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Posts Tagged ‘father’

Soul Sadness

It’s been four months.  And my soul is still so sad. I spent most of today with tears gently streaming down my face.  While sitting at the cemetery, it was a full-out bawling.  I got home and planted my ass on my love seat and stared at the television.  Then I did some grading.  Then I went on Facebook.  I checked my Twitter.  I sit and try to fill my brain with thoughts other than my father.  I am going to be graphic below so if you don’t want to read yucky stuff stop reading here.  I need to write this out and writing it in my journal hasn’t cut it and so I am sending it out into the cyber world void.

I keep telling myself my dad is dead because I have not accepted it.  I should have by now.  I identified his body and that image haunts me in my dreams and while I’m awake.  I still see the shape of his body under the sheet and it just looked wrong.  The hospital had done a beautiful job with cleaning him up before I saw him, but he still had tears of blood gently streaming down his face.  From what I’ve been told that would have been because of serious head trauma.  I knew something was wrong with his legs that night and a few days later, when I cleaned out his car, I saw one of his shoes had come off at impact.  So I know I was right about his legs.  It was my father’s body on that table and I know that but I still think he will call any minute.  Or one of his goofy letters will arrive in the mail tomorrow.

All of our birthdays have passed without a card from him, except for my father-in-law’s birthday.  I don’t know if he sent a card in the mail to Pop, but I do know he would go over with a pie and the two of them would spend a couple of hours eating pie and shooting the breeze.  Thanksgiving, Christmas.  I can’t imagine it without him.

Tomorrow night we go to A Christmas Carol.  My father started this tradition five years ago.  He had gone once before and then invited us the next year.  This will be our fifth time and our first time without him.  I am bringing a box of tissues and fully expect to be a mess.  I wonder if tomorrow night will make his death more real.  I need to accept it and find a way of living with it.

But I miss him.  And I want to ask him how he is.  I want to ask him for advice about anything.  I want to show him the boys’ school pictures.  I want to listen to one of his really, really long answering machine messages.  I want to see him when he comes on campus for an event.  I want to pick out a new bumper sticker for his car.  I want to hug him again.

I want the image of him in the trauma center erased from my memory.  I know by the extent of his injuries that it was merciful that he died, and the doctors said he was in a coma the whole time and didn’t know what happened, but I want him back.

And I know there are so many other things in this world that are sad, tragic, horrific, probably more so than one woman experiencing the death of her father, but this is where my mind is stuck.  I am trying to unstick it.  I feel like I’m caught in a loop and can’t get out of it.  I want to focus on the happy memories of my father, the wonderful things he taught me, the love he gave me unconditionally.  I just wish I had longer with him.  He came into our lives when I was twelve, adopted me when I was 22, and I want more time.

I realize though that I have to find a way to accept the death of my father and get my mind “not stuck” on that night four months ago.  Before it becomes all encompassing.  Before it impacts my husband, my sons. Before I get stuck with this sadness in my soul.

So far I’ve been using counseling and food.  I’ve gotten good at the food part.  Put on 25 pounds in four months.  I’ve gone to my other doc at this point to ask for something to take the edge off and to check my blood pressure with the weight gain.

So now I’m trying this too.  Writing soothes the soul.  So I’ve been told.

 

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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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One Month

One month ago my sweet, loving, funny, joyful, beloved father was in a serious and fatal car accident.  I still cannot believe it even though I have not gotten a phone call or message opening with “Hey, there, it’s the Bear-man” since then.  Even though there was no birthday card delivered for Younger Son.  Even though when I go to my parents’ house his car is not there.  People sent beautiful flowers and fruit arrangements, cards, condolences, but I still don’t believe it.  I sat in a trauma center with my family waiting for the doctors one month ago.  I identified his body one month ago.  I cleaned out his car four days shy of a month ago.  I attended his service five days shy of a month ago.  I visited his niche at the cemetery.  I still cannot believe it.

And I miss him so very much.  I don’t know what to do with the sadness, the anger.  I keep looking at pictures of him, looking through cards from him, watching videos of him.  I keep dreaming of him.  Having conversations with him, but he’s always behind a door, or in another room, not visible to me.  I know time will help with acceptance.  But it moves in such a different way at the moment.  Sleep is frustrating, but being awake is frustrating too.

I miss him.  I don’t want to keep being sad because I know he wouldn’t want that.  He loved life.  He loved his family.  He loved joy.  He’d scold me for being sad, but I cannot stop feeling so very sad.

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So last night I went to the theater with my father.  It was an awesome night-50 One Minute Plays.  And they meant it!  Your emotions went everywhere and it truly demanded of the audience a willing suspension of disbelief, a lot of attention, and an open mind to how the plays were grouped together to create these vignettes of life in Jersey at this moment.  My mom watched the boys and Hubby sadly was working because I know he would have loved the show.

The preshow music was carefully selected and truly set the tone for the 50 one minute plays we were about to watch, but how many of you have had to listen to “I Touch Myself” sitting next to your dear old dad?  There were a number of songs with less than wholesome lyrics, and while neither of us are prudes,  I really could have lived my entire life without hearing “I don’t want anybody else/when I think about you/I touch myself” while talking to my dad about my sons.  This is the plot line to a Greek tragedy.

It is amazing what you can fit into one minute.  Some of the plays were amazingly verbose for only a minute.  Others had no dialogue, just crying or gestures or movements that told the whole story.  Many were raunchy-somehow it’s easier to watch than simply hear “raunchy” with your dad.  I suppose because the audience mode took over.  Some were political, some were theological, some were just plain funny.

If the festival comes near you, do attend it.  It will be different plays than I saw, but I am sure they would be just as full of talent as last night’s theater.

Just promise me you won’t touch yourself.

 

Check out more info about the festival here:

http://www.passagetheatre.org/ or http://www.oneminuteplayfestival.com/2013/01/16/3rd-annual-nj-ompf/

 

 

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