Monthly Archives: July 2012

One Day It Will Be My Turn

I’ve had many sleepless nights since my Dad passed away, trying to decide what to do.  The questions seem so big and so endless.  The one question that has perhaps plagued me the most is… What do I do with his house… with Mom’s house… with the Dancing Nannies’ house… my quiet sanctuary and get away? This was the oasis where we met – our home away from home.  This was where meals were prepared, conversations were had, and sleep-overs abounded.  This was where Ben and Katya and David learned how to swim, to cook, to play cribbage, to dance.

Do I keep my father’s house or sell it?

Keeping it allows me to hang on to Mom and Dad a while longer.  The house is “their” home and it is full of memories.  How can I sell it and allow someone else into their own piece of Heaven? How can I move things that my Mom so carefully put into place so that it was “perfect” for her own style and taste?  The image of the “beautiful lady” that hangs on the wall screams a memory to me.  Mom loved this print that she saw hanging in Auntie Helen’s house so much.  Auntie Helen bought her a copy of her own and sent it to Mom.  Every morning at the breakfast table, Mom would admire the beautiful lady.

How can I move the Royal Dalton figurines that Mom had collected over the years?  They are a collection. Each holds a memory.  One came from Mom’s mom and was so carefully guarded over the years.  I remember that wherever “Autumn Breezes” was I had to be very careful to not knock it or bump it.  Every time I dusted I was cautioned, “Be careful with my figurines”.  Each time someone sat in the chair next to them, they were told, “Watch your elbow”.  In spite of every precarious living movement that family and guests made – the figurines have survived.  Here they sit – on the bureau – all together.  How can I pull them apart?  How can I randomly decide their fate?

The white birch painting by Jacqueline Algee… maybe she wasn’t so famous, but she was a friend of Mom and Dad’s.  Her paintings are wonderful.  I remember Mom commenting, “How beautiful those birch trees are!  They remind me of the farm.”  Her favorite tree was the birch.  How can I take it down from the wall facing her chair?  Will it be appreciated as much in any other home?  Do I give it to someone else or keep it so that it can re-create discussions in my own home with my own family?

And those dishes!  They are so carefully tucked away in the cabinet.  “They are hand-painted, Stacey. You can’t buy those dishes anymore.”, I remember so clearly was Mom’s message to me.  “One day, they will be yours.”  I’d really rather Mom than those dishes – but somehow the dishes had out-lived her. What will they be when they are removed from that cabinet?  Where will they go?  Will they bear witness again to so many wonderful dinner conversations as they did in our family growing up?  Will they sample such good meals as my Mom prepared for them during Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter?

The stereo cabinet.  What of that?  When Jamie, my brother, was younger he was into wood-working.  This cabinet was a gift from him to Mom and Dad.  Dad had cut down this beautiful tree when we lived on the property – black walnut – or cherry?  I don’t really know as Mom changed the type of wood each time she told the story of how Dad chopped the tree and then took it to a local mill to have it dried and cut. Jamie took the wood and formed it into “this” cabinet that Mom cried over when paramedics moved and broke it while trying to get Dad to the hospital after one of his episodes.  Tessie’s husband fixed it – months after Mom’s death – and it just felt like all was right again.  On top of this stereo cabinet sits a display of Mom and Dad’s travels:  the man from Quebec, the character from Marguerita Island, the Samovar from Mom’s brother who brought it back from Russia… and finally the photos of our kids growing up.  My children were displayed on the cabinet and Jamie’s on the end tables.  How can I split up this display of memories?

I went to the house yesterday (to be honest it is a condo, but it feels more like a house) as the first step in my journey to negotiate the decision.  I was alone.  I poured Dad a glass of wine and had one myself.  His pink chair was gone and so the ceremony didn’t seem quite so real.  I walked into his bedroom, but the sheets were piled on the bed beside his and the comfort quilt from the church had been removed and washed and so the visit didn’t seem quite so real.  I walked into the pantry where “Mom” had stored everything in God’s little acre, but some things were missing and there were empty spaces where the food steamer and the salad spinner had been – and the pantry had seemed to loss some of its charm.

After some time, Ana walked in.  And it suddenly felt much more like home.  Could it be that it was not the contents of the house that held the meaning as much as the people?  Where were Mom and Dad?  They seemed to be in the print, the figurines, the dishes… the cabinet.  But when Ana walked in – I knew they were still living in her and in me and in our relationship that had been forged through their lives.

