Saturday, October 24, 2009

Remembering

I didn't know why at first, but my heart was heavier than usual today.

In my Sociology class this quarter, we've been talking about dying "an appropriate death", and in doing so, talked about how different cultures deal with death, and how some believe in immortality that's built on your children, your religion, or immortality that's just based on who remembers you when you die.

Well, if anybody’s got some immortality then, it’s my Dad, because he was a truly faithful person who left many who loved him, remember him, and will always miss him.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of my Dad's death -- it's been 17 years, and for some reason my sister, my Mom and me all feel the same heaviness over it. Some years Oct. 25 just sort of goes by with a call to Mom, a few thoughts and a text message or three to my siblings, sometimes it weighs heavy on my heart.

This is one of those years.

The past worth remembering:

Some time ago I was going through piles of pictures, I found this one of my sis and me with Dad way back in the day when both of us were so little we could fit in his arms on the couch.

It made me remembering Dad and his bear hugs, the kind that went around your neck and almost took the breath out of you they were so fierce. And his gentle chuckle at me when I did something to crack him up, like wear a bunch of electrical tape on my shirt that I got out of his tool bench, or crossing my eyes in front of him as he went to trim my bangs.

Both my brothers Jeremy and Jeff have that chuckle when they’re entertained by something. It’s sorta eerie.

And today, I was probably one of those eerie things that came out of the woodwork for someone I’ve never met, but who lost a loved one a long time ago too.

The friend worth remembering:

Today I was on Facebook and noticed Mrs. P, who is the Mom of one of my friends from my small class of 8th graders who went to the big high school in town. Darin was a really REALLY sweet guy, and we went through high school together. After high school, Darin went across the state to WSU and I went to the UW in Seattle, and on the way home for Thanksgiving break, Darin was fatally injured in a car wreck out in the middle of nowhere in Eastern Washington. The snow storms across the state were SO bad the passes were closed, and airports too, and his parents -- who I can only guess were frantic about it -- couldn't get to see him in the ICU in Spokane where he died before anyone could get there.

That's sad for anyone, but especially him. I know we all ultimately die alone, but to die at 18, due to an accident, well that's just plain wrong.

You see, my friend Darin was a really wonderful person. Darin was one of those popular kids who never let it go to his head, who was kind to us geeks and band nerds and anyone else he ran into because he didn't fall into any particular group, and sometimes I think it just never would have occurred to him to be mean or cold or cliquish.

In 7th grade, I remember a dance we all went to in downtown Conway – someone let us have an empty space. We had something like 10 boys to 20 girls show up for this dance, and Darin danced with every single girl in the room, of course some of the cute ones a little extra, but I remember very well being an incredibly awkward 13 years old, and Darin danced with me that night and made me feel like I belonged in that one stoplight town just as much as the other kids.

There never was anything romantic between us or anything, I just appreciated his humor, and most of all his kindness at one of the toughest years of my life when I was new in town and felt that I would never fit in anywhere.

Darin was a goofball, a practical jokester, and up until he met Missy Molstad at some point in high school who stole his heart, he was full on flirt with anything in a skirt.

So back to today -- I e-mailed Mrs. P today and asked if I could be her friend on FB. I have a couple of photos of Darin at camp when we were counselors together, and told her I'd like to share a couple of stories if she'd like to hear them.

I just wonder -- it's been 23 years since he died now. I know she must miss him still. Time just doesn't make some things go away, even if it makes it easier to handle. And I hope I didn't cause her any pain, but I've always wanted to tell her I remembered her lost son and that he won't be forgotten for his kindnesses.

I just hope it's of some comfort to her to let her know that he's remembered. I just hope it's not so long after that it seems strange. I guess I just always felt sorry for her especially to be the Mom who lost one of her three kids to something so tragic, so needlessly, so young.

And finally, my distant past:

My distant cousin Tom came over the other day and looked through old photos, and over and over again came the face of my great-Grandma Nora (who our daughter is named after) who was a very pleasant looking woman, and her mother, "Gunhild" from the Old Country (literally, came on a boat from Norway in 1868).

Anyway, Gunhild is one stern looking woman. If you click on this picture you'll see the arrows pointing at the direct three women who were my Dad's Mom, grandmother and great-grandmother.

But the word over and over was that despite her sternness, she was "a very loving, very nice woman."

While I don't expect anyone to call me nice, per se, I sure hope what they remember is positive. I won't make up a long list of wishes here.

Let's just say that I hope it's along the lines of Gunhild and Darin and Dad. "Maybe a little stern, maybe a little kooky and funny. Was nicer than she looked sometimes, but she loved her family something fierce."

Hugs to Mom, Sis and the rest of the sibs today, and anyone who's lost a loved one who wants to remember those lost.

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