This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Currently, I am about 2.5 miles from my parents’ home in Hot Springs Village in Arkansas. About six and a half months ago, my mother passed away after fighting a handful of ailments over three and a half years. For that moment, I was prepared. I had three full years to watch as things went downhill, fully aware of what was happening. About ten days ago, my father suffered a massive coronary event and passed away in the living room. I never saw that coming. I knew his health was getting bad, plus he had just gotten through a surgery for colon cancer in January. I just never expected him to pass away just a few short weeks after that.
So far, I have managed to be the strong, older sibling through this all. I have been calm on the phone each time I have talked with my sister. I smiled at the co-workers who kept providing their condolences, though I wanted to not hear it and just got on with the work that I had to do. Before I left the house this morning, I sat down and told my youngest cat that I had to go away for another handful of days to take care of my “daddy cat”. Yes, I talk to my cat. And yes, I consider that to be perfectly normal and sane behavior. If you don’t – please be courteous enough to keep that to yourself.
However, the finality of the moment has started to creep up on me. Tomorrow morning, I will enter a home that will have been built by my parents for their retirement years – which is now been passed in ownership to me and my younger sister. Tomorrow, I will begin packing up and moving out the possessions that I wish to keep, essentially clawing through my parents’ belongings, looking for what items will be the cornerstone of my memories. And somehow, I have to keep myself from feeling like a grave robber. Yes, this is going to be a really rough time.
There are items I am very much aware that I want. My father’s book collection. Some of his work tools. Pictures. A couple of paintings. The grandfather clock (which is mine according to the Will). I won’t be able to take them all at once – so I will be making a return trip for some of those items, as well as furniture that I want as well. And there is the cleaning of the house that needs to take place. The selling of the car. The eventual selling of the house. But none of those is more important than my trip to the cemetery tomorrow. My father and mother both have their ashes interred there – just not at the moment. The internment facility has only been completed in the last few days. But I will find out when they will be interred, and will be here shortly after.
Remembrance of one’s ancestors… I know this will sound odd, but this has never played all that heavy in my own personal Druidry practices. Until now. And I find it very fitting that I just had my initiation into the Bardic Grade at the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering last week. The prevailing theme was of “new beginnings” — and every beginning is the end of another process. I take my first steps as a formally initiated Bardic student…just as I take my first steps into the world around me without my parents around. New beginnings indeed.