Tag Archives: loss

Don’t Tell Me How to Remember

I was asked, a few times, why I don’t like to go to the cemetery where my parents’ urn has been placed….

First, it really isn’t anyone’s business but if someone is crass enough to question this – here is my answer:

I have gone, but the result is not what my parents would have wanted. Neither of them were known to make visits to their own parent’s graves. They both hated it and I know why…it is pointless.

I went yesterday and placed a few flowers in a vase, in front of a marble columbarium. There was a plaque with Mom and Dad’s date of birth and their deaths. A cold structure that does not reflect them or my memories of them. The visit did not elicit warm fuzzies but instead, brought back nothing but sadness, heartache and grief. If you knew my folks, you would know that this would have been anathema to them.

I remember my folks, daily – not a day goes by without a memory flooding back. A happy memory. A smile in my heart.

Yesterday, I stood there, in front of that monstrosity and cried. After 6 ½ years of my Dad’s leaving us and 3 years to the day of my Mom being gone, I still cried. This isn’t what either of them would have me do.

My memories of my parents are in my heart, in my brain and they are good memories. They are happy memories. It is how they would have wanted to be remembered. Now, I must spend a good amount of time, wiping the thought of that plaque, the cemetery, regardless of the scenery, from my mind. Nothing happy is connected to that place.

I don’t know why I went to the cemetery. So that tongues wouldn’t wag? Possibly. No…probably.

I won’t do it again. No one has the right to determine how I choose to remember my parents. If I choose to avoid a place of endings, of death, of grief and choose instead to recall happy times through memory and through photos, that is my choice and a choice of which my parents would approve.

Keep memory in your own way and allow others to keep memory in their way. Few things are as personal as honouring loved ones who have left us.

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Honesty-4I start my vacation on Monday and as usual, I am analyzing this to the last nucleotide…it’s my way. I am anticipating this vacation as if I were back in 3rd grade at the school year’s end. It made me think. Why was I so excited for the upcoming 2 weeks? I’ve had vacation before. Over 30 years’ worth of vacations from work but this one harkens back to childhood for enthusiastic anticipation.

The truth is painful. Truth usually is. The truth, the bare bones honesty? This will be the first vacation in over 5 years that will not be fraught with worry. Vacation came, over the past half-decade, and we would go away, usually camping. The time was shadowed by worry for my parents. My father was very ill; he had leukemia and blood transfusions were causing him illness. His organs were suffering. He was in constant pain. Then Daddy passed away and Mom was alone. She grieved and she grieved heavily. She was also unwell. COPD, blood issues and she was unstable on her feet, prone to bouts of unexpected dizziness. The house was too big and too dangerous for her. She came to live with us and I worried. I worried when I was at work. I worried when I went shopping and when vacation came around, we stayed home. Except for last year, Mom went to visit her brother in another city and we went camping. I worried. She was in good hands but I worried none the less.

That’s the ticket. I have no one to worry over this year. It is a harsh, life reality. My parents are gone. They aren’t coming back and are now beyond worry. What a horrible thing – to be relieved that there is no more of this kind of all-encompassing worry. It is frank honesty and an honesty with which I am not, at all, comfortable.

I’ll find myself thinking something is wrong and when I look within? I realize, that the gut pinching nervous-worry thing is gone. This is what it feels like to be relaxed. Mom knew, all along. She kept telling me to stop worrying, even if we were just watching television together. She would tell me to stop worrying about her. I didn’t see it or feel it but it was there. I guess it showed.

I find myself going for a walk with the dog and not constantly running over medications in my mind or ways to ensure medications were taken. I am not running over the design of the house, wondering how to make it safer. I am not running through the week and reviewing doctors’ appointments, blood tests and hospital visits in my mind. I’m not wondering how to find nutritious and appealing foods. I’m not worried about absentmindedness and pots on the burner. Future potentials of constant medical care.

And it is all a bit too much, this lack of worry. I would give up this relaxed state of mind, for all the worry, if I could have them back. Oh, I’ll work this all out. I’ll deal with the grief, the loss and this strange sense of relaxation. It has only been 2 ½ months since Mom passed away. It will be assimilated into life experience. The pain will ease and I’ll be able to accept the lack of over-active brain function but it’s tough going for now.

How bizarre is this! To question not being anxious. To analyze relaxation? I can see Mom’s face now, shaking her head and rolling her eyes at me. I’ll get it, Mom. I will. It will just take me a bit of time.

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You Rat Bastard

gnomeThis is personal. It isn’t about politics, it isn’t about society, it isn’t about global warming or saving whales. It is, however, about being mean, about being thoughtless and for me? Really cruel.

Before my Dad passed away in 2010; we had bought him an particular ornament, a solar powered garden gnome, standing over a bird’s nest with eggs. The eggs would light up at night. He really enjoyed it.

You see, the ornament was kind of symbolic. Many of us referred to Daddy as the “Leprechaun” and/or the “Gnome”. He was short in stature, his beard had grown very white over the years and he was such a happy soul. We would often tease him and tell him we would buy him a lantern, stick him in the garden.

When my Dad passed, I was pretty shaken up but there was the bureacracy of death to be handled, making sure my Mother was as well as we could expect her to be. Big decisions, that would impact a lot of lives. There were 2 things of my Dad’s that I wanted to keep, as material reminders of him. One was a portrait of a gnome in a forest, my son had purchased for him and the other was that little lawn ornament. That was it. That was all I wanted. Those things were as close to having my Dad still with me, as I could get. 

The picture hangs in my computer room, so I see it every day. The garden gnome was placed on my front deck, so that I could see it when I left the house, when I was out there for a smoke and when I left the house; Dad would be there, for me. The gnome was made of resin and being outside, cracks had developed but we kept it there. Cracked or not, as long as no one fooled with it, it was fine.

Then? Someone stole the gnome. Left the base but took the gnome. It sounds so silly but every time I think about it, I get upset enough to cry. Why? Why take something so paultry in the real world but so absolutely important in my little sphere of existence. What kind of a rat bastard would do something like that? I am going to place a good old Irish curse on it and the person who took it. May they never retain anything of personal worth. May these things crumble, may these things wilt and die, may they be stolen or broken.

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