Taking Care of Our Elders: Cleopatra

Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon

Our elder folks are our treasures. We should all love and take care of those we have, both family and elderly friends who often have no family near. You’re never too old for love, or friends or living life.

From 2017

Cleopatra

“Come quick, come quick,” whispered the voice on my phone.

“What is it? Tell me,” I said trying to get information.

“I can’t find her. Come quick.” The caller hung up.

I was in the park, walking an unruly 12 month old German Shepard. The dog was pulling all over the place. My big pouch of a purse was flipped in front of me making me feel like a contestant on Naked and Afraid (except with clothes.) While my 85 pound girl-dog pup took every opportunity to cover herself with mud, I juggled my phone, the leash, my coffee, and my sanity.

I had texts from my 20-year-old son about his anger over environmental issues. Another text came from my 17-year-old daughter asking if I’d throw some stuff in the wash for her.

When I arrived home the dog walked to the middle of the street and waited? For what? A white van came down the street (a narrow private road with seven houses.) I gently guided Alice the dog to the driveway. The van was from Apple Maps. So next time anyone looks up my street they’ll see a large black German Shepard standing in the middle of the road. Sigh.

After gathering together a few things I drove to the farm by the river where Tellias and Eleora, the ancient ones live. Tellias was waiting for me on the front porch of the Queen Ann style mansion. He wore overalls, a white old fashioned tuxedo shirt, and had put his pale blonde hair up in a man-bun held in place with a couple of No. 2 pencils. As always he wore yellow flip flops.

Tellias took my hands and kissed my cheeks and forehead. His pretty face looks all of nineteen but Tellias is over 2,000 years old. He only looks young.

“I’ve lost her Juliette. I looked all over and I can’t find her,” he told me.

“When did you last see her?” I asked.

“I fell asleep, and when I woke she was gone. Her favorite bag is still here so I know she didn’t run off with another man.”

“Eleora would never run off with another man. Think where she could be. Did she take the car?”

“The cars and truck are here. But he could have picked her up…”

“Stop,” I told him. “No more crazy talk about imaginary lovers. Did you check the basement and all of the out buildings?”

He scowled. “Of course I did. But… she talked about going swimming. The river…”

I drove the truck along the levee as Tellias called out for Eleora.

The song Cleopatra by the Lumineers was on the radio.

Tellias hummed along, then he stopped and just listened. When it was over he looked at me as if he was going to cry. “Juliette,” he said, “that is the saddest song I’ve ever heard.”

“Do you want me to turn it off?” I asked. He didn’t answer and called out the window again.

I saw egrets and hawks fly over the water. My stomach started to cramp up with the thought of Eleora being trapped somewhere in the currents.

“I knew her,” said Tellias.

“Knew who?” I asked.

“Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. I knew her when I was young. I mean young in the same way that you’re young.”

“You knew Cleopatra?”

“Yes, I just said that. It was when I was traveling with Mark Antony, not the singer, but the Roman General. Mark told her that I couldn’t die. She wanted him to prove it. He refused. It was all rather odd, but after that we were great friends, or so they thought,” Tellias told me. “Cleopatra was lovely in a strange sort of way, but I was done with it. It was at that point where I was tired of being the magical pretty boy with skin like ice, and the power to drain a man of his blood, or whatever. I was tired of reading minds and being shown off. She thought if I drank her blood it would give her mystical powers. I told her no. I was tired of it. Tired in sort of the same way I’m tired now. Where is she? There’s a turn around by the old slough, remember you used to go there when you were a child with your brothers. You would play pretend adventures for hours.”

I kept driving and Tellias kept talking.

“I went back to Britain where I’d left Eleora. We were both alone, children of the shadows who danced in both light and dark, without parents, or allegiance to anyone. There were groups of Vampires with Kings, and masters, but Eleora’s spirit was too free to be part of some Vampire court. She wasn’t one to follow rules or bow down to anyone. Some tried over the years but nobody could capture her spirit. We were the first Modern Vampires before the word modern even existed. We were the first. Now we’re just a couple of old fools.”

“You’re not an old fool,” I said.

He rolled his eyes at me. Then he said, “Turn left. I see her.”

