John's dad: David Morgan Roderick (1921 - 2007)

In 1998, John's dad moved from Anchorage down to Tacoma, see below. (RL183)

John's dad died in 2007 (news article) while John was just coming back from his last successful tour with The Long Winters. John has lots of boxes with files of phone bills, medical records, but even quite some amazing things. (OJR).


John's dad, David Roderick was a WWII veteran and made his career as a state legislator and government lawyer. John has cassette tapes of his dad doing depositions and the only thing that exists online about him is the obituary that John wrote about him, but no other historical record exists. (RL239)

John's dad was the chief council of the Alaska Railroad company, a federally own railroad that doesn't connect to any other railroad. He was a big wheel there and had a pass in his wallet that allowed him to get on any train in America. John still has it, but of course it doesn't work anymore. The Alaska Railroad owned the Ferdinand Magellan presidential car, formally used as Truman's whistle stop car, a three bedroom apartment with a living room, a kitchen, a butler's pantry and a balcony at the back. John's dad would let them attach it to the back of any Alaskan railroad train when he had a reason to, which causes Merlin a train boner as he hears the story. People would pay so much for riding around in a three-bedroom car in Alaska! John was in that car all the time. He even has pictures with him and his sister, partying in the train car, leaning off the balcony, and sleeping in the train. They would sleep on the way to Fairbanks, stay in the car while they turned it around, and make he trip back. John could spend hours just hanging off the back. (RL25)

John's dad was a high roller who always stayed in classic, high-rise hotels with full-size swimming pools on the 8th floor. When you stay in a giant hotel or deluxe train car as a kid, you can entertain yourself just by finding things you can throw off the balcony. There was a guy sitting at the door to keep the normal people out, but they would be able to go through the train finding stuff to throw off the back, things that would break or things that would fly. The same was true when John stayed with his dad in hotels. He would collect ice to throw off the 18th floor, or make paper airplanes and set them on fire. Countless people would shake their fist at the sky because John had slimed them. At one time John's dad took him down to the rail yard and had a man teach him how to drive a locomotive. Dad was important enough and if you had the choice, you would not disappoint him. You don't want him to fill out that card in the hotel about some bellhop chastising his son for throwing a bucket of ice out of the window of the 20th floor. Driving a locomotive is so much fun! There is not much to it, you have a little handle, the throttle, a break and a horn. They even let him walk on the front of the locomotive, because he was the boss's kid. At the time there was no such thing as child abuse, so they wouldn't have put his dad on trial! People are far too timid to throw things out of high-rise windows now, while he has thrown flaming paper from a Harry Truman car. (RL25)

John's dad spent his whole life thinking that success would be to have $50.000 in the bank (about $380.000 in 2016) and if you had that, it was smooth sailing from then on. In his entire life he never had $50.000 in the bank. As soon as he had some money, he spent it on something. (RL244)

John’s dad did not get along with Bobby Kennedy because he thought Bobby was a real jerk, but he worked for JFK. (OM97)


John's dad was an airplane pilot in Anchorage. Every year he would fly to El Toro, California to hang out with his airplane mechanic who never said a word. (RL238) In 1998, his critical faculties were still sharp, but his cardiologist had taken away his pilot's license, because his heart made him a time bomb in an airplane. At a later point, John's dad got the cardiologist to reinstate it (RL183). John's dad would fly with two pairs of sunglasses because the sun shines so strong into the plane when you are up there. (RL244)


John’s dad had a special relationship with technology. When he got something good, it was only by chance. He liked buying radios and cameras and stereo equipment, but he was not a connoisseur. He would not develop a relationship with the guy at the stereo barn in order to buy a McIntosh receiver or listen to his classic sides with the diamond tip on the turntable. Instead he was an impulse buyer and if there was some Sanyo by the cash register, he would think it was great because he thought they would need one of those. John's dad would not even try the good consumer electronics, but he bought four shitty ones instead. John found that very frustrating even when he was 10 years old. It is not that they didn’t have a cassette player in the house, but they had too many cassette players and none of them were good. It is not that they didn’t have games at Christmas or presents at Christmas, but they had too many presents and none of them were good. They were all stuff his dad bought at the last minute when he was walking through an airport. (RW83)

John's dad had a friend who owned a record store and who would make 8-track mixtapes for him, which was very unusual because you couldn’t record on an 8-track as a consumer. They had an 8-track in the car and his dad’s friend would put all these great Artie Shaw sides on a tape with handwritten labels. It felt that they were in the know. (RW83)


