Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rest In Peace, Doak

My cousin, Doak, has passed away.

I. am. so. sad.

I'm filled with memories.  That's the kind of guy he was.  Memorable.  People remember what they did with Doak, how they laughed with Doak, and all the ".... and then Doak said......" moments.

One of the first memories of my life is walking out of Doak's house and trying to hide stolen baby toys in my pockets.  They were Doak's baby toys - so I couldn't have been more than two or three.  I wasn't successful at hiding them and was forced to go back into Aunt Sissy's house and and say "I'm sorry".

Every other weekend during my childhood and teenage years, I went to Knox City and spent time with Doak and Timi.  In the summers, I would spend weeks at a time.  For a lonely only child, my times with Doak and Timi were when I felt most alive.  The truth is, even if my childhood hadn't been so lonely, I couldn't help but feel alive when I was with Doak and Timi.  It was a constant talking/laughing/doing time.

I remember taking naps in Uncle Jeff's cold bedroom on hot summer days.  It was dark and had a refrigerated window airconditioner unit in it.  Ahhhhh, it was wonderful.  I would lay between Doak and Timi.  Timi would find the perfect place on the satiny trim of the blanket to rub with her fingers while she sucked her thumb.  Doak would keep us awake telling jokes and making silly comments.  He was always the last one to fall asleep and the first one to wake up.

I remember singing countless songs with Doak and Timi.  My favorite was the Elvis hit "Frankie and Johnny".  Doak and I made up an act, singing......
Frankie and Johnny were lovers.  
Oh Lordy how they could love.  
They sought to be true to each other.  
As true as the stars above.
He was her man.....
And he done her wrong.

Heh.  I just googled the song and those aren't even the right lyrics.  But that's the way we sang it.

We acted it out and performed it for everyone, countless times.  I'm sure family members turned the other way and pretended to be really busy when they saw us coming.

It's Doak and Timi that I remember being with when my daddy died.
It's Doak and Timi that I spent weeks with when my mom was hospitalized for alcoholism.
It's Doak and Timi that I helped take care of our grandfather with the summer he was dying.
It's Doak and Timi who knew - firsthand - what it felt like to be in my family.

Timi, who is four years younger than me, brought out the seriousness in me.  We talked.  And talked.  We shared our fears (we were both pretty fearful), our shames, our sadnesses, our crushes, our dreams.

Doak brought out the laughter in me.  In everybody.

