Tribute to My Dad

On September 9th, 2018, just one month to the day after my dad passed, we held a memorial for him. I got up and spoke about him. I want to share with you all my tribute to my dad.

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“It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living . I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live” These words were spoken by Augustus McCrae, one of the main characters in the Lonesome Dove book, written by Larry McMurtry.  Lonesome Dove was one of my dad’s favorite books. I’ve been reading a lot during the past 2 years and this was one book I had never read but knew it was my dad’s favorite. It wasn’t until after he passed away that I finally decided to read it.  Maybe to feel closer to him or maybe because I wanted to know about all the things my dad loved that I never really paid attention to until now.

“It ain’t dying i’m talking about, it’s living” and my dad was sure proud of where he lived.  He was a true swamp yankee. He would always make comments like, “Providence, what the hell would I go to Providence for?”  He loved west kingston where he spent most of his years, and he loved Noank and Mystic CT where he grew up before moving to West Kingston.  

He loved his country music, his cowboy books and horses, gardening, woodworking, and of course his budweiser beer.  I remember him picking me up from elementary school, budweiser in the cup holder (I never thought anything of it back then), and we would take daily trips to Wolfrocks, the local liquor store..or the package store as we called it, for his 6 packs after school.  Years later he and doctor’s orders, he would switch over to his o’douls when he had to give up the beer.

I remember sitting in his workshop while he did his woodworking, playing his Marty Robbins and other old school country music, the smell of sawdust.  To this day I love the smell of sawdust. I’m not sure what I really did in that workshop, if I watched him or learned anything, but just being around him was enough.  

My dad always had the best and simplest advice.  Like the day I was terrified to tell my parents I was 19 and pregnant, as I sat there crying he simply responded, “What the hell are you crying for? Nothing you can do about it now.”  Or when my son was little and I would complain about all the questions he would ask. I’d say, “Dad, he never stops!”… to which dad simply replied, “Well, ya coulda had a stupid kid.”

There were the times when I was broke and would ask to borrow $20 until payday and I would be so worried about paying him back but he would simply say, “good thing it just money.”  

More recently as he got older and his health started to decline he couldn’t be left alone.  One weekend I went to spend the night with him while my mom went on an overnight retreat. I remember helping him get settled in bed and I had flashbacks of the days when he would tuck me in or just stand at the doorstep and say “night punkin or night darlin” in that soft, barely audible voice.  It was then I saw how our roles were slowly reversing. I started going over on Sunday mornings and that was my time with Dad. Mom would go to church and dad and I would sit and talk, over coffee and maybe some Allie’s donuts. He would ask how many books I was reading and how many I had read so far this year.  Or sometimes we would just sit in the quiet because I knew he’d spent the last 52 years listening to my mom talk so maybe he would just enjoy some quiet.

Those are the moments I am going to miss most.  Just sitting with him, no words needed to be spoken.  Just the calm of his presence. Just BEING with him.  

Clara, one of the characters in Lonesome Dove says, “What do you think happens when we die? Maybe it’s not as big of a change as we think. Maybe you just go back to where you lived or near your family or wherever you were happiest. Only you’re just a spirit now…. And you don’t have the troubles the living have.”   

I’d like to think clara was right.  That his spirit is still here, in South County, surrounding all of those he loved and loved him.

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Grief – The Scenic Route

My beautiful picture

I have always been the type of person who has the mentality of all or nothing.  If i’m going to do something I’m like Nike, Just do it! Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to everything in life.  Grief is one of those things. See my dad was the patient one. He had lots of patience. Me…not so much. That’s one of the reasons I hated being in the passenger’s seat when he drove.  I just wanted to get there. Get to the next stop. Keep moving.

Dad was more for the scenic route, the long way home, he was never in a rush.

I feel that way with grief.  My dad passed away just over a month ago.  I thought for sure my life wouldn’t go on. And if it did i would just spend days crying and then things would slowly go back to normal.  I’ll cry, I’ll grieve and then it will be over and I’ll be OK. Like a skinned knee, a broken bone, a cold.

Grief is not like that.  Death is not like that.

Each day I wake up is different.  It’s like your life is just the same, yet your life is very different.

Some days you feel angry at the world over what seems like silly things.  You run into someone and they simply say, “Hey, sorry about your dad” and hug you.  One day you may respond, “Thanks!” and smile. Another day you may take a deep breath as you choke back tears because you’re standing in Starbucks and God forbid you cry in the middle of a store in front of all these people who will judge you.  Some days you smile and think of something funny he would have said or just a memory of him pops into your head and it makes you happy.

Then you run into the person who must know you just lost someone close yet they just simply say, “Hi! How are you?” as they make simple conversation, never acknowledging your loss. You smile and chat while inside your head you are having your own conversation.  “Are they serious? MY DAD DIED!! WHY DON’T YOU KNOW MY DAD DIED? YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO TELL ME YOU’RE SORRY!! WHY ARE YOU NOT SAYING YOU’RE SORRY!”

Inside your head you want to punch this person in the face and scream at them.  How can they be so insensitive??

