Wanted: Outback Steakhouse in the Afterlife
Posted on March 25, 2013
I’m not a good patient. Never have been and never will be. I used to find more reasons to get out of bed while sick when I was growing up than my mother did for reasons why I should stay in it. Ironically, when I wanted to stay in bed is exactly the time she thought of reasons why I should be up and about doing chores. We never did find a balance. This last week has been a bit of a beyotch. I managed to go to the hospital up until Sunday (the 17th), then had to separate myself from everybody since I didn’t want anyone else coming down with what I felt was coming on. It wasn’t the best time for that to happen, especially since I wasn’t able to be at the hospital with my husband and brother-in-law when their father passed away.
I felt guilty about that. I should have been there. Everything had been leading up to that point and being there at my hubby’s side is where I belonged. He’s far more understanding than I give him credit for, though. He told me in no uncertain terms that I’d been there with his father when he couldn’t and that’s what counted most. I’d also been there at the hospital up until then. His brother and his brother’s girlfriend were there with him the night he passed, so nobody was alone. If I was going to come down with the flu, he’d rather it have been now and not weeks ago when I was needed. See? He says things like that and I realize I don’t give him nearly enough credit.
It’s probably a saving grace that this past week was a whirlwind for the hubby and my brother-in-law. They’ve had so much to do and so much to get settled that it’s given me the time I needed to sit on my ass with a laptop, drink liquids, take medication and make myself as useless as possible all so I’m in better shape for the memorial this week. It’s not easy for me to be useless. There’s always something evil to plot, an assassin from the Hong Kong grandmother to dodge or something to get caught up on. Really, when I think about it, I shouldn’t have a gut since I’m typically on the move and I rarely if ever drink beer.
But here’s the thing. The staff felt because I was slightly unconscious last night that they could skip out early because I wouldn’t notice. I did. They’re getting docked for it. But in my attempts to find one of them to make me a cup of tea, I stumbled into the second bedroom and got on the computer there for a couple of minutes. I soon needed a tissue, so I reached over to the box and that’s when I saw a picture Ralph had on the stand of him and his dad. I started to tear up and realized that none of us have really had a chance to process this yet.
Yes, we’ve contacted family and friends, he and his brother have been busy looking up paperwork, meeting with the lawyer, talking to the banks and the funeral home, and doing a ton of work that has to be addressed. It hasn’t allowed them much time to just sit and realize the situation such as it is. It’s not real yet, not entirely. Even me. I’ve been sick, medicated and helping out as much as I can via the computer.
It started to dawn on me that I’m never going to walk into his house, hospital room or room at the rehabilitation center and greet him again. We’re never going to watch another Sci-Fi show or movie together. We’re never all going to Outback Steakhouse and watch him charm the waitress for an extra loaf of bread or butter. He’s never again going to utter “What we have here is a failure to communicate” or “Son, what are you doing?” We won’t be watching Red 2 together after it comes out. He’s never going to enjoy another cannoli or breakfast BLT bagel that we’d pick up. He’ll never open the John Wayne Christmas ornament I bought him for his tree from Hallmark. I’ll never again by buying him the small John Wayne calendar for his refrigerator so that he can keep track of his appointments.
We become comfortable in the little details that make up our relationships. My father-in-law was very comfortable in all of his and didn’t like change much. I grew comfortable knowing he would remain consistent. His kids were comfortable knowing that, too. That’s all ended and it’s about to sink in this week.
And yet…we know he’s somewhere else now, exploring it, surrounded by loved ones he hasn’t seen in a very, very long time or ever even met, and being welcomed by all those who came before him. I can’t help but wonder if he’ll at some point tell them about Pawn Stars or ask if anybody’s seen the latest episode of CSI. I wouldn’t be surprised if he looked for an Outback Steakhouse up there, too.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
17 Responses to “Wanted: Outback Steakhouse in the Afterlife”
March 25, 2013 at 12:05 pm
you made me cry a little bit.
March 25, 2013 at 4:27 pm
I make myself cry a little bit when I reread these. =)
Julie L Hayes says:
March 25, 2013 at 12:07 pm
My condolences to you and Ralph and his family on your loss. Take care of each other, sending warm thoughts your way and many hugs.
