These notecards came with a resort stay in Hawaii a few years ago. Don’t ask me why I hold on to these ones; I have no use for them.
On this day in 2011, I was setting out from southern Ontario on the road for another leg of my travel odyssey, with the plan to complete a transcanada crossing. In the morning, I called my Mom in Florida, to let her know I was thinking of her on that day, because it was 10 years earlier that my Dad passed away after a 5 month losing bout with cancer. After thanking me, she reminded me (as she did) how proud Dad was of me. We made a few jokes like we always do, and I looked forward to more calls before visiting her in November.
I never even made it to Montreal.
While at dinner that evening in Belleville, Ontario, I got a frantic call from my sister. “Mom’s gone!”
Maybe that shock has not yet finished echoing.
Look at those newlywed kids, in 1950… that means Dad was 24 and Mom just 21. She’s looking serious there, but I always see a twinkle in Dad’s eye, he in his Ricky Ricardo hairdo. I look at that photo a lot, and while I know bits of their story, it really is just about impossible to imagine your parents as young adults, or to even appreciate all you lack in the the fidelity and nuance of how they lived.
I do have a recording made when I visited Mom for her 80th birthday in 2009, here she is telling the story how she and he met, how “Blackie” pushed her into Carlins Pool at Park Circle in Baltimore, not knowing she did not know how to swim…
“He was all smiles” … “He went home and told his mom, ‘I met the woman I am going to marry'”… “He was so persistent!”
They lived together, raised a family together, retired to Florida together, and managed to die on the same calendar date.
It feels like so much more time since Dad passed away, now 12 years. I was talking to one of my best friends from the “way back in Baltimore years”, telling Kevin how much I was enjoying just working around in my yard, moving rocks and trimming trees. He remarked how that was just like my Dad puttering around in our yard cutting grass and trimming the forsythia bushes… it seems so obvious but I had not made that leap. I often think of the conversations we never had– Dad was not much of a talker, more of a letter writer… hmmm, another similarity as I seem to spend a lot of time expressing in words.
It’s not much for me to realize part of that enjoyment of being outside is being in some way with my Dad. Not that we are conversing… just being there.
I’m hanging on to those cards, and I may just sit down and write Mom and Dad a letter. It certainly could not hurt.
I do not have a proper yahrzeit candle, so I lit the closest thing I could find (it might just be a Hannukah one).
They are together forever. And I miss them so.