Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sitting Down and Remembering

Yesterday, I went to a place that most of us do not want to go. I paid a visit that was overdue, an obligation of sorts, and a way to honor my Dad. As both of my parents have both requested no memorial service, this was the first semi-formal way that Dad and I have had to remember Mom together.

Yesterday my Dad and I went for a visit to the Mausoleum niche where my Mom's ashes have been placed. Mom passed away just more than three months ago. I wrote about it earlier
here and here.

It was about a 20 minute drive to Forest Lawn, and Dad spent much of the time reminiscing of the old days, talking about friends from his work and social life of 30 and 40 years ago. This is what those familiar with gerontology refer to as "life review". My Dad does a lot of life review these days.

As we drove through the gates of Forest Lawn, my Dad began to remember the resting places of old friends, relatives and family members who had also been buried there, years ago. Being with Dad is often like having your own personal family historian. Nothing about the current state of affairs of the world, or about what is going on in the life of our family now, but much about the events of the period from 1930 to 1980. He usually starts in on the old days about 2 minutes after you stop in to see him. Every time.

We arrived at the "Colubarium of Blessedness" (I love these names) where Mom's ashes are contained. Her resting place is right next to the door and was easy to find. She is in the same section as my Dad's brother Neil (who is a story in himself, but that is for another time). Mom's niche is right at ground level, and one must either bend down to read the plaque, or simply sit on the floor. At this point, something interesting happened. Dad chose to get down on one knee, and then sit on the floor right in front of Mom's niche.

For me, this was a most interesting and touching moment. My Dad is the person whom I have spent the better part of the past 20 years trying to understand and compensate for in my own life. I guess we all do this, figuring out how we are different from and the same as our parents. There we were, father and son, 48 and 86 years old, one standing, one sitting on the floor at the resting place of our wife and Mother. Two generations. Dad needed to be close to Mom in a way, I guess.

Dad needed time to sit, and think, and even talk to himself a bit about the loss of his wife of almost 50 years. More in the long process of grieving. Sitting on the floor and remembering at 86.

I helped Dad slowly to his feet, we got in the car, and headed home.

This life, this journey, this mystery we share. Father and son.
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