So I’m still combing through my deceased father’s things. There’s a lot of bins and boxes crammed in this tiny storage room. In 90 degree plus heat, I almost injured myself trying to get into the bins via a narrow catwalk through the center of the room.
The most meaningful find for me has been the pictures. SO many childhood and family photos. They are thrown in bins with zero sense. Years and generations thrown together, many negatives, and blurred images of the ground that you’d think might have been thrown away. But therein lies the beauty: he threw NOTHING away!
Now let me back up a bit as I always must for context. We ended up a broken family. My dad became less and less involved with our lives as I reached middle school and my parents finally divorced in 2003 after many unhappy years. We had worsening financial troubles as I hit my teen years, another woman was involved (of course!), we lived in various cities, away from community that might have kept us intact. Who knows if anything could have saved us and I’ve spent plenty of time with therapists on that subject, so no need to speculate here.
The story’s sad ending doesn’t mean I haven’t found tremendous joy in looking back through my parent’s young lives (many pictures from before they met), their wedding, the birth of the three of us, and much, much more.
There’s a sadness around the edges. Regret and the inevitable thoughts of what went wrong and how could it have been avoided. But basically I’m having a blast. Up until about age 12, I had a wonderful childhood. My beloved brother was born when I was nine, my sister was annoying but perfect, I had a devoted best friend in 5th and 6th grade, we had dogs, cats and hamsters–what more is there? I was proud of my parents and the family we had. I felt secure.
In the ensuing years of pain and the onset of serious depression, I forget these things. Unless I’m remembering the era in a bitter frame of mind; one of regret and loss and anger.
But not in these last few days! I’m walking through the past in a state of healthily detached bliss. Healthily detached because I’ve mostly worked through a lot of the sadness of my dad’s abandonment through many years of agonizing therapy. It will always hurt but he’s taken his eternal rest and has left me with gifts. Our life as a family goes on, and we’re stronger and more bonded than ever.
Wow. What beauty I’ve found.