Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Cannonization of Art

This post was prompted by two comments. One by a widow who confessed to me that her husband beat her. She said that she felt so alone because all these widow's husband's seemed so perfect and her's was far from it. Two. My oldest son's conversation with me about his dad. When I asked him what he remembered about a certain situation, he only remembered the good part of it. There was nothing about his father's unjustified anger (in my opinion). Only about how he (Langston) had done wrong.


So I’ve notice something. When I talk about, think about or miss Art
when his image comes to my brain...

He’s perfect.

Just fucking perfect.

The perfect father, the perfect husband, the perfect friend, the perfect son, the perfect co-worker. I’ve notice that in his death,

his shit don’t stink!

And there’s some cultural rule (I feel) that says “Never speak unkindly about the dead.” But what about remembering the dead honestly?

He has become canonized.

Cause honestly now that he’s not here, he looks absolutely spectacular! And he wasn’t. In fact, our marriage was beginning, no was fraying.

So honey, I’m gonna take a moment to list your faults. Cause today, I need to be honest with you with me and hopefully with our kids. Your perfection is not good for any of us.

So here is my list. My list of the things (off the top of my head) that really pissed me off about you.

1. Your shit did stink. And why you could not crack the damn window in the bathroom before you sat is still beyond me! 14 years of asking you to open the damn window was 13.5 years too many!

2. And can we just talk about your stubbornness. I know you married me for my willingness to look at the whole picture and then develop a very strong opinion, but my opinion in most cases could be changed. Many times you wouldn’t even discuss it! For your open-mindedness, you were not open-minded! Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn to infuriation!

3. You were a good disciplinarian. In fact, I think we were just hitting our parenting stride when you died. Sometimes however you were down-right harsh. I mean, remember the time when Langston was 5 and he said “Duh!” to you? You grabbed him by upper arms lifted him up, walked him over, feet dangling, to the chair where you put him down, standing between your legs. I remember reminding you, with my hand on your shoulder, leaning in whispering in your, “Honey, remember he’s only 6. “Duh” will not lead him to a life of crime.”

4. Oh and, how should I put this? My name is Kim! You so rarely called me by my name. “Honey” and “sweetheart” were your favorites. “Baby” was what you called me the last few months before you died. But Kim was what I wanted to hear. Hearing you say Kim would just make me gush. And yes, I told you that again and again and again. What was up with that?!

5. Using your 6’6” frame to block a doorway. Not cool. Using it as intimidation. Not cool... except that one time with that super obnoxious car salesman.

6. And ya know what I was sick and tired of being the one that nursed our relationship along. I hated how you reverted to status quo. We would have a conversation. We would talk. I would feel like I was being heard and sometimes the VERY NEXT DAY it would be as if we never spoke. I felt ignored and not important when you did that.

7. I hate the way you hated to admit you were wrong! What was the big deal anyway? So you were wrong, you misspoke or said or did something unkind. Just apologize, admit the mistake and move one. Sheesh!

8. I hate how you refused to make videos for the kids the first time you got cancer or after. They really could use them now, you know.

9. And honey, I know you loved to cook but improvising was not your talent. You really needed to follow the recipes, word for word, really. We all would have eaten a lot more!

10. AYour desk was a nightmare! The only reason you got the side of the bed farthest from the door is so you could just pile up your clothes there and I wouldn’t have to see it! I hated the way you would be looking for something and say "Oh here it is?" I'd ask "You found it?" and you'd say "Oh no. I found what I was looking for three weeks ago!"

11. And for an English teacher who taught many, many kids to write… where the heck were my letters! I hate the way you rarely wrote to me, even after I said that’s all I wanted. Why the fuck couldn’t you write to me? You could have left a tangible trail of your love, instead of leaving up to my fading memory.

12. The way you never expressed your feelings. I know this is a common complaint for many women about their men. Well, you were no exception.

13. Hello...that is a laundry basket with clean folded clothes in it. You pick it up, carry to the bedroom and then, you-put-them-away!!! I know, I can't believe it would be that easy either! That thing on the floor is called a towel, it gets hung up on at thing called a hook!

14. Yes you were a foot taller then me. Yes you outweighed me by almost 100 times but ya know, you could have asked if I wanted the three Girl Scout cookies, the last piece of pie, or the last carrot before you put them in your mouth!

