Clematis

It's been a year now

18 posts in this topic

It's been a year now - actually it will be 13 months tomorrow. I seem to have pretty well recovered from the car accident 9 months ago - had my last treatment session last week. It is a busy semester - I am taking three classes this semester and two of them are in Prescott - an 1-1/2 hour drive away over a mountain pass. Doing that twice a week has been more of a burden than I had thought, but I am getting through it. On the plus side, I think I am going to graduate this semester, after completing the two classes in Prescott. I may not really need another degree (this is my fifth), but I am so close I might as well complete the degree. And you never know - having some kind of degree in fine art, even if it is only an associate's degree.

Tomorrow is Valentine's day and Lena (with my assistance) is sending valentine's greetings to all of her friends and fans. This started with just her clients - the kids who read to her and the elderly people she sees at the homes - but now they are going to everyone she knows. So here is one for you - my friends here on the site. 

This is a very special image for me. I did it in Photoshop. I took this picture of Lena at a nursing facility where my dad stayed for five days during the last few weeks of his life. She was lying on top of him, looking very possessive, and he was wearing a red plaid shirt and khaki pants. Rather than blend around her fur, which is challenging in Photoshop, I blended his clothing into the pink Hibiscus, which has my dad right in the middle of this piece. It warms my sad heart...  

=^. .^= 

58a29bb784cc9_MyFuzzyValentinecardsm.thumb.jpg.b3b20a05ec3288fcc74ea6d2a8abf81d.jpg

 

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It's just beautiful, Laura. Thank you for sharing it with all of us 

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That is beautiful, Laura!  Your Lena is a gorgeous cat, probably because she is so loved!

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10 hours ago, kayc said:

That is beautiful, Laura!  Your Lena is a gorgeous cat, probably because she is so loved!

Yes, she is well-loved and she eats great food. She is very photogenic...I think that's partly due to her striking looks and partly due to her willingness to be photographed. Also, I take tons of pictures of Lena, and just like anything you do a lot of, I've gotten better and better at getting good shots of her. It is so rewarding to have a pet like Lena and be able to share her like I do. I spent a good part of the day delivering Valentine's cards with this picture; Lena came with me to deliver the ones that were close to home. Everyone was really delighted, and there were about sixty of them. It made me happy too. It is without a doubt the coolest Valentine's day ever!

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11 hours ago, MartyT said:

It's just beautiful, Laura. Thank you for sharing it with all of us 

I love that it has my dad in the middle of it...I'm sure he never dreamed he would be featured fading into a flower, but I think he would like it.

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Still going through my dad's stuff and it's still really hard. In some ways it's easier because it's been longer since he died, but I hit pockets of things that are really hard. Like when I came across his gloves and put my own hands inside them and it was just like looking at his hands, remembering him coming in from shoveling the snow - when I was too little to be out there helping. That was hard.

Now I have been going through his tools and woodworking things in the garage. Tools for all of the things he did with his hands - and there was sure a lot he did with his hands. He used to have a shop in the basement. I remember it so clearly...I was fascinated by it and all he did there, but I really had to stay back and keep out of his way. When he was not in his shop it was the most forbidden place in the house for many reasons. When he moved to AZ I asked him about his shop and he said, "Oh, I got rid of all that stuff" and went on about how excited people got about tools being sold and how he gave some things to his friend Denny and so on. Now I realize that what he meant was mostly that he got rid of his big workbench, and the big tools that were like furniture - drill press, table saw, band saw, and that kind of thing.

Hand tools, hand held power tools, and all the little things that went with it. There is box after box after box of it. Some of things I remember so clearly. I remember his using and caring for them like little treasures. Now they are mine, but minus the stories. I wish I could know more about what they meant to him and where they came from. Some of this stuff came from my mother's father; I know since his name or some other indication is on them. 

Lately I feel like I am hypnotized in a time warp. I miss the old man who was my best friend and companion in the last ten years of his life. I miss the busy active guy who was the father of my youth. I am trying to reconcile the two together and come to grips with who he really was. There are more questions than answers. Today I ran across a notebook that he kept in the mid 1950's, full of all kinds of details about plastics and whatnot - chemical and physical properties. It was alphabetized in a notebook meant for addresses and it was stuffed full of typed and handwritten technical information - I have almost no idea what any of it even is. My dad was a really brilliant guy who had a very technical career and then came home and did woodworking. I guess there is no wonder why my sisters felt like they didn't even know him at all. He kept us out of his workshop and his technical life was much too complex for us to even begin to follow. 

By the time he came to AZ they were done with him and had been done with him for a long time, I think. I saw him come out of the shadows when my mother died and marveled at the nice man who looked like my mysterious dad but who actually talked. But all that stuff from his mysterious past was closed up in a box that never opened. When I asked him about things from his years of work and woodworking and all that, I would get vague answers like, "Oh that was a long time ago".

