Today I grieve for my Father.
I'm so full I can't look at you.
Can't look you in the eye.
I'm under constraint.
Tied up by the bonds you place around my mind and my soul.
I can't turn back the clock.
I miss my Dad
I always have
Today more so.
It's a funny thing. I hardly ever drink. A bottle of beer here, a glass of wine three months later, three glasses of wine twice a year on a special occasion. That kind of thing. Last evening though, I drank three beers. I had had a worrisome day. My youngest daughter was difficult and as a group, my youngest daughter, my companion and I, we are all unsure of our futures. There's some chaos coming up and the usual anticipation. It all accumulated into last evening and I ended up drinking three beers. By myself. I had fun with it. It was OK.
Fred commented I was in good "spirits" the next morning. "Maybe you should drink three beers more often", he said to me.
I laughed. I won't. I got up. Talked with Fred and saw him off to work. Walked Ripley The Wonder Dog and then went grocery shopping.
When I got back from shopping my youngest daughter met me at the door of the boat. "Grandpa O. He's your Dad, right?" she asked.
"Yep", fiddling with seven plastic bags of groceries, I answered.
"He's dead", she said. "He died last night."
A couple of minutes later she expressed concern because I didn't immediately phone my sister-in-law back. I had sent my daughter off to work on her school projects and had sat down for a smoke. Sitting in the wheelhouse door, looking at the other boats and the sky and the water and the birds and the fish and such things, I gathered myself together.
"I'll call in a minute", I told her.
I finished my smoke and gathered change together and walked up the dock to the pay phones. I had a hard time dialing the telephone number. Took me three tries. My sister-in-law answered "hello" and I replied, "It's me".
My brother and my Dad's wife were out making arrangements for the funeral. My sister-in-law told me when and where the funeral was. At the Cones, the rest home where my Father had lived for the last few years. She told me Dad didn't want church.
"That sounds like him", I said and then advised her I wouldn't be coming. "I don't know what else to say", I continued. "I'm in shock. Give my love", I said to her, or some such thing and "I'm here if any one wants to talk to me". I remember saying that. Then we said goodbye. I apologized for phoning collect. We were going through a "poor" stage.
I walked back to the boat, helped my daughter with her schoolwork, and made sandwiches for lunch. I put away the groceries I'd bought. I stopped and had another smoke and found myself weeping. Quietly. Sitting in the doorway of Dowager shoulders shaking.
Later my companion came home for lunch and I told him my news. "How do you feel?" he asked me.
Later I told him I felt hollow. "Hollow. Do you know what I mean? Hollow."
Later still. After schoolwork was done and supper was made and the dishes were done and my daughter had gone out to play with her friends, I put on a tape. One I'd made just in case my Dad ever came to visit. Old country music - fiddles and stoic cowboys singing about love and hope, betrayal and pain. I listened to the tape and thought about my Dad playing his fiddle, taking care of his lawn, reading books about history and antiques. I thought about fishing trips and family gatherings. I thought about my Mom. I thought about lots of things listening to the old country music tape and I cried again.
Below is the letter my Father gave to me after my Mom died. Mom had written the letter only days before she died. It's on pink stationary with pink and yellow roses centred at the top.
I wanted to tell you things while I am still feeling able but not ahead of time.
I know that I am dying but I don't want you to grieve for me. I don't like being me trapped in this miserable body. I can be of little or no use to anyone this way. I deeply regret that I wouldn't have stayed healthy for a few more years until you were at least married with your own family but am so glad that you are at least eighteen and becoming self sufficient.
You have been a very good daughter - one to be proud of. Thank you for everything. Have a good happy life.
All my love
It's a nice letter.
From time to time, I pull it out, read it, and cry.
Today I shared it with you..