the rule of three


Graves at Old Holy Cross Cemetery

Image by Fritz Liess via Flickr

Last Thursday, the ghost tickled the crown of Rob’s head while he stood at the kitchen sink washing dishes. Not an “attaboy”. Rob performs housework without the need for warm affirmations or pats on the head. It was a “heads up”.

So, when the call came later that evening to let us know that his uncle had passed away, the ghostliness of the day made sense.

But it was hardly the only sign this month, lights have been on that shouldn’t have been and there was that incidence with the shadow in Dee’s room. For myself personally, it’s been this persistent feeling that someone was going to die soon. It’s caused me no end of anxiety. First with Dee’s class taking a field trip into the city during the icy weather earlier in the month and then Edie and Silver driving through the mountains to and from Vancouver on their vacation.

It’s not as if we didn’t know about Uncle Francis. He had lung cancer and recently went into hospice, but death comes in threes. It just does. What’s true for the rich and (in)famous holds true for we lesser mortals.

This morning I awoke from a bad dream about a dinosaur trying to bite me (long back story that I’ll go into another day) to see Rob sitting up next to me. At least, I thought it was Rob. The room was Devil’s Den cave midnight. I couldn’t see my own hand when I reached up and then had to bring my hand down to find Rob, who was lying down and asleep next to me.

It was frightening. I sat up and noted that there were dark shadows ringing the bed and then I lay down and went back to sleep.

Tonight, we returned home after depositing Rob’s mom and future step-father at a hotel near the airport. They are heading home on an early flight. A message was waiting on the machine from my mother. My Aunt Peach died last night sometime.

You might remember Peach. I’ve written about her before. She would have been 103 this coming March. She was my grandmother’s youngest sister and the last of the Fagan siblings alive.

Gran lived to 94. She might have gone longer but for the dementia. Uncle Fran and Auntie Anna were 102 and 104 respectively when they passed on. The ones that cancer didn’t get young lived to 75 at the youngest and if they didn’t have bad hearts 90 and beyond. Remarkably long-lived, my dad’s relatives. If Dad hadn’t queered the deal with his drinking and smoking, he’d have cleared 100 easy, I’m sure. He still has two siblings – though I fear for not much longer – who are in their mid-80’s.

Will one of them be the third?

I really hope not though I know many folks who would roll their eyes and say that living to extremely ripe to bursting old age is long enough for anyone, so what’s the big deal?

It is a big deal to die, regardless of when. Death is one of the milestones. It represents fruition – which is a big fucking deal – and opportunity, which is nothing to sneeze at either.

Aunt Peach always made me a bit uncomfortable as a child and teen. She was forceful and larger than life though I towered over her even as a 10-year-old.

The last time I saw her was on our visit to Iowa last spring. She was playing bridge. It took us a good twenty minutes to track her down. No one knew where she was though everyone in the nursing home knew who she was.

She gave Dee a doll and probably more of her interest than she’d given me since I was that age myself. She barely acknowledged Rob or my mother, who was with us.

There’s quite the family reunion going on, if I know my dad’s relations – and I do.

I wonder if they are waiting on anyone?


Fear must be gripping Hollywood as the rich and famous wait on the Angel of Death’s next two celebrity recruits now that he has Patrick Swayze in hand. Unless two famous people have already died that I am unaware of, the rule of three* is once again in play.

I saw the news flash about Swayze on Monday on one of the news sites but passed over it without a second thought. It wasn’t a surprise given the tabloid photos of his gaunt haunted face which have adorned the checkouts at the grocery for months now. He had pancreatic cancer. You don’t beat that. You simply hold it at bay for a while.

On Tuesday at yoga, Swayze was the topic of conversation among the women before class began.

“It’s so sad,” one remarked, “because he was only 57.”

Fifty-seven is actually not all that young, and over the course of those years, he was an Olympic contending gymnast and a dancer who rehearsed with the likes of Barishnakov. He married his high school sweetheart and despite the difficulties his alcoholism caused, they were married for 30 years during which time he  built a solid acting career. It’s not as if he couldn’t look back and see a life lived. It’s not like everyone has that rearview moment at the end.

There was much discussion of the movies that touched them at different points and in different ways.

Dirty Dancing came up – of course. I have yet to see that movie all the way through. What I have caught, here and there, hasn’t compelled me to carve out the time to do so. The acting is pretty bad. And one person mentioned having pulled out her dvd of North and South for a marathon after she heard the news.

Ghost never came up. Which surprised me. But then again, it was an awful movie. A friend of mine dragged me to it when it was first out. We sat in a shoulder to shoulder cineplex where I could hear people all around me sucking air and/or panting as Swayze and Moore did that … thing … with the clay. Had those around me not been audibly aroused by this, I would have laughed because it is probably one of the cheesiest foreplay scenes ever filmed. But the “romance” of Ghost escaped me as much then as it does now.

“What is so romantic about a dead husband?” I asked Rob who shrugged as he chuckled a bit.

I remember Swayze most from Red Dawn and The Outsiders and Roadhouse. The first because I have always been a sucker for a good “end of life as we know it” flick. The second because it’s a fairly faithful adaptation of a wonderful book. The last because it is cheesey in it’s goodness. What’s not to love about a Zen bouncer who just wants to do his job? And have sex standing up.

R.I.P Patrick.

“That was the most sensual love scene I have ever witnessed,” my friend gushed afterward. She was a drama teacher with a flair for it herself, so perhaps that’s why she didn’t recognize pottery porn when she saw it. The things that rendered some of my gender wet to the knees escapes me sometimes.

*And the second is Mary, of Peter, Paul and Mary. Three? Anyone? Anyone?