by Jenny Picciotto
Father is in hospice and my Mother asks me to write my remembrances of him, the happy memories. I won’t write lies and cotton candy fantasies about this man with whom I shared a fiery past. Nor will I take the liberty of reviewing the things I wished or hoped or dreamed might have been.
This is a time of letting go, of reflection and strength, a time to find peace with what is, and all that has come before. The road that led to this moment cannot be retraced and all we can take with us forward from this moment is what we carry in our hearts. I pray we travel lightly, with joy, and with wonder at the mystery of life.
This man, my Father, like all of us, is a man with many facets, a man who felt the challenges and victories of life, the arrows and the honey-flavored moments that fill a life-time bit by bit, leaving traces of sweet tenderness and deep sorrow in their wake. These are the things I know of him, that he felt deeply, loved fiercely, and shared his world most completely with his adoring wife, with whom he battled many storms and to whom he gave his heart and soul. Their bond runs deep and true and remains a deeply private and sustaining shelter, for they knew each other as no one else has known the other and they shared the path from youthful vigor to the end of life walking step in step, one leaning on the other as need may be, one now leading and the other following, taking care to keep together on the way.
I cannot see into his heart or know his journey. But as he passes from this world into the next I can remember the things he shared with me, and the parts of him that I carry forward in my own spirit, which are of him.
This man loved dogs, and cats, and things done well. He loved the out of doors and freedom. He loved knowledge and truth and clocks. He stood ready to give a hand to a stranger, to tell a tale and wasn’t afraid to try his hand at fixing something. He had a temper which raged and a tender side which he shared with few but his sweetheart, and he loved a good book.
When I was small he would carry me on his shoulders at the auctions he and Mother loved to attend, so I could see the auctioneer calling out, and he gave me quarter to go see what I could barter on my own. I bought 2 boxes of kitchen ware, which I played with for many years in my pretend house, out in the screen porch off the big old brick house in Trumbauersville where the peach and grapes and cherry trees grew, where I would play in the chicken house and out under the pussy willow tree and out back in the old farm house field where he gave each of us a small piece of land as our own garden plot to tend to.
He used to keep a workshop in the barn and it was a place filled with all the bits and pieces which might come in handy one day. He used to go there, probably to be alone, but he would let me in and I would sort screws and nuts and bolts into the cardboard tubes of washed out juice cans, so he could find them when the time was right.
There was a big old hill just down the street, and in the winter he would take us sledding down that long slope. He liked to sled too, but with his sled he went so far along and down around the bend that he would be out of sight and it would take a long time before I would see him trudging back along the road to where he left me sledding with my friends.
As I write this, on the morning of Christmas Eve, 2010, my Father faces his death with my Mother at his side. I expect she sang him a song or read a book to him to keep him company, and I hope he is strong of heart. I hope he looks back fondly on his life with forgiveness for those who have harmed him in the course of time, and with love for those who have shared his journey. And I wish him peace.