Wednesday, November 13, 2013


     Maybe it was the yellow post it note I found in my desk drawer yesterday.  A simple note that read "For your files.  Love, Dad."  The files he referenced must have been the information I was burdened to keep for the time when my parents died:  bank account numbers, financial reports, life insurance policy numbers, mortgage information --- all the stuff that people amass and then have to disperse once they pass away.  As the oldest child, I was the one given the responsibility of securing all this information.
     "But I don't want to think about you dying."
     "We all have to die," my mother said matter of factly.
     At the time, my parents were in their early eighties.  Who wanted to think about them dying?  They had years left.
     In the end, I was right.  My mother died a month before her ninety-second birthday.  My dad died three weeks later at the age of ninety-one.
     By then, they'd hired an attorney to look after their affairs.  The information I'd unhappily kept for more than a decade was no longer needed.

     And now it is five years later.  I tossed the folder with all their stuff a while back.  But I'd kept the handwritten note from my dad as a tangible memento of his having been on this earth and been so important in my life.  Photos are lovely to keep, and I have albums full.  But a written note is more tangible, more sacred.
     Last night, I dreamed about my dad dying and the unimaginable grief I felt.  All through the dream, I would begin to tell a friend or co-worker and burst into tears . . . not hysterical tears but the salty, endless ones that stream down your cheeks and into your mouth non stop.  I remember taking a bike ride (I rarely bike these days) in the hopes of forgetting, if just for a few minutes, the fact that my dad was dead and I'd never see or talk or be held by him again.  I woke up with the same tears I'd imagined in my dream.  I didn't swat them away; instead, I let them stick to my eyelids, to my cheeks, to the wisps of hair that floated around the edges of my face.  How could I be so emotional five years after my dad's death?  Hadn't I worked through my grief?  I'd spent weeks, probably months, writing about him and my mother and their dying and their funerals.  I'd processed their lives, what they meant to me, how they'd helped mold me, their faults, their strengths and, ultimately, the many ways in which I loved them deeply, blessed that I had had them as my parents.
     When I relax in the yoga position of Savasana at the end of class, I often see the color purple (my mother's favorite color).  From what I've read, purple is associated with the Third Eye and represents a balanced state of mind and devotion.  I feel my mother's presence then and know that she is with me always.
     But "feeling" my dad doesn't come as easily.  That's not surprising.  In life, he was less forthcoming about his emotions.  A man thing, I know.  A trait secured when my dad's mom died at an early age and cemented as a World War II veteran who saw battle in Italy toward the end of the war. 
     "I love you, dad."
     "Me, too."
     Finally, after years, I would say.  "What's this 'Me, too' business?  How about 'I love you, too?'"
     With prodding, he finally felt comfortable enough to end each of our conversations with "I love you, too."
     Dad, I'm thinking of you today and, as always, I love you.