The little things.....
It has been an interesting few weeks since my last blog post. I have had some visits with family members, friends and with fellow clergy. The main topic being "letting go and moving on" and celebrating the life of.... which ever person we were talking about - but on several occasions it was about Dad.
I was the primary caregiver for Dad like the "About" page says. Dad is who I have shared the stories about. Dad has been with the "Boss" (his description: "I have been in ministry for over 50 years and I will finally meet the Boss) for nine years this month. Dad was fully prepared - meditating on Psalm 100 "Come into His courts with praise and thanksgiving" on the day he died. We definitely celebrated Dad's life and we KNOW Dad is with the "Boss" in heaven. We, the whole family, believe in the Communion of the saints and know we will see our loved ones again.
So.... I have struggled with continuing to share the stories. Do I need to "let him go"? In the last week, or so, I have come to realize if the stories help other people laugh (instead of starting to scream) they are worth sharing. Dad would enjoy the laughter and want to help with the sharing and laughing.
So...... Notice the little things - like the RED trees. Dad loved the red trees!! Then...maybe... at least smile even if you don't laugh.
It has been an interesting couple of days trying to learn new things on my new phone. Technology and I do NOT always get along very well. Then add in gettting some "new" piece and it can become even more interesting. It does, however, lead to interesting conversations and memories.
Dad did a lot with computers. He is the example I use when someone tries to tell me they are too old to lean how to use a computer. Dad was using computers almost from the beginning of "personal" computers. He did a lot of writing on them - usually with the "two finger hunt and peck method." He aalso did some research (on the internet) loved being able to email and was learning Facebook when he died. He even taught himself to skype and "blog." All of which is wonderful until he had a problem with something.
For some reason he thought I could "fix" whatever the problem was. My usual solution was we could throw it out the window and replace the window! NOW I can laugh instead of being ready to scream!! Then...... I suggested he call his grandson. How do you do with technology?
Hot days, cold drinks, "extra" time and visits with family bring out all kinds of memories. If there is an opportunity to share them, especially with each other (and the younger members of the family), even better. Some involve food, and the fellowship of several family members together. Some are of celebrations that specific days bring the memories - like graduations or birthdays.
I still smile, even laugh a little, when thinking of Dad (70+) creaming my son (25+) at ping pong on my grandson's first birthday. My son had thought it would be an easy win - Poppa (his name for my Dad) was over 70, walked with a cane and "only" played chess. Dad had my son moving all over the place as he (Dad) creamed him (my son). Turns out Dad held second place at table tennis all through high school - first place was his older brother, my uncle.
As I sit with my youngest grandson, and he creams me at table games, I think of these famly times. Good memories to have and to share. Good, quiet memories that bring a smile. What are your good memories?
Memories can be both fun and hard - maybe even hurtful. Soetimes we do need the screaming so we can get to the laughter. I have had two memorial services this week with families getting together and sharing. It was interesting to observe who was sharing, how it got others to share and to see the tears and the laughter.
Some of the interesting stories were when at least two of the people, and sometimes more, had a different perspective of what happened. Once again it was also interesting to observe when the "older" one started a trend or when a younger one "got away" with something. There were also the a few stories where parents hadn't known what grandkids were allowed to do - "what happens at Grandma's stays at Grandma's." At which point it was good to hear the laughter.
One suggestion was made that makes a lot of sense. It would seem to be a good idea to be sharing the memories BEFORE the family is called together for the memorial service. It would be wonderful to have the memories, the sharing, the laughter and maybe even the tears while all the generations are able to do the sharing together. Something to think about for the next holiday celebration........
All of us have favorite foods - not just "comfort" but the favorite. All of us have foods we will NOT eat. Somehave food allergies and some have "restrictions." Dad was on a low salt diet which caused problems when I was the one cooking - instead of him. Dad did most of the cooking until he just couldn't stand for any length of time. His health was starting to, slowly, go down (which is easy to see now looking back.)
Meanwhile I was supposed to be doing the cooking. I never really learned how to cook. I could do a few basic things - roast in the oven with potatoes and carrots, the family hamburger and macaroni dish, and order take out. My idea of cookinng was microwave meals. There is a wide selection of microwave meals out there! So when Dad couldn't do the cooking anymore, and I had to start, we switched to microwave meals.
