The drivers side seat sits in pieces in the van, the distributor cap and rotor are in my room having just undergone a thorough cleaning & inspection. I’ll sand the pitted and burnt contacts and clean it up as well as I can. It should be replaced, but this will have to do. The seat I will fix tomorrow, fabricating something to take place of the destroyed bearing that let the chair swivel, as well as elevating it about another inch.
It’s coming together. Connie will make it.
I must admit – just after buying the van from Deanne I was at times wondering if i had made the wrong decision, acted too hastily. Over 3000 miles to go. It needs so much work done – work I can do, but I can’t afford the parts necessary for it. Something as simple as a drivers side window is beyond question, even from a junkyard. Even spark plugs and new windshield wipers I question spending money on. I wondered if there was another van that I was supposed to get – one I could just lightly tune, inspect, and go without worries. The more the story falls into place, however, the more I am absolutely certain that this is the van I was supposed to find.
Deanne & I have become quite close through our email exchanges – she’s becoming one of the random friends that pop into your life in the strangest of ways.
So I could no more about the namesake of my van, I asked her about her uncle. The story she wrote me was much more than I expected. Here it is, abbreviated.
Conrad Mathew Eagan was an alcoholic for most of his life, one of the bums living on the streets of New Orleans, in and out of jail.
About 12 years ago he finally quit drinking, and got on Social Security to aid him with his depression and alcoholism. He moved to Northern Louisiana, bought a truck, a trailer home, and a boat – he was set, and really started enjoying his life.
Then, Katrina hit. he evacuated to Deanne’s moms house (his sisters) for over two months, then went back to his home, living there with a giant hole that a tree tore in the roof of it over the living room for a few months until Deanne had no choice but to make him move away from it.
Then, his depression really started to hit. He got sick. The doctor said it was bronchitis, and gave him antibiotics. They didn’t help. He went back again and again, and she kept giving him more antibiotics.
Finally, she ran an X-ray and found a mass in his left lung. Cancer. Tests and more tests, but no action.
He moved into a trailer that Deanne had found for him – at this point not even having the energy to help, so Deanne & three others moved him.
The day after he moved into the trailer, the person who rented it to him told him it had been sold, and he had to move again.
The depression got worse.
He moved into apartments about a mile from Deanne, where she was able to take care of him better – oxygen, nurses, breathing treatments every four hours, helping him with his medication because he couldn’t manage that either.
He struggled breathing for six months as it got worse and worse, and Deanne was the sole one to take care of him. Even his children had abandoned him doe to his alcoholic past.
Ohe day, Deanne says that she knew it was the last. He wasn’t going to make it through the night. He refused to go back to the hospital, frightened that they would just prolong the pain he was going through. He wanted it to stop. Finnaly, stop.
She fed him Xanax, Ativan & Darvocet whenever he woke up, as he went into panic attacks from not being able to breathe. She was ther when he took his last breath, felt his pulse stop, and called the time of death – but can’t remember it now…
She said he was a kind, caring soul. You can see it in the way his eies sparkle in the previous post. She said that he was the only man in her life that stuck around. She said that he grew plants and sold them for a little extra money here and there. He installed hydraulic brakes on the van, and planned on taking it to Wisconsin, California, other places he dreamed and we can only imagine –
He was Conrad Mathew Eagan, and he is a friend of mine.
It’s strange, how you meet people sometimes.
Now, every bolt turned, every drop of sweat, every mosquito bite, every bloodied knuckle from a wrench slipping that goes into that beautiful van – everything I put into it is mixed with love for a man who seems like someone I would have really wanted to know – and in a way, do.
Then, she says this:
“You know….we’ve been wondering what to do with his ashes. How would you feel about spreading his ashes along the way or when you get there? I would never ask a stranger to do something so strange, but my Uncle wasn’t your average ordinary person. And if you feel funny about doing something like that, I totally understand… I have premonitions and an esp type thing so I trust my feelings. I just have a good feeling about you and know that you won’t just take the ashes and dump them in the garbage. You have nice eyes that say a lot about you…”
Connie’s ashes are on their way to me now, and will join Beans on the dash of my van as I begin the 3000 mile journey back across the country. I’ll find places that he would have liked along the way and sprinkle them. I’ll sprinkle them on the Playa, at the Temple, as Deanne assured me that he would have loved Burning Man after I sent her the link to it. He’ll make it to California, ashes from San Francisco to Venice, L.A. Whatever is left, I will toss in the Sea, so he can keep travelling.
I can’t find the words to say how honored I am in her trust. Connie, Raven, Bean & I are going to have a BLAST! It will be great to have his energy with us. Now that he’s back to being solely a spiritual being, depression doesn’t exist…
Some of Beans ashes will go to Dolores Park and Fort Funston – as well as Ocean Beach – and a small bag for Sean & Patty, who cared for her so beautifully when I wasn’t able to – and fell deeply in love with her.
Ashes to… everywhere!
Gods, I love life. Out of something so mundane as buying a van, entire worlds open up.
This is what it’s all about.
If you listen close enough, you’ll hear the music.
Care to dance?