We all gathered together last night at D’s and were reminiscing about your death. It’s been ten years, and funny how we all remember it differently.
I say ‘all’ but really there was just D and I, her two sons, and my middle daughter and family. Our family has dwindled away to nothing. Mom is in a nursing home now and doesn’t want to venture out this Christmas. She’ll be 90 in January, as you know, and doesn’t trust her legs in the snow and ice. J is in the same nursing home, and confined to a wheelchair; not that she’d join us anyway, she chooses to avoid holiday gatherings.
Anyway, we were piecing together the story – D and I had both been out-of-town when you took a turn for the worse. She said she’d been here with Mom in the morning, getting you settled into palliative care. I had driven an hour away to pick up Ric’s mom as we were hosting Christmas. D said she still hadn’t finished her Christmas shopping, so begged off helping any further – she stilled lived out of town at the time. We both got the call to return to the hospital mid-day.
You were already gone by the time we got there, but Ric had been at your side along with Mom. Ric said you were wearing your red, leopard print pajamas, and we all had a chuckle over that.
D found an old photograph of you and passed it around. You are wearing an impromptu sailor’s hat, tight white pants and t-shirt, emphasizing your muscles, and striking a crazy pose. Although the photo is too fuzzy to tell, we imagined you thrusting out your false teeth – a favourite trick of yours.
Then we got to telling tales of how you never let us sleep in (iced wash cloths for the slovenly), and how you’d blast Sound of Music, and all the other oddities that defined you, and I said:
“He was quite the character.”
And D said:
“He was one f**ked up dude.”
And we changed the subject.
Seems that even after ten years we can’t talk about some things, Dad. You left us a hell of a legacy to clean up – seems we are not doing such a good job.
Hope you are at least finding peace in Heaven.
Oh, and Merry Christmas.
Writer, avid reader, former educator, and proud grandmother, currently experiencing life through the lens of ME/CFS. Words are, and always have been, a lifeline. Some of the best adventures, I'm discovering, take place in the imagination.