Day 330 ~ Saying Good-bye to Your Harley

I said good-bye to your bike today, Dad. The young man who bought your bike was from Fargo. He said he had sold his previous smaller bike and that this bike of yours was his dream bike. He’d been looking for quite some time, but they were just so expensive. His name was Miguel and he wanted to be able to ride across the country before he had to be stationed out in Afghanistan in August – he was in the service. I told him Dad would be watching over him. And, I gave him a picture of you to keep in his saddlebag.

Even though, your bike is no longer here, you’ve left us with this gift of riding. The seeds were planted young and it didn’t take long for Scott to round me up a bike when I said it was time for me to have a bigger one.

I understand your passion – being out there on a bike somehow blows the cobwebs of the day’s worries away. It’s cheaper than therapy and I think we should be able to deduct our bikes on our taxes under medical expenses. I’m going to ask our tax man about that.

Day 357 ~ My Book Arrived ~ Passed and Present

The book arrived from the Allison Gilbert, an author that has nudged me to begin this site. I discovered her online when I was researching ways to honor anniversaries and legacies of loved ones who have left us.

Here are some wise words from her book:

~”Mourning, is not about relinquishing our relationships with the deceased, but about finding appropriate ways to stay connected. To have ongoing dialogues and internal relationships with lost loved one, is part of a healthy, normal mourning process.” ~ words from Louise J. Kaplin’s book, No Voice is Ever Wholly Lost.

Well, thank goodness, I was thinking others might think I was schizophrenia seeing me talking out loud to you, or writing letters to you and FROM you in my notebook.

~There is “importance in actively remembering our loved ones, and of the strong impulse to celebrate their legacies moving forward. The antidote to forgetting, is not simply remembering, it’s reinforcing those memories again and again and preserving them for posterity.

One of the problems in our society is that people fail to recognize the importance of a continued relationship with the person we have loved and lost. Many think that to deal with the loss you have to forget the person who has died [and move on]” ~ words from Theresa Rando’s book How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies.

Intentionality is her focus here. Like a practice, she is urging us to cultivate an intentional habit of remembering rather than just waiting for it to happen randomly or on holidays or anniversaries.

I can do this.

~Teresa Rando, goes on to list four processes individual must successfully navigate in order to be considered fully resolved in their grief. “Keeping your loved one alive” is one of them. Grief councelsors urge the mourner to take control of “the process of remembering”. The mourner needs to “take action”.

Here is the part I resonated with the most:

“Death makes you feel out of control. Being proactive makes you feel stronger. Taking steps to remember leads to empowerment, and feeling empowerment is absolutely necessary for living a full, happy, and loving life.”

So, in gathering these tokens of my father, I feel lighter, like I have a job to do, it gives me a focus on something I can do in my process of mourning. It helps me be happier. We all need intentional practices for self-care to bring us happiness. After all, we are in charge of our own happiness. It’s not the responsibility of anyone else.

But, as an added benefit, it may help my own children, grandchildren and perhaps nieces or nephews remember and know who their grandpa was so that he is not forgotten.

Forget-me-nots.

Day 290 ~ The Vest Story: Such a Good Deal

Lauren says that Grayson asks her to tell her stories at night before bed. He loves books, but more than that, he loves to have someone tell him a story. She says she needs more stories. I told her she needs to tell him stories about you, so that Grayson can know you.

She said she needed some to tell, so I told her I would write some down.

Well, the first story is about the fishing vest. I’ll tell it the best to my knowledge, but I may have to elaborate on some details, although I will be sure to say when I don’t know something for sure. I don’t want to be called a liar – although there is a gray area for story tellers.

It had to have been summer. You were up at Warroad to go fishing, I think, and spotted a garage sale, so you thought you’d better stop. I’m kinda thinking you might have just wanted to do some visiting, because if you can’t get that in every day, you go looking for people to talk to.