My father’s house will be sold and the contents will be moved and the move will be very painful for me.  I will be closing the door on apartment 1001 on day soon.  I will be walking down the hall to Dad’s room, pausing to peek into Mom’s room to see if she is still asleep.  It will be, one day, my turn.  Image

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“That moment” with Dorothee

It seemed so unattainable at first.  Her Mom said, “Stacey, you will bring Dorothee to work for your Dad.  It is easy.”

Okay – so it was not so easy.  The application  forms for a foreign  live-in caregiver changed three times in between one step of approval to the next.  I am not a good paper-person to begin with and so having to re-do application forms almost killed me.  Dorothee’s Mom said, “Stacey, it will work out.  You will see.  Don’t worry.”  Dorothee’s Mom, Tessie, you see was also anxious to have her family reunited and Dorothee was the last child she had to bring to Canada.

Dorothee landed for another employer in British Columbia.  She didn’t really understand how BIG Canada was and so, thinking that she could visit Barrie, Ontario on week-ends was logical.  She paid her fees to a nanny agency and was all set to babysit for a family of five.  As luck – or no luck depending on how you look at – would have it, the family cancelled their contact the last minute and Dorothee was left in a new country with no job.  Well – there was a job – it was just in Barrie.

To make a long story short, Dorothee’s first day with Dad was – how shall I put this – quiet.  She was shy – very young – and homesick.  What an ordeal to have flown so far away from her husband and daughter to a new country with a different language, different customs, and different food!  And what was even worse was that Dad ate POTATOES every day… not rice.

It did not take long, however, for Dorothee to find herself at Dad’s home.  She and Ana would take turns on shift with Dad.  Throughout the week while they were on duty, I never had to worry about what was happening, whether Dad was happy, or whether Dad had care.

Dorothee adopted my Dad as her own.  Her quiet manner would sometimes give way to comedy as she and Ana giggled at some of Dad’s expressions.  “Bologne!”  Dad would respond when they told them how in the Philippines they whistled for the wind to come.  They teased Dad that they would prepare a nice fish for him – and especially the eyeballs. “Yum, crunchy!”, they would say.

Dorothee involved my Dad in her life and he would advise her how she should save her money.  “Did you go shopping and spend money?”, Dad would ask.

“Yes, but everything was on sale.  I got some very good deals, father.” Dorothee would answer.  And Ana would remain silent behind Dorothee hoping she would not be asked the same question.

I would often pop over to Dad’s house for a brief visit – unexpectedly – and ALWAYS be welcomed with gracious hospitality by the Dancing Nannies.  Dorothee would always know the answer to the question, Stacey, would you like a glass of wine.”  And the dance began.

“Are you having one, Dad?”  I would inquire..

“Only if you are.”, came the response.

Dorothee knew this dance well – and the wine would already be beside my Mom’s former chair where I took up residence when I came to visit.

They were happy, the three of them:  Dad, Ana, and Dorothee.  They were a family.  They laughed together, cried together, worried together when Dad became ill, and they celebrated together.

I will never be able to thank Dorothee, however, for what she gave to Dad during his final moments.  If I could capture her the way I see her in my mind’s eye in words I would be forever grateful.  The memory that defines “Dorothee” for the person she is was created during the final day of Dad’s life.  My brother, Ana, and I were getting lessons about how to administer morphine.  I was anxious.  I hate needles and I knew where this was headed.  Morphine, in Mom’s case, signaled the end.  There were few words exchanged.  There were a lot of glances exchanged.  There was a great “understanding” among all of us that this was it.  Dorothee watched as the stint was inserted and the first needle injected.  And that was all it took.  Ana was right beside her.  And my brother and I shook.  It was was it was and it needed to happen.  Every two hours, we administered the morphine – whether it was needed or not.  That was a decision that we arrived at after much discussion and prayer.  At one point – I seemed to be in a daze.  One slips almost into a robotic state when faced with circumstances such as these.  Here is my memory. Dorothee – almost floated into the room.  She did not exchange glances, did not talk, but went right away to Dad.  She lovingly examined him to ensure that he was comfortable.  She was graceful, gentle, and her movement reassured me that he was in good hands.  Then, she tenderly pulled up his shirt – only far enough to have access to the stint – and inserted the morphine.  As quietly and tenderly as she arrived, she left.  She was angelic in her movements.  She was almost more pure energy than form.  I saw the love between my Dad and Dorothee.  He had adopted her too.  Their exchange was certainly not something that anyone else could have seen had they not had the history – but I saw it – and I was deeply moved.

