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

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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.

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.

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

Being my own best friend

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I’ve been getting the message of being your own best friend a lot lately, from all different places.  It’s like  the universe is sending me signs.  One of these signs came from Afrika Bohemian of Tribe 53’s post called  UHURU THURSDAYS: WOMBMAN OWN YOURSELF!  She had been inspired by a post Tikeetha from A Thomas Point of View did called It’s About Time.  They were both inspired by my post  Loving Me where I wrote myself a love letter.  They weren’t the only ones because Josie over at Mindjobusiness.com also wrote a love letter to herself inspired by my post which she calls Why I Love Josie.   And the best part is this was all inspired by Just Plain Ol’ Vic post Food for Thought. Who knew this would come full circle?  We just knew we all had a common goal of spreading the love.

Lately I have not been in the mood to blog much and mostly because I needed to write for me.  No one else.  Just me.  

Continue reading “Being my own best friend”

America is being torn apart and it’s bigger than polictics…

My heart feels heavy lately.  Like I’m on the verge of tears one minute and angry the next.  The continuous posts on Facebook and social media of Donald Trump.  The fact that I have friends and family that are posting racist and hateful posts. Trying to stay open minded and let people have their opinions, but I just can’t justify the fact that people think that Trump is qualified or educated enough to run this country.  I just saddens me that people I love can feel the way they feel.  Can think it’s ok to judge people for the color of their skin and the way they look.  This issue is bigger than Trump or any political candidate for that matter.  It’s the fact that it is tearing apart this country.

I have started deleting people and taking them out of my feed because even though I can love people, I can’t agree with them or their views.  To me some things are not funny but hurtful.  I just can’t take any more hate.  I feel like it is literally breaking my heart little by little.

I want to believe in love.  I want to believe there is still good in this world.  I want to believe that love can overpower fear and hate and violence.  I want to believe that love wins.  Love always wins.

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Invisible Upsouth

For years I had been friends with Christopher Johnson on Facebook.  It wasn’t until this past fall I actually had a chance to get together and speak with him in person.  I had checked out some of his performances on youtube that he had posted and I really enjoyed his poetry and spoken word.  “I want to pick your brain one day,” was the email I sent him.  A month or so later we met for coffee to discuss writing and I checked out a couple of his shows over the months to come.  Right around the time I met him, he told me he may be writing a play based on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (not to be confused with The Invisible Man, totally different).  I never read the book Invisible Man, but According to this article and advertisement at Broadway.com it was “Inspired by Ralph Ellison’s masterpiece novel Invisible Man, Invisible UpSouth aims to challenge the way traditional theater-going audiences think about race and humanity and how they move through the world; how one can be well-educated and still blind to the world around them.”1.  I know it was written in the 50’s and addresses the issue of feeling invisible in society as a black man.  Christopher had taken this play and rewritten it into a present day black man in Providence RI, along with the assistance of Vatic Kuumba.
I knew I had to catch this show Sunday because it was closing day and I had promised I would show my support, plus, I really wanted to see this show!    Now, I’ve seen a few of Christopher’s shows before and I know that this man has a way with words, but I was in no way prepared for this experience.
Continue reading “Invisible Upsouth”

Warrior Woman

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So last week I was inspired to write a post Loving Me which was a love letter to myself.  In fact, it encouraged several other bloggers to do the same and I hope it continues to spread.  A couple days later I found some old emails to myself and shared them in  A Little More Love (cause you really can’t have too much)
So, as I continued to go through some old journals, I stumbled across this letter I wrote.  If you have been reading,  you know that I talked about how I thought I wasn’t worthy of love.  It wasn’t for me.  There is a song by Anthony Hamilton called Dear Life and one of the lines says,

” Ooooh sometimes I go on through life
Thinking that love is something that’s
Not meant for me.”

I remember listening to the song after a break up one night and crying, not even because of that person, but because of the fact that the lyrics described exactly how I felt.  Today I found this letter and was encouraged to share it with my readers. 

For so long I thought I wasn’t worthy of love. I kept thinking, oh, make them run.  I will only hurt you. You will fall in love and I will break your heart because that’s what I do. I will bend over backwards. I will be and do and say everything you want and you will love me. A black widow,  I will then tire of you, push you away, gasping for air and needing room to breathe. You will grasp on tighter and I will turn.  I will freeze over like the ice queen and you will cry and beg for the person you first met. You will clutch on, cling and it will feed my ego for a short time, but then I will grow bored of you. Maybe that’s not the case. Maybe I will be thrilled with the idea of love. The idea of saving or fixing you. A love of nurturing you. But you cannot fill my needs and once I realize this I will let go. Maybe I was settling. Maybe I was looking for the wrong things. I no longer see this. I no longer feel the need to impress. I am me. I am loving. I am nurturing. I’m an amazing woman. I no longer feel the need to prove myself. No longer need your acceptance. I need to be more than what you need me to be. I need to be free. I need adventure. Room to grow, to feel, to love, to explore, to breathe and to fly.  In time and in space. To change. To nurture me. But thank you all for the journey. For the lessons along the way. To teach me who I really am. A warrior woman with strength. I finally realized I am too strong and you never could have battled me.

I continue to write my letters, to encourage myself of the need to let go of perfection. Because I am slowly realizing my biggest flaw is nothing more than trying to be perfect.

A Little More Love (cause you really can’t have too much)

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Some days when I want to write something and save it for later I will email myself. Last night I was going through my email folders, because yes, my email is pretty organized. My house could be a mess if you walked in, but not my email. I have folders that are all labeled. I have one marked writing and another free writing but I had forgotten about the one marked personal.

Continue reading “A Little More Love (cause you really can’t have too much)”