Eleora sat on a log overlooking a pond, in a foggy field that was what remained of a long dead pear orchard. She turned and waved. She looked like any other young woman in a short leather skirt, tights, and a black lace bra. Her wet hair fell in loose curls down her back.

Tellias ran to her and held her in his arms, and covered her with kisses.

She’d gone for a walk and left her phone at home. Then she went for a swim and forgot to put her shirt back on. Then she sat and thought about everything she’d done over the centuries. She tried to remember her parents but nothing came into her head. She didn’t remember her brothers or sisters, but she thought she might have some. She wondered if they were still alive. She thought about the days when she and Tellias had great parties at their now silent home. She sat and thought about things and forgot that six hours had passed.

We took her home. Tellias got her cleaned up while I made warm mulled blood with wine and orange peel.

“We’re very old. Very very old,” said Tellias as he walked me to the door.

“Then I will love you all the more,” I said. “You’re not going anywhere. Not you. Not Eleora.”

“I don’t plan on it,” he said and gave me a kiss, and an ice cold hug. Then I drove through the fog, back to my own house, and my large black dog.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Taking Care of Our Elders: Love in the dark, and in the light that always shines

Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon

Memories, the lost of memories, old stories, more on my idiot brothers, and love.

From 2015

Love in the dark, and in the light that always shines

Eleora couldn’t remember what she did yesterday, but she could tell stories of her childhood in excruciating detail. My daughter and niece sat next to her, holding her small hands in theirs. They looked like three young women about the same age. My Clara is 16, Lauren is 21 and Eleora is, well, nobody knows how old she is. We know Eleora is over 2,000 years old but no exact number has ever come out.

The girls heard stories their parents and grandparents had never heard. These were ancient lost tales that she’d hoarded until she found the right audience.

Tellias, her husband, told the girls to watch if they went outside. Eleora might wander off on her own and not find her way back.

He watched the woman he loved, his eyes filled with pain. Sometimes I’d see a rare bit of anger. Of course there is always love, but with that more often than not pain and frustration.

This was Sunday. We’d all gathered at my brother Aaron’s for our mother’s birthday. All four of my brothers were there (Max, Andy, Aaron and Val), as well as the elders Tellias and Eleora, Aaron’s grown children Logan and Lauren, Great-great-great-great Grandmama Lola and her friend Cody, and our friend Pierce. My husband Teddy and Aaron’s wife Verity were there playing host and hostess as they sometimes do. And of course our parents Jeremy and Samantha.

More friends were to come later at this gathering at Aaron and Verity’s home. Of course we’re all Vampires. It would seem weird to bring anyone else in.

This isn’t like the movies and horror stories where we bring in virgins and babies to feast on. Of course there is blood, but we have it in wine glasses (not big red cups.)

I stood outside under the stars with Tellias and my brother Max.

Max put his hand on the elder Vampire’s shoulder. “Eleora isn’t all there anymore is she?”

“I believe she is there. She just is a bit disorganized. You know, when you can’t find the mates to your shoes and you are walking on a bed of nails so you just hop on one foot and hope you don’t fall. But if you fall it will be into a burning pit of lava. Then you look down and notice your pants are gone and your socks don’t match,” said Tellias. “You need to come by and see us more often Max.”

“I know,” said my brother.

“Nobody knows how long Vampires live. Most of us don’t make it this far given the dangerous nature of our existence. Don’t take your chances. Your day could be tomorrow. Eleora’s could be tomorrow. We never know. But no need to get depressed, none of us are going anywhere for a while. We’ll be around for plenty of birthdays to come. But the more you and Juliette and the rest of you come around the easier it will be for Eleora to straighten out the mess in her mind.”

The three of us stood there for a few seconds. Then Max gave Tellias a hug and walked down into the yard under some trees. I watched him as he took out his phone and made a call.

“He is calling her, isn’t he? He should have made that call fifty years ago,” said Tellias. “The boy never seemed to understand love, even at his age he still can’t.”

I had to smile. Even at the age of one hundred and sixty-six Max still is just starting to understand that ships that pass in the night sometimes never pass each other again.

Tellias took my hand and gave it a squeeze. “I appreciate everything you do for us.”