15. Your inability to deal with our finances. Your ostrich-head-in-the-sand approach to money and responsibility around money. That almost devastated me and the kids. Thank you very nothing!

And since we're here in the you-ain't-so-perfect place, here are just a few of the good things about you being dead!

1 I line your side of the bed with all the books and magazines I want.

2. I make the bed every single morning!

3. The clothes are off of the floor every single night!

4. I go to see chick flicks any time I want and cry at them too!!

4. I no longer feel the pressure to be competitive athlete like you!

6. And I order that salad pizza you hated all the time!

So baby, I miss you I do.

But that salad pizza was so good tonight! It’s the second time this week I’ve had it!


  1. Kim,I have worked hard at trying not to make my late husband a saint. Yet, the tendency is still there. But I thank you for being so honest about all of this, we all do it at some point. But the ironoc thing is that even looking at their faults, we still find them lovable and even miss those things- at least a little. To me the lesson is that we must remeber this when we have other relationships with those that are now living.

  2. Oh Kim PLEASE tell me more about the salad pizza. It sounds dee-lish!

    The thing that's been weighing most heavily on my mind since my husband's death 4 months ago is that his good qualities have popped to the surface of my children and my mind and formed a barricade over all the bad stuff. The last 2 yrs of our mostly wonderful 39 yr marriage were rocky and unfortunately the last days were spent angry at each other (he died unexpectedly) so I've been plagued with guilt. But I'm starting to look at the good things that have transpired now that he's gone.

    1.No more chips, cookies and junk food sitting around to tempt me.
    2. My son is allowed to keep his fishing stuff in the basement where it should have been all along.
    3.I can keep my pile of books at the end of the couch for as long as I damn well please.
    4.The TV isn't on all day and night long.
    5.I actually have a place to sit on the couch since you're not sprawled out "resting" on it all night long.
    6.I don't have to sneak my clothing purchases in the house.
    7.I can play music while I clean instead of listening to whatever sport was on TV that day.

    We were working things out and I'm sure would have made it to our 100th wedding anniversary had we both lived that long. But it's funny how death immediately brought him to sainthood even in my mind. It was near immpossible to remember the bad things (and even now it's a struggle.)

    Thanks for the post!!...and seriously, tell me more about the pizza.

  3. Thanks for being brave enough to write that. Honestly looking works better than rosily reminiscing about who we wish they may have been.

  4. Funny post!! It's called unconditional love, and more marriages need it today. We see one another's faults and accept and love anyway.

  5. Great post! Something we all need to remember!

  6. Thanks Kim, you just validated my thoughts. Since my husband died I to have made an effort to make sure that I don't confer sainthood on him. He was as human as the rest of us and for all his faults I loved him very much. He loved me too despite my faults too. I still have to remind the kids that Dad was no saint though as in the 6 months since he died they have decided he was a candidate for sainthood.
    Not something he would ever have wanted or looked for. Although I love and miss him very much the one thing I don't miss is his stubborn streak, it got him into so much trouble over the years and also provided many moments of laughter.

  7. Yep!

    But we still want them back. Flaws, faults and all!

  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I thought nobody else would/could understand my frustration with my feelings and conflict about my husband. I want to just give some people (inlaws and so-called friends in particular) an earful about their perfect view of Matt and why and more importantly HOW I know he was not a saint. When I have mentioned my conflict in the past, I was made out to be the bad person for thinking and saying so and that I couldn't possibly know what I was talking about, even though I knew him for over 14 years. At least now I know that I am not alone with this kind of conflict, especially the part about trouble in the marriage when his sudden unexpected death happened that left me hanging with more issues than I can list here or could possibly handle,even now. Somehow, I still soldier on and hope to someday find peace, happiness and me again. For now, it still burdens me immensely.

  9. The things that were seriously wrong:

    1). You held my head under the covers when you farted. Not funny...
    2) you thought that arguing was about winning at any cost. That was the Marine in you and it was not fair because you would never admit that you were wrong.
    3). You made me feel guilty even when you were wrong.
    4). you left me to raise our boys without you. They need you, especially as they enter adolescence and are talking dirty and I dont know how to handle it like you would.

    Thank you Kim for giving me a space to accurately remember the "ASS", which is what I frequently called him. You are an amazing woman and look forward to your posts every week. Thanks!

  10. Number 14 today was my favorite. You made me laugh. I Thank you!