I have no answers but now all of those tools and bits are mine, gradually intermingling into my possessions and my life as I drift through the past and the present at once. Who was this man and who am I? I feel rather lost and cut adrift, but remain busy. I found a set of woodcarving tools - very nice ones and unused - in his garage. Now I am woodcarving with my father's tools in the now as I drift around in the past in my mind...

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Laura,

My father was a carpenter.  He built the house I grew up in, where my mother lived until she had to go to the dementia care facility in her 90s.  His specialty was finish work and he was the best.  I can name some businesses in Eugene, OR that his handiwork was displayed in.  He was a perfectionist and it showed in his work.  

I grew up hanging out in my dad's shop or going on jobs with him, not his everyday employment, but the extra jobs he sometimes did on weekends.  I learned how to spell with his die set...he'd give me a hunk of wood and I'd hammer the letters out, asking him, "How do you spell _____?" he'd answer and I'd find the right letter in the die set.  I wanted that set for my own son but my mom gave it to my brother instead.  Not sure he ever showed an interest in it, it was something special between my dad and I.  I was the one, of all of the kids, that spent time with him, was the one who volunteered to go hiking with him or get up at 3:00 am to pick up sand dollars with him as the tide was leaving.  I was the one who would volunteer to try his oyster stew or taste a hot pepper.  He was my daddy and he loomed big to me, even though he was only 5'5".

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I know what you mean...I thought my dad was amazing when I was little. For me, he was always the one; he did all the cool stuff. Like anyone, he had a good side and a bad side. He was wicked smart and didn't tolerate mediocrity or stupid behavior. He had a quick temper and a sense of humor that ran from dry to a bit twisted. He was a better dad to little kids than teenagers and young adults; I had some things to work out with him, but having done so, I was able to have a great relationship with him toward the end of his life.

I suppose everyone has regrets, no matter what. I with I had been able to know him better when we were younger, but it is what it is. I'm glad you were able to share what you did with your dad; he sounds like he was a great father.

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14 hours ago, Clematis said:

He was a better dad to little kids than teenagers and young adults;

Mine too, definitely.  My father let me down big time, both of my parents did, they weren't good parents.  But when I was little I thought the world of him, I was definitely a daddy's girl.  I've been going through Restoration class lately, it's brought up a lot of painful memories I'd just as soon forget.  Sometimes I feel some of that stuff is better left in the past but I guess they bring it up so you can deal with it.  Nothing can be done about any of it now, my parents are dead, what's done is done.  All we can do is forgive and let it go.  Whatever they did wrong was theirs to bear.  I remember the good...

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16 hours ago, kayc said:

 Whatever they did wrong was theirs to bear.  I remember the good...

My parents weren't good parents either, but they had real strengths as people. My mother was a gifted artist and my father was brilliant. I really struggled when my mother died because she had been so awful to me until the very end. I lost any fantasy that there would ever be anything good between us. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to work things out with my father because it enabled us to be so close at the end. I wish things had been different earlier, but they weren't. Nevertheless, I feel a bond with him that is beyond anything I can explain.

It was so good for me to have those ten years with my dad when things were good between us. I was good to him and he was good to me; I helped him and he helped me. Not that things were perfect, but it was pretty great. And there was something that was very restorative and healing about having that truly supportive relationship with him at the end.

In music, the last chord is really important...or even the entire ending and resolution. If you play a piece well and destroy the ending, it's really bad because that's what sticks in the listener's mind. Ending a piece well can make up for some problems earlier in the piece because the lovely end and resolving chord stays in the mind. This last is what my dad and I had. It ended well. But it was a lot better than one final good chord - we had ten years and that is a big chunk of anyone's life.

But now, I am going through some phase of grief that I really fail to comprehend. I feel like I am in a time warp. Sometimes it seems like I have moved into the past - even before my lifetime or even my father's lifetime in going through these old family things. And sometimes I feel like my dad is now living through me and it is like a dream state. Like this... I found a humidor in my dad's garage and am not sure whose it was, but it is a really magnificent wooden box. My dad hated smoking and certainly didn't smoke cigars, but his father did. I found a set of carving tools...it appears that my dad was thinking of taking up woodcarving but never actually used the tools. I am doing it for him, and using the humidor in which to keep the tools, my sharpening stuff, etc. The night before last I dreamed about that box all night long as it changed size, purpose, and everything else as different aspects of my real life and dream life flowed through that box. And I have no idea what that means...

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This is my first woodcarving...you can see how big it is since my hand is there for scale.

IMG_2871.thumb.jpg.f85a6a1f5c62a4158539f4e649192576.jpgIMG_2872.thumb.jpg.195f3620f341a0a40879ad46837c6a4c.jpg

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8 hours ago, Clematis said:

In music, the last chord is really important...or even the entire ending and resolution. If you play a piece well and destroy the ending, it's really bad because that's what sticks in the listener's mind. Ending a piece well can make up for some problems earlier in the piece because the lovely end and resolving chord stays in the mind.