This post, today, is dedicated to Dorothee.  It is her birthday today.  And she will celebrate it – too – without Dad.  This will be a first for her – it would have been a second birthday celebration with Dad … and I know she will note his absence.

Dorothee has become a part of my family now.  It is difficult to describe the type of relationship that I have with her as a result of her compassion for my Dad – but there is no other person who shares “that” bond and “that moment” with Dorothee other than me.  Dorothee is well loved by her family and friends.

Today – I celebrate Dorothee and offer her my most heart-felt, “thanks”!

Happy birthday Dorothee!  I wish others the opportunity to have a “moment” with Dorothee.

TTFN

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Ben”

When my husband and I were sitting in the delivery room at Collingwood General and Marine Hospital on July 28th, 1994, I remember asking Kevin, “Are we ready for this?”.  I guess it wasn’t really the time to be considering whether or not we were prepared, but the question begged to be asked.

Now, this day, July 29th, 2012, I am still not sure I can answer that question.  The only thing I am sure of is how blessed Kevin and I have been to have a son like our “Ben”.

He came into the world in the wee hours of the morning after a very long and difficult struggle.  Had it been days of old, the doctor warned, you would have both been goners.  As comforting as he thought those words may have been  – I was not so reassured.  The impression I have always been left with, though, is how lucky Ben and I have bee along the way.

Ben was named with the hope that he would grow into a “gentle giant”. Kevin and I knew he’d likely be tall – but the gentle part we knew was more of a gamble.  I don’t know that a name makes a man – but Ben has made the name his own.  And gentle he is.

Nanna and Poppa loved Ben’s visits.  She, of course, would appeal to Ben’s hearty appetite, and Poppa would appeal to Ben’s intellect.  Ben was a loyal grand-child right until the end.  He visited them faithfully every week as a regular participant of the Wednesday night dinners and then, as Poppa aged, Ben would take a week-end care-giving shift .. until it became too difficult as a “grand-child”.  I am confident that Ben would have always been able to do what needed to be done in terms of first-aid or emergency care, but I always preferred that Ben remain a grand-child rather than a caregiver.

Ben is kind.  He is one of the youngest “Elder” (kind of an ironic title) at our church and was a favorite partner of the Minister’s wife with whom she liked to deliver the church newsletter door-to-door.

Ben is SO good with older people and not afraid of the sick or the elderly or those less “able” than others.  He is a faithful member of the Jesus Walk crew – helping sing songs, lead in worship, dance, tell jokes.. whatever needs to be done – with handi”capable” participants.  I hear, “Ben, Ben, Ben” when we walk into the building.  I am asked, “Is Ben coming tonight? Is Ben coming tomorrow? You get the picture.

I admire my son.  He is strong, talented, and an overall good person. Truthfully, he is any parents dream.  Yes, I may be a little biased, but what the heck… I am one of his biggest cheer-leaders and fans.

Recently, our community suffered a grave loss.  A young lady of 17 was killed tragically while working at a camp for the summer.  She had been a class-mate of Ben’s and had traveled with him and several others on a unique educational program last year.  The loss of their daughter, has left the parents with a hole in the family that will never be filled.  This loss reminds us, once again, about how appreciative we must be of one another always.

I sometimes can get lost in my own grief for Dad – and Mom – and forget the lessons that he taught me not even a month ago – the lessons of appreciation.

And so, this post, is dedicated to “Ben”.  Thank-you for being such a wonderful son.  I am honoured to be your Mom and hope that your Dad and I were, after-all, “ready for you”.

I wish you a wonderful day, Ben, that leads into a continued wonderful and gentle life.

Happy birthday big guy!

TTFN

Love, Mom

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Firsts.. for the Second Time..

Today is the first time ..

  • I’ve wished my oldest son, Happy Birthday, Ben! through a post…
  • I’ve made Ben escargots for breakfast
  • I’ve changed Mom’s recipe for cauliflower soup to suit my health-crazed daughter (that’s also the last time I’ll change it..)
  • I’ve recognized how birthdays, as you age, can be opportunities
  • I’ve been able to catch up on these posts
  • I’ve sat under the gazebo this summer and had the morning dew drip on my back
  • I’ve heard “Dad’s songbird” sing in the garden and not had him try to whistle the tune back to the bird
  • I’ve realized that I’m holding onto Mom and Dad’s condo for sentimental sake
  • I’ll shop for groceries in my 50th year
  • I’ve weighed so much in my life.. other than being pregnant – too much celebrating so far this summer
  • My parents have not called my child on the occasion of his birthday
  • I’ve spelled occasion correctly for the first time
  • I’ve seriously considered my ability to retire from teaching in five years
  • I’ve rooted for a country to win a beach volleyball game (I’ve not really ever been a fan  – just no exposure till now)

But, should I be granted the gift of tomorrow and tomorrow, it will not be the first time..

