Explorations of mind, paths, and life

Staring at the Calendar

Posted on August 2, 2016 - Filed Under 2016, pito, self reflect

Pito-Ev-JagrideI caught myself staring at my calendar today. There has been a lot of activity on it lately, but oddly the annual and  somewhat critical reminder for Pito’s Birthday was missing. I don’t know when I deleted it. I don’t remember how I was feeling when it disappeared. I still keep his photo and phone number on my phone’s favorite list as if he will call; as if I can call him. My ipad oddly still has his calendar with random reminders about Jag and Rolls Royce club meetings, Gizmo Spa Days, recycling day, and when to change the filter on his air conditioner. It always startles me when I get a reminder, then I giggle at his sense of humor… especially when I bumped into the birthday reminder for his Jaguar XK120. But that is gone too. Things about his life just keep falling away, like old paint, and suddenly I feel tremendously sad that there is less and less of him to hold on to.

I can almost feel my body in the recliner, his computer glowing, his glasses on his nose, while I plunk myself down to update him on what life has been doing with me lately, between his DVR pauses. I miss the way his humor and little gems of my sarcasm would dance around the more challenging stories of my life. I miss the eye rolling, “t-uh”, that would tumble from him when he found my emotionality or response ridiculous. I miss his dorky dad encouragement. I really miss how he had made me coffee in the morning when I stayed over night at his house. I loved that he “saved me” coffee. Dad’s house sold in June, and the day before closing I stood in that empty house, barely enough sunlight to warm the room, and took a deep breath of what-ever DNA was still floating around after painting walls and steaming carpets. Surely under the fridge there was still a beard fuzz or two. I hoped his shadow would be there. It was empty. Another fleck of paint…

Gizmo has been mopey lately, and I caught myself stroking his little head, cooing about how we both missed Pa; Gizmo’s warm brown eyes gazing glassy and intensely into mine, I am fairly sure we understood each other.  I find myself calling him buddy, like Pa, when we finally come to an understanding about the “event” (walk, meal, treat, play) that isn’t happening at that moment, which is CLEARLY on Gizmo’s calendar. We both knew there was an event brewing, it just wasn’t on my calendar.

I’m not sure what to do with grief sometimes. It shifts so much, one day feeling too big to wrestle, squeezing me until my eyes leak and I tumble around with grunts and sobs until I land somewhere in reality. And on other moments,  grief is like the wisps of hair that get in my way when I bend over or go on a bike ride. Subtle. I know they are there, a soft tickle that I can feel but just can’t brush away effectively.  I don’t know what to make of the grief I read on Facebook, or in the Media, others with their fathers, their mothers, their precious sisters, their brothers, partners, family, friends, animals… I don’t want to be in their chain of grief because it brings me right back to my own, and that deep sadness that I keep thinking I can control. And yet, I carry gratitude for the ways it opens my arms to the part of me that falls into that grief-y, miss-y, weepy, sentimental, sad, knowing space.

I realize that somewhere in me, I am counting the space between my grief… the distance getting wider between “episodes”. I absurdly seem to think that the measurement is an accomplishment amidst some bizarre “pathological” goal to be done. I haven’t “bawled my eyes out” about dad for ## weeks! Then… I stare at my calendar, that same little clock noting the events that I am missing with him… Father’s day. Birthday. Jag Swim Party. Heinz’ birthday. Death day. Christmas. Jag Club Holiday party. Slalom races. Father’s day… and another piece of paint… another calendar day.

pitoevmonTomorrow is my father’s birthday. No one needs to remind me, although I am sure Facebook will chide that it’s time to send that “birthday greeting to Papito Paul Harder!” I don’t want to. I will likely read my beautiful sisters post about Pa, a picture attached, and cringe that I can’t do the same thing. Do any of us know what to do with ourselves on these “events?” Or do I just miss him? For father’s day, I couldn’t write a word about how wonderful my wonderful father was. I changed my profile picture to the one of me sitting with him in bed, while he eats the breakfast I made him  (or I felt I had made for him at 3-4 years of age;  I recall toddling in with the tray, my mother chiding to be careful) while I munch on my own pile of scrambled eggs. That was all I could do. A picture of being in his presence.  Actually, a rare photo since Pa was usually the one behind the camera. And tomorrow, I will miss him still, just a little more, even with an empty spot on the calendar where his birthday belongs. I don’t know why I thought I could possibly delete my grief with a reminder. I guess I’ve picked up that fleck of paint, given it a lick, and pressed it back in place… in so many words. I miss my dad. I’ll make sure to make myself a great cup of coffee in the morning. And perhaps drop a few lower octaves to churn, like Pa did at everyone’s birthday; (trust me, the eye-rolling, “t-uh” just tumbled from my mouth as I write…)

“Happy Birthday… happy birthday…
People dying everywhere,
People living in despair…
“Happy Birthday… happy birthday…”


5 Responses to “Staring at the Calendar”

  1. June Cahill on August 2nd, 2016 1:08 am

    You have such a gift with your words. Grief is odd-it comes. It goes. Then it comes less frequently-and goes. Then, for a reason no one can put their finger on, after many years of grief diminishing, it’ll come back stronger than ever-and knock your socks off.

    Be extra ‘aware’ during the month of October. I’ve had two experiences-both during the very end of October, where my parents have actually come to ‘visit’ -experiences I’ll never forget. Do some ‘communicating’ yourself, and see what might come of it-if anything. You might just happily have your socks knocked off!!!


  2. Monica on August 2nd, 2016 2:14 am

    Funny that just yesterday I deleted the yearly calendar reminder for Pa’s & grandpa’s birthdays. When it popped up in my email a few days ago, I felt angry. “WTF? I don’t need a reminder for his birthday…like I could ever forget it…” And I had the exact same thought, that I would wake up to YOUR post on FB and I’m not feeling the need or desire to do that this year. For me, the grieving has been a conscious effort to sandblast the paint off in one go (GROIN it!) so there are no little flaking chips for me to sweep from the floor each day. I can see his reflection on the stripped surface, sometimes making me smile, sometimes causing my eyes to well up with tears. Even as I type this on my phone, all my “to”s are coming out as “yo”s…I can hear his devious chuckle, a reminder that he is always with me and with you and with mom, whenever we bring him to mind. There is no forgetting, even though the phone no longer buzzes with reminders. I love you. 😘💕

  3. Evelyn on August 2nd, 2016 8:18 am

    I love you too. Glad I am not the only one. And I could smell his house before I even started writing about a sit down.

  4. Mama on August 2nd, 2016 10:45 am

    Evelyn, I love you and love your post. I did not have to read it, because I sense and know how you and Monica feel when these dates come about. There is not a moment in my daily goings that Pito is not present. Not because he is gone, but because he lives in me since the day I met him. I took all those meaningful pictures. Every year you and I got up, and under my careful supervision, we would prepared his and your breakfast……in bed, as He used to say. He is missed indeed. You write beautiful and your thoughts move people’s hearts. I miss so much you and Monica and Justin. I wish so much to have you all here for a family hug as we have done it in passed times. We are proud of you, all.

  5. Helen on August 2nd, 2016 5:31 pm

    You have a way of saying everything I can’t. I didn’t know how much I needed your voice…thank you.