Sunday, April 16, 2006

One year ago...

As a few of you remember, one year ago today my father died. I am still inarticulate when it comes to describing most of the
emotional work of grieving. It's both too personal and too complex to wrap words around. However, I have been
surprised over and over by both the intensity and durability of love (especially given that my dad and I had a pretty
operatically loud and acrimonious relationship for a while in my youth). Now that the redbuds have again bloomed, I
am reminded that life goes on. My mother's very cautiously moving into a new relationship (so far, it's amounted
to a couple of nights of dancing and a short ride on the back of his Harley) and building a life of her own. I can listen
to almost any George Jones song without breaking down. My husband can open a milk carton and extract the sealing
ring without misting up about my dad's habit of "getting engaged" to my mom every time a new milk carton was opened.
And we're all learning to live with the very complicated, all too human, difficult love that we're left holding and passing
on.

At my mother's church, the priest is saying the Easter Vigil mass in Dad's honor. He would be astonished to discover
that the most "pull out all the stops" Mass of the year is dedicated to him, a late convert and not a particularly by the
book sort of a guy. He knew what he knew, telling the priest who came to baptize him on one of those
dozens of trips to the hospital in the last 15 years that "if we can do this without putting me through all the
bullshit, I'd be happy to join." He had raised two children in the Catholic church, married a Catholic woman, lived
in the parish community all his life -- to him, that was sufficient time to figure out what Catholics believed by watching
what they did. I doubt he ever said the Rosary all the way through, probably didn't bother
with the fine points of transubstantiation or the Trinity, and carried a lot of his original training from the
Holyroller Freewillers right on with him to the grave. But he believed. He believed in A Way. He believed in
A Truth. And he believed ever so strongly in a life after this one, where the hurts and imperfections, the hard knocks and
mistakes would be healed and every tear wiped away. I don't know that he was right, but I think that he got
the essence of what is required by Christianity. We diverged widely on religion as we did in almost everything
else, but I am still gratified that the Mass dedicated to the glorification of the resurrected Christ goes to
a humble man who simply believed.

3 comments:

imfunnytoo said...

Yeah, the complexity of grief...


I was happy to come by the blog today and see this...tough to write I'm sure, but more insight into who he was...since I only met him twice, it was good to learn more about him.

Hugs, today and any day.

jo(e) said...

You said this so beautifully.

listmaker said...

What a beautiful post.