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Thoughts on Pérez and Processing on Losing Dad

When George Pérez let the world know in early December that he has been diagnosed with an inoperable, terminal cancer and that he’d been given 6-12 months to live, it obviously rocked the industry. At least the various news/rumor/etc. sites. And fans who have loved his work across several decades.

It was a big thing for me, as well…such a "modern legend" (albeit going back to the ’80s at LEAST)…a "legendary artist" of my own time in comics…though I didn’t know much about him at the time.

I know I knew the name, but he wasn’t the first artist whose work I could recognize from one project to another as a kid (that goes to Alex Ross). And not having had access to back issues of Crisis on Infinite Earths (I barely knew of the event for awhile and then it was such a dividing point between "Grandpa’s comics" and "current comics") that I never bothered to seek it out.

In looking at the Wikipedia article, I see that I was actually exposed to his art very early on in my earliest issues of Action Comics. I missed Infinity Gauntlet’s original go, only "discovering" that for myself in the late-’90s through a friend; and it’s amazing to see all these comics that he DID work on that I know/remember, albeit not necessarily having remembered it was him/his art.

While he didn’t "matter" to me at the time, another early "exposure" for me was Ultraforce in 1994; some great-looking issues that had a lotta hype behind them, and I do remember and still to this day kinda hold as THE standard for those characters’ appearances.

And of course I remember the hype and such when JLA/Avengers finally saw publication back in the early-2000s or so; and one piece of "comic art" I’ve always wanted is that large poster of Pérez/Ross’ cover to Crisis on Infinite Earths that (if I recall) shows over 500 characters.


But what I think REALLY hit me was mentions in articles of his being born in 1954. My Dad was born in 1950. And with all of my Dad’s health issues the last few years, it was too easy to empathize cuz I had asked myself what I would be doing/feeling if I got that sorta news about MY Dad? And horrible/guilty as I feel to even admit to it, I even at one point had the half-baked thought/question of wondering if we’d lose Pérez or I’d lose Dad, first.

(All of my writing here is absolutely selfish. I’ve never MET Pérez, I don’t know him, he doesn’t know me, and since I can only speak to my own experiences and have my own reasons for writing this right now anyway, it is what it is.)

Pérez discussing (via interviews/posts, apparently) making the most of time left, and some phrasing to soften the obvious definitely "got to" me a bit, and affected some of my thoughts/expectations of stuff in my own life, with Dad.

As part of the Super-Blog Team-Up group, I was gonna do a post going in-depth discussing Pérez and his impact on me (sort of like I just did above) and I was gonna focus on Ultraforce. Dig out the covers, re-read the issues, etc.

But then Dad went into the hospital on Tuesday December 29th, and I lost him a little before 2am Thursday December 30th. Despite the hospitalization, it was sudden and very unexpected, and not that ANYone can EVER be "ready," I sure as heck was not REMOTELY ready. I have so many regrets and hurts and frustrations from the suddenness; the inability for people to really gather or for us to safely hold a proper memorial service yet; stuff I was planning on talking to Dad about, stuff I wanted to ask him, even having been starting to think that "soon" I should start writing stuff done and talking to him on stuff.

As horrible as I thought it would have been, I guess I always figured that with Dad’s "declining health," eventually (EVENTUALLY) (and ideally at LEAST several YEARS into the future!) we’d someday wind up with him in hospice. That we’d see the final days coming and however traumatic and heart-wrenching as it’d be, that we’d GET that. That we’d get an actual, more proper "goodbye" or something. Closure?

Based on what ultimately went down in that hospital room a few weeks ago, I do believe I was holding Dad’s hand when he passed. I hadn’t said any sort of goodbye, had not "made peace with" the idea, was on my knees holding his hand and praying for his survival and recovery. I didn’t GET "goodbye." I didn’t get a conscious, knowingly-final ANYthing.

And of course, now…I’m muddling through. Going through motions. As I type this on MLK day, I’ve spent several hours this weekend sorting "current year X-books" and getting them bagged and boarded as part of a larger sorting/filing project. And while there’s SOME "satisfaction" to FINALLY getting to this…it just feels so empty and hollow. Comics mean NOTHING compared to Dad. I’d chuck every comic I have here upstairs down the stairs, then close the basement door and seal off the entirety of my 32+ year "collection" to have Dad still here.

But this sorting project "needs" to be done, because I’ve had PILES in the one room for months…over a year, really. Going back to the March 2020 shutdowns and such. And Dad had been increasingly anxious and "on me" about getting stuff dealt with and out of the main space there. But I kept putting him off, all that time…because I HAD TO "do it RIGHT." I "couldn’t" just throw stuff into boxes and onto shelves off to the side somewhere–then they’d just be boxes of random comics, right? So I had to do it right and get them properly sorted so I’d KNOW what was where. And even though we butted heads on it a number of times, he mostly let me be, though he convinced me to get some shelves to at least get the comics off to the side more, and I was actually working on that by early December. And had PLANNED ON dealing with the room thoroughly between Christmas 2021 and New Year 2022 since I had the week off from work. I was also gonna tidy up the basement and get fresh, thorough pics and even do a video walk-through for him. But he was feeling so bad at Christmas that everything was subdued, and then with my anxiety I was just "around," "existing," trying to be "available" at a moment’s notice. And THEN when he went into the hospital, it was ALREADY all I could do to "function normally" while being so worried about him.

And then LOSING him?

