26 July 2011 morning
Tuesday. Cut off from the tedium of the day-to-day schedules, I am beginning to lose touch with day names. Is this close to the world that Julia lives in? But she is working towards recognizing day names and dates, not leaving them behind, if only for a short time.
Today is Dad’s funeral. Even on contemplation, I emotional brace, straighten my back, raise my shoulders when I need to let it flow through me. I want to let it happen as it needs to, offer comfort and goodness to those who will be bringing hurts and anger and resentment, and accept the comfort from those who have it to share. This is a tall order for me. Maybe better to call it a prayer.
I question the universe, but accept the blessing, of planning this time, the few days of this week, so loosely. I am not saying that I saw this death happening and planned my vacation trip accordingly, but I simply followed the impulse to connect the week with my sister in Virginia and the week at Chautauqua with some time with Lisa in Maryland and then days in and around NYC with few plans. I had thought of a few walks in the city that Julia and I could do, a few museums that we might visit, a show, but there were no tickets bought, no plans to see old friends, very, very little to change to accommodate this death. No jarring and abrupt change of course, just a folding in, the chance to accept, be present, and not add to the hill of regrets or resentments.
I have some anger and sadness that Dad did not see me in Florida. I could have used that gift of a last visit, but we have talked on the phone very often in the year between David’s death and his. At times, I believed that we were building our relationship, although I also believed that I was only a sharp-edged reminder to him of what he had lost. I believe that David’s death resurrected memories of David’s mother, Inez’s death and his mourning her. I may be wrong. Maybe not. I had hoped that in time we could have talked about some of that, talked about moving on from the death of a beloved partner, talked some about David’s life and his perspective on that life. When I did see him last fall, it was for a short time and with his wife, Claire. Anything about David was far too raw for me to examine closely and everything was fodder for Claire’s complaints and bad humor. And so, we talked of the inconsequential and mundane. I need to take a lesson from that and not carry the regrets of subjects not broached.
Cheshire drove from Maryland to New Jersey -- one of the shortest legs of my journeying, but a leg nonetheless. Lovely to sit in the passenger seat and offer conversation and advice. Julia puttered away the day -- leapster in the car, then coloring and clay all the rest of the day whenever we were not moving. We did a bit of math work in the afternoon, as we passed time at Uncle Harold’s house. I need to depend on her ability to amuse herself today as well. Her behavior has been quite splendid overall, not perfect by any means, but then she is a kid and herself.
Last night, after suppered at a Thai restaurant with Uncle Harold, we stopped in a fancy grocery store to pick up a few things for breakfast. At the check out line, Julia noticed a funny stuffed dinosaur on top of one of the registers. She wanted to touch it but accepted my refusal to bring it to her easily. She did like what it looked liked and was talking about it. The store was quite empty except for another customer who was checking out an amply filled basket in front of us in line and we had to wait. A manager came by, asked staff to open another register for us, and then engaged Julia in a bit of conversation. She directed him to the dinosaur and he took it down and gave it to her. I thought to hold and examine, but he meant her to have it. It was very sweet. She was so happy. And I think, so was he.
The new dinosaur, whose has been named although it is a made up name that I have not retained, was tucked in bed with Lizzy when we got home and seems to have rested comfortably. Julia told us in the car on the way home that the new dinosaur was feeling badly. In other circumstances, I might have pursued that a bit -- wondering if the feelings were related to adoption and a new family -- but I let it go. Not appropriate timing.
We are staying -- Julia, Cheshire, and I -- with Uncle Harold, David’s mother’s brother. I took him up on a long held invitation to stay with him when I was out east. I have known him and his wife, Lois who died a few months before David last year, for 35 years, and although we visited them when we could, we never stayed with them. And although I had planned to have dinner with him on Monday before Dad died, I had planned for only dinner. Once again, he offered his house to us and I accepted. So, after our drive we spent a very quiet time -- two meals, some lovely time on an enclosed porch which I had never noticed before (I am sure it is a relatively recent addition to the house, but I guess it could be 15 years old. Did we always visit in winter? Possibly.) watching and listening to the rain and talking, and watching Harold work his potter’s wheel. He demonstrated making a bowl, a cup, a vase, and a small closed piece, and we looked at his sculpture. Julia was enthusiastic at times, and then at times, lost in a sculpture book that Harold was using for reference. He has a kiln as well so is able to go through all of the steps of the process of producing pieces. What fun and how lovely. Made my hands itch to do the same. I did, at times, have to keep a firm hold on Julia. I knew her fingers were itching. It is a hobby of his, taken on after retirement, but the work satisfies him. He is very happy doing it and it is pleasing. The work gets more interesting each time I see it.
Note: The new dinosaur’s name is Lukey.
Before Julia went to bed last night, she said good night to Uncle Harold. She asked how his heart was feeling and if he would live. She does it in an quirky, disarming way. The questions seem to come out of nowhere but I know her concern.