tHe haPPy grOUch

tHe haPPy grOUch

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I haven't written much lately. And if I have, none of it has been pleasant.

I've been in kind of a dark place since Dad died.
A place where my kids weren't welcome, or my husband, or my friends, or my mother or sister... 
It was all-consuming.

There are still times when I can't motivate, can't get out of my own way. When I can't be anything but just, down. And then there are moments where I'm doing okay, and it just sneaks up on me... I was watching a sci-fi show just the other night, where a man was crying and talking to his dead wife... And it was like a goddamn switch, just like that. I had to go straight to bed. All I could think about was Dad.
People say I'll get used to that. That those things will happen for years, or forever.

I miss him terribly.
It's still so surreal. Like he's just hibernating up there next door, refusing to come down and have dinner with us (which wasn't unusual), hanging out in his chair, keeping to himself. I'll see him eventually when he opens the back door to let the dogs out...
But that's not the case.

The place I'm in is still dark, it's just not quite as solitary.

I think that changed the day of Dad's services, just a few days ago.

It's funny how those things work... even though it seems so insignificant. It's an opportunity for closure, to come together with friends and family, and truly send Dad on his way to whatever this next journey is; for him, and for the people who love and miss him.

And it was an amazing service. If I had any expectations, that day surpassed them all. So many family members, local or from across the country, that I haven't seen in years. There were music recordings played that were sung by Sharla and I. My slideshow looked beautiful on the big screen, even though it reduced everyone to tears. Mom's old Pastor traveled back from Canada just to officiate (he was the only Pastor Dad ever liked). So many people spoke of Dad.. his friends, his sister, his cousins.. and me. I was able to read the eulogy I had written. I only cried at the end. But I said what I wanted to say about my Dad. I paid my tribute to him amongst his friends and family. Several people who hardly knew Dad said- "I left there feeling like I had known him my whole life"...

Today is mom and dad's anniversary.
Happy anniversary, Father. I love you, and miss you.

In closing, I'd like to share what I wrote for Dad's memorial...

I don't remember much of my childhood, or much about what my dad was like back then. The only vague memory is one of an imposing and somewhat absent figure, the kind represented by every mother's words- "wait till your father gets home".
But I do remember a turning point in our relationship, when I was nearing adulthood... And that was the first time I saw Dad cry. I think that was when my father and I began a different kind of relationship. The one that developed into a loving, respectful, mutual understanding of one another. And a definite friendship. 
Dad was one of the most charismatic guys I know. Everyone who met him liked him. And for good reason; he was one of those "salt of the earth" people. The kind of person who truly gave depth and meaning to the phrase "shirt off their back"; because he would, literally. 
He worked hard. Near the end, probably much harder than he should have- But that was Dad. He was no quitter when it came to a job that needed doing. And not just going to his 9-5 every day.. He worked hard at everything he did. Restoring his favorite old car or jeep, or Bampa's antique tractor, or helping friends with household projects, or working on someone's RV after hours and on weekends. His work ethic went way beyond respectable.
Dad was funny. Damn funny. A witty, sarcastic, and often times inappropriate kind of funny,  that was the cause of much belly and face pain from excessive laughing, smiling and giggling. 
And he was smart, man was he smart. So smart that it probably drove him a little bit crazy. I always said- my dad knew a lot about a lot of things, and at least a little about everything else. 
To say he was talented was an understatement. That man could play the bass guitar and sing like crazy. I always idolized him for that. (And so did many of my teenage girlfriends!) And he passed that talent along to Sharla and I. I may be biased, but I'm also a musical snob and harsh critic (much like dad), and he truly was one of the best musicians I've ever known. And I was fortunate enough to share the stage with him in one of our last bands. 
He was also the grumpiest person I knew. Hmmm, I wonder where I get that from? As funny and charming as he was, he was also stoic, and quiet, and reserved. I always wondered what was going on in that creative, contemplative mind of his. 
He had so many various hobbies, and jobs, and homes over the years.. We lived so many different places I've lost count. I will definitely never forget the trek across the US to move to California, though. Now that was an adventure!
But I got that about him... I got the ever-changing hobbies and interests, the need for a new job or new city or town, a new car, a change of scenery, something new, something different...    A brilliant mind is a restless one. 
I got my dad, because I'm just like him. Some might call me a carbon copy. I've got his nose, his eyebrow, his olive skin, his wrinkled hands, his deep baritone voice. I've got his mannerisms, his grumpiness, his moodiness. I've got his wicked sense of humor, his talent, his creativity, his restless mind...
And I wouldn't change any of it.
Those are some of the most cherished things that he left me. And for those things, I'll be forever grateful. Those are the reasons he'll never really be gone.