Monday, May 26, 2014

Remembering on Memorial Day

This week I received a package in the mail from Mom. Even though she hadn't said anything ahead of time, before I had the wrappings off, I knew what it was by feel alone.

When Dad died several years ago I didn't feel any real connection with the photo chosen for his memorial. My theory is that having left home at the age of 17 and never really living back there since, my memories of Dad, my image of him, didn't evolve over his later years at a rate that would keep pace with reality. We saw each other once or twice a year or so after I struck off for distant places on my own, and some of those visits were extended camping trips where we got to spend some real time together, but still, my memories, my internal, mind's eye picture of him, was stalled.

Now he has a marker in the ground over his urn at the cemetery and a memorial brick in the patio at the Multi-Lakes Sportsman's Club commemorating his military service, (Officially it's now the Multi-Lakes  Conservation Association, but the old name sticks better.) yet I still don't think of him as gone. Setting aside the metaphysical and spiritual, even setting aside his genes that are carried on by his children, I think of him as still around, and in very tangible ways.

He still attends family gatherings in the form of a memory candle burning on a table where we're all gathered.

He rides along on my camping trips in the form of the work gloves that were left behind on his bench out in the garage.

Dad's last pair of work gloves riding along on the dash in my van as I go camping.

And he's sitting over on the far side of my own work bench in the form of hand-carved replicas of that last pair of work gloves he wore.

The hand-carved replicas of his work gloves that live on my workbench in the shop

Oh, and the package from my Mom?

At some point this past year the two of us had been talking about her extensive stack of photo albums down in the sewing room and what was to become of them once she was gone and I mentioned my feelings regarding the memorial photo of Dad, so as soon as I felt the form of a picture frame in that package she sent I knew she had been trolling old photos of him and had selected a different one for me.

She found one taken in 1982, a good one, one I can connect with, taken at a time when the prime of our lives, father and son, overlapped. Within a day I found a spot for it high up on the wall where he can overlook my shop.

And that folks, is my Dad! Still with me.

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