Sometimes Grief: Barks up the wrong tree
About the Book
The title for this collection of prose and poetry Sometimes Grief –barks up the wrong tree came to me in the late Spring of 2011 during an ensuing period of significant change and a series of disappointing struggles with some of the more harsh realities of life. The passing of my Father on Easter Sunday was hardly an unanticipated event. His decline was (for the most part) mercifully brief and he left the earth with loved ones present, in his own home and quite peacefully. The rituals of saying goodbye were observed with the usual decorum and to be honest? That part of dealing with the inevitable demise of life of a beloved father was actually a quiet sort of sad comfort in the memory of a good man and vibrant artist. I thought I was adjusted to that. Not so. What ensued on a personal level was a real old fashion shit storm of confusion, doubt, despondency and loss. Normal you say? To be expected? Perhaps. On the surface maybe, but such a world of chaos descended that it virtually affected every aspect of my life. And then one late Spring morning after teaching a class at a local community college a phrase resounded in my mind as clear as a bell. Sometimes grief-barks of the wrong tree. It was a revelation really. Surely not an answer to anything, merely a sort of internal realization. A recognition. I was in fact grieving, angry and ashamed that my intense personal feelings of sadness and loss were not wholly directed to my Dad being gone. No. I was furious the world with all of its confusion, contradictions and uncertainties that had encroached upon what I perceived should have the appropriate grief towards my recent loss. I felt my emotional interior had been hijacked by worldly concerns. Someone or something was diverting and demanding my attention and energy towards a dead end of self centered remorse, regret and devastation. Intellectually I accepted, (even understood) someone very close to me had left. Died. But I discovered much to my embarrassment that I was ill-equipped to deal with the more collateral damage of the “off-the-rack” influence of others in my life and while it was true I once cared deeply about them, I now had to face the unpleasant truth that the relationship with them had now gone toxic and was damaging and draining my strength to move on to the next chapter of my life. I couldn’t let it go. And the same time it was like holding a burning white hot ember in the palm of my hand. I responded by closing my hand into a fist and holding the pain tighter. I ran wildly with it, quitting long time teaching positions that represented normalcy, purpose and economic stability. In short ? I was gutting my life. Serving every tie, except the right one. I was determined to hold on steadfast to that smoldering coal in my fist. I wondered what would come first. It would simply burn out or burn a whole through my flesh. At this point I must make this clear. There was yet a third level to the grief. I felt I was being delusional. Indulgencing in private, pointless emotional suicide. I was trying to kill my feelings while entire world out there had real problems. Serious tangible sorrows and pains that dwarfed my perceived issues and again I was ashamed at my transparent mini-drama I was perpetrating upon myself. Shutting it all down inside myself switch by switch. My mother’s situation for example certainly could be taken into account. She had lost her husband and life companion of over fifty years and now at an advanced age herself had to deal with his absence on daily basis in the family home they shared practically their entire adult lives. I’ve provided a unique perspective into her own experience in dealing with grief in the section of this collection entitled The Edna Variations. So I did the usual self medicating prescriptions that depressed individuals do. With a vengeance. Thankfully I eventually grew bored with that. So I returned to an old friend. My oldest friend. My self- expressi
About the Author
Vincent Quatroche Sr. pictured above circa 1947 was a vibrant, productive artist working in a number of mediums and styles. From abstract, cubist, pop-art (both in oils and tempera), to more traditional, conservative techniques and subjects, Quatroche employed a highly individualist style that evolved continually during his lifetime. His early influences were variations on the themes of Pollack and Picasso. As his creative production which numbered in hundreds of canvases, sketches and notebooks spanned over half a century, Vincent consistently challenged himself to grow and express his talents with a variety of subject matter. His great love of the history of trains from steam to diesel figured prominently. Still life, landscapes of the sea, landscapes and portraits were also constant themes rendered in pen, ink and watercolors. In his latter years he returned to the impressionist treatment of another of his lifelong loves, Jazz and the great musicians who were giants in this art form. He continued to work up to within weeks of his demise at the age of 89 on Easter Sunday 2011. This book of short stories is dedicated to my father, who was my first teacher, mentor and friend and through his love, support and encouragement inspired me to find my own voice in creativity and expression.