Monday, October 02, 2006

THIS GRIEF STUFF IS WEIRD...

Since the passing of my father, I have felt like there is definitely something missing in my life.

Sometimes I think it is a bad thing, in that Dad was like a rock for Mom and me, and for my family. Mom is living alone now. We are close by, but she is living alone in the house, constantly reminded of Dad by the house itself and by its contents. She is staying quiet, kind of laying low, trying to relax and take life one day at a time, and I think she is handling it well. She isn't wallowing in self-pity. I don't think I am doing that, although I may be. I do notice I am much more self-aware than I was before...

But other times I find myself thinking that having someone majorly missing from one's life can also be seen as a good thing. Dad's passing represents a new sort of beginning for Mom, for me and for my family. For Mom, she will be able to do some of the things she has always wanted to do, as long as her health allows; for example she would particularly like to travel.

To me, Dad was simply an amazing human being, a well-loved and respected community member. In a town of this size (about 13,000 people), a lot of people knew Dad. People referred to him as a walking encyclopedia; he did anything he attempted extremely well. Being his only child, I have often been the object of comparisons to Dad all my life. Because I turned out so different than Dad in so many ways, these comparisons have been something of an irritant throughout my life. Never enough to make me feel pissed, but it's been there. Dad never lorded anything over me or put pressure on me to do any of the things he was so good at. He never wanted anything but for me to a happy, responsible person in life.

I would not go so far as to say I feel as if a burden has been lifted, because it isn't really like that. I miss Dad like crazy and I know I always will... his laugh, his smiling face, his kindness... but I will say I feel like I am finally, in a sense, my own person in ways I haven't allowed myself to previously feel, and that people who still want to compare me to my father, based on his accomplishments, interests and public life can go take a flying leap. I'm not my dad. There are other ways in which I want to be like him and have always wanted to be like him, but I am not him. Maybe this sounds selfish to you, but this process of separation from him makes me more painfully aware.

What Mom and Dad have taught me about life is largely what makes me who I am today. Dad was extremely conservative politically, but he was a very compassionate person. In his way, he cared about whether or not people were being treated fairly, and this extended somewhat into his political views; he definitely loved his country and he wanted the best for it. Dad always treated others as he wanted them to treat him. He was gentle and kind. THAT is what I want to try and live up to, not whether or not I can become an expert furniture refinisher, an expert gunsmith, an expert on Victorian architecture, an expert carpenter, an expert on Classical music, an expert on world history, or an expert on the Oregon Trail. I want to live up to Dad the real person, not Dad the accomplisher.

I still haven't cried many tears over the loss of Dad. Should I have? I can't tell. I know all of us grieve in different ways. I find myself being quiet, kind of distant at home, not wanting to socialize much. I felt very tired at first, but I seem to be gradually regaining some energy. I think Mom is gradually pepping up a bit too. There is a gaping hole in our lives, but we are finding ways to heal the wounds.

There are locals saying "Now that Jack is gone, who's going to step into his role as a local authority on so many things?" I have heard them say things like this, and they have looked directly at me as they have said it. Who will step in? Not me... I will leave that up to them. I have a love for Dad's areas of interest, because they were part of what made him tick, and I have always held him in awe for all his qualities. What really makes me tick? Maybe it's finally time to find that out! If fortune smiles, I have a number of years left to figure out a lot of things... and I guess now it's time to start.

6 Comments:

Blogger J. Marquis said...

I can relate to a lot of what you said, Snave. Losing a parent brings up a strange combination of feelings...and sometimes guilt because we don't feel exactly the way we always thought we would when this day came.

I think it would be really tough to live in a small town where your dad was so highly regarded. But I have to say you're one of the most amazingly bright and creative people I've had the pleasure to meet.

My pet peeve was the whole "Greatest Generation" thing. Toward the end of his life my dad talked about that book a lot and it seemed like there for a while a lot of people were going on and on about how great previous generations were and implying that the Baby Boomers were so soft and self-centered, etc. etc.

What they forget is that a lot of fellas went into the service just so they could always get something to eat and a roof over their heads. The Boomers lived in a different era and had different challenges.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Thanks for the kind words, J.!

I know what you mean about the "generation" thing. My dad used to harp on the "new generation" in what seemed like an endless way. I used to get pissed off by the inherent insinuation that all people of my age group were lazy, expecting handouts, etc. and that our good life was kind of like we leeches, sucking off the efforts of the "greatest generation" bunch. Oh well. Times change, and people seem to change to fit the times!

I know what you mean about sometimes even feeling guilt... I'm just kind of trying to step back now and then to examine things, and to try and figure them out. Certainly not easy to do, but much easier when I know there are good friends such as yourself thinking of me and my family. Thanks again!

7:22 AM  
Blogger GTX said...

Time...
My mother is getting well after 8 months past from then. She's more down psychologically, that's for sure, but each one reacts different.
I made 'till here only crying on first time and then, past 8 months, I've been a little more sensible, lately. Must be quite some to feel the eyes of older people looking at us and we feeling the responsibility of the inheritage(?), but time will tell you and them what is going next.

9:49 AM  
Blogger 1138 said...

In a few days it will have been a year since my father passed.
I know where you're at.
It's a difficult set of life events and feelings.
I posted some of it over on my blog today.
When they are with us you don't think of it so much as "that's where I come from".
When they're gone it becomes all too clear.

9:02 PM  
Blogger David said...

That was a really moving post. It brought to surface a lot of feelings about my own late father. Thank you for sharing.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Damien said...

I totally agree Snaveroo, its hard to find a place for ones questions or look for someone to turn to once there gone, it is a great post - I guess it says the things we all try and come to terms with.

4:28 PM  

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