Various childhood and teenage memories.............
* walking on the train tracks the three miles from his house to town....
* Doak trying to get his mouth around a whole doorknob (still connected to Timi's bedroom door).... if I remember correctly, he succeeded..
* walking barefoot to the golf course on a summer Texas day when the asphalt was so hot that the tar had melted.... having to run, screaming and moaning, from shade spot to shade spot...
* driving around, driving around, driving around, driving around on the old oil field roads where we learned to drive much earlier than you're supposed to....
* Timi saying "Doooooaaakkkkk!" in her "stop it, you're scaring me, I'm going to tell on you!" voice....
* picnics at the rest stop by the river bridge with ham salad sandwiches and homemade chocolate milkshakes....
*  naps...  naps at his house, naps at grandma's.....  At least at his house, we got to lay on Uncle Jeff's bed.  At grandma's, we laid on a pallet of quilts right under the airconditioner vent in the ceiling.....  Our family was big on naps....
* tying a string on to a suitcase, then laying the suitcase out in the middle of the highway and waiting for people to stop to pick it up....... then quickly pulling it off to the side of the road while the person was getting out of the car to get it..... We thought we were so clever.
* driving around Knox City during Christmas season turning on the town Christmas decorations on each light post right after the town night watchman turned them off.....
* singing --- Samantha's sorority song (Alpha Delta Phi), the whole repertoire from Mary Poppins, "If I Had A Hammer", Beatles tunes....
* riding with Timi in the back of a pickup driven by Doak..... we were laying on a quilt in the back of the pickup "sunbathing" on our way to the lake..... all of a sudden, we realized that the quilt was getting really hot.... finally realized that it was on fire because Doak had thrown a cigarette out the window that had landed on the quilt in the bed of the truck.... screaming and screaming, we finally got him to stop where we then threw out the quilt that then started a grass fire..... we drove off ... (shooooo)
* putting on summer plays in grandma's backyard under the tree, behind the curtain made of a quilt hanging on the clothesline....
* getting louder and louder  and louder in his bedroom playing frantically as our parents got louder and louder and louder as they drank, talked politics, and played Password....
* taking a road trip together when we were probably 18 (Doak) and 20 (me).....  losing him in a vegetarian restaurant on Guadalupe Street in Austin....
* playing in my playhouse.....
* playing at Astro City......
* swimming at the Knox City golf course pool while Timi was lifeguarding....
* swimming at the pond that I've forgotten the name of (howcouldIeverforgetthenameofthatpond!)....
* talking underwater to each other at the pool.....
* doing our Doak/Timi/Jenny thing where you hold hands and one person swims between the legs of the other and you go upside down......
* finding out secrets about our family....
* finding a witch's briefcase - I know that sounds weird, but true - full of her potions.... (I still don't know if that was just a set-up to freak out ScaredyCatJenny.  Does anyone know?????).....
* listening to 8-track tapes....
* going to Sunday afternoon jam sessions in the park in Lubbock....
* Doak coming up with a new way to smoke cigarettes where he put the filter end in his mouth and had me put the other cigarette end in my mouth - then he lit it in the middle.  Do you know how quickly you burn your lips when you're smoking the non-filtered end of half a cigarette?????......
* walking around and visiting people in Knox City - dropping by Mrs. King's house, then talking to Droopy Drawers at the gas station, then going on over to Billie Jean's, seeing Dad-dad downtown, going in all the stores in Knox City (all seven or eight of them)......
* watching staticky reruns of Captain Kangaroo.....
* the two of us being so engrossed in a conversation (OK.  what I really mean is 'so stoned') that he followed me into the bathroom where I sat down and peed while we were still talking........ mid-pee, we realized that we were in the bathroom together and both freaked out......
* trying to separate two frogs when we thought one of attacking the other - because one was on top of the other - not realizing they were mating..... but finally getting them separated by running over the boy frog with the car....
* Doak accidentally putting my mom's car in reverse while we were driving down the highway to Munday at about 80 miles an hour....... my mom never knowing why her transmission went out......
* goats butting our butts, kittens getting injured, lots of dogs, watching baby pigs be born, moth attacks in his little sports car, hermit crabs named after him........  lots of animal-themed memories....
* lots of teenage altered consciousness memories.......  Doak nearly getting thrown in jail after my apartment got broken into because he made the policeman angry by repeatedly comparing him (unfavorably) to Columbo..... being in a head shop, hanging on to Doak and badgering him to buy me something until I got a good look at the person I was holding on to and realized it wasn't Doak... and seeing Doak laughing at me across the room........
* laughing, laughing, laughing, laughing...... You can't imagine the hours of hysterical laughter I've experienced with this boy/man.......
* playing chicken in cars......
* sneaking into the drive-in.......
* watching my son become entralled by Doak.... Doak casting his magical spell over Tyler like he did so many people.....
* teasing Doak relentlessly by repeatedly telling him that Grandma was dead ....... based on the fact that during one telephone conversation in our crazy 20's, Doak asked how Grandma was and I had to remind him that she had been dead for five years........ I never could let him live that one down.....

So many memories.

If my life was a patchwork quilt, Doak would be bright yellow squares scattered throughout the quilt.  The yellow squares would be the primary color of one end of the quilt - my childhood.  In the middle of the quilt, the yellow squares would be less numerous as we went for years with sporadic contact - but never more than a couple of months would go by without us emailing or calling one another.  Toward the other end of the quilt, the yellow squares would become more prominent as we strongly reconnected again in the last few years.   And made more memories........

