Photo: I have the high privilege of getting to know two teenagers thanks to church and parental friendships. I thought it would be nice to share summer reading with them this year and one of my books came in the mail today! This is actually a great way to keep me accountable for my own reading and, hey, it’s good to know what the kiddos have to read these days.
I dropped Major off at school and then headed for our local Paper Store. The Paper Store is turning into Dunkin’ Donuts, as there is practically one on every corner now. I used to loathe the place, truth be told: you go in there and it smells like roses and those Vera Bradley bags are right in your face and then there are always five signs in distressed wood with the “Joy” or the “LiveLaughLove” calligraphy on them and…. blech. It drives me nuts. I mean, I get it, it’s a gift store. Gifts are things that are supposed to warm your heart and the heart of the person you are giving to. But…. I dunno… blech.
I say that, but I have to admit that my Paper Store has been a life-saver multiple times in the last few months. Unexpected deaths, teacher appreciation gifts, birthday cards and housewarming gifts… I feel like I’m always in that store and I do usually find what I’m looking for. So, well-played Paper Store executives!
Today’s visit was for upcoming Father’s Day. The Husband’s gift of a new Wii U and Zelda: Breath of the Wild came last week, so he’s been enjoying himself immensely well before the actual holiday. Still, cards need to be purchased for him and for the two grandfathers in our lives.
Note I wrote two, not three. Longtime readers know that I should have written three.
What I’ve noticed about loss that you never really know when residual pain is going to creep up on you. Sometimes you feel like you are getting your footing, that you’re learning to be normal again, but then the next reminder comes around the corner and you have to deal with it all over again. For Grandy, it was her recent birthday and the boys starting to read. I have to bake a lemon meringue pie this week and it will make me think of her. With the loss of my father, it’s less frequent but just as painful.
I do consider having to walk away from my father to be a loss. Long-time coming, yet still unexpected, the abruptness of no longer having him in my life causes pain. When I think about what could have been, what should have been if he could have been a different sort of person… I feel the same sort of pain and tightness in my chest as I do when I think of Grandy. But then the anger comes, the disappointment. I admit that there is shame there, too. I’m ashamed of what’s happened to him and then man he has become. I’m ashamed I don’t have the capacity to change him, and I’m ashamed of my naivete to think that I could.
I’m ashamed that I’m not strong enough to try any further to be a daughter to him. I’m ashamed that my best option was to walk away.
So when Ursa Minor was “helping” me pick out Father’s Day cards, there was an unnecessary tension within me. Three cards. Only get three. Need a Grandpa, need a Pop-Pop. That’s all we need.
Minor was delighted to pick out a $13 card for The Husband. They gonna display those VR cards at the perfect 5 year-old height so it was the first thing that boy saw! And of course the glasses are yellow! LORDY ME! “It’s got a race car! And glasses! And what are the glasses for?” I’m trying to do a quick read and I was stupid enough to say, “hmm, looks like it comes with a game or something…”
You know what happened next right?
“A game? Oh! We have to get that!”
That’s when I turned over the card and saw the ridiculous price!
“I’m pretty sure these are the most expensive cards in the store,” the lovely attendant told me as she was ringing me up. Seriously, Minor? Seriously? Luckily, Grandpa’s card and Pop-Pop’s card were $2 a pop, so the grand total wasn’t heart stopping. Then again, having Minor with me turned an $8 shopping trip to a $20 one, so… grrrrrrrrrrr, little sir! Grrrrr!
While we were in the store, Minor had to ask the obligatory questions about Father’s Day. The inevitable question came: “Well, why do we have to send a card to Grandpa and Pop-Pop?”
“Well,” I sighed absentmindedly. “Because they are our dads. You give cards to the dads in your life, and they are still dads. They are super special dads now because of you grandkids.”
Minor started doing the math. “Daddy is my and [Major’s] dad and Grandpa is Daddy’s dad and that means… Pop-Pop is your dad!”
“Yup,” I replied, without hesitation.
Even though it’s not Friday, I’ve have a lot of Quiet Thoughts about that lie. It simply came so easily. How deftly I was able to erase the existence of a man. Poof. Gone. Like he was never even there. Truth be told, when it comes to these two boys, he wasn’t. So… why is my heart so heavy? What, exactly, am I mourning? I still don’t know.
We picked our cards. We paid our money. We walked out of the store and headed for other errands. The boys need to sign the grandpa cards so I can stick them in the mailbox tomorrow. Off to Maryland they will go. Two cards. Two grandpas.
I know that one day I’m going to have to tell my boys the truth. I mean, there are pictures of Major with my father. He’s going to see them one day. He’s going to wonder some things. And I’m going to have to explain. And then I’m going to have to explain myself. And that’s part of the loss, too. Knowing what’s eventually going to come. That I’ll have to sit at a table with two boys old enough to hold me in contempt. Who will have the ability to pass down a bit of judgement for my behavior. Will my justifications be enough? Will they forgive me? Sometimes, I’m not sure.
Heavy Monday post. Sorry about that, Dear Reader. It’s probably the heat around here. It’s getting to me.
Chin up. It’s summer time, Dear Reader, and it’s the start of a new week. So many opportunities. So many ways to do a little something good for the world. Be the good for someone this week, Dear Reader. Let’s hold each other up this week.
Until Wednesday, take care.