all those Letter People songs, it was absolutely the Mr. S one that most held me.

Flash forward a year or two or few (surely what seemed like a REALLY LONG time to a kid could’ve been just a few months) and we’d moved to Eastlake. It was Fall, October, and the elementary school was doing some sort of wear-your-costume-to-school day thing. Well…7-year-old me had to be Mr. S for Halloween. Of course…a mostly blue costume, a cape (albeit yellow), a BIG RED “S” on the front…people kept thinking I was “Superman,” whoever the heck THAT was.

As I remember it, that afternoon after school, back at home, I flat-out asked Mom: “WHO is ‘Superman’?” She’d tried to describe him, I’m sure, but I didn’t really “get” it. (LATER I’d eventually remember that my friend Jason in the Base Housing had had the original Superman movie on, and had told me some guy “turns INTO” Superman, but it was boring to me…all he did was catch some lady and a helicopter!). From that question/etc, Mom had talked to Grandpa and when he and Grandma next visited, he brought with him a stack of comic books. While there may have been others, I definitely remember the (I know now they were ‘Silver Age’) DCs, particularly Superman stuff; though also Batman (and Robin) in the mix.

Further, it was Mom who–the next spring/summer–bought me my first four comics at a Waldenbooks. (Superman #31/Adventures of Superman #453/Batman #439/Detective Comics #604).

But while she STARTED me on the path into comics…

It was Dad who kept me going.

Whether it was getting that Superman issue with the split cover and skier on the cover; that issue with the brick statue of Jimmy Olsen; the issue with the “ex pal” stuff; I associate Dad with a lot of those early issues. (Mom for my first issue of Action Comics–#653–though). It was also Dad who bought me that issue of Secret Origins (#46?) with the blue cover, the Justice League story, and I believe it even turned out it was one of Grant Morrison’s earliest DC stories.

There was also that issue of TMNT Adventures–#25–that he got me (I remember he had us kids at the mall for something, along with our friends that he was watching at the time). I remember him buying me the thick (turns out it was 3 issues in 1!) Mighty Mutanimals issue that was published as a TMNT Special.

And then he became my primary driver for going to get comics. Whether it was Capp’s Comics or Comics and Collectibles.

It was at Comics & Collectibles that he pre-paid $25 or so for 100 25-cent comics, figuring that’d last me quite awhile on that “credit.” I remember him being rather surprised when I blew through all 100 in a very short time!

I also remember one day before school, he and Mom called me out to see something on a news segment on tv…where I found out about the then-upcoming “Death of Superman” that was going to happen.

On one of our visits to Capp’s, we found out that for The Death of Superman, you could order a copy of the story IN ADVANCE to know you’d GET it. Apparently buying into some of the speculation stuff of the time…Dad ordered 3 copies. And since we had the choice to get the issues as they came out, or wait til the end, we (Dad?) elected to wait for the whole story.

WHILE that story was coming out, I’d separately gotten a copy of Justice League America (no “of”) #69 that also had the character Superman was going to be fighting. Whether I read that issue at the time or “saved” it, I don’t recall…but that comes into play in a moment.

The day Capp’s was to have Superman #75–the final issue of The Death of Superman–I got sick at school. I don’t remember being overly bothered by THAT so much as I was upset and worried that I couldn’t get the comics that day because of being sent home from school. Dad went WITHOUT me, and picked them up, though! And so that evening, I got to read The Death of Superman story. And what has ALSO stuck with me big-time through the 29+ years since…DAD READ THEM, TOO! He let me read “first,” so after I read Man of Steel #18, I gave it to him to read, while I went and dug out that Justice League issue. And so we went–I finished an issue, then handed it to him. While he read that, I was on to the next chapter. Until we’d both read the story.

And then, for the next 8 weeks…he took me to the comic shop every week for each new chapter of Funeral for a Friend as it came out. Not long after that, he even let me get the collected volume of the story, even though we already had the individual issues. But regarding the single issues…I remember that he read those, too. I don’t think he ever read any of my comics AFTER Doomsday! (The Death of Superman) and Funeral for a Friend. But those 15 issues across 9 or so weeks…I got to “do comics” with my Dad. And I’ve never forgotten that.

Even though he didn’t continue READING comics with me…he was still my go-to for getting new comics. Being driven to the comic shops. I was far more likely to get him to take me than Mom…and thinking back, he probably let me go beyond my “allowance” a number of times. I also remember him picking up/buying an issue of Kid Eternity and being warned that it was an “adult” comic. And Dad was the one who discovered X-O Manowar #0 for me. I think I remember that HE was taken in by its shiny cover, so chances are, he probably got that FOR me because of his own curiosity. He was also the one to notice the shiny foil cover of a catalogue–the July 1993 edition of Advance Comics. (Yeah, back in the ’90s, cover gimmicks were such that even a freaking catalogue did it!).