Nearly two years ago, I was lucky enough to take a seven-day cruise with the Graham siblings - Doak, his brother J. Tom, his sisters Timilu and Samantha, and his dear sister-in-law Kathryn.  I have never had so much fun in my life.  Here's part of my blog post that I wrote after the cruise: 

Doak has always been one of my favorite forms of entertainment. He entertains me just by breathing! And Tyler has always reminded me of Doak - from the time that Ty was a little kid.

Favorite (INSANE) memories of the cruise:
I haven't really spent much time around Doak since we were in our early 20's (over 30 years ago). And he was my ROOMMATE on the cruise. It was like being 11 again. I felt joyful, free, skinny and I laughed my ass off (I wish!).

This is what I mean about it being like I was 11......

One night at one of the elegant dinners in the dining room, Doak was sitting next to "Norma" a very proper lady that we met on the cruise. I JOKINGLY told Doak that I would give him $200 if he'd give me the bread off Norma's bread plate. Like a mature 54-year-old man, he grumbled "no". So, I upped the offer to $300. Again, jokingly. The next thing I know, I am watching Norma's piece of french bread arch over my dinner plate and land on my bread plate. Doak had waited until she turned her head the other way and then had stolen her bread. He and I started laughing. And picture a 9-year-old (in reality 54-year-old) and an 11-year-old (in reality 56-year-old) at the proper dinner table with a bunch of grownups. The more we tried not to laugh, the more hysterical things got.  Timi finally told us that we needed to leave the dining room. (She has always been more mature than me.) We weren't able to go back in and finish our meals because we never could get ourselves under control. I don't know if Norma ever realized that her bread was literally stolen from underneath her nose.

I always tired out before Doak and went to bed while he was still out making friends with everyone on the ship. After being in bed a couple of hours, Doak would always come in and badger me until I got up, changed out of my jammies into some clothes, and went to the smoking deck with him. One night, I just changed into a dress that I had been using as a swimsuit cover up - nothing on underneath. As we walked out of our room, I suggested that I knock on J Tom's door and see if he wanted to go with us. Doak said, "No, he and Kathryn are sleeping. Just knock on a random door." So, of course....... I did.

And then I hysterically RAN to the elevator, laughing all the way, pee running down my leg to the floor. It was like being an 11-year-old with a 56-year-old bladder. I laugh too much, I lose control! Plus, in my head, I was an 11-year-old running, not a 56-year-old fat woman.
I still chuckle when I think about the bread or the pee.

I really want to save money to go on another Cousins Cruise. And this time, I'll be skinnier. And able to run and pee FASTER.
Doak and I were talking about another Cousins Cruise.  We had talked about it a month ago.  That's so sad.


I am also sooooooo blessed to have been given the opportunity to go to a Graham family reunion last summer - even though I'm not a Graham.  The Graham side of Doak's family are his father's relatives.  The McAuley side (me) are his momma's relatives.  But I was able to horn my way into an invitation to a Graham Cousins reunion last May.  

We laughed and laughed and, once again, Doak made me pee my pants.   Pee my pants to the point that my ankles and sandals were wet.  Pee my pants to the point that I became the major love interest of his dog, Oliver, for the rest of the afternoon.  And all the other dogs there, in fact.

No one can do that to me but Doak.

I guess I should be glad that I'm never going to have to experience the shame of adult incontinence again.

But, no....... I'd give anything to have the opportunity to laugh until I peed - one more time - with Doak.

My life patchwork quilt is bright and beautiful -- because of Doak.  For that, I am so grateful.

The hospice chaplain told us that when Doak died, we would need to "relocate" him in our lives.  He would no longer be with us physically, but he would be in our hearts, our dreams, and our memories.  I can feel him right now.  I've got him tucked under my left breast - where it would be totally WRONG to put him if he was still alive.

Also, since he died, I've thought repeatedly about the dream I had about my mom after she passed.  I dreamed that I was crying and telling one of momma's friends that she had died.  And momma, in ghostly form, was on the other side of her friend, saying "Jenny doesn't realize that I'm with her in spirit much more than I ever was in person"

May the spirit of Doak - his laughter, his generosity, his sense of humor, his magic - always be with me.

I love you, Doak.

Love,
Your cousin, Jenny



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