The one piece of technology John’s dad did care about was his Canon AE-1 camera. He even bought a second one when there was a later iteration called the Canon AE-1 Program. In the end he had 3 Canon camera bodies and a whole range of lenses because taking pictures was what he liked to do. He was a terrible photographer and John has boxes and boxes of his photos. His dad loved going to the photo stop to get his pictures developed. When they did their rounds through town together, which they liked to do, his dad would sometimes go to the back of this Chinese restaurant and disappear in there for 15 minutes before they would drive on. John has no idea what was going on in there and what his routines were. At last they would go by the photo stop where his dad knew the people. He would bring his new film in there to be developed and they would give him the prints. At some time in the early 1980s they invented doubles which would later they become standard. Everybody got 2 prints of the same photo. (RW83) John’s dad had a relationship with the people at the photo shop. He took pictures all the time. Getting his photos developed is as mundane for him as going to the pharmacy. (RW61)

Between 1973-1983 John's dad went through a phase when he thought that slides are better than prints. You get a higher quality image that you only can look at by projecting it against the wall of your living room. He took 20.000 pictures on slides and somewhere along the way he felt like he needed to have these slides ready to view, bought 25 slide wheels, loaded them up with slides and put them back in the box. Some of the slides were taken while his dad was hired by the Alaskan pipeline service company to provide the framework for High school equivalency degrees for the guys welding the pipe. In the early 1970s when the pipeline was built, his dad pointed his Canon AE-1 randomly without looking through the eyehole. There are pictures like a dirty parking lot full of pipe, a coffee maker inside a mobile home (which is very dark because he didn't adjust the F-stop), and three guys standing around in sunglasses. John's disease is that he thinks there are not a lot of pictures of the pipeline being built, or this might be the only picture of this coffee maker, or in the background of these photos there is a mount that all of a sudden might be discovered as the Alaskan pyramid and become crucial evidence. One day John needs to sit down in his darkened office, look at all those slides and pick the ones that mean anything, but then you are left with 4 slides with no context because at some point in your life you thought they meant something, you took them out of their context and forever after they are rootless, meaningless, floating nothings. He would become the memory thief! The rest of the slides, where are they? They are just campfire starters or you send them to goodwill and some artist buys them. They are collective memory, but they are not useful. (RL242)


John's dad used whistling two-fingers-in-the-mouth to call for attention. (RW63)
John's dad was a music appreciator who had his favorite artists and constantly listened to music in the car or in the house (OJR)
John's dad's car had an 8-track player. John's friend had a record store that was capable of recording 8-track mix tapes, so they were making mix tapes for his dad with all this Glenn Miller stuff. (RL247)

First wife

John's dad’s first wife Gene is the mother of John’s older brothers David and Bart and his sister Laura. At one time John's dad was running for a major position in the Washington State Democratic Party and his wife decided to run against him from the left. One can only imagine how it was around the dinner table between those two. He was running and she said ”I don’t think so!” and threw her hat in the ring. This was the early 1950s and their marriage didn’t work out, but they were married for 8 or 9 years, which is not nothing. (RL260)

Miscellaneous Facts

John's dad's favorite Christmas present was a folded over paper grocery sack, stapled closed, and there would be a piece of paper at the bottom saying "good for guitar lessons", which you would never hear from again. John still has a booklet from 1975 "Good for one extra chore". (RL183)
John's dad didn't know a Philips head from a Flat head and was not a handyman at all. He had a lady-carpenter. John never knew her name, but his dad talked about her in terms of "Lady carpenter is coming". His dad was a) born in 1921 and this was b) happening in the 1970s, but it was still novel that the carpenter was a lady. (RW17)

John's mom: Marcia Sue Roderick (*1934)

Pictures of John’s mom from January 2017, from May 2017, from August 2018, from August 2019
John's mom on Spokeo
John's mom is a small lady, 5 foot tall (RW60)

Her birthday is in the second half of September. (RL300)

Early Days

John's mom is from Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Ohio State. She worked at a television station and knew a lot of people in the arts world. Her boyfriend was jewish and she was part of the huge jewish subculture in Ohio, funner and racier and more artistic than the typical Columbus crowd. (RL161) She originated from the farm-town of Van Wert, Ohio. (RL220)


