a tale of tails, tenacity, and tedium, as told by me, usually barefoot and bellowing

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tonight I Mourned

I have been unable to do that fully for years.

Mother died in '99 and her burial arrangements were for Dad.  What he wanted, what he needed to feel like he had given her the best.  Dad was in mid Alzheimer's and some days he would forget Mom had died. Then he would remember and oh, how he would grieve all over again as if it had recently happened. We were relieved when he forgot Mom and he settled into a time of service to his country, before Mom and before us.

Mom knew he had Alzheimer's but would not tell because you don't "air your dirty laundry".  You take care of your own.  Before she passed she asked me to "take care of every thing" but mostly she meant Dad. That was all she would say giving us no hint of how different Dad was.

And so we did.  My two sisters and I gave Dad the best care we could give.  Keeping him in his and Mom's home until we couldn't.

When Dad died we knew what he wanted and that was the service we gave.  His friend read Dad's favorite Psalm, the Twenty-Third. His neighbors, mother and daughter, sang his favorite song, Amazing Grace. I gave the Eulogy at a graveside service written by his oldest grandson, Toni, and me. Dad would have liked it.  He was buried with military honors with a twenty-one gun salute.  The flag was presented to my oldest sister.  She turned and presented it to his oldest grandson.  It was as it should be.

I watched a show with a Marine Honors Burial.  When they removed the flag from the casket I broke. I bawled like I lost them tonight.  My heart had broken open and the tears flowed like a river in full flood. I could not stop.  I was alone.  Even if I wasn't I don't think I could put into words why I broke down during a television show.  It was time.

Mother did not know the gargantuan task I laid on myself with her simple words "Take care of  every thing".  Those few words left me no time nor room to mourn because I had to DO what was asked.  I judged myself harshly.  I would look around and say aloud, "Mom and Dad would not like this".  I was appalled that I could not perform to what I perceived as Mom and Dad's expectations.

I was measuring my accomplishments with a stick so big no one could have met my high standards.  I realized tonight Mom and Dad would not have wanted me to judge myself so harshly.  They wanted us to love the land and treat it kindly and in doing that to follow our dream, not theirs.

When my eyes were dry, I wrote and released myself from the super standards I had given.  I love this land.  We all do...and that was what Mom and Dad wanted.

Mom died in '99 and Dad joined her in '06.  I have finally mourned.  I think they would be proud of what we've done with their dream.

34 comments:

John Gray said...

Beautifully written

Buttons said...

Oh Gail with tears in my eyes I tell you that you did well with that keeping your fathers wishes and I do think neither your Mom or your Dad would want you to not live your own dream. Oh a lesson I am learning myself. Your are an amazing daughter and ....oh I am rambling... this hit so close to home as you know. Well written and beautiful. I am off to get some tissue for those tears that come sometimes still. HUGS HUGS B

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Gail, I'm glad you finally found release. They just expected you to do your best and I'm sure you have exceeded their expectations. They would be proud.

Delores said...

We are so hard on ourselves aren't we? So happy you've found your peace.

Terri B said...

Oh Gail-grieving is such a strange process. I'm glad that you have made some peace with your feelings.
It's been 30 + years since my brother passed and I break down probably twice a year. It seems that sharp dagger of loss is just right there under the surface, and it doesn't take much to bring it back to my mind. Guilt is one emotion I have yet to conquer.

Country Gal said...

Beautifully written . I am glad you have found piece with it all now . Your parents would be very proud of you you have done a remarkable job keeping the land and family happy and going strong . Hats off to you girl ! Thanks for sharing Have a good day ! be at peace with your self !

Linda Kay said...

Gail, you made my heart ache for your mourning of your parents loss and the loss of your feeling of responsibility. I think we often are harder on ourselves than our parents ever thought of being. In any case, as long as you are now at peace, that's good. Have a great day today.

Sandra said...

i am so glad you broke down and mourned and that you now know how special you are and that what you have done with the land is wonderful. now you can get on with YOUR life not theirs.. and writing this is part of the healing to.. my dad died in 06, i did his eulogy at grave side, he had dementia to. the only difference is no military. just more things we share... hugs

Karen S. said...

I bet they are very proud. I also believe they are shining down with happy faces everyday of your life. May your memories of them always give you strength, and if possible a bit of humor to round out the day. I agree (my mother's words too) we don't air the dirty laundry!

Cheryl Ann said...

Beautifully written. My mom died in 1999 and my dad died in 2001. Mom had dementia and couldn't remember her grandchildren. She often confused me with my daughter. My dad, age 88, died after a fall in the shower. His mind was still clear and I'm forever thankful that our son got to spend some time with him before his death. Yes, we hang onto our memories. I've mourned for my parents and yes, sometimes it takes a few years. Bless you and good luck
Cheryl Ann

sarah said...

Hello! I read this and cried. Beautiful post. Sending you a big hug. X

Linda Wildenstein said...

This was just beautiful and once again so close. Thank you for finding the moment you have needed and letting the tears wash your sorrow to the outside for you to grieve.

