My Dad had his 82nd birthday on Valentine's Day a year ago, and then passed away six days later. A tribute to him is here. I am so grateful for the support from the Daily Kos community and the wonderful friends and neighbors who helped my family through it.
When I flew east for the memorial, I suggested to Mum that I simply take her back to Washington with me, and we would get her to a safer place and then sort it all out. She wasn't ready, and she held out for another two months. In April, we needed to take on the task - emptying the house, of forty seven years of memories, and forty seven years of junk.
|A special welcome to anyone who is new to The Grieving Room. We meet every Monday evening. Whether your loss is recent or many years ago, whether you have lost a person or a pet, or even if the person you are "mourning" is still alive ("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time) you can come to this diary and process your grieving in whatever way works for you. Share whatever you need to share. We can't solve each other's problems, but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.
We had a three day yard sale on the front lawn - every item free. It would have been just wrong to haggle over whether we got five bucks or ten for some old table. So friends, neighbors, and people who saw the Craigslist ad came by and we gave them parts of our history.
The work required focusing on the urgent tasks of the moment, but the unending series of flashbacks arrived through each day.
We passed the top of the ski area and continued along the trail toward the fire tower. It was a long way, and I was tired. But still, there were widgets. I persisted in hopes of finding the next one.
In the small room at the top of the fire tower, there was a map table with a sighting device that the ranger could use to determine the direction of a fire. In the very center of the table, on the pivot point of the sighting tool, there was a widget. I think that was the moment that I figured out what Dad had been doing.
My wife says "You're quiet tonight. Been going through more boxes?"
It's not all sad, it's not all grieving. Sometimes it's contemplative. Trying to understand the meaning of objects that have been cast loose from their human mooring. Asking my Mum about them. Deciding which items have a place in our lives. Which can go. Which need to hang around at least until the estate finally gets settled. Which ones I need to make sure to share with my daughter.
In 1988, I went on a diving trip to Bonaire with my Dad. He liked to take his time and look carefully at the reef for critters that the rest of us were missing. I was impatient and wanted to check out the next stretch of reef.
On my most recent dive trip I was paired at random with another tourist. As we circled the wreck at 90 feet, I wondered what the rush was.
This spring, my daughter and I plan to go to Bubble Makers, her first SCUBA class.
My Dad cared about recognizing the efforts of the those who came before us. He treasured his friendship with the very first SCUBA cave divers of all. He made sure to recognize everyone who had helped him find the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) as a field for his research.
Several times during the past year, we had received notifications of special sessions at scientific conferences, arranged in honor of Dad's memory, such as the Oliver Wells Memorial Symposium on the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) at the Microscopy and Microanalysis 2013 annual conference.
Dad built one of the first SEMs ever for his doctorate - here he is (top left) with a second generation SEM in the early 1960s.
Dad made sure, really sure, we had the skills, education, and opportunity to establish our own households and in turn be able to take care of our children. So any time I see or touch something that was once his, it reminds me of the one commitment he would most want me to make - to take care of those who come next.
Some day I'll make it through all of the boxes. Every so often, there is time for another one, in the seams between everything else that's on the omnipresent list.
The next box awaits.
Daddy, I will always miss you.