About Me

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In this blog I have created a haven, a place I allow my deepest emotions to go and sit. I can write easily about what I’ve accomplished. This biography I can recite in my sleep. But I’ve always written poetry and in diaries since I was a teenager. I continued to write poetry in my journals, and not until 2006 did I show them to anyone. I generally write every day, at the present in memoir form. I haven’t written poetry since my mother died in January, 2007. I didn’t write at all between her death and the death of my father three years later in January, 2010. On my father’s birthday in March, 2010, I began this blog, to honor my father and to help me grieve. But I also desperately needed to write, and this stream of conscious style emerged. I needed to find my organic voice.

Monday, August 29, 2011

And Now, Meet My Mom

This blog has centered around me and my dad. And how much I miss him. And how I have reclaimed living after he passed away. Throughout the process of the last year and a half, I've written a great deal about him, and me. There are obviously others, too, that have come into this picture, like my sister and her family, my husband, friends, and my mother. She has been lost in this blog, and I think I know why.

I had to get through one death before I could start dealing with another.

Granted, my mom died (the word "died" is hard to write...) before my father; in fact, three years before, to the month. Everything about my mom was complicated: anything that related to a relationship was tied up, balled up, big and sad. Her relationships with people were complicated, but even more so was the one she had with herself.

Grieving my father's death has been a devastating process, but in a way it has been UNcomplicated. It's been raw, overwhelming, life changing, heart breaking. I cannot say it is a SIMPLE process; when I think of my mom, her death, and my grief over losing her I feel conflicted, confused, confounded. This is called complicated grief. "AND HOW!" my maternal grandfather used to say.

Lots can be said about my mother and the circumstances that surrounded her death. If I scrolled back over this blog, I am sure I've said quite a bit. She and I did not speak the last year and a half of her life.  You think that was an easy decision, or quickly reached? It was the culmination of therapy, support groups for families of alcoholics, frank discussions with my husband, and lots of soul-searching.  She'd become toxic in body, mind and spirit, and I could not help her.  She would not be helped, and this speaks to the depth of her disease and the relationship she had within her own soul.

But my father loved her until the day she died, and this is no overstatement. Sure, he was angry, too, but it hurt him deeply to talk about her after she died. He actually wouldn't. Except this once, during the semester I lived with him, about a year after she died. There was a silly, romantic movie on, where a young protagonist did outrageous things to be with his sweet beloved. "I used to walk nine miles each way, just to spend a little time with your mom while we were dating."   That was my father speaking. About her, out of the blue. I was stunned. I wanted to ask questions, a million of them, but all I dared was a casual "No kidding? That's true love."  His reply was curt but so full of emotion. And that was the end of that conversation.

My mother was in the hospital for the sixth or seventh time. Karl and I had not been there for Christmas; it was the year to be with his family. My father encouraged us to see Karl's family. I was torn but relieved. And Karl deserved it, too, after a couple of hellish years, flying out to my mom in a moment's notice, missing holidays with his family. But still, my mom was in the hospital.

New Year's Eve, Karl and I were with friends. I was planning to do my usual midnight call to my parents, but my father called much earlier in the evening, telling us she was failing, getting worse. Should we come? He said, no--we'd been at this precipice so many times-- but we would keep in close touch. When she died, a few days later, Karl and I flew out, helped as my dad would let us, and began my first real journey of grief. No map, no guide, but an example provided by my father. A few days later  my father left for Sri Lanka and I left for Chile. Life, you know. It seemed the grown up thing to do, right? I was in my early forties, had a husband, a house, a career. I hadn't lost many people, and didn't see people grieving, either, anywhere. So I went on, thinking I was doing the responsible thing, by "keeping on." My father was my role model and I followed his lead. And my fragile mom was gone.

Fragile is a perfect description of her, in all ways, except for her stubbornness. That was world class, hard core. But if I had to pick something that could represent her, it would be a hibiscus (sp). Beautiful, big flower, brightly colored, but paper thin. Must be in perfect environment to thrive. I think of her when I see them. They are big and colorful but not garish. My mom always wanted to be a big personality to match my dad's but it cost her so much. It was work, and it wasn't authentic. The soil wasn't right, or the light.

Fragility is something I inherited from her. I guard my heart like she did. The shyness I hide was her shyness. My ability to breakdown a recipe by tasting it is from my mother. For many years, my mother was Well Put Together--she dressed beautifully, did her make up and hair every day, and cared how she looked. I think my desire to be stylish is from her, although our styles are very different. Karl says that he had many great conversations in her kitchen over the years, and that she loved talking to him. Well, we have that in common, too.

In some ways, I have brought to fruition in my life some of the things she dreamed about doing: finishing college, a master's degree and a doctorate. I have peace within me, and in general, a joy about being alive. I am fairly free, not having kids, so we up and go places. And I don't drink. At all. This is not to sting her memory, but to highlight it. She couldn't stop, and we lost her. I would not let this happen to me. And so the grieving for my mother has begun, four years after she's died. I feel prepared for this journey, the one put off four years ago as I boarded that plane to Chile. After grieving simply and completely for my father. I know how to grieve now. And it's time to untie the knots, wash away the acid, throw away the nasty letters, and start bathing those last terrible memories with love. And see what my heart does next.

Friday, August 19, 2011

His Watch, A Talisman

My dad's watch stopped ticking August 11, 2011 at 7.40 am. I have been dreading this moment since I received the watch at the funeral home. For some reason, at the time, I expected it to stop ticking when he died. Childish, I know.  Time did stop for him, and it sure did for me. For over a year, I checked it every day, to make sure it was still working. I needed to know it was still working. There was something comforting about it still working. I feared how I'd feel when it stopped. Afraid of the finality--this watch, that was on my father's wrist every day for years, the last time on December 27, 2009 as he went into the hospital--as long as the watch was ticking, I was still somehow connected to him. It is really hard to give this the right words. He was alive--the watch was working. There's an obvious representation there that I cannot see clearly, meaning I can't forge the words to really talk about it with anyone. As long as the watch worked, I had some working, pulsing, thing that worked while he was alive.  I checked it every day for over a year. Over a year and a half.

Very recently, I decided it would work forever (yet another Childish moment), so I brought it to the jeweler to take some links off the bracelet so I could wear it. I wore it for a few days, but it distracted me. It reminded me of all the times I'd seen him wear it, and too, when I saw it on my wrist was reminded why I had it. I took it off that afternoon, and put it in my jewelry box.  But it still worked, so that was something, right?

Yesterday I picked up the watch after the realization a few weeks ago. I was so convinced it would be working.  I had to double check the time. I didn't think it was 7.40 am.  My heart believed the watch knew better. For a split second, I was ready to believe it was 7.40.  Why not?  It *was* morning. It *was* a Thursday. Why not?

Silly girl. It's 11.30, near noon. You woke up at 7.40.

A sign? Was that a sign? I've had a few, and this wasn't one. Or, at least the universe was a week late. To the day, to the hour.

Why brush it off? Okay, it was a sign. But of what? I know my father's watching over me, is with me. Maybe some signs take time to reach us.