Saturday, November 29, 2014

Part Two: No-Thanks-November

Wednesday morning my brother and his wife drove from Temecula to my mom’s house in Hawthorne and picked up the hubs and me.  The four of us drove out to Bakersfield to the coroner’s office, then to Lake Isabella to see “the rock” and lastly to snag dad’s truck. We essentially set out on the worst scavenger hunt on one of the worst driving days of the year: the day before Thanksgiving.

While driving we spent most of the time trying to figure out what the fuck happened?!  We were going through different possible scenarios, but nothing fit.  We just couldn't wrap our heads around (pun so-not intended) someone slipping off a goddamned rock and dying.  Who does that??  I mean, seriously….who does that?  We wrote down questions to ask when we finally arrived at the coroner's office, which finding it was a challenge in it’s own right.  I swear, this whole process has been a damn debacle…trying to do everything right and proper while dealing with these new feelings of 'what the fuck?’, anger and grief is completely...well, bizarre.

Stop #1: Kern County Sheriff’s/Coroner’s Office
This stop was first purely because of it’s location.  I was told that morning (and the night before) that dad and his belongings were at the Sheriff’s office in Lake Isabella, but after a call made while we were on the road confirmed that he and his belongings were at the office in Bakersfield, on the way to Lake Isabella.  *What an easy place to find in a lovely, clean, beautiful city! It must make grieving families feel less stressed; what a great experience! *Excuse my sarcasm, it’s way too easy for me…  

After arriving to the coroner's office, we're sitting in the waiting room and well, waiting on instructions on what to do next.  Within a few minutes an older gentleman walks in through the front door; he’s wearing a white, button down shirt and black slacks.  As soon as I see him walk in, I think ‘he looks like a mortician’ and then boom: I know what he’s there for.  He goes up to the bullet proof glass and tells the receptionist that he’s there to “pick up Glenn Davis”.  Here is this mortician to take “his” body...our dad’s body.  The same body that we've hugged and loved.  We all started crying because shit just got real.  Really real.  If this mortician guy, or we, would have arrived 15-20 minutes later or earlier, we probably wouldn't have had this encounter.  But maybe we all needed this?  To know this isn't a horribly, cruel joke, to know that this is in fact real life?  Regardless, it happened.  Regardless, it is real.

Stop #2: “The Rock” Around Mile Marker 23 off the 178 hwy
The next stop was the “spot”.  We stopped at a few places along the way and those areas just didn't make sense.  The river bed was too close, the rocks were relatively small…seeing them just made less and less sense, adding more and more to our question list.  We kept on looking close to the 23 mile marker….although it really was closer to the 24 mile, maybe mid-mile, I’m not sure, it's all still sort of a blur.  We then continued our mission and drove up on this HUGE rock ledge….HUGE.  It was a pull off and completely obvious once we saw it.  That was the spot.  That’s where “it” happened.

Arial shot - just to see how large it is.  There are two cars on the road, this can at least show some scale
This is where the majority of our questions were answered.  This wasn't just a rock...I don't even know what to compare it to other than an enormous boulder?  Probably an enormous boulder of granite that was carved out of the earth?  Some spots were smooth, most of it was shiny in the sun.  We saw why it was that our dad was beautiful.  There was a slight decline to it and I know that I was waaay nervous walking on it.  The boys (Craig & Tony) were getting damn near up to the ledge which was scaring the hell out Kathy and me.

Craig & Tony scaring the hell out of Kathy and Me (and showing the divots in the boulder

Stop #3: Towing Place 
It was a shock, to say the least, that we needed to pay to get my dad’s truck out of impound (aka: a dirt filled lot that was absolutely, completely empty) when we just learned about his passing the day prior.  His truck had been there since Thursday the 20th, we were there picking it up on Wednesday the 26th - almost a week's worth of impound fees when we had no damn clue it was even there.

Once the hubs got into the driver's seat and I hopped into the passenger seat...I sort of lost it - the whole way home - I cried off and on.  I cried so much that the next day my forehead hurt.

I don’t know what is worse.  That I called them on a hunch and physically heard them confirm that this random body was my dad?  Or the fact that they didn't call to confirm that this random body was my dad.  They had his truck, his wallet, his fucking driver’s license.  Seriously, just call us and tell us that they have his truck!  If they didn't want to mention a body - then don’t!  We’re smart people, we’d be able to say “Well, that’s strange that you have his truck, he hasn't been home in a fucking week!“  At this point it’s obvious what is worse.  It’s the latter option of  the two.  I need someone to blame…and that’s fine with me because I am sure as hell not blaming our father.

