WHEN THE GRIEVING IS PAST
“A man knows he is growing old because he begins to look like his father.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1928-)
It’s May again and I know this because the deep orange deciduous azaleas are blooming throughout the neighborhood. These flowers hold a particular significance for me, because exactly twenty years ago to the day I was a middle-aged landscaper kneeling below one such azalea in full glory, doing a little hand weeding. My boss had driven out to the site with some unexpected bad news…my wife had phoned the office…my father had passed away quite suddenly…I kept working for a few hours and then it finally sunk in, he was gone…I went home to grieve. As per his wishes, he was cremated and buried at sea – leaving me no grave side to pay my respects and visit. At first I resented this disconnect, but now that I scuba dive it seems that every time I’m in the Pacific he’s right there with me, in one form or another. As for the rest of him – the young football player, the mustard and sugar sandwiches, the father who loved to watch boxing with his oldest son, the barbeque in the kitchen on those rainy summer days, the guy who woke up well past midnight and said “I was watching that” every time I switched off the station identification signal on the otherwise dormant television set – they are alive and well in my thoughts and in the reflection of the face I see in the mirror each morning, the one that looks more like his dad every day. And now that the grieving has past, those orange azaleas are just a pleasant reminder of the man I once knew.