Sunday, June 09, 2013

Missing Michael

Cried myself to sleep last night.
I am not ashamed to say I do that often.
Woke with a poem forming in my brain.
A poet I am not, but I share it anyway.

Away from us
Away from the pain
Letting go on that bright day

Brown eyes dark and dimming
He is not in his eyes
But he is in there, somewhere

Reaching out for one last pet for Boo
His grasps our hands to help him through
His fear is strong, so is his grip

Love flows to him and from him
We stroke and hold him and tell him he is beautiful
and so very much loved

His breathing slows and deepens
Wrenching, racking breaths
One last shuddering breath

And he is gone

I miss you so much
My son, my friend

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Waiting for the Wisdom to Come.

The past year has been full of sad celebrations and painful anniversaries in our Life Without Michael. This month, the month when we all knew, really knew, that we were losing him, has been very hard, and it will not get any easier in the weeks that follow. 

There still are no words for the enormity of my loss, but I struggle to find them anyway. I want my remembrances to be about Michael and the mark he left on this world. But mostly I see the hole that he left in mine. 

His death and my grief have changed my life. The profound sense of loss leads me to read and think about the grief process and seek understanding. I keep hoping that time will provide answers. Each month has brought an increased sense of "normalcy" to my New Normal life, but I am still waiting for the wisdom and I mourn the brown-eyed boy who was my son. I miss my Michael so very, very much.

I watched the "GriefWalker" documentary tonight and was introduced to Steve Jenkinson's ideas on grief and dying. He message is that we should not fear Death and that Grief and Love of Life are two twin parts of being human. Perhaps he has some answers for me.

Photo by Michael David Matheny

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Remembering Shandar

My first gaming experiences were at Marshall-U, in 7th grade. Mike wasn't there yet, but he started in the next year, as close as I can remember. We played AD&D and Traveller, mostly. D&D was great, because fantasy is great. But there was always something special about Traveller. For one thing, it was science fiction, and if there's one thing that's better than Fantasy, it's SF.

For another, Star Wars had brought SF to the big screen in 1977, when I was 11 and Mike 10.

And for another, Traveller had the best character generation system ever. Unlike D&D, where you'd roll your character's stats and then start them on their adventuring career, Traveller had you roll dice to take your character through a pre-adventuring career, with terms of service in the military, or as a diplomat, or whatever you chose. Depending on how long you stayed in, what choices you made and how the dice fell, you could wind up with medals honoring your service, a membership in the fabled Travellers Aid Society or even a starship of your own. You could also wind up dead.

Yes, you could get killed before you started playing. It was, in a word, awe-inspiring. Here was a game where getting ready to play was a game in and of itself. We loved it.

One of Mike's characters from these early Traveller games stayed with him over the years. Shandar was a recurring character for Mike, someone he brought into other games and into short stories that he wrote. Shandar was a starship captain, a free trader and sometime mercenary, familiar with firearms and willing to use them. He was from a strange icy planet, where the night was twice as long as the day. And he had the most amazing name:  Shandar Ben Bransvik Fen Snar Snar Fen Grog. The first time I heard that name I knew I'd remember it forever, and to this day I love it.

There's a new edition of Traveller out now, from its original creator Marc Miller. When I found out about the project on Kickstarter, Mike was still alive, and I told him about it. He was excited that Traveller was still around, but I think he knew he wouldn't live to see it. I pitched in for the Kickstarter, hoping that I'd get a chance to show it to Mike.

I didn't, of course.

Patent of Nobility and Travellers' Aid Society cards for Shandar Ben Bransvik
But when I got the email from Marc Miller asking me to choose the name I wanted on my rewards for the Kickstarter project, the choice was obvious. Traveller 5 arrived today. It's a grand thing, and in the box were two cards proudly bearing the name of Shandar Ben Bransvik.

Tonight, I'll sit down with a handful of dice and a copy of Traveller. And I'll raise a glass in memory of Mike, and of Shandar. And I'll see what the future holds.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Happy Birthday Michael

On March 2, 1965, Michael David Matheny was born, two weeks late by my, and my doctor's, calculations, a big (8+ lbs), brown-eyed, long-limbed, chubby, healthy baby boy. Easy going and patient in all things except food. He arrived into a household in turmoil. Three months after his birth and two and a half years after arriving in Holland, his father and I were packed and on our way back to the United States. 

Telling the stories of Michael's life will give me pleasure and focus in the months and years ahead. I will post some of them here and I look forward to hearing Michael stories from others. Today I'm savoring some recent photos of him. Each is a story. I hope you enjoy them.

New Orleans with Jen, 2011.

