Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's late...

I have a Palm Pilot that I use as a scheduler for my work (well, let's face it, for my life in general). Typically, I have a great fondness for my Palm Pilot, and defend its honor against those who decry its technological wizardry and praise the simplicity of a paper calendar.

But at this moment, I hate my Palm Pilot.

Well, maybe hate is a strong term. And maybe its not exactly the Palm Pilot that I hate.

I hate the fact that at this moment my Palm Pilot has a message for me. It's telling me that my father's birthday is coming up, that I shouldn't forget to buy him a card or a present.

My father died almost two years ago. He had this long battle with Pick's Disease, a progressive dementia somewhat similar to Alzheimer's except for the fact that Alzheimer's hits memory in a big way first -- and Pick's goes after expressive language skills. My mother was driving back home from Minneapolis with him when he simply slumped over. The paramedics were too late by the time they arrived.

My father was a silent man, mostly, at least as I grew older. He'd watch his sports, he loved watching 60 Minutes. But he didn't usually say too much. In fact, I sometimes wonder if the fact that he was often so quiet kept us from spotting that something was wrong for far too long. Certainly, his colleagues at work noticed something was different about him far before we did. They didn't say anything, they told us, because they didn't want to insult him, to risk offending the pride of this man who had taught countless college students for years and years.

And now there's this message on my scheduler. My Dad's birthday is coming up. I need to get him something.

Perhaps what I hate is simply the fresh grief that comes up at this moment, all pointless and silly and yet real and powerful. Perhaps what I hate is the fact that I felt somehow like I could turn his death into a reason to live my own life more fully, to imbue it with more meaning -- and that the cold realities of my day to day life seem to mock that pledge.

I also know that it's late, that this feeling will pass, that the act of simply putting it into words will help it pass. I'll forgive my Palm Pilot (out of necessity if for no other reason!), and hopefully I will remember the lessons that fatherhood has taught me: that love isn't something based on success or achievement or progress, that the love we have for our children simply IS.


more cows than people said...

(o) (((steve))))

steve said...

Thank you, more cows. Thanks.

Gannet Girl said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Liz said...

Oh, Steve, that's what I meant about the "catch" of technology. My dad, who was also a college professor, died a week after 9/11 so there was no way to get to his funeral. His second family shut us out, too. Grief inflicts itself in startling and creative ways ... like popping up on a Palm Pilot!

steve said...

gannet girl,

Thank you for your kind words.


Oh, I know what you mean with the whole technology thing. Still, when anniversaries of his death come around...let's just say if it wasn't the Palm Pilot reminding me, it would probably have been someone else! Thank you for your comment.

Magdalene6127 said...

Steve, this really touches me this morning, as I look ahead one week to the 1st anniversary of my mother's death. These loves that will not let us go...

Holding you in prayer, as you learn to accept the gift of who your dad was, limitations and all. So hard, but so beautiful at the same time.


Alex said...

Happy Anniversary of your father's birth. Lovely post.