A week of tears, memories, and... daffodils
Saturday, March 20, 2010
There are times in life when you really learn a lot about yourself and, more often than not, it can be fairly surprising. In the course of ten days, I lost my grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer's, had my heart broken by a girl who led me on for quite a while and to whom I would give the world, watched my dad keep things together like I had never seen him do, then watched him cry for the first time in my life, and saw the light at the end of the tunnel when the sun came out and coaxed my daffodils into blooming for the first time this spring.
I know my grandma is in a better place and we all knew it was coming sooner than later, but it hurt worse than I thought it would. She had been in a nursing home for the last six of her eighty-eight years and was near vegetative for the last two. We were calling it a blessing at first, but then the human side of things became obvious. Grandpa was without a wife for the first time in 64 years and my dad was without a mother for the first time in his 55 year-old life.
We had been worried about what would happen to my dad when the time finally came for the last few years because he has been responsible for taking care of his parents for about the last decade. My dad has never been one to handle stressful situations with much clarity. Where I thrive in dealing with a problem in the midst of mass chaos and break down after the fact, my dad creates even more chaos for himself because he isn't good at "rolling with the punches." This time around, my dad held things together better than any of us anticipated. Every decision was made with total clarity and it seemed as if he knew exactly what to expect before things happened.
When Saturday finally came and it was time to say goodbye for the final time, my mom and I walked with my dad to the casket. As we got close, I witnessed something that was a new experience for me... my dad cried. In 31 years, it was the first time I had ever seen tears streaming from his eyes. Granted, I've seen him get choked up. However, nothing prepared me for the sight of my dad crying uncontrollably.
I have never been as proud to be my father's son as I was at that moment.
Since Saturday, we have just been trying to regroup from all the energy that a death and funeral sucks out of people. To be honest, I've stayed in bed most of the week. But today I went outside because the sun was out. Little did I know, I'd receive a visit.
When I was about five years old, I was in the backyard at my grandparents' house and I asked grandpa about a certain group of yellow flowers which were standing alone and separate from the rest of the flowers in the yard. Grandpa gladly explained that they were daffodils and, before I could ask more, he got down on his hands and knees, dug up some of the bulbs, and handed them to me in a damp paper towel. He told me how and when to plant them, and then said that they would always be around because they come back every year in the spring. Needless to say, I planted them like he told me to and I have always looked forward to them blooming. When he died in 1994, mom and I took some of the original bulbs and planted them on his grave so that he would think of me every spring the way I think of him.
To me, a daffodil is the essence of rebirth, renewal, and hope. Today when I saw a handful of them in bloom for the first time, I knew that my hope had been reborn.
I also knew grandpa was saying hello as he always does this time of year... and that he was letting me know he is looking out for us as always.
My daffodils are in bloom...