So now I have to do this project to honor some of his last wishes. To get that room dealt with and to a state that I can be confident he would have been glad for. And I have to sort and file those comics properly, or else there is no reason whatsoever that I could not have just chucked ’em into boxes months ago to make him happy, when he could have appreciated it!

Meanwhile, I FEEL all the more for Pérez and his family. I’m a bit jealous, too. That even with such horrible, dire, terminal news…they’re GETTING time. I had NO IDEA this was gonna happen with Dad, when it did, and so I never knew that Christmas 2020 would be our last "decent" Christmas. That December 3rd would be my last birthday with him. That joining him and Mom for a birthday dinner for him in October would be our last "out to dinner" experience together. I didn’t know at new year 2021 that we’d not make it THROUGH 2021 whole as a family.

So what am I trying to say? I don’t even know. I’ve written all these words, and on one hand I feel like maybe I should delete this, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to. I don’t know if I’ll post this immediately, or give it a couple days; don’t know if I’ll wait and post this to coincide with the SBTU group and their more "proper" posts about Pérez.

This is all just stream-of-conscious rambling here, and I just kinda hope that it’s helped ME at least in the typing, and that maybe it has some meaning for anyone out there READING this.

I do NOT feel like this post is doing honor to anyone, not properly…but it’s selfish and me "processing" and justifying and….whatever.

But it’s ME, so whatever that says, I guess.

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Understanding Peter

spidey_cover_amazing_545Way back in 2007–15 years ago–we had One More Day.

I hated it. If only on principle.

Essentially, what I remember the story for, is this: Aunt May was dying, and it came down to Peter (and MJ) making a deal with MEPHISTO to save her.

In exchange for the life and health of Aunt May, Mephisto got "their marriage."

It was as if the marriage had never happened. So they weren’t divorced, neither was dead, none of that "baggage."

And I remember a lot of the argument against the story being that Aunt May wouldn’t have wanted them to give up their marriage over her. She’d want them happy. And she was "old," while they’re young. And so on.

But I never considered it from Peter’s side. Not REALLY.

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Yes, this is a fictional story, about fictional characters, etc; I am keenly aware despite how I’ll talk about the characters.

Because I now know that I would give so much, FOR "one more day."

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I now UNDERSTAND what one would be willing to give up to save a loved one, if they could. That I’d rather stay/be single, if I could have not lost Dad last week.

It doesn’t matter that he was 71, and I’m 41, and statistically I might have another 30 years in me. It doesn’t matter if Dad would have had another six weeks or another six years…I would trade so much to have him back.

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I cannot condone making a deal with THE DEVIL; so I can say that THAT part I cannot understand.

But Peter’s willingness (as I recall?) to sacrifice being married, and so much of the happiness he’d found….to give that up in exchange for whatever additional time he could have with May?

Yeah.

I get it now.

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Until all things new. "Get some good rest. Get some good sleep. I love you."

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Until then we’ll have to muddle through…somehow

This post–the one immediately following the Weekly Haul December 22, 2021 post–was supposed to be the Weekly Haul December 29, 2021 post. I went to the shop on Wednesday. I got new comics Wednesday.

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BUT…I was ALREADY going through the motions. Sick with worry over my Dad in the hospital. But he was in the hospital where they could give him fluids, ensure he (got) his meds, other stuff that Mom and I just were incapable of here at the house. She got to visit him Wednesday–she left minutes after I got back and I took the dog who haaaaates being apart from him. Or all of us at once.

We got a call from the hospital Wednesday night…

We rushed to the hospital.

I don’t know HOW long what I saw in those couple hours will be with me. Very often when I close my eyes and/or lose focus, I’m back in that hospital room, seeing what I saw. Experienced what I experienced. Or worse, I’m in the hall with the flurry of medical professionals rush into the room. I’m seeing what they would not have wanted me to see.

What no one should have to see.

And this scene..these scenes…from Superman: New Krypton Special #1 that were moving and hit me hard in 2008 at even the CONSIDERATION of the thing, albeit (then) being FICTION…these are now all too real.

For me.

Except I don’t have a Lois.

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Whether he knew I was there, or heard me, or heard Mom…

I got to say goodbye.

I was holding his hand.


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Once upon a time, I could only "imagine."

Now I know.

Now…I understand.

And will have to muddle through.

SOMEhow.

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Cat’s in the Cradle

I didn’t get around to writing this properly in time for Fathers’ Day, but thought I’d share it with y’all today.

I learned a lot about my dad, about my relationship with him, while I was in college. Away at college. Toward the latter part of my freshman year and throughout my sophomore year, so many things seemed to finally make sense, or simply occurred to me that never had before.

I remember reading one of the Dragonlance books, and a character made a comment: “We raise our children to leave us.” And something about that hit me hard in a big way. I saw my parents, and all they’d done and were doing for me in a whole new way. Something simple, yet for me, it was huge.

I also recall the lyrics to the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” suddenly being very real and in-my-face. Just listening to it, and realizing what the song was about and what it meant. I don’t recall now, though if I picked up the phone or wrote in an email, but at the time I felt that sudden need to reach out, to NOT let time slip on by.

And I was reminded of this Satuday when a radio show host had the song going in the background and was talking about it.

And I got to thinking about comics, and Dad, and how much of who I am today is because of Dad.

I wouldn’t be where or who I am today without him.

Even with comics–same deal. I have related in the past how it was Mom and my grandpa who introduced me to comics.

But it was Dad who made “being into” comics a possibility, a reality.

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