It’s the strangest feeling.  As much as you don’t want to talk about it, you want people to acknowledge it. And when they don’t, it only makes you angry.  And sometimes, you don’t even know if it is just because they simply have no idea or maybe, they just don’t know what to say.

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Some days I feel like I walk around looking normal to everyone on the outside.  They must think, “Wow, her dad just died and she seems fine!” But I’m not. Yes, I may look OK.  Yes I still smile. Maybe I smile a little more now because I realize that there may be millions more going through what I am going through and maybe someone needs to see that smile to make it through the day.  But really I just get up, keep moving and fake it a little.

Some days I feel OK and all of a sudden it hits me and I have to run to the ladies room to cry.

I feel like I keep waiting for it to hit me.  Like maybe one day I won’t be able to get out of bed because I will be overcome with grief.  Many days I just feel tired. No tears, just tired. Many days I forget things. I have a great memory most of the time but lately I feel much more forgetful. I often keep myself busy and my calendar full.  Then there are days that I just need to be alone. Even if it’s to sit home and cry by myself. Other days I need to be surrounded by others and maybe even laugh or share stories about my Dad and tell everyone what a great man he was.  I think the scariest thing about grief is that you really don’t know how and when it will hit you. If it will be tears or anxiety or anger. So right now I’m learning to take each moment as it comes. Whether it’s strength or laughter.  If I need to cry, I cry. If I need to nap, I nap. If I need to scream, I scream. Because the one thing that is for certain about grief is that there is no wrong way to experience it, just take it as it comes.

KC

I wrote this last year about my friend Kevin. Today is 8 years since he has been gone. I needed to share this again because sharing what he means to me is part of my healing and helps me to keep his memory alive.

Today is 7 years. Seven years can seem like an eternity or it can pass in the blink of an eye. No matter how long it seems or feels or actually is, the fact that the world keeps on spinning with out Kevin here just seems cruely unfair. It’s funny the random things that make you miss a person’s existence. You see, I have always hated sports talk radio. I hated it, that is, until i started to miss Kevin. I have found that in the past seven years sports talk radio has become a sort of comfort for me. There are moments i find myself listening to it just to get to that place in my mind where he still exists. Just to sit and reminice all those nights Kev would come by in his “shaggon wagon” and park in the driveway. I would go sit in the passengers seat and we would chat or listen to the radio or play trivia games on the phone. He would always say, “ya know, if you ever want to come out to the van topless, I’d be more than happy to turn up the heat for ya!” and he would laugh. I miss that laugh. That gasping for breath, can’t talk, side splitting, body aching laugh. The kind of laugh that literally hurt when you finally stopped.
It still hurts. It hurts that he isn’t here to make me laugh like that anymore. It hurts that he isn’t here to share his amazing spirit with this world. Maybe I’m just being selfish, but maybe if you knew Kevin you would feel a little selfish too. If you knew the way he would lend a listening ear when you were having a bad day. The fact that this man who went from running the basketball courts to laying in a hospital bed as doctors explained he would no longer have use of his legs, could say “it’s all relative” when someone complained that the toilet paper was hung the wrong way.
They say time heals all wounds… I’m not sure that is true. Time just passes and life goes on, and we adjust. We learn to live our lives in a new way , Change our routines. I’m not so sure all the wounds heal, maybe they’re just not quite so visable. I think about the fact that Kev has been gone 7 years. I wonder how these past 7 years may have been different if he had still been around. I think about the moments in my life that would have been different, had i not known him. But mostly, i think about our nights in the “shaggin wagon”, listening to sports talk radio and laughing until we hurt, and that helps missing him hurt a little less.

Dear White People

I haven’t posted in a while but felt the need to share this by my blogging friend Tikeetha. Please take a moment to read the heartfelt words of a beautiful black woman.

A Thomas Point of View

Can we talk?

Can we truly talk about the elephant in the room that you never want to talk about?

Race.

Let’s talk about race.

I’m black.

I’m a woman.

Two indisputable facts that you may have noticed.

I’m a mother.

To a son.

He’s the light of my life.

He’s my Munch.

He’s also black.

Why do I keep mentioning color? Because I need you to see and acknowledge the rich hues in my skin tone. I need you to see my melanin and know that I am black. Can you see the warm coffee colored hues of my skin tone just radiating? Yes?

Good.

Let’s talk.

I’m black. A beautiful black woman who shares a rich history in this country. My ancestors were kings and queens, slaves and sharecroppers. I know this. Many of you know this. But, I need you to stop acting like I’m supposed to forget…

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Comfort in the Uncomfortable

The healer cannot heal others without first healing themselves

But how do you heal yourself

without allowing yourself

To live

To love

To feel

To anger

To cry

To laugh

To explore

To grow

To break free of all that you thought you were

all that others expect you to be

to become all that you truly are

It’s not about being comfortable in your own skin

But finding comfort in the uncomfortable

Because all that is uncomfortable is what pushes you further

Because breaking the mold and pushing through to the next level is how you grow

and growth is how you heal

 

In the moment

Sometimes you have to let it all go.
Sometimes you have to continue letting go.  It doesn’t happen all at once.
Baby steps.
Little by little.
It gets easier. 
It starts to feel lighter.
You learn how to keep going.
You learn not to look back,
Not to look too far ahead.
You stop.
Plant your feet on the ground.
Take time to feel the breeze on your skin,
The sun on your face,
The sand between your toes.
You take a moment to listen to life,
to love
but most of all
to yourself.

