"That's rigor mortis" Papa said, answering my child-eye's silent question as we lifted a white calf's body into a shallow winter's grave. He had seen it in humans, he said. Bundled in my red-quilted jacket, I shivered from else than the cold.
"That's life" Papa said, when it got so bitter I couldn't swallow any more -- please, take from me this cup. "Try Tums, they cure everything," he typed with a :-)....my dad can always make me laugh, drying my tears with his humor. Like the Big Fat Greek Papa and his Windex -- Tums for heartaches...Tums for soul aches. And on occasion, Tums for heartburn.
I smile when he calls me "sweetheart" and still feel beautiful from years ago, hurt, and jaded about men I chopped my waist-length hair off. Men liked my hair...so, off it went. That would fix the problem. Yet Papa said, "that's not what makes you beautiful, Erin."
I feel able and independent when he shows me how to use powertools (having eye protection laid out for my mother's benefit of course). But -- I never use those, Papa says, Tim the Toolman wouldn't.
We grunt and laugh.
"You're cool," he tells me now, and my awkward introverted self actually feels 'cool' when he says it. While my dad didn't get to have any sons, my sister and I are about as close to a boy as a girl can get. She climbs rocks / I fish waters. Most days, we are both covered in goodly amounts of dirt rather than drama. He gives us power tools for Christmas presents --- and we use them. I suppose we could be called his daugh-sons....sounding a bit like his first pick-up truck.
Little girls learn what men are from their dads. Like being on a hunt, we sit in blinds guided by our mothers, and watch and learn and take note. I watched. I learned. And I learned about more than men by reading my dad -- I learned life. Yes, in watching as I grew up, but moreso now hundreds of miles away, through his written words.
My dad lives in light of his death. Oh, he is still alive and well, and drinking Pepsi in Nebraska. No months have been sentenced to his life....and yet, they are. We all have only months to live, we just don't know how many. My dad knows this, he sees the ending of the sentences, he knows the pain of periods, and he lives because of it.....
.....is wise because of it.
I read his wisdom.....
.....and live because of it.
He deals in death, every day. Gathering cremated remains of life's hopes, dreams, and loves, he gives them -- as beauty, for grief through ashes. Looking into his eyes, I know he carries those ashes with him -- they are heavier than you'd think, and they don't blow away with the wind -- but maybe....maybe, it's in the waters...
Thank you Papa, for teaching me.