Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rain and Rachel

It’s rained for three days. We’ve gotten over four inches on the Mendocino Coast (I capitalize “Coast” because we really do live in another country). The land was thirsty.

After mass at St. Anthony’s, where a special anointing for healing was performed today—nearly all parishioners were anointed, including me—I stopped by Gordon’s house and we sat on his porch and told each other the usual lies, afterwards inspecting his fine garden. He has a lovely house.

Coming home to my garden, I first admired the sculpture I bought yesterday, “Propeller Bird”—a steel composition with a pterodactyl-like head, small, shovel-shaped wings, long thin body, and a brass propeller for a tail that really spins—about four feet high. You see, while I went outside for a smoke yesterday at the Buddhist “Sit” (a free morning program aimed at letting others experience the practice of Buddhism) I saw garden sculptures at the Mendocino Arts center and fell in love with this one but thought it would prove  beyond my means, only to discover that it could be mine for just $110! Imagine my joy!

The sculpture has transformed my garden, given it distinction. All my statuary, the troll, the Santa-turtle, the pumpkin people, the four angels, the six frogs and two toads, make for a happy little kingdom—but now everything is put in a lower place next to this proportionately towering structure that differs in kind, not only degree.  And man, it’s heavy. The main body is done in a bar of 1” steel, which is wound in a circle three times halfway up to give the suggestion of a body. I wish I had a camera so I could save on this necessary descriptive logorrhea.

So after rejoicing in my sculpture (I named him "Jerry the Propeller Bird" and  he's right next to the ceramic angel, Gabriela, and not far from George the Gay Frog) and doing a little weeding, and making sure Scout went out to piss (he don’t like de rain), I came in and put Mozart on and began calling friends, but no one wanted to come over to play board games with me, so I had a good cry over my late daughter, Rachel, which the rain no doubt provoked; Rachel Elizabeth, the sacrificial lamb, mother of my only grandchild, taken from us too soon. 

She died on July 29, 2007, at the age of 29, from an accidental overdose, over three years ago.  God, it's hard to believe.  You think your children are going to live forever, or at least outlive you.  Not in this case. 

Rachel was my most gifted, most athletic, most beautiful, most intelligent daughter, and though my baby, Sarah, is an excellent singer and certainly a more polished performer than Rachel would ever be, I still think Rachel’s natural pipes were superior to Sarah’s, and that's saying a lot, because, believe me, Sarah can really sing--and even if she couldn't she has so much charisma no one would notice if she couldn't. 

Rachel never had what Sarah has so much, or is at least able to project: confidence. Somehow she couldn’t harden herself into an adult. She ran from feelings she didn’t understand, and the cruelty of this world puzzled her to no end, though she herself could be cruel, as she was to Sarah before she died. She put Sarah in one almighty bind and left her with a big bag of guilt, but I won’t go into the details—all of us have suffered because of Rachel, and later, because of Jacob and the evil machinations of his sick father, Vincent Wall, who deserves to be a lawyer (he has taken Jacob away to Delaware now, where he attends law school). This is a man who has done everything he can to permanently separate our side of the family from any contact with Jacob whatsoever, though he cares little for Jacob, as is obvious from how perfunctorily he greets him when I drop Jacob off after one of our monthly visits (last was in July). It must gall Mr. Wall that Jacob is the spitting image of his mother and will also likely attain to the size of his grandfather (6’6” and currently 230 lbs).

I wept for Rachel, for her inability to confront evil, for her wish that we lived in Oz, a place where even if you get axe-hacked into little teeny-weeny pieces, the pieces will grow back together and go on living.   I often called Rachel "Scraps," after "Scraps, the Patchwork Girl," from one of our favorite Oz books.  Scraps, like Rachel, was extremely intelligent with her cotton stuffing for brains, but she was also flighty and mercurial (like Rachel, Scraps sufferred from ADD--even in Oz).  Rachel was also a "Borderline Personality Disorder," a syndrome whose hallmark is lack of a solid sense of identity, something Rachel never quite achieved.  Yes, Oz is where that poor girl belongs, and she knew it, and she’s there now in the bosom of God the Father.

I shall not see Rachel until the resurrection, but the Day of the Dead, also All Souls Day, approaches, the most important holiday of the year in Mexico and also in our family as Halloween.   Even at 18 and 16, Rachel and Keturah liked to get gussied up in elaborate costumes and go trick-or-treating. Keturah has been particularly outstanding in this department. When it comes to projects, the Turtle rules!

Anyway, some say the veil is thin at this time of the year.  In the Mexican tradition, to attract her spirit, I will erect an altar to Rachel  with her favorite stuff on it--like Marlboro Lights and Oz trinkets and a couple of Twix bars.  Now what was her favorite drink?  Of course, Bob Marley will have to make a contribution.

All for today.  Let it rain, let it rain.




  1. For Rachel and Tay...and you:

    November Second

    Needles so deep,
    I can’t hear my own steps,
    only rain that filters through cypress,
    the morning sounds of sea-bound birds.
    Even the dog is oddly quiet, sensitive
    to the change in me and our daily routine.

    At the turning, I am at ease in this place
    where there’s no need for glove and rake—
    no frantic effort to remove the silence
    that soothes the ache of a solo journey,
    another season’s passing.


  2. You'll love word indentification letters were DEMENTA in my last post...only one letter shy of DEMENTIA...yikes!


  3. I'm sending a few cellphone pics of the garden. Can't really do it justice but it's heavenly in person.

    Yeah ... I guess I'll be talking with Daddy in a few days.

  4. Lovely poem, Pat, thanks for this--an unattended moment where grief becomes palpable.

    Dementa! Close enough for a demented spelling.

    Look forward to the pics, Kelton.

    Funny that no one from Rachel's extended family has yet commented here. Usually when I post about her, they do.


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