  • I will enjoy the company of my husband and children
  • I will be served a morning coffee by my husband
  • I will sip my coffee under the gazebo with my husband
  • I will cry over coffee about my parents
  • I will smile over coffee about my parents
  • I will rejoice in my family
  • I will wish my oldest son a wonderful birthday!
  • I will prepared something “odd” for my son to eat as per his birthday request.
  • I wish all of you some very happy firsts – may these bear repeating.

And once again, “TTFN”

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Firsts

This is the first time my parents have not called me on my birthday.

This is the first time my mother-in-law has sung me happy birthday in Tukkie – Tukkie (not sure if that’s how it’s spelled)

This is the first time my husband and daughter have attended a visitation for a young girl whose life was tragically snatched at a too young age.

This is the first time I’ve been 49.

This is the first time I’ve been “without” words.  Sorry – this post will be short and sweet.  I would like, however, to say, “To all of you who have been following Dad’s/ my blog… “thank-you.”  It’s the first time I’ve publicly offered you my appreciation for all the feed-back you’ve given and “hits” Dad was so proud of while he was alive. Your support of this blog is one of the best birthday gifts I could receive… next only to the gift of my beautiful family.  I am truly blessed. ”

Cheers!  And…. TTFN

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

On Holidays…

Sorry – no new post today – I am with the Malloffs collecting Russian stories.. and stories of Dad’s integration into the family from the West.  

TTFN

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Leonard Birchall

Thanks to Dad – I know of Leonard Birchall – one of our famous Canadians who most young Canadians know nothing about.  But those who know burst with pride and admiration.  Birchall was honoured in 2009 as one of the 100 most influential Canadians in aviation and had his name emblazoned directly behind the starboard roundel on the fuselage with the others on the 2009 CF – 18 Centennial of Flight demonstration Hornet. (Lee, Mary. “Centennial Heritage Flight – Precision and Flight Safety.” airforce.forces.gc.ca, 2009 Issue 2. Retrieved: 14 August 2010.)   But those who knew him bust with pride and admiration.

This photo was taken at the graduation ceremony for one of my “Duff” cousins at Royal Military College in Kingston.  Dad, as I recall, got a terrible sunburn on that day – but he was bursting with pride over Kent’s graduation. It was a very happy day.

I spoke about Birchall in a earlier post in Dad’s voice:  Catalina Flying Boat.

Image

Please have a peek at one of Canada’s “historical figures and moments”.  Birchall is also known as the Saviour of Ceylon.

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La Chaise Rose – The Pink Chair

Where do I begin to tell the story of the pink chair?

It was one of those chairs that rises with the switch of a button and is used to help those who struggle to get in and out of chairs to be more independent.  It was a chair that the kids loved to play with.  It was a chair that witnessed a lot of history.  It was Dad’s chair.

Mom didn’t want it at first because it represented the “next step” towards aging – it was something that would force her to admit her husband was not capable of the things he was once capable of doing.  Dad was always physically fit and active.  He was the provider, the handyman, the entertainer.  The chair, to Mom, signified this loss.  And who knows, maybe she was next?

As it turned out – the chair did give Dad a lot of independence.  And it gave Dad “command” of the house as the house was then designed around the chair.  Photos were placed so they could be seen from there, a light was hung above the chair to allow him to read with proper lighting, and table space was arranged to allow a way clear and free for Dad to travel “to” the chair without incident.

From the chair, Dad could survey the entire room.  With the assistance of the mirrors – of which there were many in the condominium – Dad could check out Kempenfelt Bay, he could see who was coming in through the front door, and he could keep his eye on Mom as she worked her magic in the kitchen.

By the chair, Dad would park his walker and the walker became a place where guests and care-givers could get a little closer to him for a more intimate moment.  Dad and I could father – daughter sitting in this way – he in his chair and I in his walker.  The Dancing Nannies would help him with an evening pudding and pills when they sat side-by-side.  Friends would share a joke or two when they sat side-by-side.