“I know.” I said. I looked into his crystal blue eyes, in a face that looked no older than nineteen. To think that he had lived in ancient time didn’t seem all that strange most of the time. He’d kept up. They both had. That is what kept Tellias and Eleora young. Nobody would ever have expected them to dry up in a crypt or become ghouls living in shadows. Then again, they gave so much love that the cold dark places the put fear in men’s hearts didn’t touch them.

So stay young. It is easy if you love and let love in. Even if you’re a Vampire. And even if you’re not.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Fog

Today is perfect. Thick fog blankets the oaks. Small birds dance among the branches. Rain is supposed to come later today, but this morning I will enjoy the cold, damp, beautiful, and mysterious fog.

Out on the deck, in his usual spot, I could see the Ghost talking to my calico cat. Even in the fog, even in his semi-transparent state his black hair shines, and his blue eyes stand out like a Caribbean lagoon.

“I know you’re watching me. I know you’re writing about me,” he yells making the glass of my dining room windows shake.

I went outside, trying not to trip over the cats who are trying to get out and in at the same time. The calico hissed at the younger gray cat. He backed off, then pushed himself around her. They always get so pissy with each other. It is even worse now that the dog is gone.

Last night I was wondering why the area around the cat food bowls is so messy these days. Ahhh. There is no dog to clean up the floor. Damn. I miss my dog so much I can’t even say it out loud.

I make it out to the deck feeling the wonderful cool damp air on my face.

“Do dogs ever become ghosts?” I had to ask.

The Ghost gives me one of those are you stupid or what looks. “No, dogs don’t become ghosts.” Then he looked away, over the trees, then back to me. “I miss her too. She was the best dog I ever met.” Yes, dogs can see ghosts and they love people even when they’re not alive.

We stood together, a Ghost and a Vampire watching the tiny finches and sparrows in the trees.

“When I was in high school, back in the late 70’s we had official smoking areas in school but we couldn’t eat in class. That was so stupid. A kid could take a smoking break but if he was hungry he couldn’t have a snack. Now there aren’t smoking areas but kids can eat in class. Some things change for the better. A lot of things about high school are better now. Where your kids go, went, still go, teachers aren’t having sex with students anymore. Kids have more options on what classes they want to take. There aren’t elite classes reserved for the so called smart kids. Everybody gets a chance to excel. If I hadn’t died so young I bet I would have worked with teens. Fuck that, I would have been a parent with teens right now. I would have had a dog too. And a wife.” Then he smiled. “At least I do have a girlfriend. She is a ghost but I love her as if she was alive. She likes your kids. I like your kids. You did a great job with them, considering you’re a Vampire. My parents were total assholes.”

“Where are your parents Nigel? Are they still alive?”

He smiled a bitter smile. “My dad is in Hell as far as I know. I don’t know where my mother is. Maybe in prison. Maybe shacked up with some meth head out in the desert. She didn’t even go to my funeral. She has never visited my grave. Stupid bitch. I’m thankful I didn’t spend my formidable teen years with either one of them.”

That is all he’d say about his family. His memories of his past are full of memories he doesn’t want to say out loud, and the rest of his memories are filled with holes. I let him ramble on for a while. He’ll talk for hours. I don’t know if he is making up for lost time or if he has always been an extreme talker. I stopped listening when he started to talk about economic theories, and why the Gold Rush era ghosts who hang out by the lake are so annoying and creepy. I’ll have to agree with him on that one. The Gold Rush ghosts are exceptionally annoying and creepy.

It started to rain and we came inside.

Then Nigel smiled. “It is nice to talk to a real person, even if you are a Vampire.”

“You know I’m always here,” I told him.

Then he laughed and vanished.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Passings in the Night

Passings in the Night

The plan tonight was to share some Vampire tales and adventures and truly funny things, but plans change.

Tonight I saw The Ghost, Nigel. He wore an impeccable black suit, his hair was a perfect glossy black and all in place. He motioned for me to sit with him out on my back deck under the cold night sky.

His eyes met mine and he told me a story.

“I died December 3, 1986. I normally wouldn’t have remembered the anniversary of my own death, but, it was the strangest thing, I was standing out in the woods, not doing much of anything. When you’re a ghost you don’t do much of anything. Anyway, I was out in the woods and a woman came towards me. She was smiling at me and I knew things about her. Her life had taken up where parts of mine had stopped. Then her life stopped December 3, 2013.

