Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I told this story in this journal once, but not since May of 2000, so perhaps this is a good day to do it because it has been unexpectedly emotional for me today.

It started with Jeri, who posted this picture on Facebook:

FTS.jpg (12533 bytes)

It was designed by Paul's best friend, Kag. I adopted it as my profile photo for the day. Several of Paul's friends posted it to their wall. Nobody gave any identification. Those of us who would appreciate it didn't need any explanation.

Throughout the day, status entries from lots of people started popping up, just saying "FTS." I actually got a phone call from Shelly and Ellen asking what the heck "FTS" meant. So this is what I posted 9 years ago:

"FTS" is an in joke. We may have the only grave in the cemetery with a joke included, this being a rather staid and proper place. When Walt and I went with Paul’s wife to order the grave plot, the cemetery keeper was looking for where there was a double plot available so he could move David and bury Paul next to him. Audra (Paul’s wife) started musing... "Paul said there was something he wanted on his grave marker...what was it...?" We wanted to go with whatever she wanted, so I was curious about what Paul had said to her. All of a sudden, this "look" came over her face and I knew she had remembered--and that she couldn’t say it in front of the cemetery keeper.

When we got outside, I said "OK--what was it that Paul said," She blushed. "He said he thought it would be perfect to say ‘fuck this shit.’" We agreed that it probably wasn’t such a good idea to put that on a gravestone that was going to outlast all of us. But later when I was speaking with my friend Olivia, she said "Of course you can--just use ‘fts.’" So on the program for the memorial, we included "fts" on the back page and we decided that it was fitting that Paul get his last wish, so "fts" was engraved in his grave marker.

MARKER.gif (2483 bytes)

I suppose there are those who think it’s terrible, but...that was Paul and it just seems fitting. David would have loved it, and it pretty much describes how we felt about having to design a grave marker for two of our sons. And--hey--sometimes you just have to laugh, even in the face of tragedy. Or perhaps especially in the face of tragedy.

So that explains all the "FTS" messages on Facebook today.

The one thing I hate about Paul dying on this date is that it's the anniversary of Columbine, so there are Columbine retrospectives on lots of news channels every year. I remember that my first thought after we received "the call" was to wonder if Paul had been depressed over what happened in Columbine. It didn't make sense at the time, and it doesn't make sense now, but I was grasping at straws trying to understand what had happened.

When Walt and I went to Denver to see The Last Session several months later and the group went for a tour that would take them to Columbine, I chose not to go because I just couldn't face actually going to Columbine (whether you have any connection to the tragedy or not, it still seems a kind of creepy "tourist attraction" !)

So we did our thing tonight. Stopped at the store to get flowers, then drove out to the cemetery to leave them (expecting to see the annual jar of mayonnaise from Paul's friend Jessica...but she leaves it at night, apparently...she leaves it because Paul detested mayonnaise).

Then we headed off to Osaka Sushi, where we had dinner. I had the first beer I've had in decades.

beer.jpg (37571 bytes)

Dinner was great, as usual. I got brave and daring and ordered something I'd never ordered before...and it was really good!

Osaka Maki


sabauda said...

I'm sending love to you and Walt....viva thriving in adversity, FTS, and many many hugs.....

Laurie F.

Anonymous said...

I love the "FTS" tribute...


Governor Jen said...

How amazing you are for finding humor in such sadness. FTS is a great way to go out. :-) Happy mingling.