John's mom was a computer programmer during the 1960s and 1970s and did oil-based computing. (RL25, RW15)
John's mom is very plan-oriented (RL244)
John's mom is very good at navigating through phone trees and knowing some tricks to get to where you want. It is like a game for her. (RL183)
John's mom feels like a success, because she uses the comparison model, and every other girl from her high school married a farmer and still lives in Van Wert, Ohio. (RW14)
John's mom is somebody who understands signal flow. She is confident that if human beings made it, she will be able to unlock the code and figure out how to build it. (RW17)

Sports Cars

John’s parents were both interested in cars and in the 1960s they had matching Crysler Convertibles, they would race them, and hers was hotter. (OM56)

In the early 1950s she was in a sports-car club which was synonymous with European sports cars because there were no American sports cars at the time. It wasn’t even an idea until Ford came out with the Thunderbird in the 1950s and GM came out with the Corvette. European sports car people didn't think these were sports cars because although they were 2-seaters, they were too big and too bloated. "Stop trying!" The manufacturers almost immediately started throwing huge engines in them which is not what European sports cars had. She always had a prejudice against American sports cars although she thought that the Thunderbird was a good-looking car. (RW112)

Everybody in her scene in Ohio drove foreign sports cars like Morgans and Austin Healys, which was very exotic in the 1950s. (RL161)


John's mom is a big fan of music, although a bit less than his dad and sister. At the age of 80 she is still managing her iTunes-library and her iPod like a teenager. She has albums and listens to the radio often. (OJR) When the iPod with the video screen came out, John received one as a gift by the band Keane while they were touring together. He never used it and gave it to his mom who filled it up with music and used it as her main rig until the iPod Nano came out. Since then she had maybe had six Nanos. She really believes in them and keeps them in her bra. (RW82)

John's mom had an impeccable taste in music. She would listen to all the early Pink Floyd, she was cranking Ummagumma, she had every Sabbath record and when they transitioned to Dio, she had no problem with it. She didn't like the screechy singing of late 80:s metal. Unfortunately her taste took a left turn at one point. As John tried to introduce her to Godspeed You! Black Emperor and imagined that her whole house would resonate like a drum, she had already gotten too far into Slash's Snakepit to back out. He doesn't know if Indie Rock threw off her natural balance. What he knows is that she was trying to replicate the feeling she had when listening to Rachmaninoff, but in metal. She would EQ the vocals out with a parametric EQ and push the bass all the way up and her house would just thunder. Then all of a sudden at 77 years old, Muse was her favorite band and she would go to all the shows when they were in town and sit way up in the stands all by herself, having the time of her life. She listened to Creed at one time, responded to it and became fan of all the bands that were offshoots of the Creed family of bands. It is the worst part of Grunge and John lumped into it with the Kid Rock family of bands. (RL189)

At the advent of Rock ’n’ Roll in 1954, John's mom was 20 years old. She lived in the Midwest and she was dating a disc jockey who called himself ”Merve the Swerve” and who worked for the big radio station in Columbus, Ohio at the time. She met Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino and all these characters as part of events she would go to with her boyfriend. She was wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a beehive hairdo, but she saw Rock ’n’ Roll as the music for hillbilly kids. At 20 years old she was a grown-up listening to Jazz and this was just teenager music! John was at that same age when Grunge took off and he felt that he was one of the younger guys in the scene. When his mother was 20 years old in the 1950s, she was a full-grown woman and she was not going to listen to teenybopper music and was not going to sock hops and stuff. (RW83)

Parenting Style

John's mom was very focused on her many systems and if you did the dishes away, she would come and redo it. This taught John at a young age: "Don't do anything!", which was not the message she wanted to send. She got him colored plastic bins and would tell him how he should organize his toys: The Lego in one, the Hot Wheels in one, the Tinkertoys in the other. The issue with that system was John being a mixed-toys kid, and he would build a Lego fort, let the Hot Wheel cars interact with it and so forth. When his mom told him to clean up the room, he would put those toys together in one bin, because they were related to one another at this point. It would drive her crazy, because the bins were labeled differently and she would come in and break everything down to first principles. John was in the middle of an unfinished story and during the period of two months the G.I. Joes might be in the Lego bin. That was his system! Not putting his toys away was the same as letting his mom do it, so he just pretended he didn't hear her when she told him to clean up his room. (RL245)

One time, John's mom told him to clean his room and he simply put all his toys into the closet and shut the door: She came in, looked around, said "Good job" and then she opened the closet, went into the closet, saw all the toys in there and jumped up and down so all the toys went into tiny little pieces. (RL161)

