I’ve always found it hard to deal with loss. In particular the death of someone I know. I can remember being 12 years old and finding out my Grandpa Hubner died. I didn’t cry. I loved him very much, but I couldn’t find that place inside of me to let tears flow. It wasn’t until after he was gone that I’d be sitting and suddenly a wave of sadness would hit me that I’d want to go to my bedroom, pretending I needed to do homework, and then just quietly sob all because a commercial reminded me of him. I’d have dreams about Elwood Augustus Hubner, too. He’d be sitting on the chair in our living room and I’d be sitting on the floor. The curtains would be closed but the sun shined brightly behind them making the living room glow an eerie auburn shade. He’d never say anything and neither would I. I’d just sit there on the floor and he in the chair and we’d watch TV. It’s weird because that wasn’t something we’d do together in real life. In real life he and Dorothy Jean Hubner would come over to our house on Sundays and we’d sit in the kitchen and visit. They’d drink coffee and smoke one More cigarette after another and my parents would talk to them about whatever. There was always a mild tension between my mom and Grandma Hubner. Dorothy Jean came from an immediate family with little wealth, but distant relatives that had lots of wealth. Dorothy Jean wanted that privileged life the rich Amos’ had that lived in Metropolis, Illinois. My grandpa, on the other hand, worked his ass off everyday of his life. He wanted success, but by his own calloused, dirty hands. When he was younger he worked at a railroad, loading 100 lb bags of concrete onto rail cars by hand. That would explain back issues he’d had later in life I suppose. My grandpa owned a Chevy dealership when my dad was a kid. I don’t think he owned it for very long but he made a go of it. He eventually settled as a Parts Manager at another dealership. That was the last job I remember him having before he stopped working altogether. He and my dad built a treehouse in our backyard for me. It stayed in that tree until my own kids were born when my dad decided it needed to come down for safety reasons(the only ones using it at that point were squirrels.)
In his youth, Elwood was someone to be feared if you crossed him as he was a featherweight boxing champ. He had a temper, too. My dad will attest to that. But he was also a very sweet, kind grandpa that I enjoyed being around whenever I could. I never stayed at their house in Nappannee, Indiana on Walnut Street as they always had a cat. I was incredibly allergic as a kid(I still am allergic today, just not as severe.) My grandparents loved me, but they loved their cats as well(more.) No, instead they would make the trip to our house on Sundays and have dinner or just visit. Sometimes we’d head to Ox Bow Park in Elkhart, In and have a picnic lunch. We’d eat and explore. We’d play games and climb the lookout tower that gave a great view of the park. We’d even go to the beach as well. I don’t remember the beach trips but there are pictures to prove they did happen. Even though there was some distance between them and my family, I still loved him(and my grandma) very much…
So when he died why didn’t I seem sadder? I can remember right after he died I was watching ‘Leave It To Beaver’ and my dad sat on the couch reading the paper. I never saw my dad cry either. It was his dad, and I never saw him cry. I suppose maybe when he said he was going out to the garage to work on his ’55 Chevy, maybe that was like me saying I was going to go work on homework in my room.
I don’t know.
Why am I talking about my grandpa? I guess this is about grief, and dealing with death in our own way. On January 3rd, 2014 one of my closest and dearest friends lost his daughter in a car accident. “Lost” his daughter. He didnt’ lose her. She was taken from him by a hell of a winter storm and icy roads. Maddy was a bright girl that saw the world with much different eyes than most 19 year olds. I knew Maddy as a little kid. My wife and I and my cousin drove to the hospital in the middle of the night on August 3rd, 1994 so we could meet Maddy. We couldn’t get in as, well, it was in the middle of the night and we were idiot 20 year olds, but we did eventually meet Madelyn. She was a quiet little girl that always seemed to be letting her surroundings just soak in. If ever there was a stoic toddler, she was it. After a certain age and she moved to another town with her mom I never really saw her or her siblings much. Maybe in passing when her dad would bring them all over to the house for an awkward visit. But through her dad I heard how bright and funny she was. She ended up spending her Junior and Senior years of high school at the Indiana Academy at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. This was a school for the best of the best, and she was accepted in easily. She was attending St. Mary’s College in South Bend, IN and had just transferred to Indiana University. She died from injuries sustained in a car accident on January 3rd, 2014.
Given my penchant for finding it difficult to express grief in an outwardly way, my way of offering condolences to my friend was to put together an album. It’s a collection of musicians that live in general proximity to me. Some I know. Some I know of their work. I asked them all to contribute a song for tribute to a young woman they don’t know. A song to commemorate her life of 19 years. They did it without question and I thank them. It’s free to download, but I ask that you donate to The Conservation Fund in Maddy’s memory. She was involved in Enviromental Health and loved the great outdoors, so her dad thought that would be an appropriate charity to give to. There’s a link to a page where you can do this for her. If anything, this is a great collection of songs written and performed by folks wanting to commemorate the life of a funny, bright, quirky, and beautiful young woman. They’re damn good songs, and I think you’ll like them. “High Tower” was Maddy’s nickname. Madelyn in French means “a high tower”, or so her dad tells me. I believe him.
This album is me going to my bedroom to work on my homework.
Sorry. This took a little longer than I thought it would. You can read more about Maddy here.