Flashback Friday: My Second Guest DJ

Today I was honored to be a guest blogger on T.Wayne’s Flashback Friday over at Joyful Process. Check out my post here.

A Joyful Process

As my regular readers know, every Friday I pick a song or several songs for a Flashback Friday post. This week, I’ve given another blogger a chance to tell us about a song that has a deeper meaning in relation to someone from her past. This week, Elissa from the Embracing My Inner Ginger blog takes a turn on the mic for a really touching story. Let me get out of the way and let her tell you all about it…

When someone leaves you, as in forever, as in leaves this earth, you never truly get over it.  In fact, sometimes the longer they are gone from your presence, the more you realize how much they really meant to you.   The more important they become and sometimes you realize just how much they have really impacted your life.  I mean, made a lasting impression.  That was KC.

KC aka…

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Unknown

So you thought you felt as i did
Looking for something
You thought you may have found it
Then it seemed to disappear
And fade away
You learned you were wrong
You made a mistake
Everything you thought you’d found
Felt
Seen
Turned out to be a mirage
Nothing but a mere illusion
What had seemed so real
So true
Was gone in a flash
What if you were wrong?
What if you ARE wrong?
What if none of it mattered?
What if you were wrong about knowing?
Maybe sometimes you just don’t know
What you think you know
Maybe sometimes the way you think things should happen, don’t happen that way at all
What if it takes more than just a moment
A feeling
A knowing
To really find the truth
What if it takes time
Work
Knowledge
To really know
What if you never know?
What if it takes change
Growth
Education
To really find what you thought you had lost
What if you thought you lost something
Only to realize it was really there all along
That it just wasn’t where you thought it was
Was right in front of your face but you weren’t really ready to see it?
Not at that time
What if
Just what if
None of that mattered
What if you were right where you were supposed to be
What if you weren’t supposed to know
What if you were supposed to learn
Grow
Live and love and change
Never really knowing all the answers
Just taking it all in
Being content in the moment
Realizing that even if you don’t know the why of the why
Its ok
Knowing that everything happens for a reason and accepting the unknown

Packing Light

Recently I signed up for a free 21 day meditation with Oprah and Deepak (who is no relation to Tupac as my sister seemed to be curious about), called Shedding the Weight – Mind, body and spirit. It was free, so I figured, why not? Can’t hurt, right? I’m up to day 17 and I have no idea if I have physically lost any weight because I threw away my scale back in January. I was getting rediculously obsessed with weighing myself. I also rid my house of all diet books. I know that 99.9% of anything is mental, at least for me anyways. So what I have been trying to figure out for a while now is what am I holding on to?
Continue reading “Packing Light”

She was tired

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She was tired.  Exhausted really.  Tired of trying to be someone she wasn’t.  Tired of trying to contain and stuff and hide the real her.  Why must she sugar coat herself?  Why did she continue to people please.  Didn’t she know they wouldn’t be happy?  Didn’t she know you can’t water yourself down?  Didn’t she realize there was nothing wrong with the she that she needed to be?  She was perfectly imperfect.  She was like no one else.  Why should she bend and twist and try so hard to fit the mold that wasn’t even made for her.  Just say what’s on her mind.  Do what she wanted to do.  Yes, she could be a miserable bitch.  She could also be a sensitive woman.  Highly emotionally.  She had almost forgotten what it was like to feel.  She had been hurt and saddened and disappointed so many times that she had stopped feeling.  She started lying to herself.  She started telling herself whatever she needed to hear to believe that she didn’t need to feel.  So she held it inside.  She stuffed it away.  She crammed it in and became this other person.  The one who pretended she didn’t care.  Pretended she didn’t want or need or feel.  She shut it off.  But that day she was tired.  She realized it took too much energy to be this other woman.  It took too much fighting and too much negativity.  One day she stopped lying to herself and finally admitted the truth.  She felt sad and hurt and foolish and broken.  And she just wanted to cry.  To let it out.  But it was stuck.  Like the day her friend passed away.  It had been stuffed in and pushed away and hidden behind the shadows until she didn’t even know how to get it out.  How to let it out.  So she sat down and closed her eyes and took a deep breath.  Breathe.  That’s all she needed to do.  Just breathe.  She took a deep breath and another and another…  and she let it out…  and that’s when she realized she was enough.  She was all she needed to be but she needed to be who she really was.  She needed to have feelings.  To be a woman.  She hadn’t felt emotion in so long because she didn’t want to get mad or upset anyone so she would just smile and stuff it all away.  Until the day she broke through and realized those emotions were meant to be felt.  You were supposed to feel.
And she thought, “I don’t know how to do this!”  I’m scared because I haven’t felt.  I just want to feel.  And she knew that she could.  This was the day she realized it was time to live.