Time Not To Think

I realize that I think differently now.  I find that I am not inclined to think about things as critically as I did before.  During the years of my marriage there was one thing that the entire family did, and that was think broadly and thoroughly.  There was nothing more infuriating to Kevin, my husband, than if one of us in his immediate family took anything bandied about in the public domain – newspapers, radio, television – and accepted it as fact.   He’d read and subscribed to McLuhan’s “the medium is the message.”  There was always more to every single story, the bias of the writer, the political affiliation, the personal life experience, the money that may have exchanged hands; to Kevin, there was always more to the story.  Maybe it was based on fact, but no story could ever convey all the facts.  The reader, if truly interested, should feel compelled to seek out the relevant facts.  The kids were raised this way, if there is one thing that all three of my children have, it’s critical thinking skills.  They can also debate, that too was a necessity in this household.  Speak up, hold your ground, explain yourself, and be able to take some criticism.

I was speaking with Kevin’s sister about this very thing the other day.  One of the missing elements in my life right now is the dynamic of discourse that I shared with Kevin. This is a loss that I feel daily.  He loved to debate things, to take them apart, sentence by sentence, and point out the gaps, errors or assumptions.  Sometimes he was completely off the wall in his perspective on a subject, but it didn’t matter, he’d give it his all no matter how whacked out his interpretation was.  This I miss so very much.  I find that I am unable to watch most of the television shows that we would watch together because they no longer have the epilogue that I was used to.  There are some TV shows that I don’t miss (for the last couple of years he was hung up on fractals – not riveting television). Others well, they were interesting (and usually related to art or music).  The conversation afterwards could be lively, since something he saw or heard might have resonated with him and Kevin would want to talk about it.  We saw and heard the content differently.  In fact, seldom did we process information the same; we were two very different people in our outlook and life experiences.

Sure there are lots of people around that I could talk about things with, but let’s face it, they’re not Kevin.  We had over 30 years together perfecting the offence and defense needed for our verbal skirmishes.  It was a battle of wits, of closing off opportunities before they could be exploited, of leading the debate in a direction where victory was assured.  Both of us were aware of each other’s tendencies, vulnerabilities and weaknesses; so it was a constant effort to work on self-improvement.  Kevin was always up for a good debate, always.  For me, no, sometimes I found it tiring and would prefer not to think.  Ironically, now I have all the time in the world not to think, and all I do is think, as well as wish that I had of taken greater advantage of the opportunities that I was given.

Christmiss

I’m tired, so very tired.  The last couple of weeks have been hectic and I’ve travelled far more than I like to. I feel like I am running constantly, from work to appointments, home then back to work. As Kevin would say, ‘koyaanisqatsi, life out of balance,’ a composition by Philip Glass.  I know my life is out of balance, and has been since he died.  I know that I am pushing too hard right now because I am trying to avoid thinking about how my family will get through the next couple of months, through Christmas.  I know that at some point, as a result of behaviour like this, something has to give.

I think Sunday afternoon was when my walls started to crumble.  It was a nice day, good for doing yard work.  I went out to rake the leaves and, of course, started to cry.  The tears were streaming down my face as I thought about Kevin and how focused he would be on getting the darn yard tidied up for winter.  In my mind i saw him raking the leaves into big piles.  In my head I heard him laughing about the rookies that bagged their leaves.  Not Kevin, he mowed them and then, maybe, if he felt like it, raked them back over the lawn to decompose.  Not the prettiest sight, but it sure made for healthy soil.

It’s hard accepting the new way that is my life.  I know I am like a broken record, but truthfully it’s painful not hearing his voice, smelling his smell, wondering ‘what’s next?’ because he always had some crazy idea or scheme brewing in his very fertile mind.   It was hard at Hallowe’en because every year Kevin would crank up some eerie sounds outside the house and set up a strobe light, which he, for some reason, thought was really scary.  It wasn’t but you couldn’t tell him that.  So yes, it’s difficult to think about Christmas.  Even last year, as sick as he was, he plotted the annual tour of lights, an evening drive around town to view the Christmas lights. So what do I do at Christmas?

Grief counselling has been so good in this regard.  We’ve considered Christmas and how important it is to ensure that it remains as important and special as it ever was.  That the children lost their father, it would be awful if they lost Christmas as well.  There are no guarantees though, as to how it will play out.  That’s the part that worries me.  Am I enough to make Christmas special for my children?  I love them unreservedly, and i know i carry their father’s love for them in my heart.  We will make the best of it, we have to.

It’s Father’s Day – Just Relax and Go With It

Venus - a good listener.

Venus – a good listener.

I woke up to an overcast day.  It’s a shame really, this is one day that I would have loved to see sunny and bright.  Thoughts flow through my mind about my father-in-law, my father, my own husband.  The memories: my father-in-law with his ever present pipe clenched between his teeth, rocking with my eldest son, puffing away on his pipe while he recited, “horsey, horsey, don’t you stop….”  My own father playing  cards at the kitchen table, slamming down his hand to win the game – we changed the name of Canasta to Ca-nasty just for him.  Then my own husband …

I see him in my mind, at the school across the street from one of our earliest homes, the three kids in tow.  Teaching the youngest to ride his bike, trying to prevent the eldest from jumping off a climber that was too high, all the while attempting to control our whirling dervish of a daughter.  I picture him at our dining room table giving my eldest son and his first serious girlfriend the “talk” about the birds and the bees – unfortunately, animated speaker that he was, Kevin also used hand gestures.  Funny, it was so funny.   I remember how excited he was to take our daughter with him to the UK.  Granted it was for a funeral and under sad circumstances, but he so wanted her to meet his family.  Then there was the youngest son who watched and observed how the elder two fared trying to get around their father, he’d try to outsmart his old man – but it never worked.  Kevin would always laugh saying, “What a rookie.  He has no idea about most of the crap I did when I was a kid.”

Our kids, his pride and joy – they put us through the rigours of parenthood, the highs and the lows, the pleasure and the pain.  As they got more independent and less receptive to his guidance and instruction (the kids might call this interference) he’d turn it up a notch.  The conversations could be quite stimulating, and in our house you either stood up for yourself or got steamrollered.  The kids learned to challenge assumptions and defend positions, how to debate and how to communicate. That’s the legacy of having Kevin for a husband and a father. Their father was not passive when it came to anything in life.  Even as his health was failing, his mind was not.  As he got frailer, he took on an oversight role.  When anyone was doing anything Kevin would have to supervise; it slowed progress down immensely since he would chatter incessantly – a 20 minute job could take hours.  Actually, that last statement applies to when Kevin was healthy as well.  He simply loved to talk.

These were the types of thoughts that I woke with today, on Father’s Day.  On this day last year he still was my Kevin, no idea that he had lung cancer.  A year ago, the phone would be ringing and he would get that contented smile, knowing one of the kids was calling to chat.  The food would be purchased and he’d be double checking to make sure I had everything for an incredible meal.  Then he’d take his coffee and go sit out on the deck, I’d join him, and he would reflect on how great life was.  That’s where I am headed now, to the deck, cup of tea in hand.  I’ll have a little chat to no one in particular, perhaps with the statue of Venus, a Father’s Day from years past.  I will try and count my blessings, and let love be the order of the day.