Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dad-- a Tribute

My father died yesterday.What I wrote for his birthday last month (below)
 remains accurate. The official Obituary skims his life, leaving out what is most real. Of course I have fond memories, mostly of his life before 1970 when I graduated from college and Dad moved on to his second wife. As she once said, "Marriage is the triumph of habit over hate." Quite forgotten, it seems, are their early days together, he turning his historic law office and house into an art gallery, going to art shows, making her conversion from English teacher to artist complete. Now all that is left for his second wife is the ample Air Force retirement check she will have the rest of her life.

Going to his final funeral service and to the military salute that will  honor him means little to me. I think my father dies with only one person truly loving him and missing him, my good brother, John. For me, there are memories of travels together when I was a child, of playing chess, or bowling, of some letters we wrote, some of which I still have, while I was in college, graduate school, and living in the carriage house attached to his office. We had some good times; but he remained a mystery to me. His childhood as the son of a Jewish father, that he found out was not his biological father, his ambiguous religious feelings, his affairs and love life, his politics and love of the military remain unknown. He was always secretive and capable of telling lies, sometimes based on his prudishness. I do recall fondly his love of Stravinsky and his reading of Schopenhauer. It is sad how much he loved, and was so little loved in return.

94 -- But Not Counting (Dec. 10, 2015)

"To sleep, perchance to dream"

end of summer smile
shades made for the afterlife
fists pep pop tabletop

--Haiku Cola

Today is my father's 94th Birthday.

To celebrate in Savannah my brother is taking Dad for ice cream and a look at the nearby lake. Dad has no idea it is his birthday. My brother goes over each Saturday to persuade him to leave the bed and go for an afternoon outing that usually involves fast food ice cream.

It would be nice to say his life is comfortable. It would be nice to say he is well cared for. After all, has he not lived to the very ripe age of 94? Without home care. Without a bath or shower. Without food except for nutritious "shakes." Or, as my brother reports, gobbling up everything on his plate for Thanksgiving when there was real food to eat. Like Rip Van Winkle, he spends long hours in slumber; only he will not awake to a wondrous future.

Not that I have room to complain about his being ignored and left uncared for.  He and I have no relationship any longer to speak of. I see him on Saturdays on my I-Pad and he tells me to shave. Today, he was rather lively, saying he had peach ice cream and repeatedly surprised to hear it's his birthday.

Dad's quips include still the desire to chase after girls. Sometimes he sings for the I-pad.
The military man, the retired colonel is gone. So too the Savannah lawyer. He still mentions Kathy's name with love and devotion. But much as we might think, or wish, he does not see the world through rose colored glasses. He is a shade wearing shades. He has become the archetype of countless aged souls who are left to fade away, those around him daily expecting him to die, leaving him seldom washed (unless he can manage to shower himself), without medicine of any kind to help him, or anyone to encourage some minutes of exercise.

Yes, I feel sad for the old man I long, long ago played chess with. He is gone. And yet, he lives. How I love the irony of the photo of him and his umbrella with Munch's Scream

Dad has been most often the stoic, screaming only in irrational anger, never-- that I recall-- in pain or anguish. His smile has always included his defiance.



Lt Col Jack Everett Miller, U. S. Air Force (Ret.), 94, of Savannah, Georgia and husband of Kathryn “Kathy” Woodard Garriss Miller, died peacefully Friday afternoon, January 29, 2016, at St. Joseph’s Hospital.miller - jack (150 x 207)
Colonel Miller served as an Attorney-at-Law for over 40 years in Savannah, being a member of several local law firms before establishing his own firm on East Oglethorpe Avenue. He also served as Judge Advocate in his capacity as a member of the Air Force Reserve. Colonel Miller rose through the ranks from non-commissioned officer to Lieutenant Colonel in his decades of service to the military, including duties during the Korean War. As a businessman, Colonel Miller was a prominent member and chapter president of the American Business Club, now simply known as the AMBUCS, a charitable organization which helps children with disabilities. During the 90’s, after retiring as an attorney, Colonel Miller dedicated his time and energy to photography, and exhibiting his work in his own gallery, The New Wave Gallery, at City Market. He also assisted his wife, Kathy Miller, at Signature Gallery at City Market. When time allowed, he enjoyed fishing in the waters around Savannah, bowling with the AMBUCS League, and relaxing at home with his family.
Colonel Miller is survived by his wife, Kathy Miller; two sons, Jack Miller, Jr. and John Miller; a son-in-law, Darryl Gossett; his step-daughter, Lisa Garriss; his beloved grand-daughter, Margaret V. Miller; his dear sister, Sarah Deich; his brother-in-law, Henry Woodard, and several nieces and nephews.
The funeral service will be held at 10 o’clock Thursday morning in the chapel of Gamble Funeral Service. Interment, with full military honors, will be at 2 o’clock Thursday afternoon in Beaufort National Cemetery.
Remembrances: The Humane Society for Greater Savannah – 7215 Sallie Mood Drive, Savannah, Georgia 31406-3922.

