Monday, July 03, 2006

Some Final Thoughts

This week of mourning for Acidman is drawing to a close. By all accounts I've come across, his send-off - the services, the gatherings afterwards - were just right, fine and fitting tributes that he would have approved of and enjoyed. That's some unusually good luck.

Probably the kind of good luck that people make.

As the week wore on, among the blog eulogies for this man I never knew were more fine and fitting writings. I saw little to none of people pretending he was never a jackass. Among the ones that spoke most to me, and to some others, were these:

Kelley at Suburban Blight, http://www.suburbanblight.net/archives/002415.php#comments
Juliette at Baldilocks, http://baldilocks.typepad.com/baldilocks/2006/06/robert_smith.html
Steve at Hog on Ice,
http://www.hogonice.com/2006/06/why_i_read_gut_rumbles.html
Rube at You Bitch - a very funny piece called The New Guy,
http://www.youbitch.org/mt/archives/000643.php
Nancy at My Garden Spot,
http://nancysgardenspot.blogspot.com/2006/06/loss-another-one_27.html
Desert Cat, http://desertcat.blogspot.com/2006/06/requiem.html
Acidman's excellent friend of 30 years, Catfish, http://www.catfish.blog-city.com/all_about_the_service_for_my_buddy_robbie_the_bowlegg_smith.htm
and the woman he'd had his last serious connection with - including the subsequent blogdramas - Livey, Northwoods Woman, http://northwoodswoman.blogspot.com/2006/06/i-cant-sleep.html

Kelley is Livey's blogmom, and Acidman was her blogdad.

Would you like to do something to honor Rob's memory? Make a donation to the American Diabetes Association. The complete info is here:
http://www.catfish.blog-city.com/do_this_for_my_buddy_rob_smith.htm

Catfish, who is spoken of as having no filters - and if you read him for a minute, you'll see why - has been a beacon of strength and graciousness throughout. I read post after post of thanks to him for this, for being such a rock in his own time of great loss. This side of Catfish, this pure and true Southern gentleman, might surprise folks from other parts, or any people who are lazy and ignorant enough to bore their own selves by only looking at what's immediately apparent in another human being.

I see so many interesting accounts of the contradictions inherent in this Acidman. Often I see him called *a true Southern gentleman,* yet I know a true gentleman does not call women cunts and black people niggers. The examples of his tenderness and harshness, his superb advice and his foolish choices, abound. He was - and also, he wasn't.

We're all a mass of contradictions. Perhaps one thing that drew others to him so, that sense of being *larger than life,* was because in him those contradictions were so very large.

****************************************************************************************

Speculations on the cause of his demise have been surprisingly few and courteous. People are curious, and I myself don't consider this automatically inappropriate. Most of what I've seen fits with my own thoughts on how it occurred. While, as I said, the jury's still out, I think it might have gone something like this:

We have here a man whose health has tanked, whose bad choices are starting to overwhelm him, and who's seeing that the hope for improving many of these things is not so good. While he recently survived a perforated ulcer and subsequent peritonitis and gut surgery, I can tell you very well that curing serious infections can fool you. I won't bore you with any of my own experiences there just now - no, I will later! - but it's quite possible that it recurred.

I think it was on Catfish's blog a month or two ago that the subject of pain treatment came up, and Catfish said Robbie had been throwing up from pain. That happens. But at that rate? I wondered at the time if it weren't at least partly due to the belly complications acting up again.

Add the damage to his liver from years of alcoholism, to his entire system from prostate cancer and its difficult cure, a family history of early demise. Added up, I think it made it possible for him to just...quit.

I don't think this man wanted to die so much as he didn't want to keep on living in the condition he was in. There is a difference.

On reading of his death, my first reaction was that he wouldn't have deliberately done this without seeing his beloved Grandmommie first. His *suicide post* said he hadn't seen her for a month and really needed to. Catfish pointed out other things he would have done too, like saying goodbye to his closest friends. His beloved daughter was coming to visit in a week. The timing was off.

And he posted again after the *suicide post.* That would not be characteristic of most peoples' suicide notes, surely. It was characteristic of Acidman to rant some about wanting to die; it wasn't the first time by any means. If he was so sick he was about to die from natural causes, writing that rant in his extremis would make sense.

Livey, an astute health professional, talked about the connection between physical and mental health. She put it in such a way that it rang eerie bells for me about what I'd just posted about my cats saving my life.

You see, if you're really sick, and you don't want to keep on living like that but you also don't want to commit suicide, you don't have to kill yourself.

All you have to do is give up.

****************************************************************************************

Was he really, at heart, an atheist? There's another question being bandied about a bit. A few who knew him have said he acknowledged a God in rare private moments. That his argument wasn't against God's existence, but against the turns his own life had taken. That he was mad at God, and we don't get mad at something that doesn't exist.

From what little I've read of him, I'll put in another two cents' worth: he seemed angry at the charlatans who prey upon believers, and angry at those who try to force others to live by their own religious beliefs. Those are both angers that I share.

****************************************************************************************

As I've said, Acidman and I never knew each other, and probably never would have. Not just because I am, and must remain, a hermit; we were simply too different in too many ways that matter. I dislike being around the sort of train-wreck life that so fascinated his many readers. Personal taste. And while I certainly can't begin to guess, it wouldn't surprise me if he'd have had a similar reaction to me - though perhaps not on a train-wreck issue. A boredom issue, maybe!

Catfish, you and I don't know each other either, and for my recluse life and other reasons too, I expect we never will. But that doesn't mean I have any less regard for you. I can honestly say that I truly do not wish to add to your sorrow in your loss of your loved and loving friend.

