to put it on facebook
In February we went away and it's such a short month, there was little material to work with.
Then March. Boom.
I don't think my family will ever hear that word the same again for a very long time. I'm reading a book and the author wrote Boom. And in my head all I heard was "Greg's dead". That's what the priest said at his funeral: "Boom. Greg's dead". We had an incredulous Irish chuckle at that. You may have to be part of my family to get the black humour out of that statement. It was just a bit obvious, and probably summed up how we were all feeling.
I went to write in March but none of it gelled with my blog's vibe to be witty, humourous, and informative all at the same time. I wrote but it didn't align with the tone I normally take when I'm writing for this audience. Part of the hesitation came from an anxious mind because all you think of is what is next. Shortly after the funeral we had to face the first anniversary celebration where my dad was absent.
And today would have been his 69th birthday. I've been a little tetchy all week with the hubster and it wasn't until I said Happy Birthday out loud that it clicked as to why. I know part of it is also that the whole province is in mourning after an enormous tragedy and it’s a reminder of my recent loss.
I'm reading a book right now where the main character has lost her father (probably not a smart move but I didn't know that when I bought the book so lesson learned), and she talks about the first while... "At first you're numb. You function perfectly. You smile and crack jokes. You think, Wow, it's actually all fine, I must be a really strong person, who knew? ...And it's only later you start dry-heaving in your sink."
I'm not dry-heaving but I'm feeling some feels. Case in point, talking about angel food cake and cool whip earlier this week made me well up with tears.
I didn't post because I wasn't sure I'd be able to write anything that I would be pleased with. I was also worried it would be a rambling of grief. I had every intention of just updating an older post that was a tribute for his birthday a few years back. I was going to add something sappy and revamp it. But that's not really my style. So after that very long introduction here's my short story and getting to the point...
In my family we all take pictures. A lot of pictures. My dad was a photo fiend. I remember one time he pulled out his camera at a funeral and I just thought, "wow dad, is that really appropriate?" Guess what we did an hour after his memorial? We took a family photo. He would have been quietly elated.
But the funny thing about all of us picture takers is that we don't have the patience to sit and listen to all your stories about all your photos. We aren't the most patient bunch. Whenever the hubster and I get back from a trip we quickly flip through a few highlight photos for whichever sibling asks, knowing that their attention span will last about as long as a toddler's.
Early in the new year we had returned from our trip to Scotland and we went to my parents' place to pick up our dog. My mom was out and about and it was just my dad at home. We had the time to visit so we sat on the couch and started telling him about our trip.
He asked to see the pictures.
I grabbed my phone and hastily swiped through the first ten, knowing what my family is like. He stopped me, took the phone in his hand and went back to the beginning. He took his time and looked at each photo. He was in awe of the live photo function that showed the fireworks in action at Hogmanay. He zoomed in on the architecture and asked questions. He was rapt by our winter getaway. He told me about all the pictures he would peruse on facebook. Talking about seeing Europe from friends that had retired and how it transported him back there and the lovely time he had with my mom, visiting her brother while his wife was working abroad.
I was astonished. In this time of click bait and three second attention span, my dad gave me his full attention. He shared that looking through facebook albums is what he did if he couldn't sleep at night. He, much like his grandchildren I'm guessing, would go on social media and scroll, and look, and get caught up in an attempt to fight insomnia. His eyes twinkled as he talked about pictures and how much he enjoyed seeing peoples' lives captured in images. Little glimpses into their adventures.
When we were in Cuba for our anniversary in February I caught myself taking the same picture almost daily. I laughed and thought, who is going to want to see this? It's the same view, from our balcony, looking out onto the beach, to the turquoise ocean, it's almost boring because all the pictures will be so hard to tell apart from day to day. Dad will I thought. He'll say, "isn't that amazing?", because if he's truly surprised he frames it in a question.
My dad didn't get the chance to see our pictures from Cuba. He didn't get to hear our little stories to accompany the many pictures we took. I thought of him often on that trip. He loved to go to developing nations on holiday and tip the people generously.
The photo is of Lenny's. It was a 25 CUC cab ride to get there, which is robbery on this tiny Cayo of Cuba, for a delicious lobster dinner on our sixth anniversary. To put it in perspective, our meal was 30 CUC for the two of us. We went for a walk on the beach before we had supper and experienced a monkeys lunch in the weather department, including a subtle double rainbow. Our cab driver sat patiently in the corner while we ate then canoodled on the old coral hill after our meal. We watched the sunset, it was ok, not like a prairie sunset, you just don't get those anywhere else, and I took 10 pictures of a stray dog and a rooster roaming around the property. The beach was dirty from the hurricane months previous, and the wind was turbulent, but the views and the lobster made it all worth it. And what made me the most awestruck on this mini adventure wasn't the wind, the waves, the double rainbow. It was the thing I didn't take a photo of, the patient cab driver that washed his car, took a nap, helped the proprietor, and didn't once look at his watch or rush us. And he thanked the hubster profusely when we paid the fare for the ride. He was so grateful for the small tip we added on top. It was the last of our cash until we could get to a bank and we were a bit concerned but he hugged the hubster and it made it all worth it.
So there's my story to accompany this one photo. I know it would have started a long line of stories of trips he had taken to different resorts where the people had nothing so he had to give them something, and make sure they knew he saw them. There are many more stories to go with every photo, and maybe that's why he loved pictures because they jog your memory so well. They transport you to another place and time.
Happy birthday, dad.