Sunday, November 01, 2009
Happy November! We observed All Saints' Day in church today, with a table set up for photos and mementos of loved ones. I'd brought two photos of Dad in a plastic sleeve, and one of our priests prayed with me before the service. After the service, I went around showing the pictures to various friends, since only one person there had actually met Dad while he was alive.
They all listened very patiently to my stories about Dad. They asked questions and told me how handsome he was and said I look like him, and one person said I should write a book about him. I've been told that before, most memorably by the head of a search committee who was far more interested in learning about Dad than in hearing about my fiction, which this professor would have been hiring me to write if I'd gotten the job. For that and other reasons, the suggestion rankles a bit, but I may still do it sometime.
Someone else said kindly, after I'd been rattling on for a while, "How lucky you've been to have a parent who created such good memories."
Earlier in my life -- during the decades when Dad's drinking caused no end of worry and drama -- I felt distant from him, and very resentful. For that and many other reasons, I'm glad he lived long enough for us to develop a close and loving relationship, even if he drove me crazy sometimes. He drove everybody crazy sometimes, but then, so do I.
Another church friend asked this morning, "What of him do you see in yourself?"
"I'm stubborn and argumentative," I said immediately, "and I drive people nuts."
"I thought you were just thorough," said my friend, deadpan.
I laughed. "That's a kind way of putting it!"
(Someone else I know from church informed me several years ago that he could no longer have a close friendship with me because I remind him too much of his mother, who's stubborn and argumentative. I've often wished that his mother could have met my father!)
I'm grateful that Dad passed his sense of wonder on to me, along with his depressive tendencies. And we're both bright -- actually, Dad was brilliant in many ways, and my intelligence is a dim echo of his -- but I get that from my mother, too. I wish I'd inherited a greater percentage of both of their looks, but if I had to choose between that and brains, I'd definitely stick with what I have.
Anyway, my friends at church were very tolerant this morning, since many of them have heard these stories before. I felt a pressing urge to tell them, almost as if it were Dad's funeral. At this point, I don't know when we'll be scattering his ashes. I'd thought that my sister and I would go down to the Gulf this summer, but the other day she pointed out that she can't take any vacations while my mother's living with her. So unless Mom winds up in a nursing home again -- which no one wants -- it feels like we won't have physical closure on Dad until Mom dies. Kinda morbid, but that's the situation.
In the meantime, Dad's hanging out in his little white box on his red bookshelf, all quiet and peaceful-like. Quite a change from when he was alive!