When John lived with his mom, she would go up at 5am. John would hear her puttering around and would bumble down at 5:30am, which was an unpleasant surprise for her, because 5:30am was her time to sit and read the newspaper. They would sit and read the newspaper together in silence and drink coffee, which gave them both a lot of pleasure. (RL245)

John’s mom likes to have subtitles on everything she watches because she doesn’t understand the spoken word. She is a proponent of that whole learning by hearing or learning by seeing and she was a very early adopter of this whole world where somebody comes out with a book that explains how everybody is. Oh, you are just an INFJ or your are an orange, not the loosey-goosey stuff, but she likes it when somebody has a science theory. Some of the ideas about herself and some of the ways she sees the world are still located in some theory of the mind that she adopted in the late 1960s from reading some pioneering book. One of these is that she is a visual learner, which means she needs the subtitles on. John wonders how much of this was caused by rewiring her brain for saying that to herself for 50 years, but even when she was in elementary school she wanted to read it and didn’t want to hear it. John's mom continues to read those books even in her mid-80s and she will come over to John’s house and wave a book under his nose that explains everything. (RL290)


John's mom does not want any record of herself, she does not want any funeral, no obituary, not any of what John did for his father. John doesn’t know how to record her to keep her alive in the future. (RL239)
She didn't take many photographs, because she didn't want to waste frames on unimportant things, because it costs money (RW61)
John's mom is very unsentimental about trees. (RL242)
If John's mom would have to go through all of John's stuff after his death, she would probably throw everything in a dumpster, because she does not have the same appreciation for vintage Levi's jeans with holes in the knees. (RL244)
John’s mom had been an orphan working on a farm, a place with an outhouse where the way you dried your clothes in the winter was to hang them up outside and let them freeze. Then you could beat them with a rod until the ice broke off of them before you took them inside and ironed them dry. (RL158)

Using Tech Support, Apple Care

John’s mom always gets the most expensive Apple Care for everything because she talks with them and she has probably gotten $200.000 worth of consultation from them. She asks them to help solve her functionality, not just ”I can't get this to boot up”, but questions about Excel and they will help her. She had them go through her entire music catalog! (RL300)

When John transfers a thing and all his music is gone, he is like ”Well, what are you going to do?”, but his mom will grab on like a Rat Terrier and walk them through, like ”I used to have every Creed record!” Merlin goes out of his way not to tangle with her. He learned in military school that there are only three potential answers to every formal question: ”Yes, sir!" , "No, sir!" and "No excuse, sir!” (RL300)

Her boyfriend Bobby

John’s mom’s boyfriend Bobby had bought a low chopper minibike for John at the Midway Drive-in, a swap-meet in Midway that existed before they built the Lowe’s. It was also where he found Barney the dog. (RL392)

Miscellaneous Facts

John’s mom used to say about charity auctions where she was supposed to bring something to sell: I don’t want to make a cake, can I just give you $200? (RL239)
John's mom follows the weather like nobody's business. Merlin recommends to her. (RL184)
John's mom's signature from 1951 and 2011 are so consistent that you could overlay them (RW53)
John's mom is a sock-utilitarian, meaning she prefers to just have one kind of socks (RL245)
John's mom is undaunted. (RW17)
John's mom is a do-it-yourselver and she passed on that spirit to John. (RW17)
John's mom likes white cake. (RL258)
John's mom is waking up at 04:00. (RL248)
John's mom is a big fan of Alexa and talks to her all the time. She likes her so much that she bought like 9 of them, one for everybody in her life. (RW83)
John's mom is offended by the sun when it shines on her, particularly when it feels like it is shining at her! (RW85)
John's mom would always prefer to be too cold rather than too hot, because like John she has humidity claustrophobia. (RW85)


In RL281 John’s mom came into the room very quietly to get a key off John's keyring. She was moving like the wind!
In RL300 John's mom spoke directly to Merlin on the microphone and became the first real guest on the show.

