Tuesday, January 06, 2009

k-brow: there's hope

There is really too much to say for one entry, but I'm trying hard to come back... I've been in the Olde Country, Rockbridge County, Virginia, for the past three weeks. My dad died on December 17. He'd been sick, diagnosed with myleodysplasia for about 2 years, and had been increasingly bedridden for much of the fall. It was not unexpected. But it was too soon. Hard to talk about it much, still. I am generally pragmatic about life and death; I hold dear the pagan tenets of Life, Death, Rebirth. But those things don't ease the loss of my funny, hard-nosed dad, who put his family first in all situations, and whose love of nature, droll humor, and practicality continue to inspire me. I am so sad, for myself, and my family. I know we will get through this. It's just that the way seems so long and hard right now.

I won't write too much about it here. There are public stories and private ones, from the past month, and I'm still sorting out what's what. I so appreciated the time I had with family, my mom, sis and P, as well as with my aunts and cousins and old friends and acquaintances from the county. I don't like the Christmas season much in the best of times, and these certainly weren't. Somehow we made it through, and I rather enjoyed, in a completely perverse way, the fact that there wasn't a big deal made of the damn holidays. My dad never liked this time of year much, either, as I recall. Our family always chose this time of year to go to Key West, not to celebrate Christmas, but rather, to avoid it, with the beach, penny-ante poker and the supreme distraction of a road trip.

So, in the spirit of making the best of a bad situation, I will catalogue the good things of the past month:

1. Driving a Prius that I had to rent, due to a cancelled flight from Dulles to Roanoke. Uh, thanks, United. But the Prius was just as sweet as could be, once I figured out how to start it.

2. The mercurial Virginia weather, which would gift us with high-60's one day, and windy-20's the next. But mostly days in the 50's and sunny. You can't complain about that, especially if you're coming from Hawaii.

3. Long walks with P. On the Chessie Trail, and in the woods and fields surrounding my parents' house. Through grey and brown beech-and-cedar stands, and old abandoned cemeteries. By the Maury river, and along cliffs of shale and limestone, coated with melting ice.

4. Funeral food. There. I said it. Pecan pie, incredible homemade soup, fried chicken, biscuits, fudge, little swedish meatballs... we were well fed by the good cooks of my homeland.

5. P's "Christmas miracle" of the discovery of one forgotten piece of the aformentioned pecan pie. My husband is a funny person.

6. New Year's Eve, complete with "Pride and Prejudice" (because really, what extended shut-in period would be complete without a little Jane Austen)and the momcat also made these killer Reuben sandwiches that night. We watched the ball drop, my mom, sis and I, and hoped for better times in 2009.

7. Driving my dad's pickup truck all over SW VA. Clifton Forge, Peaks of Otter, the Blueridge Parkway, as well as along his favorite highways and byways in Rockbridge County. Seeing deer and wild turkeys along the way. Crying hard, and laughing some, too. I do my best crying, it seems, behind the wheel. I should have known that, by my commutes here, but I always thought it was work-related and Hawaii-situational. It is not.

8. My sis and I, finally having had enough of shut-in, went out on New Year's Day to see "Twilight." Thoroughly enjoyable, in a teen-vampire-lovin' sort of way. I loved the soundtrack, and will be downloading it shortly.

9. Knitting Icarus. Knitting Icarus some more. And yet more knitting on Icarus. I'm done, at last with the first 3 charts. One more endless chart of lace to go, and then the bind-off of 500-and-something stitches. Yeesh. I don't know if I will ever finish this shawl. It's been such a good companion to me these past few weeks. I also knit Dashing mitts, from the fetishized stash of Malabrigo. Yum. Easily finished and they came in handy for the cooler days.

10. Re-potted my mom's 79-year-old christmas cactus. It had been languishing away in a cracked pot for awhile in the dining room. It had been given to my great-aunt Fannie Sue, back when she was pregnant with my dad's cousin Bob. Susie gave it to ma years ago. Or maybe to my grandmother on my dad's side. It lived with me for 5 years in Arlington, spending each school year in my classroom window, and rewarding me with blooms every February. I thought it deserved a new lease on life in 2009.

I came home to Hawaii last night, greeted the ecstatic dogs, showered and collapsed next to the feverish P, who's caught some kind of travel related malady. He came home last week, and has some sore throat thing with a 102 fever. Yikes. I woke up this morning to the sound of Board of Water Supply's jackhammer up on our street. I went out to check it out and found our purple orchid getting ready to bloom.

There's always something to be hopeful about.

I will be around and about over the next few days. Cleaning my mud, mold, and mice-ridden house. Grooming the dogs, who are similarly muddy and moldy, and utterly overjoyed to have their pack reassembled.


Pam! said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad. I was thinking about you & B the other day but never imagined your time together would be for this. You & the whole family will continue to be in my thoughts.

Opal said...

again, i'm so sorry about your dad.

it's so good to have you back in hawaii though. will you be going to MJ on thursday?

Chelsea said...

I'm sorry about your dad. I know it's hard. I wish I could help.

Barbara said...

Welcome back. You were missed! I love the Christmas cactus story:)

Blogless Michelle said...

Hope you're feeling more aloha on your second day back. I sure wish we didn't share the experience of losing a parent this year. An excellent short story I just read and would recommend starts on pg 149 of 'god laughs & plays' by David James Duncan. It was recommended to me about losing Magritte but it helped me reframe my dad's loss too. Glad to talk to you (so was Max!) and looking forward to visiting soon.

Mokihana said...

It's so hard to lose someone right near the holidays. I am sending warm aloha hugs to you.

I lost my hânai mom that same day.