It has been five years since Daniel Tanzo left us.
It is dark and quiet in the hour before sunrise. The only sound other than my computer keys is the sound of a cat playing with a twist tie. How can a creature have so much fun with a twist tie? And the real question is: Why is it so cute? Now he is trying to bite the corner of my laptop monitor. Cute kitty indeed.
This week so much good news, sad news and work has drained my brain of any story telling skills (or so it feels.)
I’ve been swamped.
The kids are super busy with so much activity that I can hardly keep up with them. The talk is of friends, relationships, and the chunky-monkey winterized cat Oscar who has been renamed “Gato Gordo.” One of them is going to do a music video in Spanish and we’ve been listening to 50 years of Spanish language songs, then the day the music died and great guitar solos.
We’re talking about picking a college and skating (and a lot of practice due to a big meet this weekend) and being different in a different kind of world (not just because we roller skate) and a million other things, including farts because I live with teens and farts are always part of the conversation. Farts and butt cracks and stupid things other kids do (naked selfies) and say (you don’t want to know.)
One thing I’m grateful for is that we talk in this house. Everybody talks. There are no filters here. It is a safe zone. Yes, a safe zone even when the parents are in the room. Don’t think for one minute my husband and I didn’t work hard and plan for that one.
I think that is why I write – because it is the only time I can get any quiet time … that isn’t true, they talk to me when I try to write too. In fact that, when mom writes, is PRIME time to talk to mom.
Teddy (the dad and husband) is also crazy busy but seems to be keeping a sense of humor…They’ve all been laughing all night. It is a beautiful thing. I hope. He is exceptionally sweet these days but can still drive me nuts. And then there are others I need to take care of and check on and watch over…
Soooooo, I’m reposting something I shared in September, 2013 about taking care of the old folks and being a Vampire and being me. You know how it is. I’m busy. I take care of everyone because I have to, well, and want to. I’m sure you can relate, even if you aren’t a mom or a Vampire.
Delivered to your door…
I looked at the muscular, almost beautiful, naked body on the bed and the folded up sheriffs’ uniform on the chair. The badge seemed to sparkle saying “look at me, look at me.” A white and pink orchid flower was behind his ear.
Holy crap, this wasn’t how I’d planned on starting out my week.
I was reading on my deck, a glass of wine in my hand, my eyes closed for just a second…
I was three years old and someone was throwing me up in the air and I laughed so hard I could hardly breathe.
His hands are warm and I cling to him to put my ear next to his chest and hear his heart. I hold him tight feeling the heat radiate from his body. I keep laughing. He is so different from everyone else I know.
Thirteen years later, he takes my hands, I laugh. Then my best girlfriend says “He’ll marry me and I’ll be his wife forever.” No way would she get the most handsome man in the world to marry her. I laughed in her face and everyone yelled Happy New Year. Someone lit up lights to spell out 1865. We were in California and in love with men we have silly school girl crushes on. Who cared about the war? We were safe.
I woke in a cold sweat, on the back deck, my book on the ground, the cat staring at me. I heard my son’s voice.
“Mom, Uncle Val is on the phone.” My son Garrett stood at the sliding glass door holding my phone out at arms length.
My brother Valentine, 13 months my senior said I have to come right now. It was an emergency. Nobody else could come. None of our three older brothers could make it. Everyone else had suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.
I arrived at the farm house, my two teens in tow, slamming the door as hard as I could when I got out of the car.
I’m usually pretty calm but I lit into my brother when I saw him walking towards us. “Nobody ever consults with me. I’m the one with the kids and the husband and my own business. I’m on fucking call 24/7 for everyone in this family and nobody ever asks me what I want or need. Nobody.”
“Are you done?” Val asked this in an uncharacteristically sarcastic tone.
“No. What is going on?”
My brother scowled at me and shook his head. “Why are you yelling?”
I went into the house leaving him in the yard. I could hear my son saying “Bad day to mess with my mom.”
Dealing with the sick and elderly is something we do. We do it for love or obligation or family bonds or whatever the reason it is usually on autopilot fueled by guilt and frustration. I’m so saint but sometimes I want to play that saint card so much it hurts.
Eleora stood at the door in a yellow bikini top and a tie-dye skirt, her brown curls done up in red bows. She fluttered around then kissed me on each cheek. Tellias gave me a big hug. He was wearing a green shirt with yellow parrots embroidered on the back. A patch on the front said Dave in large script letters. His white blonde hair was pulled back with a green ribbon.
They look like they’re 19 or 20 years old but they’re ancient – two of the most ancient Vampires known. They were pioneers and founders of the Modern Vampire movement. It is hard to see them like this. It literally breaks my heart.
Steel guitars were hissing away on a scratched up old record playing on a wind up phonograph in the corner.
“We can’t find the car keys,” said Tellias.
“We’re being tropical tonight,” said Eleora as she danced around and put an orchid flower behind my ear.
I was ready to scream. “Again? Where did you last have them?” I asked slowly and calmly.
“If we knew that we’d be driving,” said Tellias, as he took the ribbon out of his hair and shook it out on his shoulders.
“We’d take a road trip to Montana and Maine and Michigan and Maui!” Eleora sang as she danced around again.
“How long have the keys been gone?” I asked.
“Two or three weeks. Val won’t let us use his car,” Tellias said.
“He says we drive too creatively,” Eleora giggled.
“Yes, he said we drive too creatively,” added Tellias.
“Creatively,” said Eleora, this time more seriously.
“Creatively. That was a nice way to put it,” I said more to myself than to the Elders. “What about food? Is Val bringing you food?”
