While on a death path in 2004, I couldn’t have guessed how much more was yet to come. At the time, I would have said I’ll miss Momma X, my friends, my business, music, my interests--sex--all the obvious stuff, but no telling what the future had in store. That’s what’s so intriguing about this topic when it comes to my world and what has happened since. These ensuing years have been a gift that came with my new liver. Seems I burned the first one out badly.
When first diagnosed with cancer, I shut down my antiques gallery and had a big sale, discounted all prices (it IS all about money) and nearly sold out my entire stock. Up for grabs were classical and tribal art objects from all over the world. These were the real McGillas, not reproductions, but genuine artifacts from prehistoric times through Egyptian, Greek and Roman and pre-Columbian. The African, Oceanic and Asian pieces I carried often hailed from later periods, but were just as compelling, just as artistically relevant.
After some months of increasing physical complications, the phone call came while having dinner one Sunday night. Pasta with parsley, butter, olive oil and garlic. There was a liver available. It came as quite a shock. It wasn’t supposed to happen so soon. Confused, I asked if I could finish my linguine. After all, even though I was deteriorating, I was still fourth on the list in my blood type. It was a fortunate turn for me, however unfortunate for the three patients listed above me, those who weren’t healthy enough to endure the operation at the time.
If I had died, I would have missed the year of Interferon/Ribavirin chemotherapy for one thing. That was one of my more physically and emotionally draining times. When I took that shot of Interferon on Friday, I could figure on being in the fetal position the next three days, wracked with pain. I’d come back to the real world for a few days, only to do it all over again the following Friday. It’s like getting into a knockdown, drag-out fight every week--winning the fight, but then having to fight again next week, and the week after, and then the week after that. I developed a hernia during that year, but they couldn’t operate while I was on treatment. For six months, my guts would pop out, and I’d push ‘em back. Trusses. … Ghaaaad. … Grinds on a guy.
That year, my mind became too addled to create, but my appreciation (and collection of) jazz took a giant leap, and I got a prescription for a certain medicinal herb. Wheee! Started growing my own. Started supplying the first LEGAL dispensary in California. Became the local go-to guy for the lowdown on outdoor cultivation.
Momma X had endured, nursed me, and brought me back to health. I didn’t want her to have to deal with our personal art collection if I were to croak. So we decided to sell the artifacts I had appropriated over the years. Pieces that spoke to us. While in business, I had three criteria for keeping a piece of art:
1 1- Must be compelling to us, outstanding in a collection of similar objects.
2 2- Must be small. We live in a house with under 1000 sq. ft. floor space.
3 3- It had to cost nothing, or next to nothing.
Our financial situation never allowed us to buy as collectors. I could sometimes keep an item from a group purchase if we liked it, making up the difference with sales of the other piece. Sometimes I’d find something at a flea market or antique shop at a great price. That’s one reason I went into business in the first place; I like turning my hobbies into businesses.
The personal collection sale enabled Momma to retire a year early.
If I had died:
I wouldn’t have built my inventory again. I wouldn't have rented a space in an antique mall, wouldn’t have done a few more big shows (enough to let me know I wasn’t getting any younger) or that one last exhibit at the internationally recognized Santa Fe Ethnographic Show (a ‘comeback’ show after seven years absence).
I wouldn’t have had open heart surgery for a triple bypass two weeks later.
I wouldn’t have started writing erotica in 2009.
I wouldn’t have taken a trip to Paris.
I wouldn’t have stayed at my friend’s new B&B in the far north of Thailand. Twice! I went there when he first opened, then again with Momma X two years later. I wouldn’t have known the Thai people, how accommodating they are. It’s really nice to be in a place where people are nice. The Thais are tolerant to the point of putting up with silly old men who search for lost youth, then find it again in that wondrous land.
I wouldn’t have had to endure the grief of a brother’s suicide.
I wouldn’t have attended my 50th high school reunion.
I wouldn’t be nursing Momma back to health after her recent operation. The incision didn’t heal right and we’ve been repacking it every day for over a month now.
I wouldn’t have had my first submission anywhere, anytime, anyplace, accepted for an erotic anthology. (Not that I’ve had anything accepted since). I wouldn’t have had something chosen for the ERWA gallery every month now for seventeen months in a row. I wouldn’t have eleven pieces featured in the ERWA Treasure Chest, best of 2012, ranging from poetry to flashers to quickies and short stories.
I wouldn’t be ERWA’s Flasher editor six months a year. (Back in the driver’s seat again this July)
And I wouldn’t have been invited to this prestigious OGG blogspot.
The richness of life comes at us in all forms; may we recognize what we have while we have it. One measure of our quality of life is in how we handle what comes.