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Hello Gentle Readers!

I’m back. And I promise to do my level best to make updates once a week at least from now on.

    *  *  *

Once upon a time, my older sister took me to task for taking a novel with me to read on my Honeymoon.

I pointed out to her that Jing and I had been co-habiting. . . let me think.. It’s been awhile ago. . . We shacked up September 1993. . . We married June, 1994. . . and at the risk of being indelicate, had been doing the dirty deed for quite some time before that first date, possibly from June 28, 1992, a week after we met. . . about month or so before my twin sister got married, in August 1992.

Thus the novelty had lost some of its edge, so to speak.

But I digress.

The book in question was Gospel, by Wilton Barnhardt, a novel of which I was, and remain, extremely fond. Alas that I loaned my copy and haven’t seen it in years, especially now that I need to quote sections of it, thus this entry will be somewhat of a work in progress, as the copy I’ve ordered won’t arrive in time to quote from.

The novel is in alternating parts, the first involving a very naive graduate student in Divinities, Lucy Danton, a good little pudgy virginal Catholic Girl of 27 with a very black-and-white sense of right and wrong and a crummy wardrobe of ill-fitting jeans and old sweatshirts, sent by her university to find an errant professor, Patrick O’Hanrahan, former Jesuit, current professor and practicing Irishman, and to retrieve his University Credit Card. . .

. . .The second part is an unknown gospel by one “Matthias”, one of Jesus’ first disciples albeit not one of The Twelve, which O’Hanrahan and his drinking buddy, Rabbi Mordechai Hersch, have discovered and are keeping under heavy wraps. . .

The novel revolves around Lucy chasing these academic reprobates around various places on the planet, of the platonic, yet still unlikely, love she develops for O’Hanrahan, and the gradual falling away of the scales from her eyes as she learns more and more about the world and of religion. . .

And of the people she is close to. . .

*   *   *

Granite La-Z-Boy Headstones-R-Us
Roy Bauchman to The Remains of My Family (hereafter abbreviated to “TROMF”)  – August 7, 2012

Dear Sister, Brother and Sister-in-law (names deleted to possibly mollify the guilty.):

Procrastination being one of my strengths, I’m finally getting around to the business of a headstone for Marg and Perky, but thought perhaps some input for the rest of you might be appreciated. . .

We have our choice of two companies in this grotty little hicktown that deal with such things;

●    Stu Sutcliffe’s Monumental Works Ltd.
●    Mortimer Snerd’s Monumental Works Ltd.

Had a wee chat with one “Rob” of Stu’s, he tells me we’re looking at prices between $800 – $1500 depending on what we want, next time I’m at St. Victor’s I’ll have a look at Paul’s, possibly we’d like something that matched? At least a little bit? Possibly not?

I’m afraid I completely forgot to ask if we could get a headstone carved like a La-Z-Boy. Perhaps something a little more tasteful, carvings of a Siamese Cat for Marg and a Spitfire for Dad. . . or if we want to be hateful, a depiction of a bowl of trifle and a ’65 Rambler? . . ..

And any ideas for an epitaph would be welcomed, the best I can come up with (on short notice anyway) is:

“Jesus, Jesus, JESUS, what the HELL are YOU Looking at?!?

. . . Oh, Johnnie, Dear. . .”

Hope everyone’s having a marvelous time!

Message ends,

(Gandalf-the-Grey’s Disaffected Apprentice)

*   *   *

Care to guess the response I got from my attempt at a humorous e-mail?

You’ll never guess in a million years, so I may as well tell you:


*   *   *

Mom and Dad’s Headstone
Roy to TROMF  – August 15, 2012

Dear Trio:

I sent you all a message August 7 regarding Mom and Dad’s headstone, I heard nothing back from any of you. I decided to get on with it and so I ordered a headstone this morning. Total cost will be $1,120 for a granite “Jade Green” (more like a dark grey-green) stone,16 x 24 inches. Got a cat for Mom.. wound up being a tabby, they had no Siamese, and an honest-to-god spitfire for Dad. They can change the lettering on the spitfire, so, “B-in-L”, I’d appreciate getting Dad’s log-book on the off-chance his spitfire’s registration letters are in it somewhere.

Once finalized the delivery will take two weeks; I’ve created something like this:

If anyone wants to make any changes or has any comments to make, please let me know. I’ll have a mock-up from Teri of Stu Sutcliffe’s Monuments in a day or two.

The bill split four ways is $280 each. I would appreciate getting some help with this. I don’t think that I have acted unreasonably or unfairly by going ahead with this without consulting anyone; I sent an e-mail, and no-one took the trouble to reply to me; and I have to say, I’m more than a little disappointed.

And I have to add, that in consideration of everything they did, for all of us, a headstone is the last and least thing we can do.


*   *   *

And I heard back. . . from any of them. . .


Some time later managed to reach — by phone — my sister, and the only other surviving member of the family, who told me:

“I don’t do e-mail” and “Erica’s really stressed out, so she never gave me a copy.”

How hard is it to click on “File”, and “Print” ? And for some reason seems to me an e-mail about one’s grand-parent’s headstone might be worth paying some attention to. Guess I’m old-fashioned that way. . .

Sent her this afterwards, told her on the phone to tell Erica to print it, to get back to me:

Roy to Sister and Niece – August 21, 2012

Hi Sister:

Mock-up of Mom and Dad’s headstone attached. . . What do you think?

About the only change I can think of is to change the initials on the spitfire to something like G (rondel) PB. . .

Let me know if you want any changes.


*   *   *

Guess what response I got? That’s right:


So I went ahead and ordered the stone.

Half of it out of my bank account. Half of it on my Visa.

Meanwhile got a call from Sister-in-Law wondering how I was since I had called her earlier. . . accidentally. . .  My close friend Jeff having suddenly passed on during this melee, his partner and my other close friend Akbar asked me to get in touch with his brother Salim since when Akbar calls he just hangs up, but that’s another story; since Salim and S-in-L both live in Halifax I called her number by mistake. . .

“I haven’t been reading my e-mail and my computer wasn’t working too well and it was hot.”

“They’re making excuses” opined my counselor, Marsha-the-Merciful. . .

Sometime later I e-mailed them all with a picture of the completed project and again, requesting politely a bit of help with the bill.

Got this response from B-in-L:

“this looks great

nice job

just juggling (lots going on), will send note later this evening”

That was August 31 and I heard beyond that (this is getting monotonous isn’t it?):


*   *   *

I tossed this series of events to a couple of friends, one here, one there, and they both proffered the same opinion: That TROMF have no sense of obligation, neither to my departed parents, nor to me. . . Magenta added that it’s rather a shame, in that I, of the four of us, am the least able to afford the headstone. . . But that at least I did it. . .

*   *   *

By the time Gospel is seven-eighths done, Lucy’s lost a lot of weight, got some really nice new clothes; while on the island of Mikonos, lost her virginity to, and got knocked up by, a Greek boy who speaks almost no English (and she in turn almost no (modern) Greek); she’s coincidently lost her faith along with these events, and is now trying to get medical help for O’Hanrahan after they’ve been semi-kidnapped by a pair of televangelists suspiciously resembling Jim and Tammy-Faye (remember them?)

It’s quite a book.

Would that something somewhat similar had ever happened to me; the maturing she experiences in the 6 weeks of the course of the novel, is little short of miraculous. . . But (again) that’s another story. . .

And to paraphrase Lucy who, after she hangs up on her querulous disagreeable mother, asks herself:  “Is this pathetic collection of bickering small-minded people my life?”

I have to ask myself:

“Is this abject trio of uninterested, ungrateful people, all that remain, of my family? These are the individuals I am to go to for help if ever I’m  in “sorrow, need, sickness or any other adversity”?

Goddess help me: Like Lucy; I am alone.

I am truly, alone.


Posted September 6, 2012 by Capt. Roy Harkness in Uncategorized

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