March 25, 2013 at 4:28 pm
Thank you, Julie. The one outlet I have right now is to write about it all. It actually helps.
Patricia Logan says:
March 25, 2013 at 12:27 pm
Well, you made me bawl this Monday morning. It’s so true. The little things are the most important and we seem to gloss over them at the time. Take care my dear and get better and then give Ralph a huge hug from granny
March 25, 2013 at 4:29 pm
Doing my best to give Ralph little hugs so that I don’t cough. Am also trying to get my health back to normal since I’ll need it. My little surprise fo you for OutlantaCon arrived today and I’m going to have to be extra nimble and quick in a little over a month.
March 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm
To realize that every one of us has to go through this exact same thing should be some sort of comfort, but it is not. You’ve crossed the threshold that divides those who have experienced the death of a loved one and those for whom that time will come.
Good thoughts to you and Ralph.
March 25, 2013 at 4:30 pm
It’s a very morbid little club to join, Dorien. The surprise is that this is the tip of the iceberg in that there are more to come. I think I was happier on the other side.
Vastine Bondurant says:
March 25, 2013 at 12:37 pm
***HUGS*** to you and Ralph.
And Ralph is right. You WERE there when he couldn’t be and you were…there. Your heart was.
And you won’t be able to do those things again. But just think. Even I was there mentally with you and him when you shared those small things. And you will always have those personal, sweet things to remember.
March 25, 2013 at 4:32 pm
I’m hoping that the hubs and his brother will share more memories at the memorial. I’d really like to hear them open up a bit. The more good memories that are out there, the easier time I think many of us will have.
Martha Swartz says:
March 25, 2013 at 1:57 pm
My condolences to all of you!
You know I think of you as family!
You are an Amazing person & I am
Honored to know you! You can bring
me to laughter then tears.
I love you & Ralph dearly!!
March 25, 2013 at 4:33 pm
You and James help keep me grounded and sane, Martha. I’m very fortunate and blessed to know you both. =)
Tom Webb says:
March 25, 2013 at 3:22 pm
What Dorien said…
When I lost my mom, it was like everything froze for a while. I was handling the insurance, the headstone, all the “doing” stuff. It was December 4th, the day after my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary.
It hit home for the first time Christmas Day. She loved having the family together and cooking and watching all the great-grandchildren (by then) have fun. That’s when the hole in your heart throbs the first time. The first Christmas, birthday, anniversary and they aren’t there.
My love and thoughts to you and Ralph. You are loved.
March 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm
His birthday is coming up in June. Ironically, the family rarely ever did anything to celebrate birthdays. They were never big on that. My family is and I typically insisted we did something for their’s too. It’ll still hit, especially around the holidays. His dad joined us here the last several years, which was always nice. I liked knowing my folks and his didn’t have to do anything but come and enjoy the cooking. They didn’t need to bring much and they didn’t have to clean anything up. That’s the way we liked it.
Katherine T. says:
March 25, 2013 at 8:48 pm
It is the little things in life that really count. You have many memories of ordinary experiences with him that, in retrospect, are really extra ordinary. Keep sharing those memories with Ralph. He will appreciate that more than you know.
I hope you are feeling better after a few days rest. My thoughts are with both you and Ralph. Hugs, too.
March 30, 2013 at 6:57 pm
Sorry for your loss. I wasn’t sure whether you were being poetic or literal about the O.S. so I thought I might mention to you and your readers the principle of “míng bì.” Here in China, folk custom dictates that whatever you’d like your dead to have in the afterlife, can be offered in effigy…then…it becomes real in the spirit world.
I’m not being flippant. I actually practice this…so…my suggestion…is to get a photo of the steakhouse in question and burn it by his grave. Then, you guys will have a place to meet when you cross over. 🙂
April 1, 2013 at 11:56 pm
I didn’t think you were being flippant at all. =) I like the idea of it. And I figure if he can have an OS up there, then I’m getting a starship. He can bring the food, I’ll take us out on a journey. That’s the little boy who loves Sci-Fi in my talking.