New Orleans with Jen, 2011.

 Nye's Birthday Party, with Kevin, March 2011.

Nye's Birthday Party, singing to Jen, March 2011.

NewYork City with Jen, 2011

 North Shore? with Jen.

New Orleans with Jen, 2011.

 Picking out pipes in Dublin with Ray and Gabriel, 2011

Meeting Boo.

Key West with Ray. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

How do we mark Michael's birthday...??

I got an email from Amazon telling me that Michael Matheny would be have a birthday in a week, on March the 2nd, and that I might be thinking about buying a book for him. I didn't need their commercial message to remind me, since it has been looming large in my mind for months.

It is all hard, this living without him, but somehow this has been very hard. How do I/we acknowledge this day? His wonderful warm presence is gone from our lives, but I have marked this day every year for 45 years and can't stop the practice even if I wished to do so. Which I don't. But I worried about what seemed the right way to do it?

I decided that my first requirement for the day was to spend it with Kevin and this I will do. We will be together with family and close friends. I think that surviving it, more or less intact, was the second requirement. I am hopeful about this happening also. The third was to give and get hugs from Jen and Ray and Matt and that I will do also, not on the birthday itself, but close enough.

I was aware that Michael liked to celebrate his birthday by having a big dinner party with lots of friends, at his favorite restaurant of the moment. I went to these parties and got to know his friends.

He enjoyed them a lot, both the parties and his friends. And I did too.

And that is part of what made this birthday hard for me. There are many friends who mourn him and want to remember him on this day. I wanted to have a Michael dinner party so I could see and hug them all for the therapy that this would provide.

I have not in fact felt up to organizing such an event, but if there are many who would want this moment to happen, please email me and we will make it happen.

Photos are from his party at the French Meadow, in March 2010, where I met Jen, wonderful Jen, for the first time. She was such a bright spot in his life that seeing her always makes me cry, with joy, I think.

Let me know how you will mark this day.


Sunday, February 03, 2013

This is probably going to make you cry.

As I write this, I'm waiting for iMovie to finish prepping Rocket Ship, so I can upload it to Youtube. I've spent the last 30 minutes or so working with it - Mike recorded it and added effects, but he didn't flip the video, so I needed to do that.

And I needed to add a title screen, and a copyright notice. Fair warning, Glee: You bastards steal my brother's music, and I will spend myself fucking broke fighting you. I'm not going to be reasonable about that.

So, Rocket Ship. I had no idea he'd written this song. And I had no idea he was writing music at all. He recorded this on February 10th. For some perspective, this is what he was writing at that time. The cancer was back in force, we'd learned that radiation therapy was not an option because it was back in multiple locations, he'd started chemo again and was dealing with internal bleeding from the botched catheterization. He was in pain all of the time, medicated to the point of dopiness, and alone.

And he was still making music, still writing songs. I hadn't heard the full version of this song until now. When mom posted the lyrics a couple of days ago, I was surprised to see that there was a part I hadn't heard before.

The part I'd heard is an upbeat declaration that he's going to fight this:

Rocket-ship, rocket-ship
Just close the hatch and hit the switch
Rocket-ship OH, rocket ship
Carry me away, fly me a-way
Rocket-ship, rocket ship
Take me far, far a-way 
Out past Mars, and out past Ju-pi-ter
Faster than light and gaining speed
If I can’t beat it then I’ll out-run it
I’ll go so fast, it can’t catch me 
I’ll fly round the earth, Just like Superman
Spin it ‘round, turn back time
Rocket-ship OH, rocket-ship
Send me to a better time 
They say I can’t change, what I can’t change
What’s done is done and set in stone
(But if)  I can go back, I’ll make them see  
I’ll grab a chisel, and shatter that stone
The part I hadn't heard is softer, sadder:
But what if I -- came --- back (…)
And it was all…  the… same (…)
I couldn’t make it go away (…)
Would you still
Would you still
Would you still (…)
love me
Oh yes, I still love you. 

I miss him so much. 

You can see the video here

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rocket Ship, Oh Rocket Ship

One year ago today, Michael, wrote the rough draft for the lyrics of the song "Rocket Ship," below. He recorded it the next day and made a movie of himself playing it a few days later. I'd like to post the movie to UTube, with Kevin's help. It seems like an proper anniversary for the song. It is a heart breaker, but a great song. It speaks to his strong will to fight and to win his battle, "If I can't beat then I'll out-run it." Would that he could have.

I found this image with the music. It is the Bracket Park Rocket Ship, as it is today. It has been moved from its original location, enhanced and is now an art object, but it was originally part of the children's playground at Bracket Park, in south Minneapolis.

