I think we all experience this whether our parent is living or dead, but it feels when they have passed away: like it’s normal and then you are reminded that they are gone and then it isn’t normal anymore. Suddenly it is a memory, past, finite, done. A voice and a laugh that you will only hear in your mind, in echoes, in dreams. It’s no longer a memory of them, yet it is only a memory of them. You feel as thought they may actually be there whispering, where you never thought or felt that way before. It’s very paradoxical and all the thoughts, emotion, moment happen in just a that… a moment. I my father passed away almost 6 months ago. He died less than 1 month before his 66th birthday and my 32nd (we were born 34 years and several hours apart: enough to have a different birthday, but close enough that it could have been the same day).
I moved out when I was 18 and never moved home again. When I studied in Japan in 2003, I had to admit to my credit card debt and Dad helped me through it and got me on track to better credit. I thought he would cancel my trip but he believed life experiences are worth so much more than money and there is always a way to make more money, but you can’t get back a missed opportunity. He made it work for me and we became closer. When I moved to Japan in 2005, I vowed to be financially independent, but live all the experiences I can to the fullest. By 2009, I made enough money to start traveling, pay off all the credit card debt, pay back my parents for loaning me the money to get there and buy my Dad a plane ticket to come see me and the life I’d made in Japan.
He was so proud and I was so pleased and grateful. But this was not what I planned to write about. I wanted to write about the children : his grandchildren. Dad loved children and innocence and exploration and curiosity and fresh eyes and new adventures in every day things. He could watch kids play for days and they loved him (especially after he grew his white beard in 2009)!
He took photos to capture every moment , even back when you had to pay $5 the develop 24 photos. Dad would take in 10 rolls from the family holiday and 2 from the Sunday at home before that. My parents recently moved to a smaller home. In fact, my father arranged everything, but he was in ICU when I moved my mother from my childhood home into a humble and cozy house across town. He only lives there in spirit and pranks and making my mom laugh… When they moved, they moved volumes of photo albums to my brother’s house and we left so many behind. The company that bought their house delivered the remaining boxes of photos to us saying the just don’t trash memories like that. I remember my father making albums of photos, reliving those moments. He made concentrated albums into the 90s. The albums stopped but he relived them again when he discovered his scanner function and created a project to scan the most precious, and often oldest, photos. I make videos with slideshows now and think of him.
So today, in the park, my daughter discovered the slide for the first time. She was propped, sitting up, but she flipped and slid down on her belly. We thought she’d be put off by a bonk on the head, but she laughed with amusement and tried to climb up the slide again for another go. She’s not walking yet, but she’s racing up slides. I heard my father saying, “She’s a Haggerty!” And felt warm and cold at the same time. I’m so happy he can see her, but so sad she won’t have him as I did. I hear his voice, his laugh, his chuckle and sometimes even his tears, every day. Everyday in a moment, I am visited by his voice in my ear, an echo of the life he had with us on Earth or maybe even his spirit whispering into my mind. I smile with joy and sadness.