It was dark this morning when Kevin and I started out on our ceremonial walk through the woods. It is not odd to be walking in the dark. In fact, it is normal. At least, it is normal at this time of year.
“It will soon be the shortest day of the year, Stacey”, my Dad would say to me. “And then the days will get longer.” I remember thinking that was such powerfully positive thinking at the time. I was young when I first hear those words. And then – I was much older when I last heard them. Dad would, in fact, repeat those words every year. I don’t think it was senility as much as it was Dad’s eternal conviction to think positively. He didn’t much like talking about Mom. “It is too painful.” He really missed her once she was gone. He never thought, we never thought, he’d be the last man standing. Dad was always the patient. Mom was the nurse. Still, as it happened, he outlived Mom by a year and a half. “Think about the good times, Stacey. There were so many good times”, he would say. Dad was a trooper. Not just a trooper, but a real trooper. He grew to become my rock, my confident.. I guess he grew to become my Dad.
I had always turned to my Mom in times of need. She was there, at home, cooking, cleaning, sewing, and generally running the house. I had no idea how much energy that took – and especially as she aged. She balanced the family as well as her friends. She cared for her friends through marriage break-ups, and illnesses. She was simply always there. She was there for us – and for them. I had no idea how much pain it would cause me to lose her. I imagined it would be bad – but never in my wildest dreams could I have expected the pain I had actually suffered. I still miss her. I still, at times, cry for her. When she passed away, she left Dad and I to get to know each other better. We had been, in all intents and purposes, strangers. We had been – glued together by Mom.
I came to love my Dad. I came to know my Dad. Funny how life seems to work out that way. “It’s going to get darker, Stacey. But then – soon it will get brighter. The days will get longer.” He was always right. In less than a month, the days will grow longer.
“I remember our first snowfall last year, Kevin” I offered to him while we walked through the snow. “I didn’t think I’d live to see spring. Yet, here I am delighting in the joys of this year’s snowfall: snowshoeing, skiing, shoveling. I can’t believe that we made it. It did get brighter. The dark days did lift. And less than one month from now, the days will start to get longer once again.”
Will my own children remember what I brought to them and be able to use it to help them with life as my Dad did for me? I never expected to be so reminded of my parents after they were gone. They gave to me more than a life-time of lessons. It has taken me till now to begin to really appreciate and learn what they had had to offer. Sure. I know they made mistakes. I think mostly, though, on the positive and the good they gave.
What will my children remember of me? What do I want them to remember of me? I hope – as I do with my own Dad – that they will remember the good times and that there will only be a short time of darkness before the days get longer again.