A month ago, Kyla and I went out to Manitoba and we visited a few people, but the main reason we went was so I could visit dad's gravesite. That was the true reason for the trip. I'm a proponent of the act of remembering and it's importance. If you don't take time to remember, you may forget what good things you have or had. You may repeat history that shouldn't be because you did not remember it. I believe it can help you stay humble and grateful.
You should stay in the present and not dwell in the past, but I believe you can find wisdom for your present situation in the past. Remembering the past is a part of reflection that can help refine us as long as we don't let our past define us. I did not intend to rhyme there.
However, when I finally got to the cemetery and stood in front of the simple Canadian military gravestone in foot deep snow, I couldn't remember. I couldn't recall what dad was like. I haven't been able to recall his voice for years. The image in my head of him is one of a quickly fading photograph. Quick glimpses. I can't recall his words to me, only ideas.
I was thinking about how he died as I was in grade 9 and how he would have been my source for advice for after the silliness of high school would be passed. I know there were things we could have talked about but didn't because I wasn't old enough to care or understand.
It feels like a treasure chest I had and then it fell overboard and is now lost to the sea.
That's all I could reflect on there. We left there and as we left, I couldn't help but feel like it was fleeting. It didn't feel like much. It is simply too long ago. The hurt is now not so much of the grief of the loss of his life, but the grief of the loss of my memory of him.
I don't want to forget him, but I am.
Recently, two youths I know have lost their dad. I didn't know how to reach out to them, to be truly honest. I remember when dad passed, a man from the church told me about how his dad died when he was young and although we were connected in that regard, it didn't necessarily help. I found a lot of the words said by people, Bible verses quoted by people, to be medication for the symptoms.
In the end, the best way to deal with the grief, is to not avoid it. The one thing that the guys in the story of Job did right was to sit with Job in mourning. Their misstep is when they tried to solve it when he didn't ask them to. It will pass. In the meantime, remember them and learn from them.
I've thought about the idea of "Honouring your father and your mother." One of the Ten Commandments that is frequently taken to mean, obey your parents or the wrath of God will be on your head. It's weird, because those are two different thoughts. If a parent is abusive or neglectful, it would be weird to demand that we demand that children be dominated by that.
Honestly, I think the best way to honour anyone, would be by learning from them. Learn from the good things they've done and the mistakes they've made and perhaps more importantly, why. Understand that your parents are people who are trying to take what they've been given and trying to figure out what to do with it. Some do it well and some do it terribly. If your dad was abusive, the way you can honour him is by trying to understand why he was. Was he abused when he was young and so the language taught to him was one of violence? Have you picked up the same kind of language yourself that you need to be aware of or address? The cycle of abuse I believe can be due in part to idea that people think that they think they won't be like their parents, but because it was the only way they know how to deal with things, then the only answer available is the one that was taught to them.
I know the one thing that stuck out for me about my dad was his perseverance. He worked hard even when it was difficult or was thankless. He never complained and did what needed to be done. Why did he do it? I think it was because he found motivation inside himself. He didn't need to be pushed to do something, but rather he intrinsically knew that if he didn't do it, no one would and so he would do it. I find that many people will look for any excuse to get out of doing things, but when I think of who my dad was, it's his character that pushes me to step forward.
Regardless of whether your parents were fantastic or terrible, the best thing for us is to honour them. Honouring them, requires us to remember them and learn from them.
I think what makes this whole thing difficult for me is that I haven't taken time to reflect in general, recently. Time is dwindling away now that I'm working full time and doing comedy part time and so when the break in the whirlwind comes and I have that moment in front of the grave, all I can hear is the noise of the wind that's coming.
That's why I tried to write this today. To stop and remember to slow down to reflect on where I am every once in a while and be grateful for the good things in my life and see where I'm going. I'm sorry, if this was a little scattered, but my thoughts on this tend to scatter.
"I see the world
Feel the chill
Which way to go
I see the words
On a rocking horse of time
I see the birds in the rain
Oh, dear dad
Can you see me now?
I am myself
Like you somehow
I'll ride the wave
Where it take me
I'll hold the pain
- "Release" from the Pearl Jam album "Ten"