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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.