In 1970, Michael's father and I looked at and decided to buy a house in the Seward Neighborhood. We took Michael, age 3, and Kevin, age 4, to see the new house, which they loved, and on our way back to our rental in Bloomington, we drove past this rocket. We stopped and made our two children very happy by letting them explore it for what seemed like hours. It seemed a good omen that the home and the neighborhood would be a good place for children to grow up in. And it was.

Rocket Ship

©Michael Matheny @1/31/12
Key of D (Mandola capoed in 2)

            D                       G         D
Rocket-ship, rocket-ship

        G                             D       A
Just close the hatch and hit the switch

D                            G        D
Rocket-ship OH, rocket ship

G                       D              A
Carry me away, fly me a-way

D                            G        D
Rocket-ship, rocket ship

                G    A    D
Take me far, far a-way


(X) (X) (X) (X)  -  -  -

D                             G           D      
Out past Mars, and out past Ju-pi-ter
D                                A          D
Faster than light and gaining speed
D                                G        D
If I can’t beat it then I’ll out-run it  ^
D                         A              D
I’ll go so fast, it can’t catch me

I’ll fly round the earth, Just like Superman
Spin it ‘round, turn back time
Rocket-ship OH, rocket-ship
Send me to a better time

They say I can’t change, what I can’t change
What’s done is done and set in stone
(But if)  I can go back, I’ll make them see   ^
I’ll grab a chisel, and shatter that stone

(Lead (S))

                    G     C           A
But what if I -- came --- back (…)
                   G        C      A
And it was all…  the… same (…)
                  G         C    A
I couldn’t make it go away (…)

Would you still
                  F#m (?)
Would you still
Would you still (…)
love me


(Possible Acapella chorus)

Possible 3rd Chorus

End:  (X) (X) (X) (X)  -  -  -

P.S. I shared this with LoJo Russo today. She made me aware of the significance of the date. Thank you for that, LoJo, and for your love and support. She too, thought that we could handle seeing this now, I truly hope so. He changed the lyrics somewhat in the movie, making it even more poignant. I hope it is a good thing for all of you to see and hear him and remember how much we miss him. I'd love to hear your comments.

Posted by Marilyn (eclector2), Michael's Mom

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

El Dorado posted to Youtube

I've posted Michael's recording of El Dorado to Youtube.

It's hard to watch. He looks good, and he sounds good. It reminds me of what I have lost, and it makes me cry. It's beautiful, and I am so glad he recorded it, because at least we still have this.

Michael's Music Legacy

Just before Christmas, I was exploring Michael computer and I found the following note from him to us. It was dated February 20, 2012:

Faced with the harsh reality of a serious cancer diagnosis in 2010, I began to realize that none of us will be here forever. In early 2012, while undergoing chemotherapy and taking advantage of good days and nights as they came, I slowly began working on cataloging and archiving all the songs and tunes that I have written. I also include a few covers (obscure and not so obscure) that I play. I will note which songs are mine and which I have covered. 
Some songs also appear on various recordings here and there, and some are seen here for the first time. Many of these are songs that no one -- not even those closest to me or my bandmates -- have heard me play. I thought it would be nice to get them down, just for the record. 
The video is terrible, and is captured using the built-in iSight camera in my Mac into PhotoBooth. The audio, which is all that matters anyhow, was captured using a Zoom h4n stereo recorder, linked via USB to the desktop. The recordings will not be perfect, and are usually single takes. 
I retain copyright to all of my own songs, and likewise I also copyright the arrangements of my covers.

His movies and the recordings were not new to me, but now I understood them. It was really important for him to capture his music, to have it live on, and to share with us. There was already plan for a CD that was nearly completed, but with these new recordings there will be enough music for perhaps 2 CD's. 

Ray and Jen and Kevin and I are greatly motivated to help Michael see those dreams realized. Ray will do his sound engineering magic with the recordings that Michael has left and other musicians, like Matt Ogden, will help and there will be soon be more Michael music recordings that we can all enjoy.

And it is a joy, I made a CD of his new recordings and played it all through Christmas and New Years. It was a balm to my sad spirit. I had a wonderful moment while napping on the day before Christmas. Mike S. played Michael's CD for me as I was dosing off and I thought "Oh, how wonderful, Michael is here." Almost, but not quite. But it was beautiful and I was so happy for a moment.

There are several of his movies that Kevin and I want to share on You Tube. The first one we will put up as a present to all of us. He is singing "Eldorado" and he looks so great, the way we want to remember him.

Best wishes to you, his friends and family, in the new year and thank you for loving him and helping to keep the sweet memories of him alive.

Michael's Mom