So we buried my Dad yesterday.
He died in late January, but the ground had to thaw, and so we buried him yesterday.
We buried him next to my mom, despite the fact that, while they had been married for more than 35 years, they had separated and then divorced in the ’90s, and my Dad’s partner of the last 12-15 years was there. That was a little weird. She didn’t seem to mind, but she always kind of deferred to the “family,” even when I thought she shouldn’t.
At the cemetery, I introduced myself to the “new” wife of one of my uncles I found myself standing next to — I had seen her once or twice before, but had never met her in person. She tried to offer comfort by telling me about how her parents had both, in a bizarre coincidence, died on the same day when they were each in their 60s. She then told me that I could be comforted by the fact that my dad had died in his sleep. Which would be fine, except her way of putting it was “At least he wasn’t murdered or something, because then you’d be angry, too.”
My brushing up against Enlightenment in this situation is that I didn’t punch her in the face.
(Don’t yell at me. I know she meant well. I know people say stupid things when they don’t know what to say. But “at least he wasn’t murdered?” Really? That’s the best she could do? Why can’t people just say “I’m so sorry”?)
Instead (of punching her in the face) I walked over and helped my Dad’s partner dip Dad’s dog’s paw in the dirt and put his pawprint on the lid of the coffin.
I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about my family, and all the joys and hurts of growing up, and remembering all of the goofy memories of our childhood while looking at these people who are all now deep into middle age. My two younger brothers lying together in my youngest brother’s crib; my oldest brother running out of the house all concerned about the paint on his car when I fell off my bike in its vicinity as I was learning to ride a two-wheeler; one of my sisters helping me out of the ditch after my pants leg got caught in my bike chain and walking my bike home for me; my next older sister and I getting into trouble in bed after bedtime for either fighting or giggling.
Now we have children who have children, or are old enough to. We’re all gaining weight around our middles and discussing our strategies for dealing (or not) with our grey hair.
It’s difficult to lose a parent, it’s really difficult to lose both. Many talk about this awareness of being the “oldest” generation, but I don’t really feel that, I guess because I have so many older siblings. (My own personal buffer zone.)
I would like to be able to let go of past pain. I would like to cure myself from The-Grass-is-Always-Greener syndrome. I would like to always FEEL the joy I know is there.
One song, from the car yesterday, which I should not have listened to (I started crying while singing along with the refrain, and didn’t really stop for about 20 minutes):
Won’t it be dull, when we rid ourselves of all the demons haunting us, that keep us company;
won’t it be dumb, to be happy like we always thought we’re supposed to feel, but never seem to be.
(War on Drugs, Barenaked Ladies)
And then today, playing through a tiny little speaker in the kitchen while I made dinner:
. . .there’ll be icicles, and birthday clothes, and sometimes
there’ll be sorrow . . .
(Little Green, Joni Mitchell)