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Spokane, WA
This profile photo is my mom and me at the beach--she is 26 and I am about 18 months. LOVE the joy!! I am a mom of three and a teacher; being a teacher means I have to go back and cut the f-bombs. There were a few. Because Alzheimer's sucks badly. This blog, for nine years now--skipping a few while I was too cheap to buy my domain name-- helps me un-peel and process the endless layers of sad woven with weird and--impossibly--comedy.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Misplaced Grief

My grandpa died yesterday. My mom's dad. I don't know quite how to tell her. I don't know if she'll be able to conceptualize it, or keep forgetting and need to be reminded, or not need to be reminded..if she already thinks he's dead? Will she be casual about it, or cry? And for how long before she forgets why? I called her guardian about what to do in these situations, but she hasn't called me back. Do I try and take her to the funeral? Would I take off her ankle collar that sets off an alarm when she leaves her skilled nursing facility?
I have cried a few times since I found out, not because I grieve the loss of "my grandpa," who I haven't really known for about 30 years, but because I feel sad for my grandma who has been married to him for about 70 years..She also has Alzheimer's (has for about 20 years-)she will likely go in and out of knowing that Earl is dead and forgetting where he is; the people at her nursing home will have to keep reminding her that he's passed away, or maybe they'll just tell her he'll be right back in a  few minutes. Or that he's still in the War. That's their business. But I've decided that my business is coming up with some really magnanimous thoughts to say at his still-to-be-created funeral. I don't know who'll organize it; my mom's two brothers might be a part of it...
I've been OK with not having involved grandparents..you don't really need them, right They let me in their camper a few times when I was young...My bigger issue in life has been not really having a very strong mom. And now my issue is having a mentally incapacitated mom; one who I have to explain has lost her father. He's almost died a few times~he had two kinds of cancer after all. I don't know how old he was. 93? His obit isn't in the online version of the Missoulian, but a friend of my mom's called to tell me she'd seen it in the print version.
About 5 years ago my mom made a lovely photo scrapbook album about her family with old photos she had to steal from my grandparents because they wouldn't let her have the photos or the negatives. On one of the pages she had this great photo of her on her dad's shoulders in a lake. She's about 3 to 5?Underneath the photo is a caption taken from a great poem by Susan Ariel Kennedy (SARK) "There was always love--large, raw and imperfect."

I think I'll read this at the funeral. I don't have anything else to talk about. He took me fishing a few times; we used corn, and it really worked.


How To Forgive Your Father

I am not Daddy's Little Girl. I'm a mountain lion in a skirt, with prayers in my heart. 
When I asked my dad what he wanted in a "dream daughter" 
he said "I wanted a daughter who would wear an apron and make soup from a ham bone." 
I'm a vegetarian who doesn't cook. 
My "fantasy father" would be super literary and work at home. 
My dad was a travelling salesman who struggled with spelling. 
When I was 4, my dad's head was as big as the world! 
I rode on his shoulders, clasping his forehead with my tiny hands 
and laughing as we ran through the grass. 
Together we were taller than God. 
My dad held my red Schwinn bike as I balanced my first solo trip, 
and ran alongside before letting me go to pedal into a new world. 
My dad always got mad at dinner and I thought it was because of me 
so I sat up straight and tried to do it all perfect and he still yelled. 
His dad got mad at dinner too. 
I finally learned that when I could show softness, my dad could show support. 
I wish I'd had more time to be with him. 
I remember whisker rubs and "serious talks" and standing on his feet to dance around the kitchen. 
He tied my ice skates double-tight, 
and there was always love--large and raw and imperfect. 
When I prowl through all the prayers in my heart, and in certain photographs in a special kind of light, 
I can see my dad's face inside my own, saying "stick with me, kid!" 
I know now that he loves me in his own language--that the past stuff is just fog on the mirror
--that the little girl inside never stopped loving him. 
She feels the love and forgives the pain. 
HEY, DAD! I'LL LOVE YOU FOREVER, YOU KNOW.

-S A R K

Thoughtful young me

Thoughtful young me

Seventies chicks

Seventies chicks
Me and my mom Lynn, 1973

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