A week of melancholy and remembrance here in Teza’s Garden. I thought this photo perfectly captured the spirit. Today would have been my Father’s seventy sixth birthday. He passed in December of 2004 after having valiantly battled cancer for close to twenty years. It was heartbreaking to watch the same man who was once a dominating presence from a physical perspective, shrink into himself as the disease raged within. Never one to complain, he first kept his diagnosis from us, the strong and stoic man who thought he could battle it alone.
I knew without a doubt that I would awaken to my ‘Lingholm’ unraveling it’s stunning blue, satiny petals. For me, dearly departed spirits are most often glimpsed in the garden – hence the creation of my memorial garden last year. Small though it may be, it is there where I am closest to beloved family and cherished friends who have passed.
Mine was a kind hearted Father who, even when we appeared to be at odds as to where my own life’s path was leading me, never once pushed my away. It took time to come to understand the life choice I had made for myself, but towards the end of his life, he made a serious effort to understand and to communicate to me that the surface frictions were no longer important to him. We both knew that time was of the essence.
It was he who stood by and supported me when I decided I wanted to follow my older sister and learn to figure skate. In the early Seventies it really wasn’t a sport that many boys openly embraced. He was a Cub and Scout leader for my older brother and I. On weekends he would take my brother and I to the airfield where he worked as a mechanic – if only to give my Mother a break from her ‘rambunctious’ Gemini son! It was there that I uttered the words that would best exemplify the man I would grow up to be. One of the pilot’s whose single engine planes my Father repaired happened by one Saturday afternoon. I was mesmerized! After he left, leather bomber jacket, aviator glasses and all, I turned and ever so innocently mentioned that I thought him to be ‘pretty!’ Apparently men were ‘handsome’ not pretty. Little was ever said of the moment, but decades later he was the one who brought it up during what would be one of our last heart to heart conversations! It was a liberating and cathartic moment for both of us I think!
There are moments when I look in the mirror and find his blue eyes staring back at me. Even some of my most ‘idiosyncratic moments can be traced back to him. Passion may not have display itself very often, but when it does, I find myself totally immersed in whatever it may be. Gardening is one of the cornerstones of who I am as a person, just as drawing and aircraft mechanics were for my Father.
The older I find myself, the more I can trace back elements of my life that are present because of the man who is my Father. Death does not separate that which is born of blood and bone. I wish he were here today, but only if he could be free from pain and disease – otherwise, I know that he courses through my blood and veins.