Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More Remembering

My father has been on my mind lately. Maybe it's because of the holidays, or that December is his birthday month. Whatever the reason I have been remembering him. If he were alive he would have turned 107 years old a couple of weeks ago. He was a simple man, born in a different time. He did the best he knew how to do when he was raising us. Many things he did were wrong, but he thought he was doing the right thing, doing the best he could, and so as I matured it was easy to forgive him.

Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. When we forgive someone we give up that need to have someone acknowledge that we were right and they were wrong. But, as you grow and mature you come to that place where you know that you do not need that acknowledgement because being right is good enough. So you let go of the need, and the power it held over you, and you are liberated.

I forgave my parents, and then when they grew older, I took great care of them. I loved my father.He was a good man and many people admired and cared about him. He would say he was a simple farmboy from Missouri, but he was more than that.He had been a muleskinner before he joined the army. Here in Kansas City he would shoe horses and mules, and he kept that occupation in the army. He had a long ugly scar on his shin that he got when a mule that he was putting ice shoes on kicked him. The ice shoes were for working the mules on the frozen Missouri river. He had left school after 8th grade to help support his family. He was the oldest of 8 children, and he took his role as oldest seriously. When my grandfather became ill my father helped take care of them by going to work.He had an amazing, strong work ethic. When work became hard to find in the 1920's he joined the army.

Towards the end of his stint in the army he was based in Southern California. A few months before his discharge he met my mother. He always told the story of how they met and why they married. My mother was a waitress in a diner that was owned by a married couple. My father was a bit of a rogue, a rake in those days and had been seeing the married woman. Then he met my mother and asked her out and she said no. So, he stopped seeing the married woman and asked my m other out again. She went out with him, to the car races on a Sunday afternoon. The next day, when her married boss found out that she had gone out with my father, my mother was fired.My father always said he married her because he had made her lose her job.

That was part of the story. When my grandfather found out why my mother lost her job, she was locked in her room. Locked in her room, at 20 years old because she had gone out with a 28 year old man who had been fooling around with a married woman. While she was locked in her room, my father wrote her beautiful love letters, smuggled in to her by her old maid aunt who helped raise her after her mother died. Eventually, my grandfather relented,and my mother and father married. Of course, we never knew about the love or the love letters growing up.I wish we had known about that side of him. We found those after we lost our parents. My father passed first, a month before their 54th wedding anniversary. I was blessed that he passed in my arms at home. He would have hated being in a nursing home. At home I could help him go outside and to his workshop.

My mother passed 18 months later, also at home in my arms. We say she passed from a broken heart. She saw no reason to remain on the earth without my father.Her children were grown, and she needed him. It took her 18 months, because I was doing my best to take good care of her. But, she sat on her couch and grieved herself to death, where I am sure she was met by my father.

At first I was angry with her. I was taking really good care of her. How dare she will herself to die. But, I have forgiven her, and asked her forgiveness. As a recent widow, I get it. I get how you can be so in love, and loved so deeply that you want to be with him, even if that means you have to be with him on the other side.

I hope that my husband has met my father on the other side. I always thought that my father would have been great friends with my husband. I believe that I shall see them all again some day. But as much as I miss my husband, and I now know what a broken heart truly feels like, I have work to do here. I didn't get 54 years, I only got 11. But, my son still needs me, and so I will take good care of myself as I take care of him.

I will honor them by telling their stories, our stories. I will honor them by making sure that my son saw how much his parents loved each other, and that he knew he was loved.I will honor them and forgive myself and them by remembering. My faith keeps me strong, and yet I feel so weak. Grief is the hardest thing I have ever done.

Please, if you know someone who is grieving, let them honor their loved ones by telling the stories. I believe you will be blessed.

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