How John's parents met (RL161)

John's dad was 14 years older than his mom. He was already divorced from his first wife, living in Seattle with three kids and was the big man on campus in the legal and political world. John's mom was living a pretty high style Mad Men era life in Columbus. At one point she decided she wanted to see the world, loaded everything into her 1953 Chevy and headed west. Her first stop was Seattle to visit a friend and the plan was to continue down to San Francisco, get on a ship to Japan and travel around the world. She was the only person from her small group to get out of her small town and she didn't want to be tied down by Ohio. Her friend in Seattle was dating a guy who in turn brought along John's dad as a blind date for this girl from Ohio and they started to date. (RL161)

John's singled John's mom out at that party because she looked like Grace Kelly and had that vivacious voluptuousness he was attracted to. (OM135)
John’s dad married her because she had her hair dyed blond and looked like Doris Day and he had a crush on Doris Day. (see OM132)

At some point she became his legal secretary and she was working for the Alaska Steamship Company for a while. Their courtship was late 1950s style. His dad had a Jaguar, which fit in with her foreign car culture. He was a lawyer and a politician and Seattle in the late 1950s was a small town where he knew everybody. They would get on a steamship and he would just waltz into the bridge, introduce himself to the captain and pretty soon she would steer the boat. On weekends they would go drive around the Northwest, they saw the Grand Coulee Dam and all those things as part of their courtship. He was drinking at the time and at one point she was trying to watch Mad Men, but after a couple of episodes she could only see the details that they'd gotten wrong. Those first two seasons of Mad Men was exactly the era in which they met. He was already divorced and she was a very independently minded woman and wasn't going to do what was expected of her. (RL161)

Still, the social pressure of the 1960s put them together in a marriage. Even though she was a mage level accountant, he was in charge of the checkbook. If you had put him in a room with a cupcake and told him that he would get two cupcakes if he waited an hour, he would be covered in cupcake frosting and stripped off all his clothes if you opened the door 30 seconds later. Even though John's parents were independently minded, they couldn't escape the social expectations and the gender roles at that time. As soon as the 1970s arrived and there were social movements that allowed her to achieve escape velocity, she took that route as fast as she could. He was just that much older that he was never fully able to adapt. It is pretty hard to grasp the situation of the 1950s just by looking at all the photos and movies. You were not just expected to have a certain haircut or drink a certain drink, but the part that's left out is the pressure from everybody around you. The clock was ticking especially for a woman. You are not where you should be at and it is starting to show. The more it starts to show, the harder it is to get where you are supposed to be. You better get on some lipstick and get out there! (RL161)

John's parents getting divorced (RL256, RW112)

When John's mom left his dad, they were living in Anchorage, Alaska and she basically just threw some stuff in a suitcase and moved back to Seattle. His dad was from Seattle and he had lived his entire life in Seattle. He had lived in Anchorage only for 2 years and yet when John's mom left him, he stayed there because he liked it there and good things were happening up there. As a kid you don't know enough and what your parents do just seems reasonable. But after John had a kid he realized that his dad didn't have anything going on in Anchorage, so why didn't he just move back to Seattle as well? It is the one thing he wishes he could ask his dad about now. Living so far apart made their lives really complicated. (RL256)

Back in 1972 when John's mom moved back to Seattle she bought the cheapest house in a good neighborhood just outside Innis Arden (RW112)

John helping his dad moving to Tacoma (RL183)

Back in 1998 as John's dad was still living in Anchorage, he called John up, telling him that he could not live there anymore because it was too cold. He had bought a truck and planned to move to Tacoma. He wanted John to come to Alaska, put all of his stuff into his truck and drive it down to Tacoma for him. John had The Bun Family Players at that time and he had a spirit of adventure, but the number of alarm bells that went off made the inside of his head sound like a Pachinko game. It was not going to be a fun and relaxing trip. John was dating a very athletic girl at the time, a ballet instructor from La Jolla, California.

John flew to Alaska with his girlfriend who was excited because she had never been there. His dad picked them up and they walked through the parking lot to get to the new truck. John was hoping it to be a halfway decent truck, but not until they got past every great truck, there was this truck at the far end that looked like it sat there for 40 years: A 1977 Chevy High Sierra rust bucket. It was a high trim model, a pickup truck with a canopy on the back, but it had been through so many lives since then and was completely rusted out, so it was just garbage with no value. It was clearly owned by people who have both smoked and had large Alaskan wet dogs covered with salt who perspire and mold, you almost couldn't stand being in the cab. John's dad got it from some girl with an Indian blanket (and a boyfriend with sheepskin) at the café in Girdwood who had a truck for sale. John and his girlfriend loaded up the truck with all of his dad's stuff and drove away, while he was flying down there and would meet them at the destination.

John immediately tore out the headliner and all the soft material to get the dog out of the truck - they were making it work. As they were in Delta Junction and were about to cross into Yukon, John was wiped out and handed over the driving to her, because it was just open highway, just point it down the road. John falls asleep and wakes up to the sound of the motor ceasing. Steam and smoke were pouring out of it. All those lights were coming on and she didn't know what they were. He hadn't said "If anything changes, wake me up", so she hadn't. On this terrible adventure, they were out in the middle of literally nowhere with a truck full of John's dad's stuff and a motor that was just a lump. They had to hitch-hike back to a guy who had a truck to toe them back to a town that was made out of shipping containers.

