Thursday, April 28, 2011


That's my wife flipping one of her classmates as she tests for her brown belt in karate.  Or is it red? I can't ever keep it straight.  She already has a black belt in stick fighting and she practices karate and kickboxing three times a week.  This is how I see her, kick ass and invincible.  In my mind she can conquer anything. 

One thing can knock her down though.  Sunshine and Happiness' dad died almost a year and half ago and this is the thing I have seen that can incapacitate her (if only temporarily).  I hate grief because I can't do anything to take away her pain.  I just have to let her move through it.   "Grief cannot be shared.  Everyone carries it alone.  Her own burden, her own way." That's Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  The thing about grief is  it's unpredictable.  It comes when it comes, in awful waves and there is no getting around it.

My father-in-law was a massive man, a huge golfer and what in the south is known as a catbird.  If a person is spoiled beyond imagination, completely babied and manages to be lovable and funny in this rottenness then one is referred to as a catbird and Gary, Gary was a GIANT catbird. (I too, if you must know, am a catbird of the GIANT variety)  If S&H pulled a pie out of the fridge he would say "what you gonna eat?"  If he cooked a steak (one the size of a small cow) he would ask "isn't that the best damn steak you ever did have?"  Of course, yes was the only acceptable answer and then you had to eat the whole thing or he would say "what's wrong aren't you hungry?"  He was gentle and laid back and funny.

I had never heard of progressive supranuclear palsy.  That's what Gary died from and it took him bit by bit.  PSP is cruel in the way that ALS is cruel.  S&H lost him little by little and she was there with him when he died.  She saw him as often as she could but in the end it's never often enough is it?  The last thing her dad said to her was "parade in front of me so I can look at you."

The villa we stayed in on vacation was located on the 18th hole of Crooked Oaks golf course and we could watch golfers practice pitching? chipping? balls out of the bunkers.  There were paintings of golf courses, golf carts zipping around and men in their flat caps, visors and the hats favored by Gary - the traditional straw hat.

 Gary's spirit was everywhere at Seabrook.  I could feel him wherever I went.  We have a family joke that goes like this.  S&H, Gary & S&H's mom (and me) were watching the movie Pure Country which stars George Strait.  We were watching for some time when S&H's mom said "that guy really looks like George Strait."  (She was serious)  Gary looked at her and said, "that is George Strait".  I guess maybe you had to be there but it became commonplace when someone said something really stupid to say "hey that guy really looks like George Strait."  Don't you know while we were on vacation, the country station down there played the theme song from Pure Country (which is never on the radio at home). 

S&H's memories of her dad are bittersweet.  Good, funny, loving but oh so painful.  William Faulkner said that given a choice between grief and nothing he would choose grief.  I know my wife would say the same.