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Posts Tagged ‘Bearpaw’

This was our eighth year seeing A Christmas Carol performed as a one-man show by Gerald Charles Dickens, great, great grandson of you can guess. It is a fantastic show every time we see it. Mr. Dickens performs all the characters and each one is different, and they even hold conversations. His performance is brilliance. Physically, vocally, emotionally. I literally laugh and cry each year.

This has been a tradition since Bearpaw first gave us tickets in 2011. He saw the play in 2010 and thought we would enjoy it. Clearly we do. A Christmas Carol is in my top three Christmas tales, and I love having shared this live, theatrical experience with my sons. Thank you again, Mr. Dickens!

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Bear getting an autograph…

And these are some of my favorite pictures of the boys with Bearpaw. They were taken in 2014, the last time we saw it with Bearpaw.

And even though I always miss Bearpaw a little bit more at this time of year, I celebrate his memory when I remember to “Come in and know me better, man”.

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366

Today I was drowning in a tsunami of grief and sorrow. I cried throughout the day, at times worried that people on the other side of my cube would hear.  I managed okay in my meeting because I let the others do the talking, with me just piping in with questions to move the conversation in a new direction or to delve deeper into the topic at hand.

Inside I was asking how 366 days could have passed? June 20, 2015 was the last day we saw Bear. Then the boys were off to camp weeks and such. The next time I thought I would see him was at the end of July for Younger Son’s birthday. Instead I identified his body at the trauma center.

Those images are burned in brain and haunt my nightmares still, but a year ago today we were with Bear. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few thousands words on the happiness and love that filled that day.

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On  July 16 I will have lived a year without my beloved Bear. While the sadness and grief continues to be overwhelming at times, it has already been a year filled with great blessings and many happy times. My hope is that the saying about a house holds true even a little bit for grief. You have to live in it for a year to know what it’s like in every season. Then I can start making repairs to my heart.

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I’ve been avoiding Instagram. Well, social media in general, including this blog. I finally logged back into my Instagram and saw this post.

The date at the bottom says: 52 weeks. Yes, a year since I took what would become my final picture of me and my Bear. We saw Bear a lot between this picture (April 1, 2015) and the car accident. But still, some picture had to be my last one with him. This is a pretty good one for it to be. Each time I look at my 15 year clock, I think of him. He had to open the gift-wrapped box in the parking lot, like a little kid, so he could see what the gift was and then, open the box to see the actual clock.

Younger and Older Sons have cried this week. Both miss him so much. Younger son got his baseball jersey today, looked at the number, and was somewhat indifferent, but he didn’t say he disliked it. When I said Bearpaw must have picked it for him, younger son asked why. I reminded  him that Bearpaw was born in 1939, so 39 was perfect for him. His smile beamed from ear to ear. He doesn’t cry going to the ballpark anymore (the last time we saw Bearpaw was at the ballpark). He is beginning to love baseball again.

52 weeks. I sang “Happy Birthday” to him at the cemetery this past Thursday. It’s still so surreal.

And, as a geeky side note, ’39 by Queen is one of my faves.

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Three things

First thing. I wandered back into denial about my dad being dead.  Just been hanging in a place where I’ve been comfortably numb.  Now while I did cry at every holiday-related event from Halloween through New Year’s, it was not a loud, unattractive sobbing, but simply a weeping (most of the time).  I lost it a bit at the youth group retreat because the giant bear in the lobby had the same ribbon that I had picked for my father’s Christmas decoration at the cemetery.  And we had to drive through the scene of his accident on the sixth month-iversary to get home.  But I was in a car with my son, his friend, and my pastor, so I kept it quiet and muffled.  Then tonight at the annual meeting at church I really read the annual reports.  There in the pastor’s report, the funerals he presided over.  And my dad’s name in black and white. Huge ugly sobbing crying all the way home (like the littlest piggy).  Thankfully, the boys went with Hubby to Poppop’s house after the meeting so they didn’t see or hear me crying about Bearpaw.

Second thing. Ahhhhhhhhhh…that’s me exhaling.  I quit my job three weeks ago and started my new job the very next week.  Such a wonderful difference.  I truly miss the people from department at my old job and the pirates, but ahhhhhhhhhhhh.  I spend my days now working with words and it is lovely.  It is quiet.  It is focused.  There’s a snack table.  Hubby made banana bread the other day for the table and it was gone by 11am.  Someone brought in bagels this morning. And there are Girl Scout cookies everywhere.  And I work with words all day.  I can get my geek on and it’s cool, because everyone is doing the same.

Third thing.  I wrote a post for my blog.  And it feels so good to be writing again.  I haven’t enjoyed writing for about a year.  I missed it and I was angry about that.  But by the time I got home each night I didn’t have any freakin’ energy.  My blood pressure was up, I’ve got about 60 pounds to lose, and I was just angry all the time when I got home from work.  I barely had time and energy for real interactions with my family.  I certainly didn’t want to write anything down.  And now I do.