They had a phone and were able to call to the town that had electricity and running water and somebody came back from that town. John said: "I don't want to fix this thing, I want to send it on the bottom of a lake and I know you have a lake up here where you put old cars in. I want to buy a truck from you." They sold him a Ford F250 with a Chevy motor, loaded all the stuff in it, drove it down and John had that truck for 4 years and loved it. John didn't handle the situation very well. The stress of it caused his lady friend and him to break up. He lost his glasses, so he was doing drive-by-braille, orienting himself on large shapes, which is fine except when the sun goes down. He almost ran over a Mounty in Canada, because they just step out into the road and wave at you when they want to pull you over.

John's dad joined the Navy twice (RL270)

When John’s dad joined the University of Washington, he also automatically joined the Navy ROTC as David Morgan Roderick. When he joined the Navy later, he had no way of knowing that he was already in the Navy and because he joined as David Roderick or David M Roderick, he got two numbers and joined the Navy twice! His secretary in the 1980s went above and beyond to care for this man and when she asked him about his retirement plan, he just said ”What do you mean? I’ll live forever!”, but she wanted to figure out what his plan was and she put together all the government service that he had done and submitted it to the Federal Government.

She claimed that he qualified for a Federal Pension, but the government said that he had only been in the Navy from 1942 to 1946. In reality John’s dad had joined the Navy in 1939 and he had all this stuff like commemorative cups to prove it. He probably didn’t talk about shooting a Zero out of the sky. His secretary did some incredible research that he never would have done himself. She discovered this situation and dealt with the enormous bureaucracy for getting them to go back to their Indiana Jones filing warehouse to find the two different files, mate them and call them one thing. All of a sudden John's dad was able to retire, which had never occurred to him before. John needs at least that, if not a second executive secretary who cares enough about him to say ”You have 5 completed record albums here!” - "I do?"

For a similar reason Merlin gets double jury duty because he was accidentally registered at two addresses.

John’s dad’s funeral (RW47)

The ashes of Brock Adams' mom

When John was a little kid, his dad was the chief council of the Alaska Railroad with an office on the top floor of the building. It was a real Old West kind of building in an Old West complex of offices and there was a walk-in vault where they used to keep gold dust. Behind his desk there was a big credenza with sliding shelves. John would play under his father's desk and one day he found an urn with the ashes of the Brock Adams’ mother who had asked John’s dad to sprinkle them on Mount Susitna, because she had always wanted that. However, John's dad never got around to it until 1978 several years afterwards.

It hadn’t come up in conversation, but Brock had always just assumed that John’s dad had done it. Brock had served in the Navy and was a good friend of John’s dad. During this career he had been a Senator, a Representative, Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of Transportation, and a prominent Democrat and Washingtonian. He was not a man unfamiliar with scandal, but a man of John’s father’s era.

John’s dad’s grave

John's dad did not want to argue with anybody in the family about where he was going to be situated in the family plot. In his inimitable fashion he short-circuited the thing by secretly buying a neighboring plot 15 feet (5m) away from the family grave, separated by two other families and facing the wrong direction. You can see the rest of the family standing on the family plot from there, but you can’t reach out and touch hands. John’s dad being over there in his own plot surprised everybody and was the kind of Fuck You that he would have liked to live on forever.

The funeral

John does not talk to his dad when he visits his grave because he only put his dad's pilot's license, half a cup (64 grams) of his ashes and a couple of high-end chocolates in a little wormwood urn and buried it in the cemetery. 90% of his dad's ashes is in an urn under John’s piano, meaning the vast majority of his dad is with John every day. John was the only one at the funeral except for the unctuous president of the cemetery and two guys with shovels. It was a scene like an Edward Gorey drawing when John showed up with his little urn that he had made. Because it was raining, everybody was in the exact same dark Navy trench coat that you would expect at a comically serious cemetery.

The cemetery had prepared a hole for John with some carpentry around it so it didn’t look like a hole in the ground. Because it is a historic cemetery they had this whole kit and caboodle. While they were standing there, the president asked John if he wanted to say a few words, but John was embarrassed and didn’t want those guys watching him. They uncomfortably turned around, but that was not what he wanted. He was not going to take his shirt off!

