Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday - wow

It's taken me until last night to begin to catch up after being away for a week. I thought I would be able to bounce back into work and life, but as usual, I over-estimated. We had a good trip to Florida with the family, but I now realize that family dynamics are changing and the adjustment takes both mental and physical energy.

With Dad gone, there is a different - not bad, just different - energy in the house and a different feeling as to roles and responsibilities. Dad never let any of us really help with paying bills, or finances in any way. Yet now I am responsible for helping mom with the taxes and straightening up loose ends; and while it all feels weird, it feels like a natural progression and a growth process. My mother is impressed with how organized I am, and how efficient. I guess she never really had an opportunity to see that side of me - I will back off if my brother is around, or other "take charge" type people. We got the taxes done, and bills are all updated. Accounts are being re-named and Dad's name taken off things like AAA, or insurance policies. I've never felt as "needed" as I do right now. But I have also asked Mom to do a bunch of this work, as I feel it is good for her to understand and it keeps her involved and occupied. She welcomes the work and responsibility - I feel it is healing in a way.

The other point I noticed is that I was very relaxed this trip and I wanted to explore my feelings about this. Even before Dad was house bound, he was a fairly demanding man - not overtly, but he basically just expected his daughters to cater to him. I used to tease him about the "house elves" as he would never put a used glass in the sink, but would just expect that it would get magically whisked away. Which it did - especially when I was around. Snacks were served in the afternoon - I always made sure he had cheese and crackers available - especially is he was having his afternoon whiskey! Dad didn't often eat a big meal but he was a nibbler - and also had some blood sugar issues, so we made sure he had food available at all times. He liked to eat dinner out, and we all had to be on time (like the restaurant would refuse to serve us if we were 15 minutes late!). Since my husband (and my mother) are perpetually late, this caused tension in the house, with Dad waiting in the pacing and trying to hurry up mom and DH. I didn't miss that tension at all.

Since he has been ill for a few years, I guess I always worried about him getting sicker and that caused alot of anxiety for me also.

Writing this - I suddenly have tears in my eyes. Yes, I was less tense this trip, and it's nice to feel needed and appreciated, but oh boy - I miss the old coot. I miss his "see you later kid" and I do miss bringing him that plate of cheese and crackers. It was nice to cater to Dad sometimes.

Ah, the mix of analytical and emotional - I'm always struggling with that. Analytical me knows that life goes on, things get done, family dynamics change, people grow, people die. But the emotional me - who often hides - wishes I could wake up in the middle of the night, and go into the kitchen for a snack and meet dad like I always did. We'd have a glass of milk and a chocolate doughnut at 2:00 am - and then go back to bed with a brief kiss and a goodnight.

Dad and I had a history of sneaking out of the house for breakfast together, where ever we were. Brooklyn - we'd go to the Greek Diner in Sheepshead bay. We'd find a good greasy spoon in any town we were in and loved our little habits. Mom and brother tried to hone in on these breakfasts but we didn't let me - nope, this was just for Dad and me.

The last time I saw Dad really happy was at 6:00 am on the morning of his birthday. He got up early, tottered out to the kitchen for a early snack. I heard him and went to see what he was up to. He was drinking his milk, chomping on a doughnut or something like that and had a look of total contentment on his face. We sat for a while softly chatting (niece, nephew, sister and brother in law were sleeping in the guest rooms) After about 1/2 hour he said he was going back to bed to snooze some more. I thought he would get back up at 9:00 or so, but he slept until about 1:30. I think it was this long sleep that got me realizing that something was really wrong and it made me so sad.

But I'll always have that memory of the early morning breakfast we had. He looked so happy that day.

Whew. I didn't expect this. Time to get dressed and face the day.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Oh Mim, I know you miss your Dad. It is good that you can face your grief. Love and peace...

soulbrush said...

grieving like this is very very important,my heart bleeds for you, yet i can feel your joy at the wonderful memories (and nothing can take those from you). love ya mimsie, and keep talking about him!

sukipoet said...

such beautiful memories of your dad. sneaking out for those breakfasts. my dad was like that too, expecting the women to fetch and serve. interesting. glad your mom is taking over/learning some of those tasks your Dad took care of. So lovely of you and your sibling to tend to her this way, guiding her into her new life in the world.

Lynn said...

and please pass the Kleenex.

studio lolo said...

What wonderful memories of life's simple pleasures. I'd have a hard time living with a 'step and fetch it' personality but it would be okay to visit, get him his cheese and crackers and be okay with it. Even laugh about it!
Don't feel bad that you're realizing a lot of the tension is gone. That just means he had a huge personality and you noticed it, just as you notice it's not there anymore.
You're a great daughter in every sense of the word. It's wonderful that you're helping your mom and letting her get a feel for the tasks she now has to be aware of.

Sounds like it was a healing journey Mim. Nice.


Artist Unplugged said...

It is odd how it is difficult and good at the same time going through mourning your dad, the good memories threaded in with the sad ones. It does make you feel really good to be helping out and being supportive for your mom but wierd at the same time. When I was caring for my parents, it was the best feeling cause of how much they had cared for me, felt it gave me an opportunity to give back to them, yet, it is very difficult at the same time. You sound like you are handling it well, understanding your feelings...and so on. That's good, it's hard, my heart aches for you and it tears me up cause I understand. It will hit you at times when you least expect it, it has with me just this past week and it has been 5 and 6 years. I once was told we grieve as much as we love......I knew I was in for a long time. I'm glad your mom is taking part in things, that's good for her...and you. Take care, keep sharing and a big ole' hug.

Fern said...

what a beautiful blog post Mim...what a blessing that you share these things with us...really. a blessing.

Cris, Artist in Oregon said...

Wow. Some times our blogs are very good avenues for getting things out in the open for our own sakes and it brought back memories of mine. Memories are wonderful things to have. Good memories even better. Thanks for sharing.

Debra Kay said...

Isn't it funny (funny strange, not funny ha ha) how the good memories hurt and make us smile at the same time? That's the schizophrenic part of grief that I just can't get a grip on. Maybe that is really life having the last laugh-can't quantify or qualify it. I find that thought to be comforting, because if I can't quantify/qualify/pigeonhole life, neither can THEY.

kj said...

mim, that you have written and then shared this is heartwrenching and heartwarming. oh emotions--they carry us whether we're ready of not. your father lives on in your memory, and that keeps him real. i know this because my father has been gone 13 years and moments like you describe still catch me off guard--they can be so clear and focused. don't forget to look for signs from him. i'll bet you'll see them.

love to you mim. this is a beautiful post.

ElizT said...

To share with us is very generous of you Mim. It stirs up memories too.

Anonymous said...

Such wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing. It is all part of the process of healing.