Three things.

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I’m gazing at the beauty of creation through the windows of Hemlock House. The retreat for the youth group has gone well and all are enjoying the free time before the last session.

It’s been six months and it is quite fitting to be in the Poconos. We came here most weekends for several summers to take the boat out on Lake Wallenpaupack. We’d stay at the same little motel each time and Hot Dog Johnny’s was always a beacon of “almost there”. So much has changed since then.

So much has changed in the last sixth months. I no longer run a writing lab. I miss the people very much but my blood pressure and back muscles do not miss the stress. I am enjoying my new job. The pace is calmer and I can focus on one task at a time. I enjoy the challenges of the job and my new coworkers are quite nice, quite welcoming.

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People that I never thought I would see again are back in my life. And I am the better for it. They have brought a new happiness and love into our family in ways we could not have imagined.

And so I sit with a sense of peace looking at majestic views through the windows of Hemlock House. I will have to drive through the scene of the accident six months to the day, but it will be with peace. With love. With old happy memories melding with new happy memories. As we drive through that spot of the road, I may cry, simply because I miss Bear so much. But I keep sharing the love and happiness and joy he always shared. For our time on this earth is short, so we must come in and know each other better, man.

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Come in and know me better, man.

As I have been struggling to process the death of my father, lovingly known as Bear and Bearpaw (Grandpa), certain aspects of my relationship with him continue to surface repeatedly.  One of them was staring me in the face, literally.  I found a picture of my dad with my sons that I had forgotten about.  I took it at our annual outing to see A Christmas Carol performed by Gerald Charles Dickens, Charles Dickens’ great great grandson.  It was our fourth year at the show and Bearpaw was goofing off with the boys while waiting in line for photos with Mr. Dickens.  The boys had worn their Dickens hats and Bearpaw had covered Younger Son’s face with his hat.  Then he dropped the hat down and I captured a beautiful picture of the three of them, full of the Christmas spirit, full of love, full of joy.

Dickens hat down

This picture shows Bear’s love of love.  His love of his grandchildren.  His love of life.  I realized only now as I have been missing him terribly why he loved this particular version of A Christmas Carol so much.

First, he got to share it each year with his family.  The boys were six and eight the first year we went. It’s tradition now.  And yet every year we forget when we’re supposed to participate.  (Ooh, ahh…!)  Bear also loved that every year Dickens would tweak the script, the story parts a little bit.

That was his second love of A Christmas Carol.  It’s one of the greatest stories.  And my dad loved to tell stories (good and bad)!  He loved the art of storytelling and appreciated the details, the characters, the shared human experiences.

When Scrooge is with the Ghost of Christmas Present, “Come in and know me better, man”, we hear the stories of the people, the food they ate, the games they played.  Bear celebrated many days that way.  Special occasions and regular ones.  Scrooge discovered the importance of living life in the past, present, and future.  Bear lived his life this way.  He held the past, present, and future in his heart.

On Easter, Bearpaw would create the wonderful Easter egg hunt for the boys and the boys would miss standard eggs each year. Bearpaw would laugh each year.  He added little clues and goofy challenges to add more fun.

On Christmas as we sat around the dinner table feeling full and blessed, Bear would pass around the lottery game tickets and he would sit with the biggest smile on his face as we furiously scratched off the silver covering to see if we won.

On any day he would add games and laughter, whether it was telling you about a spot on your shirt (and then gently flicking your nose as you looked down) or “fixing his toupee” (he could move his scalp to make his hair look out of place and then “shift” it back into place). I still can’t do that trick!

And, like the Ghost of Christmas Present, he wanted folks to come in and know him better, man and in turn get to know them better too.  He loved chatting with people he would meet.  Sharing experiences, discovering what he and the person might have in common.  All it took was a little time to share together and in a few minutes of talking with my father, you knew you had come in and known him better, man.

His life was full of love.  There were rough times.  There were sad times.  But Bear always was full of love.  He loved index cards-he used them every day, for categorizing things, saving notes, reminders.  He loved index cards and paper plates, but index cards were more portable (fit right in his front shirt pocket).  I found one the night he died on which he had written:

“Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Tomorrow is another new day.”

a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Below the quote he wrote, in parentheses, the word “over”.  Upon turning the card over, you read this quote from Goethe,

“There is nothing worth more than this day.”

And then again in parentheses, below the quote, the word “over”.  With a simple index card he had created a perpetual motivator.  Something to remind him that each day was so valuable and to live each day the best you could.  And Bear did.  He lived each day to the fullest, carrying the past, present, and future in his heart.

So remember from my father these pieces of advice.

From Emerson, “Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Tomorrow is another new day.”

From Goethe, “There is nothing worth more than this day.”

From my dad, “Stand tall, shoulders back, head up.”

And from Dickens, “Come in and know me better, man.”

Try it with the next person you meet.  Go in and know him better, man.

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