Monday, January 09, 2017

Family: Life Matter

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One of my weekend projects (in the midst of my recuperation from the head cold that won't go fully away) was to get personal business and household papers in order which also meant: purge. Out with the old, in with the new(er) and all that whiz.

Well, I got that done. Feeling somewhat energized and motivated to move on to another project (inside over outside given the air temps this weekend) I decided to tackle the main photo and other memorabilia cabinet;
stuffed so full of our lives that the door didn't fully close.

Soon after I began, the thought that I'd bitten off more than I could chew crystallized in my mind. The volume of items paled when factored against with the volume of emotional intensity.

And then my daughter came into the room. She looked through some of the items, marveling at the sweetness, invoking memories of sheer joy. She commented on how the images of she and her brother as young children illustrated how protective he has always been, how loving, how gentle . .  We laughed over the kindergarten writings, the sixth grade essay, the toothless grins, the "Garfield" necklace and earring set, and especially the images of a dad fully engaged, fully invested.

My ex-husband died just before Thanksgiving. His relationship with the kids was strained long before we split. The chasm grew with his re-marriage, a stroke, a move to a Mississippi nursing home after he and the second wife split. Our daughter (much like I did with my absent dad) tried to engage, tried to embrace, tried to include him in her life, and be included in his, with little success. The experiences of the past several years left her a little broken which of course, broke my heart as I recalled my own brokenness over my dad's distancing himself from my life.

And then, Saturday. She saw what she hadn't remembered, what she hadn't known about her dad, my dad, the whole of all our lives. And we laughed. We were able to say goodbye. We were able to uplift his presence in our lives and embrace the joy that was, that is, that will always be, our family.

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22 comments:

  1. Sometimes we overlook the moments and what they bring - memories are a way to recollect and remember those moments. My condolences to you and your daughter for your loss - the fact that you sat together, laughed and remembered proves that you are moving on - which is the right thing to do.

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    1. Your kind words are much appreciated.

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  2. I also had/have an absent dad who remarried after my mother died when I was 18, after which the same chasm grew. Some men seem able to move on to another family, and forget the first one. It was nice of your daughter to try to engage him in her life, but sometimes it is to no avail. This seems to be a common problem. I am glad she has a warm family environment with you to enrich her life.

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    1. Some do. Sad, that. We helped each other throughout.

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  3. This is really beautiful. Remembering the good times, letting go of the bad.

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    1. Thank you. One day, one step.

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  4. That is the best kind of task: you go in with one goal and you come out with a completely different accomplishment.

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    1. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

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  5. So beautiful. What a sweet moment with your daughter.

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  6. Lovely post. I am glad you both were able to make peace with what's life.

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  7. Bittersweet memories. So special to be able to walk that path with your daughter.

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    1. An ordinary day morphed into the extraordinary.

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  8. January is perfect for looking backward and forward at the same time. Mission accomplished.
    I'm so glad that your daughter joined you in that project, and that you both felt some uplift and gratitude at the end. That matters.

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  9. What a beautiful post and picture, thanks for sharing this with us.

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  10. "She saw what she hadn't remembered, what she hadn't known about her dad, my dad, the whole of all our lives. And we laughed. We were able to say goodbye. We were able to uplift his presence in our lives and embrace the joy that was, that is, that will always be, our family" - this is not what you set out to do, but a very worthy ending to the task you sought to complete. I'm sure it was cathartic as well. Also, glad to hear you are feeling better. I was also struck with a head/sinus cold that just would not quit!

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  11. Cathartic yes.

    Sorry about head/sinus cold. Hope it is all over and out now.

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  12. Amazing how pictures can set off such rabbit hole emotions, sad moments and thinking about what-was and what-should-have-been-but-wasn't, but also beautiful when it can bring a sense of peace, of filling in empty spaces. What a great, if hard, moment with your daughter.

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    1. Isn't it? (Amazing). What I sometimes fail to remember is that we remember differently, obviously because we lived differently. Her perspective (now) is so open, so fresh.

      So happy for the experience, even if difficult.

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