The chair came to represent Dad.  “Do you want to go to the table, Bill, or to your pink chair?” was the question so often asked of him.  His answer set the tone for the day.  If he chose the chair we knew that he was ready to chat or to read.  If he chose the chair, we knew it was a time to relax with a glass of wine, or maybe do a crossword.

When Dad passed away, we talked to the chair.  We poured a glass of wine and it sat beside the chair – we all came to the chair to tap our glasses to his as though our lives depended on that tap.  We sat in the chair and “felt” that he was there in the room again.  We felt part of him in that chair.  He was the fabric… even though it was pink.

Yesterday, the chair was lifted and taken away so that it could help someone else gain their independence the way it had with Dad.  It happened quickly and quietly.  It slipped away without incident much the way Dad himself had done.  It left an impression on the carpet much the way Dad himself had done in our hearts.  It’s absence was noted much the way Dad’s absence continues to be noted.

La Chaise Rose was more like La Vie en Rose for what it had come to represent.

Just as the chair left, an image of Dad sitting in the chair appeared on the digital photo frame and one of the movers remarked on the image.  “Is that your Dad?”, he asked.

“That’s my Dad.”  I replied.  “And that’s his pink chair”.

And with the push of a button – the elevator doors opened, the chair was carried inside, and the doors closed.

I rushed back into the condo and immediately put Mom’s favorite blue velvet chair in the place once occupied by the pink chair.  The blue chair was the one that Dad had sat in when he was more mobile.  It was the one that had been relinquished to the back bedroom when there was no where else to put it.  Will that blue chair be true to “the spot”.  It has some pretty big shoes to fill, to compete with that pink chair.  But I guess we need to give it a chance.

TTFN, Pink Chair

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | 11 Comments

Apartment 1001

This post is dedicated to my big brother, Jamie.

And so another Wednesday dinner at Apartment # 1001  has come and gone.  Last night’s dinner at 1001, however, was not like any other.  It was the absence of our parents and the addition of Jamie that made it extraordinary.

It began as any other Wednesday night – the kids and I arrived first.  Dorothee offered Dad and I a glass of wine?  Dad said to me, “Are you having one?”

“Yes, Dad”, I replied and then queried, “Are you?”

“If you are.”

And the dance began.  Wine was poured,  dinner was prepared, Ana arrived, Mary Anne, Megan, and Jonathan arrived… and we sat down to eat.  I sat in Mom’s chair – as I always did.  Dad’s chair was left free.   We all chatted and talked about our days, talked about the food, adjusted the meal as it was too spicy for young Megan, and went back for seconds.  And then the weirdest thing happened.  We were all expecting it – but not knowing what to make of it… Jamie arrived.

He was not a regular Wednesday night flyer.  His entrance was a relief.  He became part of the Wednesday night dinner crew last night.   It was so right and yet so wrong.   It was not that Jamie was there that was wrong – it was that neither Mom and Dad were there that was so wrong.  And Jamie was attending a Wednesday night dinner to say good-bye to apartment 1001 – and the memories of Mom and Dad.

And the memories raced towards us like a torrent of rain.  Photo album after photo album came out of closets and nooks and crannies.  Mom had laboured over those albums for years… and each photo was lovingly placed neatly in an album with a “caption” placed below to help whoever was looking at the albums identify the figures and the actions.  Mom always asked, “What good will these albums be once I’m gone?  No one is going to look at them.   You will likely just throw them out.”  She had no idea how powerful her work had been.  Looking through these pages felt like I had swallowed a blanket full of pins and they were ripping me apart from the inside.  Talk about bitter sweet.  The memories was so beautiful – but I just couldn’t take it.  I had to stop looking at the images.

How had Dad done it?  His digital photo frame still sat poised and at attention for Dad in his pink chair.  Night after night, Dad was transfixed by the photos Jamie and Mary Anne and others had added to the frame.  Some were old and some were new.  Dad watched them all.  I just couldn’t do it… not yet.  But I couldn’t not look at them either.  Once again, I was frozen.

Out of the pages came the photos.  Jamie had his work cut out for him as it was decided it was now his job to scan the photos and convert them to digital images so that they could be shared by all.  The most difficult part about the whole process, however, was answering the question, “What do we do with the originals?”.    There was so much history in our hands – how can one simply throw the originals away?  It seemed / seems almost sacrilegious.

