At this moment, Hurricane Sandy is pummeling the East Coast. I can't stand watching the bad news pour in on my Facebook feed anymore. So I'm back here for a long overdue post. It's already been almost 3 weeks since Geoff died. It seems like yesterday and at the same time, it feels like it never happened.
I still diligently turn on his music when Shnook and Fuzz ask for it (uh...every time we get in the car). I still sing his songs, and hear his voice clearly in my head:
"Big or little, short or shaggy, all dogs suffer with fleas."
"Quarter to 7. Breakfast will be served in the Marvel Arts Room." (said in his warped version of an English accent)
If I think too hard, I start to sob while I'm belting out The Ruler of the Queen's Navee.
I never did get around to posting about his death, that occurred only an hour or so after my last post. There was much about it that was surreal, and yet so real.
My mom and I were sitting at the kitchen table. She was listening to some of her old favorites on her iTunes. We rocked out to the Time Warp a little, then she played some Jacques Brel, and then some Elvis, which was when I noticed that Uncle G was moaning slightly.
"He doesn't like that music, mom. Change it."
She immediately switched it to the tunes from his first CD.
Geoff instantly calmed down.
He seemed peaceful, but for the apnea breathing.
A close friend came back after hearing that perhaps the end was near. It was getting on 7pm and I felt like I should probably make the drive back up to L.A. I could still kiss the boys goodnight. I collected my things, but for some reason...I lingered.
I lingered while carrying my bags and my ukelele on my shoulder. I followed my mom into the bedroom, which was now the banjo room. To be fair, banjos are really only about one one-hundredth of all the crap antiques in that room, but since they're pretty big, they get top billing.
My mom and Geoff's friend Kathleen talked a little about the memorial, which would be planned for a few months from now when everyone could collect their thoughts. While we were in there, the Hospice nurse called out to us.
"Uh, you better come in here now. It's happening."
I dropped my stuff and we all rushed to Geoff's side. We held on to him while he took his last breaths. We told him we loved him. His music was still playing in the background.
And then he was gone.
It was peaceful and not as scary as I might imagine to watch someone die, but yet it was so remarkably profound and sad that I'm still stunned when I replay it in my head.
After he was pronounced dead at 7:35pm, the nurse put his body in that standard dead-person pose with his hands folded and his eyes gently closed. I'll admit that it was a better look than 10 minutes prior, (or 10 hours prior), but it made him look like a stranger to me.
My mom took some pictures of his beautiful hands that had picked banjos for more than 40 years, which were momentarily looking soft and gentle in their folded and still warm state, and not nearly as calloused as they were upon closer inspection.
We buried him this past Wednesday. At the cemetery, his incredible friend and colleague handed me the completely renovated banjo uke Geoff had given me a month ago.
"It was his last request to me, that I fix this for you."
I've been playing it daily since. I'm so thankful to have a piece of Geoff...okay several pieces...I also took a squeezebox and the banjo featured here, one of his well-played favorites. I'm also thankful that while the last several weeks have been difficult, at least I've been able to fill them with music.
Thank you, Geoff. I miss you so much.