Saturday, November 13, 2010

Remembering Nan

Nan, my maternal grandmother, passed on a couple of weeks ago. She had Alzheimers for years, and the last 6 or so have been increasingly difficult as the disease slowly stole her away from us. My dad had heard her utter the last words she would initiate on her own 6 months ago, and even these were reading speed limit signs on a road trip to see family. I had mourned her a great deal before her death, through the years as I both saw her at visits and during conversations with my mom about her decline. The day she passed and over the weekend were also hard, as I mourned the woman who was a mere shell of a vibrant, welcoming host with an easy, tittering laugh. I realized I was also mourning the chance to mourn; the disease likewise quietly and insidiously took her away so slowly that it stunted an opportunity for remembering and honoring her as she was. As I looked at her for the last time, there was a quiet rejoicing at the deep peace for Nan, who joined Pap, my grandfather, in rest.

Saying goodbye on Thurs. morning at the funeral may have been the hardest. After everyone else had their last opportunity to say goodbye at the viewing, I was the last to release Nan from our family, next to my brother and his little boy. The four of us looked on, my brother quietly weeping. I was holding Owen, our oldest, who looked on unaware of who this woman was. He was quiet and curious, his gaze intent on her.

He asked me (as is his habit lately): Who's that?
Me: That's Nan. That's dada's grandma.
O: I wanna see her.
Me: There she is. She's sleeping. She's gonna be asleep for a long time.
O: I wanna touch her.
Me: That would be good, wouldn't it? I know you do, but we'll wake her.
Me: Can you say 'Love you Nan?'
O: Love you Nan.
Me: [I start weeping] Can you say 'I'll miss you Nan?'
O: Miss you Nan.
Me: Can you tell her 'bye-bye'?
O: Bye-bye.
We stood for a moment longer, just being present with Nan, something I hadn't been able to do in over 6 years, and the only opportunity for Owen.

That was hard. Still is; I'm crying now. Something about holding Owen in his innocent wonder and curiosity, wanting to spend time with Nan who was sleeping, was powerful and touched something deep. Perhaps I was saying goodbye through Owen, somehow unaware in the moment that I never really had the chance. Perhaps I'll know, perhaps not. I'm learning to grieve; to not over-analyze, and to rest with who I am in the moment. Damn, its hard to do that. Perhaps its the gift of death from those who proceed us to learn to live more in wholly.

Even since then, while both in Hershey and a few days after our return he said "I wanna see Nan" or "Can I play with Nan?" Our little one seems to love people, even when he hasn't yet met them.

Nan, you were loved by the great-grandchildren you were never given the opportunity to know even in life. Rest in Peace; you waited too long for this opportunity that was taken from you. Sleep deep...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Politically UNcorrect Fable Characters

Soooo, I had my first experience with our eldest saying "the wrong thing at the wrong time." It was embarrassing, flabbergasting, disarming, I'm sure extremely uncomfortable with the man in the bike shop, and yet I haven't been able to stop my shameful laughter when I think about it.

O and I walked in shop together and enjoyed the "hundreds" of bikes around us, while another man - who was rather obese - entered the shop behind us. O didn't see him then, but was enjoying the tire pumps while I kept an eye on him and labored over tire decisions. After this gentlemen made his transactions he walked through the area of the shop where O and I were when my firstborn finally noticed him. He smiled with a touch of wonder on his cheerful toddler face, stopped inflating imaginary tires, looked up at the man, pointed, and said

"Look dada, it's Humpty Dumpty."

I could've been in space in the two seconds that followed. I struggled to breathe in the vacuum, and to know how to respond. This man heard: no doubt. Our proximity allowed for nothing else with O's little voice and volume. O wanted me to know I was seeing a celebrity, so he repeated

"It's Humpty Dumpty Dada."

I quietly affirmed his sighting, and redirected him to the counter at the bike shop to check out. (The owner didn't hear; we were too far. Thank GOD.) Although I felt extremely embarrassed, for I'm sure the man felt TERRIBLE/ashamed/embarrassed, I also had trouble not laughing. (And still do. Having trouble containing it as I type this. I know, I'm probably going to hell.) It wasn't like O isn't familiar with any other childhood characters: he didn't pick the Farmer in the Dell or Old MacDonald, he picked Humpty.

For the record, I'm not angry with our starstruck little one, nor did I reprimand him. He was a pre-schooler identifying what he experienced in his life. It wasn't his fault, nor do I hold him to that.

But what do I do in this place? Any parents have any feedback from their own experiences?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The "Have I Already Ruined My Son For Life??!?!?" Moment Of the Day

Having just been changed after playing outside in water, I'm (Brian) trying to convince a tired O to put on his shirt.

O: I don't like my penis.

[Dada: Oh $h%^! What have I done to my son at so young an age?!?!?? Does he want to have a sex change already?!?!? Am I not affirming his masculinity?!??]

O: I don't like my penis.
D [apprehensively, with internal panic, guilt, shame, etc]: Oh? Why not?
O [think Rainman]: Yeah. I don't like my penis.
D [maintain internal emotional control, he's 2.5 years old]: You don't like your penis? Can you tell dada why?
O [still rainman]: yeah. I don't like my penis.
D [try same tack, something's gotta give, right?] Ok. Can you tell dada why?
O [still rainman]: yeah. I don't like my penis.
D [confusion, reasoning isn't working] Ooooook... You don't like your penis?
O [rolling around a bit, fidgeting]. Yeah. I don't like my penis.
D [silence] ????
O [absent-mindedly kicking at dada] I don't like my shirt.
D [heart rate drops from hummingbird speed, sweat dissipates, embarrassment sets in] Right O. That's good, neither does dada.

Longest 30 seconds of my week. Eeesh.