She looked at me for just a moment in passing. It was dark but I could see the light coming over the horizon. She asked me who I was and if we knew each other. I told her “I don’t know you, but we’ve loved some of the same people.” I turned her in the right direction.”

Nigel stood up and looked up at the stars, hovering in and out of a transparent state. Then he came close to me and made himself look as real as a live person.

“I couldn’t go with her. But I sent a little bit of my love along, I hope. Well, I know I did. Don’t look all sad. I’m a ghost. These things happen. Hey, nobody should die alone. She left surrounded by love.”

“Who was she?” I had to ask.

He shook his head slightly. “I don’t know. But we loved the same people, just not at the same time. I loved them first, then she loved them after I was gone. I have a feeling she was better at it than I was, or most people for that matter.”

There were so many questions I wanted to ask him but tonight was not the time to ask or to try to get answers.

Love is a force that we can’t explain or quantify. It goes beyond words, beyond sorrow and beyond grief.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

First posted December 2013 – In memory of Julian Elsworth and Lil Longshore.

 

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Words: Fair Oaks

 

Curing olives with my dad

The glug of the garden hose

In the tub of green fruit

Golden fall leaves surround us

And the smell of

New roses and

Fresh mowed grass

We’ll crank the ice cream

Then take one

Last swim

Before the time fades

Away with nothing

Left but love.

 

~ Marla Todd

 

House of the Spirits – Casa de los espiritus

House of the Spirits – Casa de los espiritus

They called the farmhouse casa de los espiritus, the ones who picked the fruit and helped with the orchards. House of the spirits.

The original house is gone, replaced in 1884 with a lavish 5,400 square foot Queen Anne style Victorian. The spirits are still there in the form of Tellias and Eleora the very ones who had the home built. Yes, they’re still there because they are Vampires.

Over the years the house has seen friends come and go but the owners stay the same, never aging a day. During the day the house is still but at night the spirits come to life with both darkness and in light. One can go by the darkened old house and hear laughing coming from within. Memories fade except of the faces of youth that never grows old.

On rare occasions we might see ghosts in the orchards or down by the river banks, but they’re never in the house.

Gone are the days of lavish parties but those days might come again.

I kicked back on the veranda with my brother Val recently one moonless night.

“So I guess we’re the spirits,” he said.

“Pretty much,” I replied. Nothing more needed to be said. It was one of those slow nights where we didn’t feel like going out. We’d both had lunch dates so there wasn’t any urgency to go out.

We didn’t play remember when that night. You know, the old game where you sit with an old friend or sibling and remember the most extreme situations you’ve ever been in. Remember when you found the crocodile under your bed, remember when that crazy rogue Vampire tried to tear your head off, remember when you fell off the bridge, remember when the hounds chased us across the field, remember when we were trapped in a crypt, trapped in a burning barn, trapped in a light house, trapped in a sinking ship, trapped with a politician in a rowboat in the middle of a swamp in Louisiana, hidden in a closet, running down the beach with a giant torch, hidden in a church, trapped in a relationship? It could go on forever. But that night we didn’t play that game. OK we did but later. We always play that game.

Bob, the neighbor stopped by. We didn’t play remember when with him either. Bob is 62 and dealing with his 85 year old mother (who has ideas of her own on how Bob should live his life.) I suddenly thought how odd it must be for Bob to be here speaking with a couple of Vampires. He has known us all his life. His family has known us (our family and our kind) since the 1850’s.

Casa de los espíritus applies more to Bob than to us. Forty years ago he fell in love with a woman who never aged. Of course her heart belongs to another forever, but he never give up hope. For him there is that ghost of a chance… always the chance, or so I speculate.

The spirits haunt those with the least time. They haunt those who think the most of what could have been.

For those of us who think of what can be the spirits are quiet.

Earlier we heard someone playing the old wind up gramophone Radio Franks Old Maid’s Ball. Now they were all in dancing to Enrique Iglesias singing Bailando.

Val and I laughed and danced along. Why not. Everyone needs to dance, even Vampires in the dark of the night. Taking Bob by the hands we all went inside to join the party.

Tonight the spirit was that of friendship and fun. No haunting scary monsters. That is for another post, I promise.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman