this old man came rolling home

I promised Dave I wouldn't hurt myself with trying to post too much at work today, but I have to put in something.

Dad took his life this weekend.

We think it was Sunday or maybe Saturday night, because he'd called Dave's cellphone on Saturday afternoon to say my tax refund check came in. To Dave he said "I only call with good news."

His friend Ed found him, which was a mercy to me. Ed and his wife had been in the neighborhood showing some apartments (Ed's in real estate), and he decided to pop upstairs to check on Dad, since he'd been worried about him lately. Ed, much shaken up, stayed to be grilled by the cops on everything he knew about Dad and the circumstances surrounding. Barbara, waiting outside, had everyone from the neighborhood come up to her with their Dad stories: "Oh, I rode the bus with him," or "He used to say hi to me when I was walking my dogs," "He was such a smart, funny guy," and so on. Another mercy.

By the time we got there, the crowd was gone. There were only a couple of cop cars and the medical sedan--not an ambulance, nor a hearse, just a car with a wide area in back and the seats taken out. Dave had come in on the train with me. Amber called him, after Ed called her, just as I'd been getting ready to come back from the weekend. So I wasn't alone when I saw them wheeling his body out over the curb and into the back of the medical sedan, Dave was with me when the detectives ushered us upstairs with a cautionary word about the dead-body smell.

They asked only a few questions, and showed us the note he'd left open on his laptop. They said I could see it and I wanted Dave to see it, too. Bastards took the laptop, though, so I can't give people the full text until they give it back. The reason for this was that it mentioned he had some other "save as draft" emails that he wanted me to email out for him before the cops got there. I assume the things were just final messages to relatives and friends, and he put that in there just to mess with them on the off-chance I didn't get to send them out for him.

Dad's note said among other things that he'd had another TIA, which is a mini-stroke, and really, really didn't fucking want to end his life in a hospital. But that he loved us and was proud of us and hated to leave us with a mess on our hands.

The days since then have been a barrage of phone calls, well-wishings, people stopping by and our attempts to plan a funeral and figure out what elements to include in the service. I intend to say to several more people this week while getting hammered with them while we all reminisce and cry, "The funeral is politics. This is religion." As Dad always used that word--your religion is the things you choose, the people you choose to love.

He was the greatest horrible old man I'll ever know, a man larger than life, whose death made the world smaller. Even miserable, crippled, old and a little freaked out from being poor and in pain all the time, he still made a profound impact on every life he touched. Everyone who was a little uncomfortable with him or had painful issues with him or just couldn't get him out of his funk enough to come visit them is now coming to us for answers. And I realize he was a shield against the world, for me and my sisters and everybody else he knew. Like I said to Ken, he was never one to run from a good fight. But like Dad always said, not every game can be won. You've got to pick the games you play.