But I've been grinding my teeth down, keeping my mouth shut, holding back an intense fury at something you and Rob and I do have in common: terrible pain, and terrible obstacles at getting it treated.

I know, absolutely, that Rob Smith's problems getting treatment had nothing to do with any of his friends or family. It had everything to do with people who think they have a right to impose their moral code on others. The sort of people who a friend of mine calls *health Nazis* - they'll kill you to save you from smoking cigarettes.

Or, too often, to relieve their guilt or anger over a friend or family member who died of a drug overdose. You see, if they can sue the prescribing doctors, and make very stringent laws against pain meds, they can pretend that their dead loved ones weren't really responsible for their own actions.

To the extent they added to the burdens of Rob Smith's life, added to his suffering, to his losing hope and wanting to give up, those people are, to my mind, very close to being murderers.

****************************************************************************************

I see I've spent a quiet week on my blog, mulling over all the events surrounding the demise of this man I was pretty much uninterested in. More than anything else, I can now say this for sure: I can see why so many others were very much interested in him and the things he had to say. I can see not just why people got angry at him, but why so many of the same people held him in such high regard.

Thank you all for listening.

I'm done.

12 comments:

GUYK said...

Very well said

k said...

Thanks, guyk. I'm so sorry for your loss. He was SO jealous of your vegetables! Good thing he got to pick some obscene 'maters this year. You could really tell those made him happy.

pepektheassassin said...

Some really good posts here! Well done.

k said...

Thank you, miss assassin. I'm sorry you missed out on the phenomenon of Gut Rumbles as it was still occurring. While it was not for me, he had well over 3 million hits for good reason. I'd have loved to hear your take on it, on his writing.

He used to say there are 3 types of bloggers: linkers, thinkers, and stinkers. He was a stinker. Of the stinker types I've perused out there, I don't recall a single other one who had a degree in English lit.

Nancy said...

Well said dear.

k said...

Nancy, thanks. For you, this seems to be one of those years we sometimes have, where those losses just keep coming. My Walter's having one of those, himself.

I've seen your comments posted here and there lately, and I see a person who is able to extend comfort by the simple and unasked-for virtue of sharing that experience.

To see you able to start reconnecting is a good thing, a healing sign. I'm glad.

I may be leaning on it a bit here soon myself.

Catfish said...

Pretty damn good writing. I do think it was natural cause that killed my friend. He had plenty of plans for the coming weeks. His daughter was coming to town for a two week vavction, he was also going to take her to the bank and get her to sign some papers and even turn some money over to her. He was going to call my CPA and get the IRS thing taken care of. He owed the IRS some money, but not the 60,266.00 they said he did. I told Rob that my CPA could get all the added charges they put on him. He was coming down to my house and help me build a chicken coop, at one time at the mini-farm Rob had 40 chickens. He also wanted to catch some more fish from a nice chair I had at my pond. He loves freshwater fish. He still had his garden and I was there a week ago and we were still getting maters and peppers out of his garden, he loved to grow things. I also told Rob, when he started feeling better, I was goinf to Costa Rica with him, he wanted me to go with him the last time, but I could not. He was also going to meet with another doctor about his bone spurs. His belly, ucler and liver were almost shot. To my knowlegde, he only fell off the wagen one time and he told me he was sick as a dog after that only time. He told me that he fucked up and was not going to slip again. He use to cuss me out one minute and then love me to death the next. We been down the same roads together a many a time. I warned him of his ex wife, I knew all about her, before he ever met her. I warned his many times with people present. He was a better writer than a music man, he had a writing degree from the UGA but never made any money writing. He was my friend for a long time, he had our ups and downs, he was no saint. Nost people only knew Rob from his blog. He was not the same in person. People like Willy, Dave, Rick, Georgia, Donny and me, knew Rob, not the blog. Keep on writing my friend and never forget my buddy, Cat

Jean said...

Saw your comment about my writing on Parkway's blog.....I appreciate the complement and hope you visit again when you can....also should note, though, that I am not "so young"...55 here...:)
I like your style here and hope you don't mind if I check in once in a while.

Jan said...

Well...you called it just the way you saw it, and didn't pull any punches...I like that. Good writing.

k said...

Jan and Jean, thanks. I try hard to tell it like I see it. Not as easy as I'd wish sometimes! But I'm really glad you like it.

Jean - that was on Desert Cat I think? - nice to see another Floridian around the 'sphere! I guess I thought you were younger because of a piece you wrote about going off to school. Silly of me. But of course, in Florida, at 55 you still must call yourself young or the 90-year-olds will come beat you up. I'll be back at *Pondering* some more. And of course, i NEVER mind anyone coming here to read! Y'all come back, any time.

Ah, Catfish. This cannot be easy for you. Like with most bloggers, I never bought that Rob's blog persona was the same as the man himself. Especially the cats bit. I read what you wrote about your kittens, how he loved them and how they loved him back. That makes perfect sense to me.

You got the best of him, knowing the man as he was in real life. And, probably, some of the worst of him. You have a strength, or a tolerance, something, that I don't have in that way. On your blog, I have read about things you've done or said that blow me away - tough beyond words. My own way of being tough is real and true, but it's different than yours, a different type of toughness.

What yours did was this: it gave you the gift of a friendship with an extraordinary man. When we really love someone we take them *warts and all.* You did. Because of your own unique strength, you got the love of a very special person.

Yes. I'll keep writing. And if you stop writing, yourself, I will haunt you till you start up again.

And no. I won't ever forget your friend.

Jean said...

OOPS....Desert Cat.....right.. blushing here....

k said...

Oh! that's okay! Believe me, we've all done FAR worse.

This just makes you a member of the family.