Sunday, February 8, 2009

Three Weeks Out

It is a little more than three weeks since Dad died. Most of the thank-yous are written (still a few to go), the death certificates received, the immediate process stuff done. I attend services nearly every day, mostly in the morning, which gives an early start to the day. I write a lot, and sometimes, I become melancholy around four or five o'clock, when I often visited him before coming home to make dinner. But life is returning to the new normal. Right now I am in Keene, where Dad did not spend much time, so his death feels more remote to me in this place.

At Dad's funeral I saw an old neighbor that I had lost touch with since my mother's funeral five years ago. He put me in touch with two other neighbors. Those connections, with their memories of my dad in his prime, feel comforting. I have gone through some old papers, and found things that I didn't notice when we moved the stuff from my parent's house--including some letters from when Dad was in the Army during World War II, a couple of poems he wrote, and his Masonic apron--the last item one I will mail to his old lodge, as it is an honor for a fellow Masonic brother to inherit it. All of this put me back in touch with Dad as he was when I was growing up.

The weirdest thing right now is the feeling of being an orphan. This sounds a bit crazy for someone in their fifties. It is nothing like being left by your parents at a young age, I am sure. But beyond the relationship with the parent him or herself, there is a different feeling when the second parent dies that I did not recall with the first. When my mother passed away, my father was still very much alive, with the prospect of several more years, and he was also living with us. There was a kind of shock then at losing a parent for the first time. Now there is a different shock, that of being left without any parents at all. Some people who have experienced this have said that they feel a new sense of their own mortality, that they now realize that they are "first in line". I don't really feel that --perhaps because if I live as long as my parents and grandparents I have between 35-40 years to go and that is a very long time. After a while I know this, too, will settle in.

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