Friday, August 19, 2016

my father's obituary

My father passed away last April.  This is something I am still processing, and I felt writing a more thorough obituary than the brief online version in the Albuquerque Journal would help me a bit.  That and writing more and more.  

at TCU 1963
Obituary for Fred Allison ‘Buzz’ Rowell

Fred Allison ‘Buzz’ Rowell, age 73, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, passed away April 25, 2016. Born September 11, 1942 in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he was the only child of Brigadier General Fred Gallagher Rowell and Elizabeth Lucille ‘Bette Lou’ Allison Rowell. General Rowell was stationed in Washington DC after WWII as one of Eisenhower’s aides and later commander of the 111th Anti-Aircraft Brigade of the New Mexico National Guard.

Buzz was a New Mexico resident for 42 years. He attended New Mexico Military Institute and Texas Christian University (‘63), where he earned a business marketing degree and was a member of and pledge trainer for Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He was on the ski patrol in Ruidoso at Sierra Blanca Ski area in spring of ‘62.

Buzz was a founding member and officer of the Maverick Region of the Porsche Club of America. In 1964 he joined the SCCA, Sports Car Club of America. After college he bought Pit Stop, a car dealership in Roswell NM selling BMW, MGB and Jaguars.
He owned a Porsche SC 1600 which he later traded for a Gemini Mk2 Formula Junior racecar, one of several rear engine FJs he raced for a racing team he formed for Pit Stop. He also raced an orange Lotus Super 7 and an Elva. President Johnson’s closure of Walker AFB in 1967 spelled the end for the sportscar dealership and he worked for a short time for Bondurant Insurance Agency.

In 1969 he moved his family to El Paso to join the sales force for Xerox, and was chosen as one of their top salesmen earning a trip to Acapulco.  At Xerox he met Ben Miller Jr, and they joined with his close school friend from NMMI, (former judge) Pat O’Rourke to start the Ben Miller Boot Company.  As Sales Manager he traveled a great deal in the Southwest. In 1972 the boot company was sold and he moved his family to Phoenix to sales rep for Pioneer Western Wear.

Buzz moved to Santa Fe a short time later where he continued to be a successful sales person and was very prominent in the western and boot industries. He was also a real estate agent in Santa Fe and owned a landscaping company, Edenscape Landscaping. 
An avid nature lover, he often skied, sailed, backpacked, hiked and ran the trails and backcountry of New Mexico.

He is survived by four children: Daughters Mary Allison Tierney and Kirsten Rowell, their mother Janel Gary Larson; Sons Christian Rowell and William Rowell, their mother Rosemary Rowell. Also survived by six Grandchildren: Jack, Mark, Amelia, Oliver, Simone and Daisy; and cousins, Seth Orell and Pat Orell.

Friday, August 12, 2016

I'm an Expert

I need to speak to an expert.

The man on the phone was concerned about bees taking over his hummingbird feeder. 
I think the bees are keeping the hummingbirds away. It’s swarming with bees.
I reassure him that in nature birds and bees are on the same team. Flowers that attract pollinators don’t cause turf wars. I ask if he’s allergic to bees or has children who are.
No, but the feeder is right by the front door and there are lots of bees now.
I suggest that he move the feeder.
Oh, good idea.
I’m an expert.

managed expectations

The sound of his truck coming up the driveway woke me, and then his dog was in my room, all whipping tail and twirling with muscular excitement. I’d left the door to the front garden open and had fallen asleep reading.

My son was in a dark mood and unusually humorless. The hood of his truck was open, the battery wasn’t holding a charge, the alternator perhaps, he was meant to meet friends in Oregon and go backpacking.  He usually lets me know when he is going to stop by and I was surprised he was taking time off work, having only started his job two months prior.

There was more to this story.  I asked about the house I’d recently leased for him and his brother, who was in summer school.  I asked about work, and the progress I hoped he’d made with registering for classes at the community college.  He said he was on a wait list for the intro welding class. This was the condition for which I would pay for his rent, if he were in school full time.  He’d given his brother his word that he was committed.

The next morning over coffee I pulled the more truthful threads out of him: He’d quit his job. He hated Santa Cruz.  Boring, doesn’t make enough money at the berry farm to fix what needs fixing on his truck, commuting is ruining his truck, needs to fix the headlight and the suspension.  After he left I found a discarded pot dispensary receipt for two quarter ounces equaling $100 on the floor with a cliff bar wrapper.  The college campus felt like an institution, he didn’t like being there. He wants to be in nature. He’s going back to Humbolt to work on another farm with a friend.

I learn in this same conversation that his brother got 100% on his midterms.  I should have been leaning into this great news, celebrating the focus and dedication of his accomplishments and not dwelling on my disappointment and concern for his older brother.  But I am so very disappointed; I could barely sleep the night before and I remembered him at preschool drop off, hurling himself against the closed door, screaming for me. I sat on a bench outside the classroom and cried.  A year later his younger brother barely looked over his shoulder when I left, totally engrossed in the Brio track he was assembling.  They could not be more different.

I always feel an empty hole in my chest when I think of my son, an equal mixture of love and concern.  I asked him if he wanted to see a therapist, as he seemed so depressed.  He scoffed, mocking me, insulted.  I reprimanded him for being rude.  I want to help, but he wanted only for this conversation to end and his truck to start. He hugged me and he left.