And then it was time to say good-bye to apartment 1001.  It wasn’t until Jamie was putting on his shoes ready to go that I caught the distress in his eyes.  This was to be Jamie’s last time in apartment 1001.  Crap.  I had to turn away.  Jamie went down the hall to Dad’s room and on the way, pausing to glance at Mom’s room as Dad had so often done.  Mom had been gone from that room for a year-and a half but if you looked carefully enough and closed your eyes, you could see her laying calmly in bed – smiling and waving at you.  She would have normally been up – but this Mom was a tired Mom.  She needed a rest.  Jamie proceeded down the hall.  I stopped following him with my eyes in an effort to respect his private moment with “Dad”.  It was a significant time later that Jamie emerged.  It was a sad Jamie that emerged.  The moment was solemn.  He had said his good-byes…. again.  It was in Dad’s room where my brother and I had buried the hatchet with each other – with Dad as our witness.  It was in Dad’s room where Jamie and I had given Dad morphine to help him through his final journey.  It was in Dad’s room where Jamie and I had sat on either side of him and held his hand while he slipped the surly bonds of earth and moved to be beside his Paula – our mother.  Intense.  It had all been in apartment 1001 where Mom and Dad had lived – and Dad had died.  And it was time to leave.

There was only one thing to do at that moment.  And I did it.  I sang Anne Murray.  “Beneath the snowy mantle cold and clean… ”  Dad was back.  Jamie rolled his eyes.  The Dancing Nannies laughed.

And that was that.  The door closed behind us as Jamie and I left apartment 1001.

The ride home was full of story-telling.  There were stories that I could just barely remember and I felt so fortunate that Jamie had become the new raconteur of our childhoods.  He became the inspiration for stories yet to be re-told.  God certainly does work in mysterious ways.  When the door to apartment 1001 closed, a window opened.

Funny how that night at dinner, on the tenth floor, a little bird flew up to the balcony window and hovered there in an effort to get in.  I was shocked.  I had never seen a bird up that high before – maybe the odd seagull soaring, but never a little bird like this one.  And that it was just hovering trying to check out what was happening inside?  Was that Dad?  Who knows.  I guess all in all, he really didn’t need to come to be with us in the form of a bird because he was already with us – in our hearts forever.

I remember one of my last conversations with Mom when she was in the hospital.  I asked her, “What will I do without you Mom?”  Her answer was simple, “I’ll always be with you.  I’ll always be here in your heart.”

For my brother, it was TTFN Apartment 1001 – in his heart forever.

Categories: Duff History, Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Wind – It’s All About the WInd

And then Andrea said, “As Bill may say…

I give you this one thought to keep –
I am with you still – I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awake in the morning’s hush
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as only gone –
I am with you still – in each new dawn.”

God, it was perfect.  What a perfect poem to recite on this day.  What a perfect selection for a perfect day.  What a fitting end – or beginning.  God, it was perfect.

And the wind blew on the 15 of us gathered at Union Cemetery to place Dad’s ashes with Mom’s.  The wind we had felt before.  It had been with us all our lives.  The wind gave us comfort as the temperature soared above 35 degrees.  The wind was cooling and healing.

We all remembered the glint of a diamond snow.  And God knows we remember Dad’s favorite song, “Snowbird” by Anne Murray.  The snow had been with us – well other than the Dancing Nannies – all our lives.  The snow gave us joy and comfort when we played in it as kids.  The snow was something from which we could escape into our snug homes when it became too much.

Sunlit ripened grain.  What an image.  What powerful words.  And then the wind tossed our hair again. Grain.  This was an image that both Mom and Dad would have shared from their separate childhoods – Mom from the prairies and Dad from New Lowell.  Grain would be ground into flour and used to nourish the body and soul.

When you awake in the morning’s hush I am the swift, uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.  Dad was there with us.  We all saw the birds.

On this day, when we gave Dad to be with Mom, the birds were chirping and gliding, and playing in the air above us.

On this day, when we gave Dad to be with Mom, the sun shone on our faces and warmed our souls.

None of us thought of Mom and Dad as gone, on this day.  We knew they were there.  We all shed tears – together.  We all closed our eyes in prayer, together.  We all gathered to pay our respects to Mom and Dad – together.  And we all felt the wind blow gently on us – together.

Who has seen the wind, several of our new family members queried.  And the answer was a resounding, “Neither you nor I.  But when the trees bow down their heads, we know its passing by.”  The wind was there.  Mom and Dad were there – and finally – together.

(Typically the attribution states ‘Author unknown’ but it is the native American version of the poem, Do not stand at my grave and weep, by Mary Elizabeth Frye)

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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