Sandy said...

We don't realize the standards we place on ourselves while trying to honor our parents last wishes.

I'm happy you found peace, and closure.

Your parents would be proud of what you've done with the farm.

Hugs, and love to you, and yours.
Sandy

Far Side of Fifty said...

You did good and I am glad you finally allowed yourself to grieve. Of course you love the land...there was no doubt about that:)

megan blogs said...

I've marvelled at those moments where grief is ready to spill out, often surprising me. Like you, when each of m parents died, I was so busy doing that I didn't mourn fully, and another layer of grief would pop up at an odd moment.

I've discovered that the love still stays, and if i'm paying attention, I can see and feel forgiveness, too.

C-ingspots said...

Oh Gail, I sure hope you can feel it because I am sending you the biggest virtual hugs I can muster...I am so happy that you've released yourself from oppressively high standards that your mom nor dad would ever have asked of you. In this life, all we can ever hope to attain, is our best. God doesn't expect any more than that, and he is our measure of good, and right, and love. In your heart, you have given your all because of the love and respect you held for your mom and dad. If they could, they would smile and hug you for all that you have done in their honor. Let your heart finally be at peace, and move on in your life. Live, love, laugh, wallow in this beautiful life you have!! This is a beautifully written post, and I've cried right along with you. Now that you've grieved and have been cleansed, you can joyfully move on. Blessings...

Lynne said...

So beautiful Gail . . . written with such heart felt love, passion, Grace . . .

Good for you that the television catapulted you into some healthy tears and mourning . . . Your mom and dad would be so very proud of you. Most of all they would want you to be living your dream . . .

You are a beautiful person . . .

Jayne said...

What a beautiful and touching post. I had similar shoes to fill and it was a heavy burden, although not realized at the time. We grieve in our own time and own way...your parents would no doubt be very proud of you!

Farm Girl said...

I am so thankful for you and for the courage it took to share that. I am also so thankful that you were finally glad to mourn.
It is so important to our mental, physical and spiritual well being. I am so happy that in your time, God allowed you to mourn. Bless you Gail.

TexWisGirl said...

bless you. long overdue, pent-up now released.

StitchinByTheLake said...

Grief sneaks up on us, like a thief in the night. But when we have met it on its terms we are released. I'm so sorry for your loss but so uplifted by your future. blessings, marlene

Sketching with Dogs said...

That must have been so hard for you, but knowing what a strong woman you are Gail, I know you gave your dad the best of care in his later years. Your mum and dad must be very proud of what a wonderful person they have for a daughter.
Lynne x

Mama Zen said...

This is really beautiful.

TBR/Committed Thoughts said...

I was touched by this post. It brought tears to my eyes. I admire your strength...and your integrity to see your mom's instructions carried out to the fullest of your ability. I hope you have only peace about all of this from this day forward.

Arkansas Patti said...

Just a beautiful look into a place many of us have been. Feeling guilt that maybe we haven't done enough for our parents final days. I am so glad you have finally let the tears fall. You have forgiven yourself finally for something that need no forgiveness. We always set the bar way too high for ourselves. I am sure they are both so very proud of their daughter.

Ian H said...

I have been through that, but have not been able to grieve, sadly. Thanks for sharing. You are on my list of "Women with proven integrety"!

A Quiet Corner said...

I think they would be very pleased...:)JP

Michaele said...

Oh gosh. My heart feels heavy and light at the same time. Putting this into words helps too I am sure.

1st Man said...

What a touching post. I've lots both of my parents as well, at young ages and both suddenly (at different times). I didn't grieve as I thought I might originally, but then it hit me hard. And still does a few times a year. I sometimes feel sad that my parents didn't get to see what we are doing with the farm, what we are creating, but then I do stuff that makes me feel their presence, and that's a good and comforting thing.

Thank you for sharing with us...big hugs to you!

LindaG said...

I have no doubt they are proud.
*hugs* ♥
God bless.

Saucy Kodz said...

We all grieve in different ways and and times. sometimes it just takes longer for certain challenges, responsibilities or many other things step in our path of life to be take care of first. For some, it is an immediate grieving, for many much later. There is no give or take of time when it comes to grieving. It comes when you are ready to let go, when you are ready. Your parents are looking down at the farm and smiling at the carrying on of traditions, the love and growing in the family and the care of the land. They are smiling.

Kim Nelson said...

Incredibly touching and honest. You show us exaclty what happens when a heart breaks open and the grief flows out. Peace be with you.

Josie Two Shoes said...

I have seen that land and what you've done with my own eyes. I have watched you speak of it, touching the rocks and trees lovingly, collecting odd pieces and remains and repurposing them to add beauty and function. I know that your mother and father are more than proud of you Gail, they wanted you to love the land as they did, and you do. It was high time to let go of those impossible expectations we place on ourselves, you have done just fine. XOXO

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

This was beautifully written. I went back and remembered when you wrote of it before. You, Gail are a dear heart. By the way, I love seeing that photo of "The Boy and his Guitar." Always makes me smile.

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