John was genuinely moved. He was the only one in attendance and had a very strange Harold and Maude experience: ”Okay dad, it is you and me, we are going through the portal here, now you are going to be in the cemetery and we are all going to stand on your grave stone and tell jokes and stories about you and your people the way we used to do together. Sail on, sailor!” John put his urn in the ground, said ”Thanks a lot, you guys!” and booked out of there. What was he going to do? Stand there and play the bagpipes while they filled in the hole?

The ashes

John's dad had been very specific and wanted his ashes spread in a variety of places. He wanted them sprinkled in the middle of Lake Washington where he had spent so many wonderful hours on the Washington Crew Team. Once he even swam across Lake Washington! He also wanted some of his ashes secretly deposited under the Holly Tree in Volunteer Park, because his grandfather George Alfred Caldwell Rochester had his ashes put there in 1929 when the Holly Tree was very small, but now it is very big and when they would drive by the Holly Tree, his dad and uncle would both salute like little boys. John put some of his ashes under there, but he doesn’t know if his dad wanted him to salute or not. His dad also wanted some of the ashes sprinkled from a bush plane over the mountain outside of Girdwood and Susan once convinced him that he also wanted his ashes over Mount Susitna in Alaska, but John convinced him otherwise.

John’s dad had a plan to have his ashes widely dispersed, but John preferred to keep most of it under his piano for 10 years, just because it seems fitting. John thought back to Brock Adams’ mother and said ”This is fitting, dad, don’t you think? You live here with me for a while and bathe in the sounds of my piano!” When his daughter was little, he had to teach her that this was an urn we don’t play with and we don’t knock over.

Getting a gravestone

It fell to John and Susan to erect a gravestone suitable of their father’s legacy. Because Susan was traveling the world, unavailable for comment, John talked to some local artists and one of them suggested a big crystal obelisk which John couldn’t afford. While the gravestone should be a honorable gravestone for an honorable man, there should also be something on it that communicates Fuck You to everybody. As he died so did he live!

John and Susan still haven’t procured a gravestone and John’s dad’s actual grave site is now completely grown over with grass. The marker that marks the site is not meant as a gravestone and the cemetery doesn’t manicure it. After Susan came back from her world travel John told her that figuring out his dad’s gravestone was a project beyond his capabilities because it required talking to everybody in the family, it requires that everybody would be invested, and it was a management problem that John could not bite off. Susan promised him to take care of it because she can do things like that in her sleep, but she did not proceed to do it either.

This means that as the final coupe de grâce, John’s father’s grave, which is sitting elsewhere from the family plot and facing the wrong direction, also cannot be located without 15% uncertainty. When John visited the plot with his cousins in October of 2016, he drew a circle and told them that it was within that vicinity. His cousins are not exactly people who roll their eyes, but they were giving John the concerned nod. If his brother would have been there, he would have been rolling his eyes. The gravestone should say something like "David Roderick: Lawyer, Man of East and West, Raconteur" or something that echoes the pure BS from John’s great uncle’s gravestone, but not so much that it reads as a parody.

John's daughter's reaction

John’s daughter understood really early what cemeteries were, even before she could speak in long sentences. She said: ”When people die, they go in their stone”, which is true, and that is still the turn of phrase they use. They really need to get a grave stone so that she can fully understand that grandpa David is in his stone.

John's dad's best friend Jack Tanner

There are extensive stories about him in RW58 and RW115.

Jack Tanner was a light-skinned black guy who was not recognized as African American when he went to Army bootcamp in 1942. When he went to the Army in the South he didn't want to be there and made the tough decision to tell them that he was black. (FF45)

John's mom doing house improvements (RW17)

John's mom sometimes asks him to drive his truck over to a salvage yard in Ballard. She wants to buy used brick by the truck load, which is a thing that she periodically does. She will ask if he is driving his truck today, which always means she wants him to help her schlepp something. She goes through phases where she will go through the 4 good salvage yards in Seattle and find some material that she decides that she needs for her house and it is on John to load, travel and unload it. After that she is strong and resourceful enough to move it around her property and John never has to touch it again.

When John and his mom were restoring her house, they found a lot of stuff in those salvage yards, but now she is laying brick paths around the yard and if you put down new brick, it looks shitty because it looks new and she wants it make look original to the house. John is supporting her in all she does because she has supported him during his whole life. He almost does it without complaint.

