t’s the calm before the storm.
I am at home with my family. Kevin is out picking up a few random things we need for the visitation tonight. Ben and Katya are still sleeping as they have both been burning the candle at both ends between writing final exams, working their jobs, helping out around the house, caring for me (for which I am so grateful), and grieving the loss of their Poppa. David is up wearing his house-coat (because I am wearing mine) watching television.
I just finished downloading recent photos of Dad – and Mom (who passed away November 2010) off Mom’s computer. I was so relieved that Kevin was able to open it as the computer had been locked. It is most likely the battery was dead – but to me – memories were as good as erased.
Mom’s computer was full of recent images. There were photos of birthday parties, dinner parties, special events… ordinary days. And in each photo, Dad was smiling. And in each photo, Mom was smiling.
Mom’s computer was the testimony to how much a part of our lives Dad was. He was inside our house, outside our house, apart from the house, singing, laughing, eating, celebrating.
Mom’s computer unlocked history. Family Christmases, Malloff reunions… oh my goodness.
More recently, Mom’s computer unlocked a world that only Dad and his care-givers knew. There were no images of his “girls” getting him ready for bed – pouring the brandy, changing into pyjamas, putting on is slippers, preparing his “whistle” so that he could whistle for help in the middle of the night if help was needed, wishing him a ta-ta-for-now, and turning off the light. But there were photos of Dad well rested, well dressed, and content.
There were no images of his “girls” getting him up in the morning – putting on his slippers, his house-coat, walking beside him as he used the walker through every step, giving him a shower, helping him shave, get his teeth ready, putting on clothes, preparing his “shakes”, sausages, eggs, pills, coffee. But there were photos of Dad smiling and healthy and clean and content.
There were no images of his “girls” playing cribbage with him (and wondering who was going to skunk whom), reading the newspaper with him, playing cards with him, doing the crossword with him, going to walks with him, talking him to the pool and doing physiotherapy with him, talking with him about God, Mom, and family. There were no images of him guiding the girls through their relationships, finances, education, and celebrations. But there were photos of Dad smiling – knowing that he was respected as a person for his wisdom – knowing he had been a Dad when there was no Dad around for the girls.
Sometimes what is not seen is what is more important than what is seen.
Mom’s computer asked me to read between the lines to understand how happily Dad lived with Mom and then, how much happiness the girls brought to Dad through their care and stories. Dad was not allowed to be sad – he did not want to be sad. He always told me when we talked about Mom, “Think of the happy times”. He told me the girls helped him live through Mom’s death because they were always happy.
Mom’s computer revealed smiles – happy times.
A picture tells a thousand stories – if you read between the lines.
Thank-you for all you have given to my family and I, girls. On behalf of Dad, I would like to thank Diane, Tessie, Adrienne, Heather, Mely, Abby, Ana, and Dorothee and all the other wonderful ladies (and Rou) who gave Dad quality of life. God bless you all. I am forever in your debt.