While I have no actual/conscious memory of it myself, he long swore that he had seen the ad for Magic: The Gathering in one of those and that I wasn’t interested, so he didn’t pursue it. So there’s the possibility that–had I shown interest–he might’ve gotten me into MTG in its infancy, at least with “Unlimited” if not “Alpha” or “Beta.” (I would eventually get into the game in 1995 a year and a half or so later, at the end of Revised Edition and Fallen Empires). And there again, Dad was often the one that would get me Magic cards.

There was also that August we were delivering phone books and happened across some random-seeming comic shop, and he got me that week’s Superman issue (Action Comics #692, I think?).

And so it went.

I also remember that it was Dad who picked up Marvels #1 (for me). I would not have gotten the issue/series otherwise.

Dad was the one that took me to Capp’s I think the actual day he and Mom also took me off to college. Or the night before.

And then throughout college, it was primarily Dad who would go to Capp’s for me (though Mom was the one who went and got Wolverine #145 for me). He’d occasionally flat-out CLEAR my pull-box for me, and I was always astounded when he had.

When I got interested in The Sandman, it was Dad (with Mom) who got me the entire 10-volume series for Christmas 2001. One of the very few times they ever got me actual comics for Christmas or such.

AFTER college, he wasn’t nearly as “involved” in comics with or for me; cuz I was able to drive myself, I was working and so had my own money to buy comics myself.

But he was always amazed at how I kept on with comics. He’d often ask me about them; listen when I’d ramble about them; etc. The comics, the toys, etc.

As I mentioned in a previous post, he was just tickled at how he had HIS Man-Cave; and my once referring to the basement as my “Comic Cave.” That stuck with him more than me; but the way he was, I know that had to mean a lot to him. And he was always wanting pictures of “the comic cave,” since he physically couldn’t come down here himself.

And I’d intended to do some re-arranging and organizing and neatening up, that week between Christmas and New Year 2021. I was gonna get everything properly situated, and do a nice VIDEO walk-through for him, to show him all my then-latest changes to the space, some shelves I’d added, etc.

Obviously never got to do THAT for him.

Throughout last year, he even offered a number of extra times to make a point of having Mom swing by Comic Heaven for me if I wanted, since they’d be out shopping or going to appointments or such. Toward Fall I kinda shifted to taking him up on that when they’d be over there anyway for his blood tests ahead of Chemo every 3 weeks. And several times he insisted Mom use his card to buy them rather than mine.

I lost him just before 2am that Thursday morning…but never having made it to bed or such, it was really Wednesday night. Just hours earlier I’d been to Comic Heaven, gotten my usual stuff for the week; and because he would only be allowed ONE visitor ONE time per day…because it was supposed to be like any of the too-many-other-times he’s been in the hospital the last few years, etc…we’d decided that Mom would be his visitor, at least that first day. Wednesday.

But I was RIGHT THERE; drove past the hospital each way. And far more important than “that week’s new comics,” I would’ve been there visiting him. But if I went in, Mom wouldn’t be able to. And it was supposed to be “normal.” Just another hospitalization. But I didn’t get to visit him there.

So New Comic Day…Wednesdays…now have this other “feel” to them. Guilt? Hurt, for sure. A “shadow” over them?

Dad was there and part of my beginning with comics. With the catalyst of the Letter People to my earliest days getting my own comics in 1989…through all the years to and including December 2021. He’s been there, been part of it all. Except for these last six weeks.

One Month

While someone is here, it’s easy to take them for granted. We may put special notice on a handful of days toward that person–their birthday, for sure; and then “shared” days like particular holidays and observances. And as I’m told/as I’ve “read,” etc, and as I’ve already experienced numerous times…”everything” is a “first.” The “first SINCE…”

And it’s almost astonishing to see all the “lasts.” The “lasts” none of us KNEW were “lasts.” Last time I’d buy those olives. The last time I’d buy his lemonade. The last time I’d buy iced coffee for him. That last bunch of bananas I got. The last jello cups. The last thing of Flan. The last time buying straws for his drinks. That last peanutbutter jar. That last thing of dog treats he requested for Daisey. Etc. and so on and so forth.

Every “holiday” is a “first without him.” Every special occasion is less special, because it’s without him. Everything that would have been “just another” simple/joyful or whatever event/timepoint/etc is tempered by that “but…” and fact that it’s another experience without him here to share it with, to appreciate it, to tell about it, etc.

Last Tuesday night for “something to do” cuz I couldn’t sit still, I got rid of some stuff that had piled up on a shelf. And before I knew it, I’d tackled cleaning up that whole pile. Sure enough, as Dad often intimated, if I’d have just put in a half-hour here, or an hour there, focus on the little things, then stuff would get done. A little at a time. Of course, I put stuff off cuz it always seemed there’d be a “later,” and other stuff had my attention (even if it was just to “veg out” after work and not “have to” DO anything) and priority.

