A year in heaven

This week, March 6th, to be precise, marks the year of my dear father’s departure from this world. I am an only child and losing him has been monumental. I knew it would stink, but I had no idea! I have been filled with emotion this entire year but on Tuesday, the 6th, I was BEYOND my usual level.

I thought it would be healthy to write–a catharsis of sorts–and , perhaps I could speak to someone else’s mourning–maybe extend comfort to others. But I didn’t write. I was so full of emotion, I couldn’t write. I felt like locking myself in a closet and drinking a bottle of Skinny Girl Margaritas, but I ended up running on the treadmill to “Sympathy for the Devil” instead.

I am out in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, skiing with my family–an activity and a place that were very dear to my family. My Dad loves it out here–he loves the mountains, he loves fishing and skiing and he hadn’t been able to join us the last few years because of the altitude–he had emphysema. I think the last time he was here was in 2003, in the Fall. We all went hiking and up to Jenny Lake. They fished at Dick Cheney’s country club (smiles) and we went through the national parks singing some silly song I learned in college. My son remembers those days and the song (“it’s vinter in the vunderland and the vind blows on the vindowpanes and all the viggy vomen write philosophies on the vestibule…).

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It seems like years ago. I can’t really fathom the reality that I will never ever see him again–at least in this lifetime. When this fact permeates my soul, I go from completely O.K. one minute to breaking out in uncontrollable gasps of weeping–bordering on hyperventilation. Life just isn’t as wonderful without him on the planet. He was a kind man. A loving father and husband. One of those rare gentlemen whose humor and dignity got all of us through a lot of hard times. He wasn’t a man of many words (as my mother and myself) but he came up with some good ones when they were terribly needed. He would even mediate my marital blow-ups! He loved my son, his only grandchild, his namesake (the two of them pictured above), my mother, me and my husband and even my husband’s children (when I didn’t). He loved my cats and my dog. I remember when my dog was a puppy and I rescued him from a shelter in upstate New York and had to buy him a plane ticket to be brought to our town. My dad had picked up the dog at the airport (always doing me favors) and brought him down to our house. The puppy had had a nasty accident all over his kennel and of course my sweet father cleaned up the entire mess and the dog before he was presented to me (this was my first dog and would have been my last had I had to deal with the mess).

I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this. I just want to remember him today. I love him so much and I miss him even more. In trying to comfort his mother, when his father fails to do so, my son reminds me, “just think of the great year Grandpa had in heaven!” Oh, how I want to believe that. I really do. I think that’s why they call it faith.

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The Circle of Life

Today, as I left the house to paint, I left with a heavy heart. Not only am I grieving the death of  my father in March, I am grieving the loss of my parents’ cats…and my childhood home. Since my father died, my mother has been anxious to sell her house, get rid of her two beautiful cats and move to a retirement village. She wants things to be easier. The only way she can fathom “easy” is to move to a much smaller place, an apartment actually, in a lovely retirement community. For her this means endless bridge games, water aerobics and jello, I imagine. It also means the loss of her two feline companions. I get it. I do! How can you entertain the gals for bridge with a litter box stinking to high heaven? Therefore, Fritz and Floyd need to find a new home. She questioned me about shelters she could send them to. Aghast I replied, “Mother! Those places are for trailer trash. For people who are not responsible! We rescue animals from shelters, we don’t take animals there!” On and on it went with her defense being that she simply didn’t know what to do and she couldn’t take them there. PERIOD. So of course, you can’t argue with a grieving senior so I relented and began looking for a home for these precious boys that came from a shelter, abused and homeless and riddled with ring worm. Now they are fat and beautiful and loving and entitled.

I managed to find them a home. A new friend I paint with was willing to take one, maybe, for her 92 year old mother who still lives in a private home with a nurse…..but she has a small dog. Well Floyd certainly wouldn’t tolerate that. Fritz,…maybe. But how long will this woman live and before you know it, Fritz and Floyd will be uprooted again. Yesterday, I fell to my knees in prayer. Prayer for just about everything and everyone. Prayer for my girlfriend who lost her husband to a drunk driver; prayer for my mean spirited step daughter; prayer for my over-worked husband and under loved friend. Prayer for me, by Jesus. I need help! Help for my mother with those two cats.

The email came and my new friend offered up another solution. She, in Costa Rica with her family, was thinking about me and my mother and my mother’s soon-to-be-homeless cats. Her mother’s nurse came through. She just lost her dog to an unfortunate situation. She had to leave her dog with a stranger who bought her old house. Her children wanted a pet. They considered another dog but they loved cats….and cats are easy. But they wanted one declawed. BINGO. We got that! How about two (well, maybe…she needs to play it right with the husband). The entire family with their two small boys descended upon my mother this morning. One child wanted Fritz, the other Floyd. ALRIGHT. She’ll take them both. But my mother only had one cat carrier. Take one and come back tomorrow. Promise? Absolutely. Fingers crossed, I breath deeply and sweetly tonight.