Monday, May 04, 2015

A to Z 2015 - Reflections

As some of you may have caught, I nearly didn't participate in A to Z this year because my mother died at the end of March.  In fact, the original material I did pursue at the start of the month was abandoned because I'm still trying to deal with her death, and sometimes it's a lot harder than other times.  Everyone dies.  But the awareness of death is a personal matter you can absolutely not estimate ahead of time.  She started dying, technically, in the fall of 2010, when she was first diagnosed with cancer, and there have been many rough patches along the way, including last April, which was the start of the traumatic end process...

I ended up switching topics to Star Trek, and that was hugely appropriate.  Even though she didn't become one of those die hard fans who typify interest in the franchise, my mother was one of its original viewers, and every time I popped in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, she'd cry when Spock dies.  (Except the last time.  But at that point, most of her was changing.  I clung and still do to the lasting remnants of who and what she had been throughout her life.)  In a very real sense, I owe my interest in Star Trek to her.

This being May the Fourth, however, I'm not going to continue talking about Star Trek, but rather switch topics once again.  Hey, why not?  Star Wars was a dominant feature of my childhood.  I grew up with four siblings, and Star Wars was one of the few things that united all of us.  We watched the original trilogy all the time.  It got to the point where my mother would literally fall asleep every single time we watched it, and we joked that she did see the whole thing, but only cumulatively speaking.  In hindsight it's probably clear that she was never quite as enthusiastic about Star Wars as we were.

But in her last year, my dad and I still got her to watch most of the movies all over again, and she was perfectly fine with that.  Star Wars had become a constant for her.

I've posted this video before, from How I Met Your Mother, how when Ted tries to understand how Stella has never seen Star Wars before, he and Marshall absolutely cannot understand it.  (For me, it's still baffling, and I absolutely mean it, that there was such a tremendous backlash to the prequels.  But people like what's spontaneous, a discovery.)  Here's the video again:


(It also baffles me that people hated How I Met Your Mother's ending.  But that's a topic for another day.)

Different people have different experiences.  This is sometimes extremely hard to appreciate, and very people are willing to admit this.  When we're forced to confront our differences, we also discover how different we really are.  But sometimes the differences are not as great as we think they are.

Taking part in A to Z for another year, no matter the circumstances and however much my experience was affected by those circumstances, or how little other people know Star Trek compared to me...this was actually the best experience I've had with it to date.  In past years I didn't really understand how it was supposed to work.  I don't mean in relation to others, but for me.  The moment I let go of my own expectations, I started to have fun.  I couldn't ask for better than that.

16 comments:

Michael Abayomi said...

I'm glad you had fun in the end, Tony. It must have taken a lot of strength to soldier on in spite of your mum's passing. I've never been much of a Star Trek fan, though I have seen all the movies, and some episodes of The Next Generation and Deep Space 9. Star Wars, on the other hand, I absolutely adore. You can't imagine how eager I am to see The Force Awakens this December. :D

Tony Laplume said...

Switching topics helped me transition into a more comfortable state. The challenge absolutely had a calming influence on me. And for that I am entirely grateful.

And I absolutely can't wait until December...!

Pat Dilloway said...

My dad got me into Star Trek so when I watch it I think of him.

Spacerguy said...

Its always tough losing a parent, I'm sorry for your loss, Tony. I lost my father to leukaemia 16 years ago which I still recall like it was yesterday You've done a great job expounding on Star Trek during the A to Z challenge which means so much to people on so many different levels. Thank you for persevering.

The Armchair Squid said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Tony.

Tony Laplume said...

Pat, it's surprising what silly nonsense can help us remember loved ones.

Spacer, just a month later and I still struggle to forget that it didn't just happen. I suspect this won't change.

Squid, thank you.

Andrew Leon said...

My mother-in-law died a few years ago of pancreatic cancer. It was a very difficult 18-month process (which was compounded by the fact that she had one of the worst forms of the disease and that most (like 90%) sufferers don't live longer than six months after diagnosis). I empathize with you.

My kids, just by the way, do not believe in dual citizenship when it comes to Wars and Trek. At best, Trek is the ugly stepchild as far as they're concerned.

Tony Laplume said...

I'm sorry you only had eighteen months. My mother kept blowing past all the estimations. I suppose I became so wrapped up in that that I didn't believe she was actually dying when she was, in fact, actually dying. That's been part of my process, too.

Star Trek, until 2009, was always the ugly stepchild. Now it's only Star Trek fans themselves, ironically, who hate Star Trek. (Yeah.)

Andrew Leon said...

Actually, eighteen months was much more than we had expected, and she did pretty well and was still active through, probably, fifteen to sixteen months of it. Like I said, life expectancy for pancreatic cancer is not more than six months in 90% of the cases, and hers was much less because of the type it was. We were grateful for the time.

Tony Laplume said...

Sorry. I don't mean to make light of the length you had. My mom's duration was astounding, but in its own right. I guess the lesson here is that we maybe shouldn't be surprised, and that we should always be grateful...

Andrew Leon said...

Oh, I didn't think you were making light of it. But time is all a matter of perspective. It was only eighteen months, but it was more than we had expected, and it was a good eighteen months. Except the very end.

Tony Laplume said...

Oh, I didn't think you thought...Anyway, somewhat poor wording on my part. And the end most definitely sucks.

Andrew Leon said...

Yeah, it does.
It doesn't matter how it comes, whether you know it's coming, or fast or slow it happens.

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The Armchair Squid said...

I'm glad to hear A to Z was fun. It's a lot of work - hardly worth it without the fun.

Tony Laplume said...

It depresses me that for the majority of those who participate in it, A to Z is a chore, slogging through as many blogs as possible and worrying about whether or not other people are approaching it the way they are. I mean, if you're not doing it to have fun, April really must be as stressful as many of the participants routinely describe it to be. Plenty of people blog on a near-daily basis, and plenty of people visit many blogs on any given day. None of that should be unique. The only difference ought to be bringing some focus to your blogging. Which is to say, if the challenge doesn't help you find a regular voice, then it's not really doing its job. Nothing's more frustrating than finding a blog that operates one way during April, that operates a completely different way the rest of the year. (That's also part of the reason why I changed how I approached the challenge this year. I didn't want to stress about how people were experiencing my efforts.)

Which is to say, people who don't understand that the point of the thing should be having fun.

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