I like this, how you relay it to relationships.  My mom was very mentally ill and if you can imagine being raised by someone like that, let alone dealing with her throughout your entire life...there's a lot of bad memories, she was very abusive.  However, she got dementia and that softened her, erased a lot of her mis-perceptions and thus perceived ills, and made her nicer, more like what she was meant to be only minus the brain part.  Goes to show brains are over-rated.  (Sorry, my family has sick humor, I got it.  It's how we cope with life.)

I'm glad you got those latter years with your dad.  It is nice to go out with a good note.

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5 hours ago, kayc said:

...made her nicer, more like what she was meant to be only minus the brain part.  

I know what you mean. My dad became nicer as he got older. My younger sister thought it was related to the Parkinson's and my older sister thought the change was due to being around me. I think the change was due to my mother's illness and death; he was totally devoted to a narcissist and orbited around her. To me it really seemed like he became more like who he was meant to be, like you said. Maybe there is truth to what each of us thought, but whatever the reason it was great that the personality change he had was for the better. I think usually people get worse - my mother certainly did, and she was mean enough already.

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I talked to my sisters today - both of them. I was hoping to get some answers and information from them. I moved out west when I was young, while my sisters lived an hour away from our parents from when they were very young adults. I have all of this old family stuff and am not sure where a lot of it came from, whose it was, or anything else. I would like to know more and thought I'd ask my sisters...I think it was a mistake. Not much really happened but I feel like I've been slimed or "icked on". It just feels like they figure that I got something that should have been theirs...

My sisters have their own collections of old family stuff -it's not like I have all of it - and they've had it for a long time because they lived close by and our parents unloaded stuff on them over the years. Then when our mother died 12 years ago they got tons more. Most of the stuff from our parents house went in their direction, although Daddy did pick and choose what he wanted to hang onto. That stuff he brought out west with him, with the understanding that it would be my share when he died. 

All things considered, I did get the most valuable thing that was left after my mother died - ten years with my dad, his friendship and unconditional love. It was the best and really the only good parenting any of us ever got. It's not like I was trying to keep him for myself. I told them that he was different from the taciturn and bitter man he had been when our mother was alive, but they didn't believe it and wanted no part of him. After he moved out west they hardly ever called him except when they needed money, and I don't think he had any confusion about what was going on. When my best friend's mother asked him if he missed his grandchildren and other two daughters after he moved out here he said "no" without hesitation.

So here I am, without him, but I have his stuff. He wanted me to have his stuff. I am struggling to figure what to make of it all. Sometimes I feel like I am really lost.

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The stuff was your parents to decide who to give it to.  In my case, after my father died everything was with my mom, as is normal, but when she died, she left everything to my brother.  She wasn't in her right mind, and we could challenge it in court, I'm sure, but we're not.  We just don't feel anything is worth fighting over.  But it still hurts that she didn't think any of us girls worth anything, it's as if we had no value to her, yet I was always there for her, whether deserved or not.  Sigh, it's a shame but that's my legacy.

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Laura, my dear, it seems to me that you have something that is far more valuable than whatever "stuff" your sisters may want, and that is your close relationship with your father, the love the two of you shared, and the ten years' worth of precious memories you made with each other.  

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22 hours ago, MartyT said:

Laura, my dear, it seems to me that you have something that is far more valuable than whatever "stuff" your sisters may want, and that is your close relationship with your father, the love the two of you shared, and the ten years' worth of precious memories you made with each other.  

It's true - I had ten years with him. And while I wish it had been more, the time I had with him was worth more than anything he had.

And my sisters - they have at least as much stuff from the family as I have. I know of people who could fit all of their old family stuff in a shoebox, but my family had people in several generations who never got rid of anything, so there was plenty to go around. I think it's like that "what have you done for me lately" phenomena. My parents had a house full of stuff and then there were several deaths on both sides of the family and whatever they couldn't fit in their houses they gave to my sisters since they lived very close and I was across the country. So, for decades I visited both of them and they both had lots of old family furniture and things, while I had about nothing. Now I have a bunch of family things but don't have the stories that go with most of them. My dad wasn't keen on talking about stuff like that and he didn't want me poking around in his house so I really didn't know what he had. When he was alive I focused on him...being with him and enjoying the time we had.

It's been really hard going through his things. The things I remember have memories attached that make me miss him and miss all of those who have gone before. I have lost my connection to my mother, my grandparents, great-aunts, aunts & uncles, and everyone else. Maybe it would have been easier to acquire things that had belonged to them while my parents were still alive. I am honored that these things now belong to me, but getting them now with no connection to the people who originally owned them leaves me pondering and feeling very very alone. Sometimes it is overwhelming. And I am realizing that talking to my sisters is not much help and leaves me feeling worse. It anything I feel less connected to the family than before talking to them.

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Laura,

It seems we're on opposite ends of the pendulum...I didn't get any of the "things" even though I know the history, but I do have my sisters and that is a blessing.  I'm sorry it leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone.  Every time you feel that way, cuddle Lena if she's open to it.  (((hugs)))

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