Changes

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Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do.
~Space Oddity, David Bowie

Life is full of death.  I think when we are very young, it's actually more normal.  We accept death with a shrug and a request for more juice.  I remember when Will's Aunt Ginger died.  He was matter of fact about it.  We'd be going somewhere and he'd announce that Aunt Gin won't be there BECAUSE SHE DIED.  And when my dad passed away, he announced, “You don’t have a dad anymore BECAUSE HE DIED.”  It sounded harsh and almost mean to my ears, but to a young child it was matter of fact; she really won't be there because she really is dead and I really didn’t have a dad anymore because he really did die.

Sadly, we’ve experienced more death this year.  This year brought the death of one phenomenal man, two spectacularly beautiful women, and one David Bowie.  There were others that passed away as well, of course, and some I’m sure just as important, but to me, Monty, my two ladies and David Bowie were those that I did not want to do without. 

Saw you watching from the stairs
Your'e everyone who ever cared.
~John, I'm Only Dancing, David Bowie

When my father remarried, my family hit a double jackpot: Molly to be a friend, confidant, step-mom, and grandmother; and her mother, Mary Beth, to be an inspiration, treasure, and great grandmother.  Mary Beth sent a book when I had Signa, over 13 years ago. The book wasn’t a children’s book, but it was.  The CD wasn’t a children’s CD, but it was.  It was about living beautifully and that is what Mary Beth did.  It is called, “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack (lyrics below) and she did for 93 years with a smile that was contagious.  She was there for Molly and me when my dad died and she was there with her unbelievable strength and wisdom ever after.  Here is her obituary and all I can really add to it is that she is very missed by the Mascot family, who loved her very much.

As we get older it gets more difficult.  We see the sad that death leaves behind in others.  We see the difficult lives that exist with the absences death creates.  The children without the mom; the mom without the children.  They now have to exist separately and they don't know how because they were defined by those relationships.  It’s been almost a year that I’ve watched Alison be without Monty.  It’s a hard thing to see and not be able to do a damned thing about.  Last February, a beautiful strong family lost their father and husband. Monty was like a brother in-law to me. I loved watching him grow up and I loved trying to follow in his and Alison's footsteps in raising our children. And I loved him. His loud booming voice that I once heard from down the street of our house. His smile and joyous greeting. He's the only person I've ever known who, with his big grin greeting of, "Hey, Deb!" could make me feel like a million dollars. His hand talking and explanations growing in volume and intensity with every word. I feel like the luckiest person to have known him for almost 30 years. He will be in our hearts and our memories until the end of time. He was THAT important.

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
~Changes, David Bowie

In December, we lost our beloved Louise Mariani.  She shared the last few years of her life with us and for that I’ll always be grateful.  I found her when researching the Mariani family of my childhood and she fast became part of the Conner-Mascot family.  We were lucky to be able to celebrate her 100th birthday and 101st birthdays with her, singing and laughing the whole way.  I think one of my favorite stories of Louise will be my last conversation with her.  “Well, Debbie.  Today they brought me a wheelchair.  I just keep going. Next thing you know, they’ll just carry my head around on a platter.” 

As you age even further, you see not only the absences left behind but also your own mortality.  Someday that will be me and what things will I have left undone?  What will I leave behind? Will I have mattered?

Ziggy played guitar.
~Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie

This is where David Bowie's death is a great lesson to us adults.  He can't be dead.  My kids know David Bowie, but I don't know if they really knew he was still alive until he died.  He was like Beethoven and the Beatles to them.  Always there, always good, and always still going.  And his death actually CAN'T stop that.  David Bowie, like the Beatles and Ramones and even Beethoven, are still there on the playlists.  They are on the radio, on Pandora stations, and on TV, and in commercials.  They are still there.  And always will be.  Just like dancing will make me think of Mary Beth and laughing will make me think of Louise and Alison will make me think of Monty and tape players hanging from car ashtrays will make me think of David Bowie.

Wham bam thank you Ma'am!
~Suffragette City, David Bowie

A common theme throughout my teen years was whatever crappy tape player I had hanging from the ashtray of whatever crappy car I had.  I would put in a tape and play it over and over again for days, weeks, months.  The other tapes would be in the car somewhere, but it was easier to just leave one in and keep it going.  I would play the same one over and over and over again.  So much so that even today, 30 years later, I can still hear the beginning of the next song when the song before is ending.

Loves to be loved,
loves to be loved
~The Jean Genie, David Bowie

David Bowie's ChangesOne was one of these tapes.  I actually had a store-bought pre-recorded tape of this.  I don't know where I got it, but likely from Tower, as that is where all music came from those days.  Or maybe just somewhere in Hally’s room.  Anyway, it would play over and over in my car-- the giant yellow beast or the white Toyota or the light blue Pinto-- one of those or all of them.  We played it over and over, just hitting Eject and flipping the tape endlessly.

In the year of the scavenger,
the season of the bitch
~Diamond Dogs, David Bowie

I remember that David Bowie could be played in my car no matter who was piled inside.  My rock 'n' roll friends, my mod friends, my punk friends, my whoever they wanted to be that week friends-- any one.  David Bowie spanned all ages and genres. And he still does.  Just like dancing, laughing, Monty, Mary Beth and Louise span all ages and all generations.

You can't get enough,
But enough ain't the test.
~Rebel Rebel, David Bowie

And now they are gone. I guess.  But when I really stop and think,are they actually any more gone for me this week than last week?  This year than last?  I still have Bowie’s songs on my playlist.  He still frequents my Pandora station, television, commercials and the radio.  I still have dancing and I still have laughing ala Mary Beth and Louise and I still have Monty’s friends, Alison and the girls to keep Monty going.  So are they gone if they are still here still doing their thing?

Scanning life through the picture window
She finds the slinky vagabond
~Young  Americans, David Bowie
                                                                                                                           
The big great thing is that theyweregreater than and bigger than life itself.  I guess the real only difference is that no matter what party I go to, David Bowie, Monty, Mary Beth, and Louise for sure, absolutely, positively will not be there BECAUSE THEY DIED.  Just like I will for sure, absolutely, positively, still hear the chords of Ziggy Stardust before the end of Changes.

Fame,
Could it be the best, could it be?
~Fame, David Bowie

There is no end.  So nothing to be sad about.  Just keep hearing the beginning of the next song before this one ends and keep doing what you do best so that you can never really be gone, too.

In walked luck and you looked in time
Never look back, walk tall, act fine.
~Golden Years, David Bowie

---
I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.)
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance..

(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone)