So, as most folks know, I have a couple of cats who let me live in the house, feed them and pay them homage. I mean look after them.
Having pets is like having kids around who will never grow up. They have their times when they are frustrating with their quirks and demands and then other times, they are the greatest of company.
A lot of people think of cats as being standoffish creatures. I think we notice their standoffish ways because they are pets who don’t take to training like a dog does. With a cat, if you can make your wishes part of their routine, that is about as far as you can get with training.
While my two will disappear when people enter the house, they are not standoffish with me. There are times, I could really appreciate them being so, but they aren’t. It’s rare when one or both of them are not nearby or wanting attention from me. As I write this the tomcat is curled up on the back of the couch sleeping inches from my head.
My Mother’s Birthday
This past Thursday was my late mother’s birthday. I don’t have much in the way of fond memories of her, but, she brought me into this world. Without her doing so, I’d not be writing this today.
She was responsible for me learning to read and read well. The schools had moved away from teaching phonics and had introduced sight reading. The idea was that once I was told what a word was, I’d remember it in the future. Not quite sure how they figured that was better than putting sounds together, but, my memory levels were not strong enough for me to even begin to grasp reading.
With a mother who prized reading, bringing home a report card with a C for reading, yeah that just wasn’t a good scene. So, she sat me down to read to her. The first word I didn’t know she told me to sound out. I had no idea what she was talking about which just frustrated her. Frustrating my mother was also never a good idea.
Once she got past that, she proceeded to teach me to sound out words. I was finally unlocking those words on the page and my love of reading was born. I did manage to get into trouble at school when I sounded a word out while reading in class. Turned out that had an inspector been sitting in the class when I did that, my teacher would have been in trouble. Policy in education is important you know.
She was also responsible for much of the vocabulary I developed. She would have me sit with the dictionary, give me a word to look up and read the meaning to her. From that my spelling, vocabulary and reading skills expanded. My next report, I had an A for both reading and spelling.
So, yeah, I do still think about my mother on her birthday.
Anniversary of Dad’s Death
Twelve years ago today, right around the time of day that I’m writing this, @artemisnorth, some other family members and I gathered around our dad’s bed and watched him slip peacefully away from us.
He’d died at home, which is what his wishes were. He believed he was going to be reunited with our mother and that gave him peace. I’ll never know for sure if that brief smile I saw cross his face as he breathed his last was a momentary relief from the pain or vision of my mother.
Until we learned of his cancer diagnosis, he’d always been so healthy we just assumed that he’d enjoy the longevity that his parents had. They had lived to 101 and 99 years old. We learned that dad hadn’t been feeling well around the first part of July. He was diagnosed on the 12th with lung cancer that had metastasized into the liver.
The swiftness between the diagnosis and his passing left us reeling. There was also a certain thankfulness to it. We didn’t have to watch him suffer a long drawn out death.
My early relationship with dad was turbulent to say the least. What I didn’t know or grasp as a child, I came to understand as an adult. Dad was a veteran of WW2 and like so many of his generation going to war changed him. He was quick to temper, a temper no one wanted to see. Now I understand that as symptomatic of PTSD, back then, I avoided being around dad for fear of getting him angry.
As I grew into adulthood we clashed — hard. My personality and his are a lot alike. Middle ground was rarely ever discernible when we disagreed. It was knock down, drag em out. The early adult years were civil between us, we were still family.
It was during my husband’s illness and subsequent death that I would really come to appreciate dad and a bond that had never been present started to form. In hindsight, it had it’s roots a bit earlier but I had been too busy seeing him through my much younger eyes to notice and appreciate that.
Something Frank and I had always shared was spending Remembrance Day together. I dreaded the first one after he died, it was one of the first painful reminders of his loss. I didn’t share that with anyone, I just knew I was going to have to get through it and adjust.
Just as we were getting ready to form the parade that morning dad walked into the branch in Legion uniform. He had never attended services before and I had never seen him in Legion dress nor with his medals on. He’d also driven an hour to get there. It was the first of many to come.
I started to see the man he was, the father he was. One of his strongest attributes was that he didn’t judge. Which is really a pretty powerful attribute that likely contributed strongly to being married to my mother for fifty years. He never questioned nor judged that my spouse was 28 years my senior. As long as I was happy, he was good with that.
Dad was a man of deep and abiding faith. He didn’t preach it, he lived it. He knew he wasn’t perfect. He accepted that in himself and in others.
He had once shared with me that when he was wrestling with something in his life, he would pick up his bible, hold it by the spine, give it a bit of a shake and let it fall open. He usually found in at least one passage on those pages something that would shed light on what he was struggling with.
He had also shared that with @artemisnorth. Her and I took turns sitting with him during his last night. During those hours we read passages from the bible to him, selected the same way he resolved issues.
So, dad, thinking about you today. I still have times when I want to pick the phone up and give you call. The examples you set still live on, or at least we try to have them live on.
They shall grow not old, as we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.