Anyway, you eyed up a really nice vest sitting on the table. I’m not sure what it cost, but I’m guessing you haggled with the price a bit, trying to knock a few dollars off. You tried it on and it fit. I’m sure you looked quite dashing.

After saying thank you for the vest and the visit, you headed to your pick up, with the vest still on. Once in the truck, it was a little snug getting the seat belt on, but you were not deterred. The vest stayed on.

You stopped at a restaurant to have a bite to eat, walked in and noticed a table open. People watched you as to strolled to your table. The waitress came over and you noticed she was eyeing up your vest, and you started thinking it was a pretty good investment – especially since you were getting so much attention. Your ordered some coffee along with eggs and toast. Not bacon, Mom says you don’t need all that bacon. (I added that part.)

Your buddy, Ole, arrives at the restaurant and spots you sitting at a table so he decides to join you. The waitress comes over to take his order and they both give each other a smirky look.

Finally, Ole says something,

“Dennis . . . I hate to ask you this, but why are you wearing a fishing vest?”

End of story that I know of. . .

Day 125 ~Hearing Your Voice in Songs

Art journaling this morning and listening to Pandora, Tori Kelly begins to sing Hallelujah. Every cell in my heart, soul and body savor each word and note. I begin to hear my father’s voice in the words and he speaks to me:

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

My heart ached knowing that my father tried so very hard to be who he was, and I believe he sometimes felt that it wasn’t good enough. He was sad sometimes and I didn’t always know why. There are things we carry in our bodies that we can’t even remember how it came to be.

But, he sang, and he worked and he played and he loved.

And, he did his best.

Tori Kelly singing Hallelujah . . . have a listen.

Day 14 ~ Art Journaling with Emily Dickenson

It’s been only 14 days since you’ve left us. Poetry has been saving me.

And, art journaling.

The physical act of moving my hands across the paper with oil pastels, water color paints and drawing letters that make up words that string together the phrases that make up the poem gives my mind a break.

My mind needs to be parked some days as thinking about how it’s impossible that you are not here completely creates this angst in me that I don’t even know what to do with. My body is in confusion and not sure if it wants to throw things, scream, stay in bed or cry all day.

It’s not safe to just be alone with my mind all day.

Poetry and art journaling are my life support.

This poem by Emily Dickenson bring peace to me heart, knowing that you are still there – that I just need to whisper and you will be here with me.

And if I go, while you’re still here?

Know that I live on,

Vibrating to a different measure

Behind a thin veil you cannot see through.

You will not see me,

So you must have faith.

I wait for the time when we can soar together again,

Both aware of each other.

Until then, live your life to the fullest

And when you need me,

Just whisper my name in your heart,

I will be there.

Start Here. . .

A year after my dad died, I realized that I’d thought about him every single day. He was everywhere – in the sky, on the radio, flowers, in people I talked to, the buildings he created, scents, images, sounds and memories flooded to me every day. Others would bring up a random memory or story to share.

I’d write these down in my notebooks, art journal or photograph images.

Then, I thought, how selfish. My mother might find healing in perusing this page – for savoring the memory of someone you love can bring more joy than pain, over time.

Over time.

As the the one year anniversary approached, I began to fear that year two would generate fewer memories each day. I didn’t want that to happen. I didn’t want to ever forget. This worried me. I didn’t want others to forget him either. I also needed my grandchildren to know who he was.

I wanted to cultivate an intentional practice of honoring the memory of my dad each and every day possible. Just the smallest of tokens matter.

I did a little research and discovered a site by Alison Gilbert and her book, Passed and Present. She writes about how the intentional act of remembering our loved ones who have passed on actually makes you happier. This against against old wisdom that we need to move on and learn to live without them. Nope, not doing that.

So, I’m going to work at this. I have a years worth of notebooks filled with thoughts, memories and captured observations. It will take me a year to get to go back and find the gems to share here as tokens, AND continue to add the new whispers that comes my way.

I hope, that over time, more joy can happen here than tears.

But, tears are good, too.

It means I loved with all my heart.