Online Condolences

  1. BethAline Smith
    My sincere condolences to Kathy Miller and the entire family. Mr. Miller was a fine, thoughtful, and creative man. I have happy memories of him and I pray for your peace as you grieve him.
  2. Amy Barnes
    I am so sorry to hear of your father’s passing. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Amy Barnes
  3. William Rhode
    You have my sincere condolences on the passing of Jack, he was a great man. I was honored to have known him. If I can help you in this difficult time, please let me know.
  4. Deborah Mueller
    Kathy, so very sorry to learn of Jack’s death, my condolences to you and your family. He was a good man and I feel lucky to have known him.
  5. Jan Bedol
    I was so interested to read about your father’s life. What an amazing person! I am keeping you and your family in my prayers.
  6. Daryl & Brian
    It was a great pleasure meeting Jack and getting to know him. We shall miss him. Our thoughts go out to you Kathy, and the whole family.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday-- Here Comes the Sun

Sunday and the sun is back in full swing, following last night's brilliant moon. The snow has come and gone except for a white splotch here and there in the ivy. Change is the way of things; might as well flow. My father gazes from his skeleton at my brother's I-Pad, "Jackie is on the phone?" he parrots John. He looks at my face not really getting any of it. What, I wonder keeps him going at 94, confined to the hospital or the rehab center, sometimes in fury, sometimes quietly eating the ice cream my brother patiently spoons him. Where, you may well ask, is my compassion?
The ubiquitous absurdity of life is what overwhelms me. We laugh at it over and over-- the nonsense pouring forth from Sarah Palin, the absurdity, way more serious, of imagining a President Trump. The absurdity of capitalism making an undeserving few rich and powerful while millions settle for so little, or fail to protest their degradation. The absurdity of meaningless work, like rolling the boulder up the mountain, only to see it roll back to the bottom. Bernie's dream of social democracy and the absurdity of its dismissal by millions as being tyranny of some sort.
I refuse to succumb to the absurdity, like the belief in a benevolent god or gods, or absurd trinity, or other such wishful thinking. Religions lead too often to the absurdity of killing those who don't believe, or to subjugating whole sectors of humanity. Freud was so brilliant in seeing such belief rooted in the trust of a child in his/her father, no matter the delusion, no matter the evil that father might perpetrate.
I can neither beat the absurd nor join it. So what is left? To climb up to the peak of the mountain without the boulder. Take a long look at the view, simultaneously beautiful and hideous, the sublime and the slime.
I recall the final verse of "Dover Beach," but wonder to whom or to what to be true. Friendship, perhaps, or nature in some pantheistic way: or is that, too, just being absurd? Of course there is always art, entertainment, novels, hedonistic pleasures, simple and not so simple, ice cream, hot chocolate, and best of all, music... 

Nina Simone Here Comes The Sun (listen)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Another Year, 2016

Holiday in Savannah

(click the photos)

Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Years... anything to keep us from admitting the monotony of the repetition of short days and long nights. The holidays have become a self-fulfilling prophecy since each year the accumulating parties, festivities, travels, presents, and revelations of holidays past flood our memories. So we do our best to make something memorable happen again. We celebrate ridiculous gods and customs, dance around whatever our various embodiments of Stonehenge happen to be. For all that, the long nights may still hold dark thoughts, depression, the realization that our world, general and particular, is no paradise.
The demise of 2015 was no different. Facebook now holds many of the details of those days in my own and friends' lives. So let me here give a glimpse of the roller-coaster ride from mid-December to now. It was a good time to do some contemplation.
Around the Solstice, Will and I drove to Nashville by way of Starr's. Getting high on the porch and experiencing the bonding of the three of us rocked. Will and I engaged in our usual soul searching. Starr was a delight, as always. The trip from the Mountain to Nashville was all up and down. High up on the campus of Sewanee, we enjoyed the ambiance of that elevated realm of learning and intellect, as well as an ironic embrace of tradition in a very liberal arts world. I loved sharing the University and reminiscing of those extreme times circa 1968-70.


The trip to Nashville to see some bands was, for me, a tedious waste of time and energy. I don't think it was much better for Will who had to drive us all the way back to Atlanta from midnight until 4 AM. Tired, we were no longer engaged in enchanting dialog.

The East Room

For Christmas itself, Darryl and I spent a few days on another mountain at Amicalola Falls. We did have some good food in the Lodge there; however, the fog and the pouring rain and thunder obscured the scenery.  We did manage the short hike to the top of the roaring waterfall itself, plunging precipitously into the abyss created by the dense fog.

Amicalola Falls and Fog

Then came Savannah. My father fell and broke his hip on Christmas eve and ruined Kathy's plans for Xmas dinner the next day. After a successful operation to repair the fracture, Dad spend days in the hospital and went to a rehab/nursing home for "recovery" for the next 100 days. John and I spent several evenings with him in the hospital and I convinced the nurse to feed him ice-cream each night since he pushed away his dinner.

John and I managed to spend one warm, sunny day at Tybee walking on the beach around the pier and going for shrimp at Coco's Sunset Grill where, oddly, I managed to fracture a tooth. Dealing with the tooth and a new $1400. crown took up my first week of the New Year when Darryl and I returned to Druid Hills. I have to add that The Savannah Bed and Breakfast Inn disappointed us with a small, if pleasant, room  where we were bombarded every day there with construction on the terraces and patios. Still, I was able to visit there at different times with Buz, Ben, and Effie.

New Years's Eve, Darryl and I wandered over to neighbor Gerry's for the midnight celebration, fireworks, and champagne. The party set the perfect mood for taking on yet another year, one that will bring the madness of another presidential election.

Will (the lion) and Starr
Starr's Porch 

Will and Sewanee

Johnny Harris Xmas 2015

 Home Sweet Home 2016