Post-Dad: Chopin, lethargy, studies, phone call with Mom, and a sharpening of focus

This post is archived on The Grieving Time page.

Here’s Dad, playing Chopin, two months before he died. (Note his big chair in the back, in its lift-off position. That chair is now Mom’s.)

The video: Dad’s grandson and namesake Ben, sister Paula’s son, was in town to visit, and looked on with his iPhone. (Dad would play this haunting piece, one his mother Emma, a concert pianist and piano teacher, had taught me as a child, whenever Mom and I went to lunch and he’d stay behind for peanut butter on toast, relishing that quiet 20 minutes of solitude. Then he’dd lumber over to the piano, and we’d hear him as we walked back in.)

Check it out. The beginning is rough, but he warms up. . .

This is too painful for me to watch all the way through.

As I continue to move through The Grieving Time, this afternoon I notice that I’ve hardly any energy, and that what little I do have is restless and unfocused. So I’m taking it easy, reading — The Language of Plants: A Guide to the Doctrine of Signatures — a wonderful new book that Paula’s daughter Megan, a healer and herbalist, recommends and that, for me, supplies the missing links re: plants and medicine and food. YES!

How far from this ancient, essentially alchemical view of the names, forms, and functions of growing things to the industrial pharmaceutical apothecary of doctor Dad who died, on August 27th, at the very ripe age of 96!

And yet, how alike we were temperamentally! Today a memory surfaced: as a ten-year-old, sitting in the living room under a lamp between two and four AM, reading. He’d be in another chair, nearby, with his own reading lamp, diligently keeping up with his profession via the New England Journal of Medicine. I’d be devouring the pages of The Lives of the Saints, noting my favorite: St. Lawrence, a martyr, roasted alive, who said to his torturers, “Turn me over, I’m done on this side.”

Did he really say that? That’s my memory. True? Ye gods. And it was my favorite?!!? How far I’ve travelled from there to here . . .

And more: at some point, Dad would silently rise to his full 6′ 2″ height, pad quietly into the kitchen, and put two pieces of (probably white) bread in the toaster. I’d follow him in. Together, we’d butter our toast and take it back to our respective places in the living room. All in silence. A wordless communion of two insomniac souls relishing both their studies and their solitude, together, surrounded by the burgeoning energies of my younger siblings, temporarily stilled into the rhythmic breathing of sleep.

I brought this memory up to Mom when I called her today, letting it ring nine times, until she could get to the phone. (I don’t think she ever knew about my trysts with dad in the middle of the night.) We had a sweet talk. Her voice is lower than before, when she was “Ben’s wife,” and at ease in her role. Now, instead of that smooth persona, her voice is raw, throaty, much more real. I can feel her presence, I can feel her.

Sister Kris tells me that Mom’s been refusing all invitations to various activities offered at Mount St. Vincent, but Mom did tell me, when I asked, that she’s going to the art class they are starting up. Not sure if it’s the intergenerational one (with the pre-schoolers) or the one only for residents. I forgot to ask.

When I can yank my heart back from Mom sitting in Dad’s big chair in her new little Seattle studio at Mount St. Vincents to here, I notice, more and more, myself choosing not to post, or even read, channelled material “from on high.”

Nor am I much interested in fear-based intel of any kind from the bowels of “below.”

So what’s left?

What’s left is to nurture my grieving process while remaining grounded and local, garnering perspectives of all kinds on the crises/opportunities that we humans have brought upon ourselves — whether or not we’ve been “controlled” by reptilians or the cabal, or whoever — and to help chart the way forward by remaining in gratitude and generosity day after day after day.

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