Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Business and Grief

When my sister died, I had to take over my dad's guardianship (not his care; I live clear across the country, but his legal and financial affairs). It was a lot of work and worry to get it started, and five weeks into the process, my son died. When we returned home from burying my son, I had to immediately continue the complicated and sometimes confusing process to get the permanent order from the court for my dad's affairs. Then I had to periodically report all things financial to the court.
Now I am backing my way back out of that process. Close a bank account (but not yet the primary account, in case any bills come in). Get the death certificates to show certain entities, as I had to do with my sister's passing 4 1/2 years ago. Do the final financial reporting, and so on.
It just feels a little weird to be putting it all in reverse. I was never comfortable with reversals. Also, I'm still in the same place of wondering what to do in what order, and not being able to ask the attorney questions every minute, but sometimes just do it, and perhaps once again I will find out later that I did it incorrectly, and fix it. At least now I know that most things are "fixable".
I'm not sure why I'm sharing all this. I'm not seeking sympathy. I've already received that and I appreciate it. I'm just sharing about a process. As I said yesterday, in the meantime his caregiver family has been taking care of the "junk" in his storage unit for me, which was most of what was there, after we and they looked through it together for items of value or sentimental value. So, they are backing their way out of this process too. I'm so appreciative of all they have done and are still doing.
I'm not sure about the other part of the process...grieving. I'm not sure what that looks like. Maybe I've already done it. Maybe I already did it when my dad had his mentally debilitating stroke, followed by my sister's death, followed by my son's death (and one of my nieces, and two brothers-in-law, and a couple of dear friends...all within about five years).
Maybe my grief came out enough in those moments four years ago when I couldn't track an important envelope, and I cried and told my story to a perfect stranger at a UPS store (who didn't know what to do with my story, poor guy), and when I left an important item on the counter at the post office (I'd already told them my story), and I panicked about the lost item, and when I came back, they looked up with a kind smile and handed it to me. I didn't know they would remember me, here in the big city. Maybe my grief came out enough when I used to cry at Mass every Sunday morning, after my son died.
Maybe I grieved my father (and mother) enough after I moved out of state at the age of 18. Or maybe I grieved enough when I was a teenager, and I didn't like that they had changed (in my eyes), and they didn't like that I had changed (in their eyes).

But maybe also, the good memories help outweigh the sadness, too. I will always remember that my best vacations when my children were young were visiting my dad. Ed and the children and I would go on outings during the day, and when we returned to the house, my dad would have cooked a delicious dinner for us. One time he had also created a wooden Aggravation game board for the kids and had painted golf tees as pegs.

When we moved from Los Angeles, my dad drove down from Washington to bring our house up to code so we could sell it. When we lived in Kentucky, he flew out to see us, even though he wasn't comfortable with flying so far anymore. And we had some deep talks about the past. Those kinds of talks always seemed to make him uncomfortable; and when I got ready to go visit him last time, I wanted to say some things to him. I never did though. I don't think he would have understood. Mostly he understood only the present moment by then. And mostly we couldn't understand his words. But one time, I laughed at something on the TV, and he looked up at me and said clearly, "Oh! It's you!" That's a beautiful memory I cherish.

What I had wanted to tell him, but didn't – I think the time was long past - was: "Dad, you didn't raise me perfectly every minute, but I didn't with my kids either. But you were always willing to listen to me prattle on. You taught me life skills and independence. You were a good father! You did good!  And yes, I know. It's 'you did well'. J "