edward c. morse (part 1).

These Morse Family Tree entries will almost definitely continue being rewritten for awhile, in the interest of clarity and my eventual satisfaction.


Above: Nan/Antoinette, mom, Pop/Ed, around 1965? Pitts, if you don't like this picture send me another one.


I associate Pop's death with the beginning of my first adulthood, or what I thought was adulthood. I was 25 when he died, which seems way too old, based on what I know about myself at the time. Or, maybe it's not too old, I mostly just can't believe it was only 15 years ago.

What am I saying. In 1994, I had finally started to believe that I wouldn't be fired from my two-year-old job, that people wouldn't find out that I had lied on my resume and lied in my interview and that basically I didn't know the first thing about PCs or software. In fact, around 1994 I started to believe that I was really, really good at my job, which was, in fact, true.

In 1994 I also broke up with a long-time girlfriend that I'd been living with for those same two years (and dating for six total). Oh, she'll probably read this at some point, won't she. How about if I just say this: have you ever had a boyfriend or girlfriend that EVERYONE you know cannot fathom at all? Like, no one even begins to get why you two are together?

Unfortunately, nobody really tells you these things while they're happening, do they (unless you're about to get married or have a baby). On some level, you know something's not quite right, but you hope for the best. And then what you hear afterwards is, "God, I never understood why you guys were together."* Or worse.

Well, one very very good friend tried to tell me that he didn't understand, in rather blunt terms (I would quote him, but what if she reads this? That's just mean), we were drunk in a crowded Chicago bar, it's possible she was even somewhere in the room, and I seem to remember getting mad, defensive, all the cliches. And, very sadly, that was the last time he and I spoke, probably also 1994. I've been looking for him pretty hard for the past 10 years or so but can't find him. Brian Carlson, if you're out there...sorry bud, you were right.

I will say this: without her, I would never have interviewed for That Job in the first place, a job which truly changed the course of my life and just generally booted my ass into adulthood. I was trying to impress her, or possibly not get yelled at by her, maybe both. Whatever it was, it worked.


In 1994, I flew up to Kane, PA for Pop's funeral. It was my first funeral, or at least my first as an adult. I don't remember too much about it other than the sun shining through the closed drapes, the inhuman coldness of Pop's forehead, and most distressingly, how unbelievably small he looked in his casket. He'd always seemed like a terrifically big man, with bulging calves and forearms; in earlier days I can remember holding on to his index finger when we crossed the street together, it was like I was holding onto a moving tree.

After the service and a night or two at the Kane View Motel (memorable mostly for the coin-operated Vibro-Massage beds), I was to drive Pop's car back down to Atlanta: he'd left it to me in his will, quite a statement on his part. This was a man who was meticulous and knowledgeable about his cars, and for just about every year of my youth he and I could be found discussing the ins and outs of that year's Lincoln Continental.

In 1994, it wasn't a Lincoln, but an equally big golden Pontiac Bonneville, which I would spend the next six years accidentally demolishing bit by tragic bit until I donated it to charity in 2000 in preparation for moving to Europe. Pop and I did not see eye-to-eye on automobile care and maintenance, but I imagine that that was because I was a spoiled suburban punk who'd never had to struggle for anything in his life, and he'd lived through the Depression and served in World War II.


But the point of all this, this point, this trip south in Pop's car, this is where I feel like something began. Maybe call it Part I of my real life. I can completely see the synthetic, wheat-colored inside of the car, the grey skies and wet autumn scenery of the Catskill Pocono (? what mountains were these?) Mountains outside, and a freshly-unwrapped copy of Jeff Buckley's Grace in the cassette deck for the first time. And a mix of excitement, optimism, nostalgia, and love of the unknown.


This post hasn't really been about Pop yet, has it.


* I think we all know what the answer here almost always is.



Erica said...

I think this stuff is really good and I am enjoying the way you are retelling the story of our family tree. Great idea! It makes me dissapointed that we didn't pay more attention to this stuff when Nan and Pop were around. Too bad lessons are learned the hard way. I am looking forward to reading more!

MEM said...

Thanks, eeshker. It makes me disappointed that I didn't pay more attention to them when they were around.

Will try to do more tomorrow...