I spent yesterday doing things that made me think of Dad. I ate breakfast at his favorite spot, I even ate his favorite meal. (He could have lived off bagels – NO LIE.) I hiked Green Mountain – one of our favorite haunts around town. I ate soup for lunch. I cooked my vegetarian lasagna for dinner because it’s one of my new meals I would have loved to have fixed for him. But most importantly? I decided to say “Goodbye” to a few things I was holding onto a bit too close. I decided awhile back that moving on would require letting go of those things as I was only holding them close because I missed Dad. Sometimes, in order to move on, you have to let go.
Especially if the items are ugly.
I’ve been holding onto Dad’s backpack and using it whenever I needed one because he carried that damn thing EVERYWHERE. Few things made me think of him as vividly as that ugly yellow backpack. Unfortunately, I realized very quickly that I HATE that backpack. I have my own backpack I’ve been carrying for years and it fits my body perfectly. Dad’s? DOES NOT. It was big in the wrong places and had way too many straps. I couldn’t ever find the ones I needed. Yet, I couldn’t stop carrying it places. It’s like I felt as though not carrying it was an insult somehow. Which I know is ridiculous. So I took it out one last time yesterday and took a picture of myself near the same place I photographed Dad years ago. I tried to take a picture in the same spot but there were no good trees to prop the camera on. That’s one of the hazards of hiking alone. No one to take pictures of you.
Now I can pack the backpack away with the ninety million others we own. And go back to using my own. As soon as LilZ gives it back to me. *sigh*
Item number 2 on the chopping block was my Ewok. This was a gift my Dad gave me for my 10th birthday. I slept with it as a pillow between my elbow and my head for a decade, at least. I don’t know if there has every been a person more attached to a stuffed animal than I was to that Ewok. Dad would wake me up in the mornings using that Ewok as a puppet. “Time to get up, Kim…” he would say in his “Ewok” voice. He would nudge me with it, tickle me with it, and often (especially as I got older and harder to wake) beat me over the head with it. I slept with it through high school and even through most of college. That’s why it looks so little like an actual Ewok. It got very flat over the years.
I had lost it for awhile and got a little stressed about it. I found it shortly before Dad got sick on the bottom of the kids’ toybox. For some reason, as soon as he got sick, I started sleeping with it again. I’m kinda embarrassed to admit that, but hey – I feel I can trust you with this information. You won’t haunt me with it when I’m rich and famous, will you? Anyway – I felt like this was probably an unhealthy habit for an adult who shares her bed with another person. I’m certain my husband was a bit creeped out by it. I decided awhile back on the year anniversary I’d shop for a suitable replacement. One without a face. I found a faux-suede pillow that was about the same shape as my Ewok. We’ll give it a try tonight and leave Ewok shelved until the next time I have an emotional breakdown. Which, as we all know, will probably be sometime next week.
And finally…the watch. The residential hospice took Dad’s watch off of him after he died and gave it to us in a very plain envelope. After I had been home for a few days post-funeral, I decided to put it on. Something felt very comforting about wearing that watch. It was like, every time I checked the time, I thought of Dad. And when I was missing him? I just looked at the watch. The only problem was? It was ugly as sin. And a Casio. Which, not that I have a problem with in theory, but is totally…well…something my Dad would wear. And while I’m not the most trendy or fashionable person on the planet, I don’t normally wear a Casio. And if I were going to? I’d probably wear one with a little more personality.
But, I was more attached to that watch than either of the other two items. And I was very attached to the backpack and the Ewok. So, I knew that watch would be harder to let go of as I depended on that reminder on my wrist every second of every day. So…what’s a girl to do?
Get a tattoo…of course.
The second I decided to get the tattoo I knew what it would be: The infinity symbol. And I’d put it right where I wore the watch. Dad was a math geek and I have very vivid memories of us discussing the concept of infinity – both mathematically and metaphysically. It seemed the perfect thing to replace the watch. Especially because my Dad truly hated that I loved getting tattoos. Nothing would make him more irritated than me getting a tattoo in his memory. And for some reason? That made it THAT much more necessary. I got it done last night and put the watch in the China cabinet with a few other Dad trinkets.
I won’t probably ever get rid of any of those three things, but they became such symbols of my grief over the last year, I knew I at least needed to get them out of my daily life. I knew the year mark would be the best time for it because I’ve been telling myself all along, grieve my way for a year. Then try to do it Dad’s way. I think he would have accepted that as a decent compromise. To give me a year to cry over him and wear his ugly watch.
He would have never signed off on the tattoo, though. But, you know, I like to consider my tattoos as payback for the years he made me do homework…for fun.