Tellias patted my hand. “Val has been a darling but we like delivery. We call and they come to the house. Amazing. We should have done that a long time ago.”
Delivery? What in the world were they doing? I looked at the hanging chandelier in the entryway. “Nice fixture. Is it new?”
“A couple of nice men came and installed it,” Tellias told me. “It should last for years. The old one was fitted for gas and ugly. Remember?”
“We had them for lunch,” Eleora proudly told me.
“You shouldn’t do that. They’re help,” I told them.
Eleora just smiled. “We liked them Juliette. We wanted them to stay.”
“Are they still here?” I asked not knowing if I wanted to know the answer.
Tellias answered this time. “No, they left. Then we called the County Sheriffs and asked them to come out. We said someone tried to break in. Eleora sounded scared. They sent two good-looking strong young men right to our door.”
“Right to our door. Good looking healthy young men,” Eleora echoed.
I glanced out the window and saw the black and white car on the side of the house. Oh no.
“Where are they?” I asked trying not to panic.
They both looked to the ceiling. I ran up the stairs.
In a bedroom done in high Victorian style, I found a golden haired well-built man face down and naked on the bed. His uniform was neatly folded in a chair. He was alive but in a deep sleep. The name badge was Murphy, as in Officer Murphy.
Another handsome muscular young man was in the next bedroom over, shirtless on his back, asleep. I noticed a wedding ring on his finger. The name badge on his shirt had the name Garcia. His sleeping eyes moved a little under long dark eyelashes.
I called down the stairs. “How long have you had these guys here?”
“Since yesterday. We jammed the GPS on their car.”
I sat down on the top step, almost in tears. They couldn’t find their car keys but they could jam a GPS signal. I thought about the guy with the wedding ring. His wife must be sick wondering where he is.
In most popular novels ancient Vampires are powerful creatures of the night. In my life they are silly creatures that forget all rules about consequences or right and wrong. They act like senile teenagers, with occasional flashes to the wise, powerful leaders they once were.
Tellias sat down next to me. “We thought about keeping them for a while. Then you and Val wouldn’t have to worry about us.”
Eleora slid down on the other side and stroked my face with a cool hand. “Why are you so upset? Everything will be fine. It always is.”
We dressed the nice handsome patrol officers and positioned them in less provocative poses. An hour later another patrol car and an ambulance arrived. Two officers had become ill with an unexplained illness. Not knowing what to do a young couple took them in to their home. All was well. The officers recovered with no memory of what happened. Both mentioned an overwhelming calm and sense of well-being. Imagine that.
Tellias took my hand, like he did when I was a child. “Juliette, my dear child, we weren’t going to turn those young men into Vampires. You know we wouldn’t do that.”
“I just worry about you two,” I told him.
“You care too much for those Regular Humans,” said Eleora. “You have to distance yourself.”
“I’m married to a man who used to be a Regular Human,” I said quietly, but ready to scream.
Tellias squeezed my hand again. “And if it wasn’t for Eleora and me he would be dead.”
I went back to the bedroom where the married officer had been. Years ago my husband lay in that bed, a phantom between two worlds, that of the humans of the light and those of us who favor the dark. An unwanted conversion that had turned those warm hands cold forever, but given me…
I looked over to kids standing next to me. A 14 year old daughter and a 17 year old son. They shouldn’t have to see all this, but I don’t believe in sheltering them. I never have.
I guess I should do my famous parenting blogger bullet points but there is no point in this story. It is just one of those things, on one of those nights.
Have a good weekend everyone. Relax and get some rest.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
And another adventure of mine…click here for “If You Want Something Done Ask A Busy Person.”
And for more on the Elders do a search on the blog under “Elders” or “Tellias” or “Eleora.”
Dan passed away March 27 at 2:50am. A nurse who checked on him at 2:30 said he was sleeping peacefully. When she returned at 2:50, he was gone.
From his dear friend Tina Benson:
His sister Tracy, brother-in-law Mark, and I arrived within the hour to bear witness to the full military honors he was afforded before they took him away. It was quite moving, actually.
When I got there, he was clearly at peace…I had no sense that he was holding on, hanging on. or hovering around at all…seems the last few weeks surrounded by all the loving care he received, allowed him to move through the bardos and be on his way. He felt very peaceful, and very gone…as if he’d already taken flight and was well on his way.
To all of you who sat vigil at his bedside over these past weeks, and to the many more of you from around the world who lit candles, sent prayers, and bathed him in love, please know that it gave great comfort to Dan and his family. Dan knew in the last weeks of his life how deeply loved and cherished he is.
I will post Memorial Service date, location, and time, as soon as it is determined.
In shared love of this crazy, gentle, giant of a man…”
~ Thank you Tina for all of your updates and for being there with Dan. The love will always be with you. Wishing you peace.
I’d like to introduce you to a poet, a bear of a man, a free-thinker, a man with a loud laugh and a gentle touch. A man with few filters, but a man of great words. Daniel E. Tanzo.
Celebrate with me the poetry…
If You Really Want to know
Poetry is the gauntlet of the human existence,
from agony to ecstasy, mundane,
profane and sacred. From Christ on the cross
to Dionysian orgiastic debauchery
with nymphs who rend his flesh,
to the cry of a newborn babe,
reaching in and attaching itself to your soul
Poetry is life squared,
brought to existence,
through an oft times inadequate medium.
So we try to connect soul to soul,
with the ink from our veins.
Copyright © Daniel E. Tanzo
Daniel is a tough, ornery son of a bitch, often called The Grizz (after the bear). He also has a softer side…
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