Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Remembering Dad

Kind of a heavy post today. These thoughts, the poem below, have been banging around in my skull for several days now. Nearly feels like the noise them make gets in the way of trying to write about things for my Zen community, a piece on my weight loss for Chozen to post to her blog site, or the poem that's lurking around in there (an homage of sorts to Neruda's Ode to Tomatoes).

The other day I was looking for a safety pin and came across my Dad's wedding ring. I've had it since the day he died. I very clearly hold in my mind taking the ring off of his hand and putting it onto my hand. For a while I wore it, when I was 130 or more pounds heavier. I was a bit sad when I'd lost enough weight that I could no longer wear it out of fear of it falling off.

That moment where I took off Dad's ring has been fresh in my mind now. The further away I get from his death, the more I am able to pull apart the frozen way I felt at the time. He's become a big part of the reason I changed my life, lost the weight and began steering my life always towards health. It hurt so much that he would choose alcohol and cigarettes over me. In some ways I now see more clearly how the nearly 25 years he was my step-father were never free of his addictions and that those addictions were closer to his heart than the love he tried to show me. It hurts to think about, but I try not to let that anger & pain completely obscure the ways he really tried to be a good father.

This December it will be nine years since his death. I still have some of his ashes in a glass jar in my house and his ring in a box in my room. I remain profoundly sad to have lost him and sometimes feel like I am one of the few people who actually remembers the ways he tried to be loving. He wasn't very good at it but he was the only one who tried to fill that "father" role in my life when I was a child.

I was reminded of all this during a final scene in the last Battlestar Galatica episode. It combined a couple of things I hate about crying (I have a very long list of things I hate about crying) -- crying in public (was watching with a crowd at the McMenamin's Bagdad) and crying because some television show or movie is written in such a way to tug at my pentiful heart-strings. I feel like a weepy sap and embaressed there are people there who might see it. No, it doesn't matter if other people are crying too.

It was a scene where a ring was exchanged between the living and the dead. I watched and felt the weight of my Dad's hand in mine. How I had to move his fingers to remove his ring. He felt lifeless, truly. His body was an empty shell and I knew my Dad was gone. There was only his ring left, heavy on my hand.

Dad, December 11, 2000

I stood there; still,
Silent, holding tears.
Mom gestured at me
To take his ring.

His hand was
Still warm
As I slid off
The ring and put
It on my finger.

The heavy gold
Didn’t really know
The change from
One cooling hand
To one cold with
Grief and anger.

He didn’t look
Asleep, at rest.
He looked dead.
My heart was filled
With the enormity of
This final withdrawal
And I didn’t know
What to say
Or do, aside
From putting
The ring on.

Nine years later the
Ring no longer fits,
My fingers are
All too small.
It sits in a box
In my room.
My heart still
Pulls tight
In my chest.

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