To our fam - let's get our light shining bright - he'd want that!  I love you all!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Part One: No-thanks-November

The last couple of months I haven’t really put too much time, thought or effort into writing…anything.  Because of that, a few weeks ago I was thinking about writing something in the form of things that I am thankful for since I haven’t written in a while. My family and I will NEVER forget This Thanks Giving, this month of November of this year, 2014.

I almost don’t even know how to start this, but this was one of the first things on my mind this morning.  To write.  To get things off of my chest.  I’ve written a bunch of random sentences that don’t make sense even to me…so I deleted them.  My thoughts are scrambled.  I have so many feelings coursing through my body - some that I never hoped to feel in this magnitude: LOSS.

I’ve had a few family members die in the past, but they were old (sorry grandmas & grandpa - but you were).  They lived out their life and died in bed, where you’re supposed to. We all know death is certain; we know our days are numbered.  It’s weird to feel that someone definitely had more numbered days than the ones that he was given.   I guess there are no true rules in life or death.

My dad was “missing” for a few days.  Was this uncommon?  No, not really.  He’s done this before.  He would grab his fishing stuff, grab his gold panning stuff and go up to a river and hang there for a few days without telling basically anyone where he was going or when he was coming back.  And jeez, back in the pre-cell phone days, no one could get a hold of him for anything.  See, he’s always been an ‘on the move’ type of guy.  He put a camper on his truck and he’d just drive around - sleep where and when he wanted to, eat where and when he wanted to and shit where and when he wanted to.  I wouldn’t hear from him for months.  He’d miss his weekend to come get me and I’d sit by the window and wait for hours - the whole weekend even - only to get a letter a month later saying that he’s sorry he hasn’t talked to me.  Actually, come to think of it, almost all of the childhood letters that I have saved from him start off that way.

When my mom mentioned that he hadn’t been back by Friday of last week, I didn’t think anything of it.  It wasn’t until Monday that I received a message from my aunt, my dad’s sister.  She was concerned and then of course, that made me concerned.  I tried to reassure her that nothing is wrong, he’s just up in the mountains/river/lake, wherever he felt like going to get some fresh air.  That Monday night, I would think “what if something happened?” - then I would kick it out of my mind.  He’s a strong man, he’s a smart man and he’s a tough man - he could kill a bear with his hands.  Last part is a fib, but I know he‘d say “Damn right I could!” as he’d stand up tall and pump his chest out.

Tuesday morning while at work, on a hunch, I think that I’m just going to look for ‘incidences’ near Frazier Park.  Google kept on correcting it to ‘accidents’, but my gut was saying to look deeper into ‘incidences’.  On the Kern County Sheriff website, I see…umm….I see something that I will never forget: body of unidentified man found in Kern River.  I look further into this and based on the reports, they assume that he was a man out by himself.  My brain starts swirling around and all arrows are pointing to my dad.

I call my mom and mention this to her and she tells me not to worry, to not start going down this dark street in mind; my dad was fine and she’s sure he’ll be coming home any minute now.  I then call and mention this the hubs and he’s like “Babe, you NEED to call them!  Just ask them if they can tell you this man’s approximate age, his race even.  Shit if you don’t call them I will!”.  So, I do.  I call the coroner’s office.  I start off the call telling them this is completely weird that I am even calling, but my dad likes Kern County and I am wondering if they can answer some questions regarding ‘this body‘.  Part of me was thinking they would say “Oh, he’s a 30 year old, 5’6” Hispanic man”.  Phew!  Bullet dodged.  But, it didn’t work out that way.

I can hear the woman typing on her computer and to lessen the silent I am spitting out things about him:  “He’s an older man, about 68.  And he’s a big dude…like 6’ and about 250lbs on a good day”.  She then asks what his name is and I respond: Glenn Davis.  She sighs and says “Oh dear”.  Two words.  Six fucking letters.  “Oh dear” changed my life.  I start shaking, crying and repeating “Are you serious?  It’s him, isn’t it?  Are YOU serious?!“ She puts me on a brief hold and then pulls up more information.  I ask her to confirm his birth date…it’s right, it‘s his.  She says that they have his truck…it’s right, it’s his.  I ask if we need to come down to identify him.  She mentions that he had extensive head trauma; it appears he slipped off of a rock and basically landed on his head.  This unidentified body was a man that was full of life.

I get off the phone and go into my boss’s office and pretty hysterically yell out that I need to go home, my dad is dead and they’ve found his body.  My dad is dead.  It feels so weird typing that.  I can barely think it, I can barely say it, but my fingers are capable of writing it.