On Lisa’s Death: Transcript For Memorial

First things first: I want to thank all of you for coming, for helping me in innumerable ways since Lisa died, for all your acts of generosity. There’ve been so many
instances we’d be here a long time and the food would go bad.

Clearly, this is the stuff of nightmares. She should still be with us.

We used to talk in that way long-term couples do about what we would do if the other died first. I called this “the worst-case scenario” because in all honesty I fully
expected to die before Lisa. She was seven years younger and I’d already been
widowed, so be sure I never saw it coming, either.

I knew from these talks what she wanted: to be cremated and interred in WV near her grandfather. God willing, that will happen soon. But I also told her that if
she died first I reserved the right to tell a couple of stories on her at the
memorial. “You wouldn’t,” she’d always say.

Oh, yes, beloved. I would.

I’ve known Lisa since the early nineteen-eighties; in that time we shared every story we possibly could. I know she’s cringing a bit in the next world right now, but I
did reserve this right. And so:

Likely you know her politics were defiantly left-leaning. But one night during the 2004 US presidential campaign she saved Dick Cheney from an encounter with me. We were driving home on the 80/90 in OH past an especially well-lit truck stop when I
realized Cheney was there for an advertised meet-and-greet. (Odd image, isn’t
that?) “Love,” I said, “For the good of the country and future history we have
got to go down and do something.” Lisa never even looked at me. She kept both hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, kept her gaze straight ahead, and quoted Richard Pryor back at me: “Not in this motherfucker you ain’t.” And we didn’t.

Fewer of you might know she was a dedicated, lifelong wrestling fan. That’s right. She grew up in the southeastern US, and wrestling shows were among the few traveling
entertainments that came through towns like the ones she lived in. So at around
age twelve she and a somewhat older girlfriend would dress in heavy makeup (and
for Lisa, a lavender feather boa—no kidding) and hit the local arena. Michael
“PS” Hayes was among her favorites, and on this one occasion he was to “face”
Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy. Lisa had an aisle seat for Gordy’s walk toward the ring,
so when he passed her she stood, got in his way, yelled out YOU BASTARD—and
Maced Terry Gordy.

Right in the chest.

Lisa was never a tall person. Gordy was.

Gordy may or may not have gotten Mace in his eyes, but she doubted it. He did, however, scream bloody murder, Lisa was thrown out of the arena, and the next week Gordy recorded a “promo” interview for the following show where he referenced Lisa.
I’d love to hear precisely what he said.

Lisa was also a fan of auto racing. I know. It seems counter-intuitive to what you know about her, right? All the same, she was. She went from “You’ve got to be
kidding me” to yelling GO TONY STEWART! in a voice loud enough to be heard
above 800-horsepower engines. That was a wonderful voice.

I miss that voice more than I can ever tell you. I miss her. A month hasn’t changed a thing. Neither will a year, or ten. We’ve all lost someone vital, special. You’ve lost a great friend and colleague. Art has lost one of its most beautifully-gifted writers. As for me, I’ve lost the one great love of my life. We were together twice, and now I’ve lost her twice.

For all this, though, she wouldn’t want us to mourn too hard or too long, but just
remember her with happiness. We’ll always be carrying her now. Be certain I
will.

Again, everyone, my thanks. I don’t know how to tell you how much this means to me,
and for a writer to be without proper language is embarrassing at the very
least, but you understand. For all the cards, calls, e-mails, donations,
prayers, hugs, good wishes, offers of help, offers of all kinds of things,
meals, the food and drink here, for this wonderful hall in fact, and above all
the idea of ongoing hope you are providing means the rest of the world to me.

(Admiral James T. Kirk once said that the first rule in a crisis is to eat. Perhaps we
should.)

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About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
This entry was posted in On Lisa's Death: Trying to Survive the Unsurvivable. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On Lisa’s Death: Transcript For Memorial

  1. Linda Smith says:

    Hi John,
    You don’t know me but I live near Tampa, FL and I had heard Sunshine Speedway was possibly reopening. Your blog came up when researching it. I had gone there as a child in the 60’s/early 70’s as my next door neighbor and her husband both raced there. She was a “Hurricane” driver. I think I’ll try to make to to the grand opening in May.
    But the real reason I’m writing this is because I went on to read some of your blogs and read that you lost your beloved wife Lisa recently. I’m so sorry for the pain you must me feeling! I wanted to leave a “URL” for someone that has written a piece about his friendship with Lisa and his love for her and how much she meant to him. He was a student of hers. I’m not sure if you’ve seen it yet so I’ll post it. I know this is very difficult because I’ve lost my mother and another very close relative in the last few months, and can’t even fathom how painful it is for you. I will say a prayer for you that you find peace in your heart til the two of you meet again!

    Here is the website: http://www.toledofreepress.com/tag/lisa-wolford-wylam/

    Sincerely,

    Linda

    • johnwylam1957 says:

      Linda, Many Thanks for your kind words. I hope to get down there myself at some point. As to Lisa, every day is difficult but it’s important to find ways to re/occupy the time. I’m gonna go see a NASCAR race, for ex. She would’ve wanted me to. She’ll be there, too, for certain. Again, Linda, my thanks. Kind words make a lot of difference, of course, and I deeply appreciate yours.

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