Thursday, October 1st, marked the 10 month anniversary of my dad's death. The rawness of emotion when I think of him and how he died are somewhat passed. The grief is still very much present, but the sting has gone out of it. Yet there is still so much that bothers me about the circumstances that lead to his death and everything he endured during his last year... and everything we (and my mom especially) endured along with him.
I still think about him daily. It seems that there are memories and reminders of him every way I turn. So in the hopes of sharing a little more of him with you -and preserving some of these memories for my children- I'm going to let you in on some of the things that make me think of him:
- Orange juice. When making orange juice, my dad used to always sneak me a spoonful of the frozen concentrate before dumping the rest into the pitcher. I still think of him when I do this and when I give a bite to my boys.
- Lemon meringue pie. Since discovering that Simon can eat 2/3 of this (the meringue and the lemon filling), we've bought it a couple of times. It was always my dad's favorite and, by extension, my own. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about equal opportunities for ALL PIES, however lemon meringue holds a special place in my
- As the weather gets colder, my thoughts turn towards warm comfort foods. Specifically Chili. My dad made The. Best. Chili. Although he passed his knowledge on to me (and I do make a mean pot of chili), his was clearly the "King of Chilis" and he was the Chili King.
- Corn chowder. For as long as I can remember, my dad would make a huge pot of corn chowder on Christmas Eve. From scratch. With lots of butter. And real bacon bits. After his death last December, I tried to take up the torch, however it just wasn't the same. I know that this was in part due to my restrictions because of Simon's allergies (ie, no onions, rice milk in place of cow's, and NO BUTTER *gasp*), but I don't know if I'll ever be able to match his version. He would wake up early in the morning and have it simmering all day, tweaking it as he went. It was full of his care and attention and love for our family.
- My camera. My Nikon d40 -my first DSLR- was a gift from my parents, given to me the day before my dad was hospitalized Dec 26th, 2007, (for pneumonia, then they found two brain tumors ,and subsequent surgeries that lead to a slow and awful decline until he died last Dec 1st). It was our last Christmas with him. I think of him often when I use it, and every time I consider upgrading. It will be very difficult to get rid of one of the last gifts he gave to me, even though I know I'll eventually have to.
- Flannel shirts. After my dad's liver transplant and all of the weight he lost -both muscle and those insulating layers of body fat- he was always cold. Always. He took to dressing in layers, one of which was invariably a plaid flannel shirt of some kind. Last year, my mom and I cut up all of his shirts and made a quilt for my younger sister. It screams "him".
- Eagles. My dad had a thing for eagles. He had paintings and statues of them in his office.
- The book of Job and the musings of Madam Guyon. All of my dad's struggles and trials lead him to feel a kind of a kinship with Job. As I read some of Job to Liam this week in our school lessons, I couldn't help but be reminded of my dad, his love of God and God's word, and his faith.
- Native American culture. My dad had a deep respect for Native American culture. In his last project (a biomass ethanol plant in northern Saskatchewan) he worked closely with three of the Indian bands in the area. He always looked forward to his dealings with the various chiefs and each time came away with a great appreciation for elements of their culture. We often joked with him that we needed to christen him with a "native name"... something to do with eagles.
- The Ghost Whisperer
- anything Star Trek
- old Law & Order re-runs
- Roughriders football
- the original Iron Chef (not so much the new Iron Chef America)
- Dancing with the Stars
The first two shows kind of give me pause to think. What's with the shows all about death and taking to the dead? In retrospect, I'm sure he thought about death a lot. Having been as close to death as he'd been in the past and being as sick as he was, it's not surprising. But I don't think he feared death. In a few of his more lucid moments (during his first dialysis treatment after months of being chronically over-medicated when they toxins were finally being cleaned out, and also the night he died) he clearly articulated that he was not afraid to die. I take comfort in that.
Some of the others -Mythbusters, Iron Chef, Dancing with the Stars (Dancing with the Stars??)- make me laugh. I certainly wouldn't consider any of these shows to be favorites of mine, but I do watch them on occasion and think of my dad. And smile.
This picture was taken when my dad moved from Missoula, Montana, to Regina, Saskatchewan. I looooove this picture. From the enormous shades and biggest-mutton-chops-possible, to the car so long it wouldn't all fit in the shot, to the discoloration-from-no-one-knows-what.
(This post was begun yesterday (Friday) and was meant to link back to Tia's Flashback Friday and Alicia's Flashback Friday posts, but the day got away from me and I was just too tired to do it before bed. Better late than never.)