This post was intended for August 27, and I could even get the energy for the tapping it in until the wee hours, slipping into August 28.
This is the day to remember, honor, tell a few stories about my Dad, who left this world August 27, 2001 and my Mom, who followed him 10 years later, on the same day. That is 11 years and 21 years ago, lengths of time that remain hard to grapple as they keep iterating.
Abou the only thing I thought of was the play on the rules of Blackjack, where the Ace today plays 11 and the Queen makes it 21, but the house wins only memories that get fuzzier.
What stories are left? There’s more that left with them than I can rummage. While making breakfast this morning I tried to hear the phone calls from Dad when he would open with, “hello Junior” and I would snap back “hello, Senior!” I tell myself I can hear it, but do I? There are no film plot gimmicks where the call comes through over time travel.
There are long ago distant memories of the rare times Dad “cooked” breakfast on a Sunday…
No he did not use Old Bay, but he had some unique technique for making what had to be the driest omelet in history. I never complained, and would get bites down with the help of milk. I did not want to dishonor his effort. No matter how good or not you are in the kitchen, I learned that making food for your family was an act of love.
I spent a chunk of time making the feature image for this post, maybe I was putting off trying to find words. Then I went through the archives tagging all the August 27 posts into a collection. I go at a shiver seeing the 10 year post I wrote for Dad in 2011, a short one I think dashed on while stopped for lunch on the highway. I would have written that hours before that horrible call from my sister, her hysterical voice telling me, “Mom is gone.”
I feel so fortunate this summer that my sister Judy and her husband traveled here from Maryland to spend time in our home, but more importantly, to meet for the first time and bond with Cori. It fills much of the empty spots; and Cori shared today how much that those days together her made her feel more presence of my Mom.
Last week Cori and I went for a day excursion to one of our favorite camp spots, where we took a walk over some wild bush landscape to get to the beach side part of the South Saskatchewan River. Just as we stepped out, Cori stopped, and pointed. There was the presence of Mom… a small Monarch butterfly just sitting on the trail.
Just as Mom always said it worked… that whenever you see a butterfly it represents the spirit of someone you loved who passed away.
I was not deft enough to get my phone camera out in time for a photo, so you just have to trust us. She has shown up before when we were camping
And being the loving person she is, last Christmas Cori gave me a metal butterfly as a tribute of tis emory that had a friend make for me.
I know deeply Mom would have loved visiting us, telling Cori stories, and loving her as a daughter.
So here this post just wanders again through the memory shreds. It strikes me how little of a person’s whole experience and person we can encode as memories, but the fullness of what they did provide feels as strong as ever.
UPDATE: I came back here to edit because I left out a photo I was going to share, time travel to 1976, yes, Mom and Dad dressed to the max for my Bar Mitzvah, a large affair they provided for me as supposedly my entrance into “manhood” (one enters that wearing a baby blue tuxedo, mine matched Dad’s).
There it goes, another click of the yearly clock, another but farther down the road of time away from my parents.The sadness is more a somber realization of what it means that there are not really too many older branches of the family tree left, I’m kind of sitting at the top now. But the tree is far from empty, it’s full of these memory shreds and echoes of love.
Until next August 27…
Featured Image: My own photo of the Ace of Hearts and Queen of Diamonds playing cards, with photos of Mom and Dad placed inside of them, all my creation, so consider it shared under a CC BY (bye bye) license.