Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: December 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tending Fires: In Memoriam

Tending Fires: In Memoriam I spend my mornings tending fires, trying to keep the house warm, approaching the day slowly, not wanting to take anything too intense on too early in the day. These are not the habits acquired from my father. Instead, my father faced each day tackling the biggest things first—“to get them out of the way” and enjoy the rest of the day. Would that I had his fortitude; instead, I put things off, procrastinate, delay, avoid, and so on. The habits I did take on from my father were more subtle: his melancholia, his reserve, his wisdom, his laughter (although his laugh wasn’t subtle at all! And nor is mine!). He often said that every day felt like climbing a mountain. And I don’t know that I could have continued climbing as he did, each and every day. But perhaps that’s an explanation, as good or bad as any, for his long illness. I have spent this past year often forgetting that he’s no longer here. And then I’ll remember. It’s not painful. And I’ve often wondered if I’m not grieving him, if something is wrong with me; but in truth, when someone is ill for so long, as my father was, you grieve his loss long before he’s actually gone. Things that were “him” fell away slowly, one at a time, over days, weeks, months and years of an illness that slowly robbed us all of our father, grandfather, husband, friend, physician, spiritual elder and much much more. He was robbed of playing cards years ago; he could no longer hold the cards, or follow the game. He was robbed of reading a little later so my mom began reading to him aloud or listening to books with him. But he was never robbed of his sense of humor; as long as he could communicate, his wry, dry humor was with him. And that’s what I choose to remember today, on the anniversary of his death, when so much was lost, his humor remains with me and in me. Me and my brother and sister and his grandchildren, we are funny people and we love life—even when it’s hard—as he did. And that’s a legacy I can live with, especially on those days when I feel I can’t live with the fact that he’s gone.