The only unreasonable things she will ask him for sometimes is to split up her house into 4 individual apartments and rent it out to local scumbags while she is going to turn the basement into an apartment for herself. She wants him to sign off on that plan and thinks that it would be all young women working their way through nursing school. She also likes to rescue people falling on hard times, meaning that at least one of the apartments would be rented for free. There is nothing John objects to more than an old neocolonial home being turned into apartments by errecting false walls and a stairwell. If she wants to rent it and live in a one-bedroom apartment, which she sometimes talks about, then she should rent the house to someone who wants to live in a four bedroom house and if she wants to run an apartment building, she should have bought one back in the day when they could have afforded one. If John did sign off on it, he would be pressed into service for doing the conversion. She comes to him with this elaborate plan and has it all worked out, particularly the justification for it, and John refuses to allow her to do this and she fights him and forgets about it for a while and then they have to go through it all again 9 months later. Until now, he kept the house stock.

John's mom selling her house (RW60, RW64, RW68, RL250)

In March 2017, John's mom started to talk about selling her house. As she was getting it ready she found all of those little problems that she should have taken care of long ago. She wanted to borrow John’s sawzall to cut away 6 inches of dry wood in the basement, but John declined because she doesn’t have to do all that before she sells it and the sawzall is a very rough and dangerous tool. Even though John's pal Peter wanted to help her, John still didn't want to make his tools available. (RW60)

The decision to sell the house was made with the turn of a hand. Not only are there 20 years of stuff in the basement from living there, but it hosted the practice room for The Long Winters back in the days, which means John - who already has a problematically full house - has to absorb the contents of 1/3 of her house. This includes for example a PA system, microphone stands and about 25 guitars with amps. There is also an argument about her couch, a piece they got about 10 years ago when they went shopping in the junk stores in Renton - a thing they liked to do. At the time, John got a mid-century modern couch, not one of those grey-upholstered things, but with a beautiful elaborate floral pattern. It had been in John's living room for 7 years while his mom was on him all the time for getting the couch to her house and he eventually gave it to her. Now that she is selling the house she wants John to take his couch back, which means he needs to get rid of his current couch. Dan explains that he also needs to get rid of a couch and John interjects that if he would put in on the streets in his Cul-de-sac, it would be gone in an hour. Dan is fascinated and wonders who those guys are who get all the junk off the streets, he has seen them having a junk truck circling the neighborhood. (RW64)

At the end of May 2017, John's mom eventually sold her house and John was in a vulnerable and uprooted place in his life and heart for a couple of days. John posted a picture on Instagram to celebrate and say "Hurray" for his mom. Just posting a picture like that and saying "My mom sold her house!" opens up for some random commenter to say "Nice for her! I live in a studio apartment and pay $3000 a month" or "1%". His mom is 82.5 years old and she bought that house for $190.000 in 1996. She just sold her nest egg! It is bittersweet for the whole family and they are all very well aware of the demographic shift that happened in the neighborhood. When John's mom moved to the Central District, she was one of the pioneers. The neighborhood had been very poor but now all those houses are getting fixed up and sold to Amazon people. John's family was part of the gentrification over the last 25 years and now she is selling her house in the center of town and is moving away because the city has become too expensive. John does not want to have that conversation with people in the comments section who think they know something or have some bright thing to say about it. Who out there claims to have a secret pile of knowledge that the rest of the community they are in doesn't share? That they know more about socialism or gentrification? (RW68)

There is that mentality of shouting out the first thought that popped into someone's head! John put up that picture of his mom in front of the house, but he did not say "Today was the day my mom sold her house. It is a massive watershed moment in all of our lives. This is the house where The Long Winters practiced in the basement for 15 years. This is the house that I lived in with my mom when I made "When I Pretend to Fall". My mom and me restored this house, we stripped it to the studs and rebuilt it because it was a firetrap with falsely lowered ceilings, fluorescent lighting and linoleum over the hardwood floors. She was the general contractor and I was the carpenter." John has a lot of emotions about this house. He is not sitting and crying because it was not the house he grew up in, but it was the house where they lived for 20 years and now it goes back into the stream. Life putters along. John is not sad about it, but it is emotional nevertheless. He is not an oversharer and he is not going to turn to Facebook to seek consolation, but he would have liked to have said something more commemorative for his friends. In the end John and his sister agreed that it is too easy for people to shit on it and they would rather not mention it than having it shit on by strangers and having that be out there both in their heads and out in the world. (RW68)

Merlin did not know about this story until John happens to mention it on RL250, although he had talked about it on Roadwork for months.

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