Layers of memories in that pile. Mostly comics stuff that got stacked and added to and stacked some more. Seeing certain covers, I couldn’t help but think “Great. Yeah. Back when I CARED.” or “Back when that MATTERED.” One issue being the Walking Dead issue where a certain character dies near the end of the series, and seeing their kid dealing with it. The kid’s less than half my age, and had to go through losing their Dad. And then I think of other such character situations. Bruce Wayne lost his parents when he was ~8ish? Hal Jordan lost his Dad young. Peter Parker lost Uncle Ben in high school. Depending on which version, Superman (Superboy) lost his parents both when he was a teenager or (Byrne through 2008ish) lost his Dad early-30s. Surely plenty of other examples but few come to mind of significance off the top of my head.

But getting back toward my (maybe?) point…comics have been a part of my life in some form for 34-some years. And especially going through the ’90s, “stuff” with them largely inform(ed) a lot of my habits. Going to the comic shop weekly, for one. Despite significant “gaps” in that routine in college, it’s mostly been a “constant” for me from late 1992 to present.

Leaving aside more in-depth discussion and feelings about constant reboots/renumbering and “first issues” and such…there’s the simple fact that comics–by their very nature as numbered periodicals–mark the passage of time. The very number on the cover tells you how many issues have been published since the current series didn’t exist. Issue 4? 4 issues now since this didn’t even exist. 135? 135 issues. And with MOST comics TYPICALLY being “monthly,” that translates to MONTHS. 120 issues? 120 months. Ten years. And despite some notorious titles’ lateness and delays in the ’90s, for the most part–especially the Superman books–were like clockwork. X number of issues, X number of months. Even if you don’t translate it to months, they’re at least weeks; and regardless of specific time between, you can “do the math” for the number of issues between one issue(‘s event) and another.

Especially through the ’90s, there seemed a lot of emphasis on “anniversaries” and the passage of time–of a year. A 12th issue was a milestone. A 13th issue was an anniversary. Round numbers divisible by 5–25, 50, 75, 100, etc–were “special occasions” worthy of fancy covers and other gimmickry. By long exposure to such things, and acceptance and perhaps even embracing the reasoning, that’s kinda been imprinted on me and how I think about time in some ways.

Because of, in spite of, or perhaps along with such things, I’ve LONG “marked time” by comics.

My first issue of Action Comics was #651. If you go into a comic shop today, you should find #1039. 388 issues, going back 30+ years. My first issue of Detective Comics was #604. Today you can get #1050. 446 issues! (Meanwhile, my very first issue of Batman was #439, so there have been more issues of Detective Comics published SINCE Mom bought me those first comics than issues of Batman to that point!)

But as mentioned above, my college years were a bit of a disruption on the sheer regularity of my getting comics; and over the years I’ve stopped following certain titles entirely, or for a time; I’ve had gaps of time where for a few weeks or months I may not have bought ANY comics, period.

Presently significant for quantity of issues are the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series from IDW, and Spawn from Image. I’ve bought every single issue of TMNT as it has been published, from #1 in 2011 to #125 a couple weeks ago (thus far). 125 months–just over an entire, solid decade. Month in, month out. Spawn, I started buying monthly with #257 back in 2015. Spawn #326 will be out this week–just about 70 issues! Or “at least” 70 months.

I can mark events in time by particular comics that came out…or recall certain comics came out by real world events. One such thing that’s “always” stuck with me even before the past few eeks is that I can remember that Dad and I were delivering phone books in August 1993, because while we were out, we happened across a comic shop and he bought me that issue of Action Comics that I remember came out IN AUGUST 1993.

When I lost Ziggy in 2017, I marked each week’s passing after with the observation of it having been a week, and sharing some photos of him. Then two weeks…three…four…and so on…for a year. Then “only” monthly. Then eventually “quarterly.” I knew then and know now that for me, it was a coping mechanism. Marking the time, acknowledging that time was passing. That I’d continued that long. That I’d managed to make it another week, another month, another quarter, another YEAR since such a devastating loss.

And now…well, now I’m there with Dad. Each week is a milestone. For me, it’s by NO MEANS a “celebration” of the loss…I wouldn’t even want the word “celebration” associated with my observing the time. But it’s an acknowledgement that another week has gone by, and somehow I’m still here. Somehow I’ve made it another week since losing one of the absolute most important people ever in my life; who until a month ago, was an absolute CONSTANT within my life. No matter what I experienced, no matter what I went through…good OR bad, shared or unshared, etc…He was always there. “At least I have him.” “At least I have both my parents.”

To borrow phrasing from an old song…I breathe in. Breathe out. Put one foot in front of the other. Take one day at a time.

Each moment is a milestone. Every breath, every blink, every second, every minute, hour, day, week, month…is a new milestone of the longest I’ve gone not seeing Dad or talking to Dad or being with Dad. December 30, 2021 is forever burned into me, and the 31 days it has been since that day have been a whole different thing. My life is forever fractured, between the “now,” and “Before.”

And so it goes. One more moment. One more word typed. One more tear. One more step. One more breath. One more hour. One more show. One more comic. One more book. One more task. One more meal. One more day. One more week. One more month.

And someday?

Well…we’ll see.