I have not written my dad’s obituary yet. I have not cancelled his credit cards or opened the notebook that says what I am suppose to do, as executor. I have not boxed up any of his clothes, or thrown away any papers, or medications, or magazines. I have not thought about what date we, as a family, will fly back to Chicago with his ashes.
Some of his ashes. Some I will keep. Some we, the three children, will leave at places he loved. A scattering at the coast. Mt St. Helens. The Grand Canyon. The Ringside Steak House (no). Some I am going to plant under a tree. A gingko, perhaps. Perhaps we will donate a tree to the Japanese Garden. I think Dad would like to be a tree in a Zen garden. Some of his ashes, I may have made into a small glass orb I can wear around my neck.
|Portland’s Japanese Garden photo by David Cobb|
The rain started today. It has been two and a half weeks since Dad died and the days have been clear and warm, but the rain started today, and it feels heavy and I feel heavy. In the hall, there is a suitcase of photos I need to sort through, then scan, then make albums of the very best, so I can give them to my brother and sister.
I made the mistake of watching the movie Beginners last night, a touching film about a middle aged man played by Ewan McGregor, living with the life and death of his 75 year old father, Christopher Plummer. It was about relationships and love and grief and getting to know your father in a different way as an adult, and about the sadness of seeing that go away.
And I know my Dad died the way he wanted, he was not drugged up, not filled with tubes. He had his beautiful mind and that beautiful mind said this is my exit. And I know he was lucky that way, and we are lucky that way. And I know he was 85, living to an age far surpassing any of his ancestors, and I know he was telling us he would not be with us much longer. And I know I thought I was ready.
But I was wrong.
And now I am the executor of an estate I do not want to take apart. I have to write an obituary about a life I can not confine to a word count. I have to look at these photos again and again, to see what there is to remember—the vase that sat on the table, the funky blue chair, the plaid slacks, the yellow house, the chipped sidewalk, the cottonwoods, the coffeepot, the kettle. All the things you never think are very important, until they absolutely are.
|Dad and me. November 19, 2014 – my 55th birthday|