August 28th was the 6th anniversary of the death of my father.
I received 2 boxes in the mail. I had been told of the arrival of the boxes, in advance.
I should have, therefore, braced myself before opening the boxes which had kindly been sent to me by my step-mother. Then again – perhaps there are some things against which one can never quite brace themselves. The parcels–and the realization which dawned, suddenly–arrived yesterday afternoon. The excessive wave of emotions hit about the same time. After 6 years – I was not expecting the engulfing wave of emotions which struck.
In the boxes were personal effects which had once belonged to my father. Photographs, his high school diploma, camera equipment, an inexplicable (very old) can of (unopened) snuff, a bag of foreign (Canadian and British) coins, a few stamps, a paper-covered box from Norway (as noted on the base of the box), 2 boxes of incredibly old matches, a sparkly rock, the remembrance/guest book from his memorial service, DVDs from his memorial service, cards, cards and more cards from his friends (which had been given to him during his unsuccessful [but courageous] battle with cancer), his money clip, several sets of cuff links, tie tacks, his gold watch (that was the first thing I saw which set off the first, of many, crying jags for the day) and his brown wallet. I opened the wallet to find his driver’s license, his fishing and hunting license(s), his Safeway shopping card, his social security card – and the item which (other than his gold watch) set me off the most. A library card from the beloved town in which he lived – and died. Finding that my father–a lover of books for as long as I remember–still carried a library card was very touching. It was also surprising this . . . unknown tidbit . . . learned about my Dad.
My father and I didn’t know each other on a personal level, well. We, however, had an exceptionally clear understanding of one another because we were so very, very similar.
Genetics. Fun for everyone.
A couple of trusted family members (as well as a few close personal friends) are aware of the fundamental reasons behind the complex relationship between my father and I. Others make assumptions which, I guarantee, are incorrect. I have come to terms with that. Those that know, understand. Those that assume they know the complexities of the situation are as much in the dark as they have ever been. That has been by my choice. I, and the very few who are the closest to me, have never indicated the exact nature of those issues. But some people (trusted friends and some close family members) had been made aware. Additionally, of course, my mother knows. My ex-husband knew. My husband knows. I know. My children know. My father knew.
Carefully going through those boxes . . . sifting through the day-to-day “things” which made up the finer details within my father’s life was a gift. It is a gift which brought pleasure, as well as pain. It is a gift which brought realization – as well as further questions. It brought closure – as well as created a new beginning, of sorts. It is a gift which also brought understanding. The arrival of the items brought a certain level of unexpected awareness, too.
I, rather surprisingly–and opposite to anything I had ever imagined–have now become the caretaker of my father’s personal effects. I do not take that task, lightly.
I doubt that is a trait that my father would have assigned to me.
In all of this . . . it seems that he would have learned some things about me, as well.
He had told me when I saw him, last–2 weeks before he died–that he had been surprised.
I hadn’t turned out anything like he had imagined I would, after all.
He had been pleased by that realization.
I was saddened. Saddened by the loss of opportunity to be able to learn more about one another.
I was, and still am, saddened by the tremendous losses sustained when all that “might have been” went up in smoke.