Posts Tagged ‘family’

“Since my earliest childhood a barb of sorrow has lodged in my heart. As long as it stays I am alive, if it is pulled out I shall die.” –Søren Kierkegaard

I received a phone call on my son’s birthday that a lady who had been helping my father during his illness arrived at his apartment and found his walker in the garage and his car gone. She knew this did not bode well because he was not supposed to drive with his poor eyesight, and he had been in terrible pain for a few months. She frantically drove out in her car, weeping and calling out his name as she searched up and down the highways and around the villages. In desperation, she drove to the police and reported him missing. They tracked his phone and found him dead in his car. He had driven to a secluded area and taken a handful of pills, and ended his suffering there alone.

I did not learn until later that various people had been aware that he planned to end his life, and that he had asked them not to tell me because I would try to talk him out of it. He said he did not want to hurt me anymore than I’d already been hurt. He had surgery only a few days before his death, and I am grieved to think his pain might have subsided if he had been encouraged to hold on awhile longer. I have heard that there may have been cancer or other issues that he didn’t reveal, but it doesn’t change the way that I feel.

I had missed my father every day of my entire life from the time I was a little girl. One of my earliest memories of him is when he visited me while a woman waited in a car in the driveway for him. My mother was inside the house and my heart broke for her and for me. That has been the story of my life. There was always a woman keeping me from my father, and I’ve always been jealous of anyone who got to enjoy his company, because I never did. I still love my father and I forgive him for his ways that he could not change.

Over the past few years, he told me he felt many regrets about the pain he inflicted on my mother and sister and me. Visiting Spain was painful, because it let me see the beautiful life that he never would include me in. Someone in Spain recently sent me a message which I had to translate from Spanish, saying that my father had horrific recurring nightmares in the months before he died: He dreamed that the two of you, you and your sister were still little and were crying, screaming, grabbing his pants legs … Begging him not to leave … That he would not abandon you ….He would wake up crying, sweaty, he would sit on the bed and put his hands on his face …. He was very aware of the pain he caused you. It hurts me that I did not know how to transmit it.

I have also learned a few things he said about me, which I had not known before he died. I asked a Spanish lady to place a purple flower in my name at his memorial service. I later saw the photograph of the lovely orchid she offered on my behalf, and saw a note attached which read, “With Love to My Poppy from your Delicate Flower.” The lady explained that my father called me his delicate flower and that he often said that I was amazingly strong and yet very delicate. He told her he respected and admired me. It means so much to know that he felt this way. I still talk with him in my mind and send him text messages, because I miss him terribly. I had hoped to visit him during the holidays, but now my dreams of time with him are shattered.

I will always remember the lady who searched for my father and tried to save him. I felt that I was driving with her and screaming through the car window that day, and I too was crushed with a terrible weight when they found his body.

Please pray for me and my family in this emotional time.

Peace and Grace,
~Olive~

 

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A few weeks ago I noticed that the wreath next to my door was looking dirty so I thought I would clean it up. But when I took a closer look, I realized that some bird had constructed a little nest inside a large loop of the pink mesh ribbon. The nest was a bit smaller than the palm of my hand, made of sticks and dry grass and lined with downy white feathers. I was so pleased and excited about the prospect of eggs and a hatching family. I found myself taking a peek whenever I passed by.

First I noticed two rose finches hopping in and out of the wreath whenever I walked inside or outside. It seemed like a lot of trouble to always have to dart out of the nest so quickly, but they didn’t seem to mind the effort. They would fly out with roller coaster dips and swirls into a tree across the street, or sometimes they would hop onto the roof and look curiously at me. The father would puff out his rose colored chest and tilt his beak. The mother was brown like a sparrow, but seemed to have a little tuft on her head. I named the two of them Atticus and Scout.

One day after the nearby lawn was mowed, I noticed Atticus perched on the porch rail with a beak full of grass, and it looked like a tiny brown star. He paused for a second to look at me, dropped his little star and flew away. Soon I noticed him and Scout perched side by side on the rain gutter looking down at me. I decided to put a small table under the wreath, and filled a little bowl there with sunflower seeds. Very soon, the porch began to get messy with shells everywhere, little purple berry poops, and mutilated worms. Were the birds bringing me presents or just having breakfast?

The happy incident took place on Easter morning! I spotted four little pale blue eggs in the nest. I began to read about the average times for birds to hatch and mature, and kept putting out sunflower seeds for the happy couple. I was looking forward to hearing the chirps of baby birds in the nest.

A few days later, there was a fifth egg on the edge of the nest. My father told me to read about the Magpie and said that some birds steal other birds’ nests. I told him that sounds like some people I know. One day I spied a handsome mockingbird fluttering in and out of the nest. I wondered what he was doing there. A chickadee started popping up every day and I didn’t see Atticus around anymore.

One day I saw that the mysterious fifth egg had fallen off the edge of the nest and into the seed dish. I wondered if Scout had deliberately kicked it out. It was broken into two halves and I could see the yellow lining. A few days after that I noticed that two more of the eggs had been moved out of the nest towards the edge. I wondered why, but I put a little blanket on the table to catch falling eggs and prevent breakage. It didn’t work, because soon two more were broken on the floor of the porch. A fourth one tumbled and shattered soon after that.

One little pale blue egg remains and it has been there alone now for over a week and the parents seem to have deserted it. I found myself feeling sorry for it and even identifying with it. All of its siblings are broken and the nest is empty. I picked it up and turned it towards the sunlight, and through the shell it looks like candy corn with gold on the bottom and white on top.

I don’t know if it will ever hatch or if Scout will return, but I suppose I will eventually adopt it. I will take its nest out of the wreath and place it on the mantle. Then I will sweep up the carnage on the porch- the egg fragments and worms and poops and twigs and sunflower shells. I have found out that we humans are not the only creatures that know how to make messes of our lives, and that mistakes are just as natural as the seasons.

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Rabbit Letter I have an old box of handwritten letters, and occasionally I take it down from my closet. I enjoy looking through them, seeing the peculiar handwriting styles of my friends and relatives, and the stationary they selected to deliver the message or the mood. The colors of ink and crayoned images, the light scents of people’s hands, the stains of coffee or tears or dirt, the scribbled art and poems make each one a unique piece of art filled with memories.

I find it sad that letters written by hand are becoming obsolete in our modern world.  It is difficult to find beautiful quality stationary these days.  Many stores sell cards for certain occasions, but there are few tools for real letter writers who enjoy mailing sentiments to people.

I have thought a great deal about dying traditions like letter-writing, and ways that I might help to restore some of the beauty and meaning that is being lost in our technological society.

Francis

Instead of just pecking out quick emails, I want to slow down and put forth the effort to buy or create pretty stationary, take out a fancy pen and write a letter by hand in my best cursive writing, seal it into an envelope with a charming sticker or two on the outside, and lick an artistic commemorative stamp to place upon it.  Then I’ll drive to the post office and slip it into the big blue mailbox. It’s the least I can do for people I love who have enriched my life.

It’s time to look for ways to slow down and enjoy moments and people more, to dig a little deeper for meaning.  Writing letters will be one of my contributions to this cause.  And maybe I can help save the post office too.

~♥~

(I am working on a series of editorials called “Dying Traditions” to be posted here as time permits.) 

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Portrait of Poppy

Here is a recent sketch that my son drew of my father, and I wanted to share it with my readers. I am very pleased with how well it turned out.  My son is becoming an amazing artist!

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