You guessed it! They have a lot of salt, sometimes listed with other names, in them. So I had to learn how to cook. Like I've said - sometimes you have to laugh or you start screaming. Dad encouraged me as I was learning. He even bought a crockpot and grill for me. I did NOT poison him and I am slowly getting better at cooking. So... let us laugh not scream!
How is your cooking?!
Sometimes we look back on the memories and we are either still laughing or we are laughing instead of screaming. But sometimes the memory is a quiet smile thinking about the time away, the break in the busy schedule and (or) the time to enjoy one of our favorite things. During this very hectic week, with meetings added into the regular busy (which is why this is a little late) schedule, just thinking of times "away" gives smiles.
Dad and I both loved history. We tried to go, regularly, to the Minnesota History Center. Dad contributed stories to the "Greatest Generation" Collection. When we were traveling, especially on a cruise, we would take the history excursions. There were a couple of trips to various historic sites near wherever we were living. Technically my "day off" is on Friday so we would take day trips so I could "get away" - of course my cell phone was always with me if there was an emergencey. Meanwhile Dad and I could enjoy learning, and seeing, the history.
These are special memories to enjoy with a "quiet" smile. Sometimes it is a quiet smile instead of the laughter that keeps us from screaming. What about you? What "quiet" memories do you have?
Sharing stories, and describing what happened, is a good way to have memories. My sisters were here, this last weekend, and we were out to eat with friends. These friends know, and accept, I am crazy but they had never met Dad. The stories started with my trying to do his "no one will help me" pitiful expression. My sisters immediately informed me I had a LOT of work to do before I came close to Dad's pitiful. It did, however, lead to Dad stories.
Our favorite, and all of us enjoyed it, is the story of the red socks. At my son's first wedding Dad had a part in the service. We were all in Ohio, from Minnesota, and Dad wore his vestments for the service. After the wedding, sitting at the reception, the red socks were visible. Mom came up, out of her chair, about went over the table at him, saying "I packed the suitcase! These were NOT in the suitcase! How did they get here!!?" Mom did NOT like Dad's red socks! Consequently this became our favorite story and, after Mom died, we all kept trying to find Dad red socks.
It is also a special memory for my son. When Dad died my son wanted several pairs of the red socks and wears them for special occasions. And, when my son remarried, he asked me to wear something red "in honor of Poppa." (His name for my Dad.) I wore Dad's red Hawaiian shirt.
So.... what memory are you still laughing about?
I have been blessed this week with being able to not only get needed supplies but also time to work on projects. It has, however, brought on memories of Dad with my needlework projects. I must admit, though, I had Mom's help with how he felt or reacted to sewing, needlepoint, knitting and even quilting. Our Mom did a lot of sewing (making a lot of our clothes as we grew up) and knitting or needlepoint. So Dad was used to "projects" being started, worked on and even (sometimes) finished.
When we were traveling he, unlike others in the family who would tell me the store was "closed for inventory," was quite willing to stop at quilt stores or yarn shops. He would either sit, read a book and wait OR he would "come in with me" and make new friends. Dad could make new friends anywhere! Because he was willing to stop I made quilts (and sweaters) for him - most of which we gave away.
Of course he could also bug me when there was a project going. I learned, quickly, not to try to learn a new thing, have to do a lot of counting or work from a graph - knitting especially while he was around. It never failed, when I did try, he would interrupt in some way, shape or form so I would lose my place. He could also put pressure on if he wanted something - like the needlepoint of the "Joseph" Chagall window. "If I could just have it before I died........." Like I've said... sometimes you have to laugh or you will start screaming!
(Yes, we got the needlepoint done for him years before he died!)
Memories have been strong this week because of Father's Day, Flag Day and what would have been our parents 78th wedding anniversary. One of the memories is of how often Dad could get me in trouble at meetings. Sitting next to Dad could be a challenge because he would make comments causing at least smiles if not laughter. No one ever "blamed" him especially if it was a meeting he was wearing his clerical collar. Mom used to ask if she needed to sit between us.
The other memory is about names and reactions. I went back to my maiden name at the time of my divorce. The problem was people would look at Dad, and me, like we must be "together." Calling him Dad didn't change anything because a lot of his generation called their spouse "Mom" or "Dad." Having Mom standing next to us didn't change anything either. Dad, and I, got to where we just laughed, because - like I've said - it is easier to laugh than to start screaming.
And....... the memories still cause smiles at least. Good memories to have.....