Today is Memorial Day and the first time in quite a while that I have gone to visit my father. He’s been dead since 1990. As a child, we didn’t visit often because the wound was still too fresh for my mother. And, as a single parent, it’s difficult to corral two children while going to visit your dead husband, possibly break down about it, and various other little things I can’t think of or take into account at the moment. So, we didn’t go often. When I moved back up here with MEH, I went periodically. It’s only been as I began to pay closer attention to duties in grave-tending that I’ve actually begun to visit him on a regular basis. I’m hoping that the lapse in recent months is an irregularity as opposed to anything else. I guess we’ll find out in future.
I pulled into the cemetery and was gratified to see a veritable sea of flags in each section of the cemetery. Some had more flags than others. My father is buried in a section that does not boast many flags, but a decent amount I suppose. Across the way, there is practically a flag on every grave and down the hill a piece, there is maybe a handful in that section. But, to drive by them, and see them all waving in the air was heart-lifting. It made me feel good to see them. When I parked in the section where my father is buried, I could immediately pick out his grave. He has this thing where he likes to be different. My mom swears up and down that it wasn’t until after we moved down south that grass really began to grow on his grave. And without fail, every time there is a holiday where flags are distributed, he invariably gets one angled into the ground where he is buried. They also tend to be more off to the side of his head stone as opposed to centered in front of it. Laughing, I posted on FB that I was “visiting the man with the angled flag.” I would have moved it to a more central location, but evidently, he likes to be different.
After I settled in to saying hello, I cleared back the grass that was crowding around his headstone. I can see that his grass has not come in perfect. A lot of it is already dying, even though we’re only a few weeks into “summer.” But, for some reason, the grass likes to overcrowd his headstone so that you have to push it back to get a good image. I ended up cutting it away, brushing down the mess I made, pushed back the dirt at the corners so there is a little more space, and then brushed away the mess again. When I felt content with that, I sat back and looked at the sky for a while. I was looking for peace and I was looking for answers. I was looking for a perfect moment and I was brooding as well. It was like I was a mixed creature at that moment, looking for two things that would bring solace. At that moment, I was in one place and another. I was here and not here. I don’t know how that happened, but when I realized I had some things to do, I set about getting my offerings going. I broke up some bread and spread it around his grave. I felt him grumbling and I told him softly, “Who else to feed your soul? And I only have bread to do so.” I then left him some water. My father was an alcoholic in life so I do not bring him alcoholic offerings. I then lit a candle, which went out at some point, and some incense. He liked the incense.
Then, I did something I wasn’t sure he was going to like.
A long while back, in fact I believe it was last September, I had managed to acquire the Tarot of the Dead. I’ve never used them before, but I was instructed to only use them when I’m working with the Deadz. I’m not sure what that’s all about, but I never felt like it was the “right time” to use them. So, they stayed in my basket and waited to be pulled out. Finally, today, I felt that it was a good idea. Now, in life, my father did not hold to any of that “New Age stuff.” He burned my mother’s Tarot cards and tossed out her Ouija board when they got together. (And many other things besides.) He would have none of that under his roof, I suppose. I can only wonder exactly what he would think of my life style right now if he was still alive… Heh. So, I pulled out my cards and said, “We can communicate better this way. I know how you felt about them. You don’t have to use them.” So, I did a three card pull after I shuffled for a while. The cards are big and colored in pastels, for the most part. I wasn’t focusing on anything, but the outcome to my cards could either be interpreted as my father telling me things I already knew or answers about something else that I didn’t realize I was thinking about. I have to do a reading with the Fairy Oracle tonight to figure that out.
After that, I put the cards away and sat there until the incense cone had burned out. (I’m going to have to figure something for that. I don’t have a travel holder and I’m not sure if I prefer having a cone on a grave or if I’d like a stick of incense with holder on a grave. Decisions, decisions.) I sat back and stared off into space, wondering why he was dead. Was it folly? Was it escapism? If it was just something silly and foolish, then I could be angry with him still, I think. I wouldn’t hate him or anything, but I could understand the occasional flashes of anger I get in regards to him, his death, and my being father-less by seven, after only getting one by three. I could, too, understand my little brother’s anger at this, as well. But, as I sat there, asking the questions in circles in my head, I began to think that maybe… maybe he’s like Jenny from Forrest Gump: always looking for something to hide the horrors deep within. And I have the feeling that’s the case, which makes it sad… so much more sadder now than it was a day ago, or last week, or five years ago, or the day after he died.
I’ll tell you something.
Working with the Deadz has made me realize just how completely fallible I am, as a human being, in a mortal way. But, it’s also helped me to set aside a lot of the anger and irritation I feel when I think of my father dying on me. He had permission to go, at the end, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Why didn’t he just stop? Why couldn’t he stop being so stupid? Why didn’t he think for once? But. I know that this is probably as far from the case as possible. He was hiding from whatever monster was eating his heart and soul. And so doing, died for it.
I miss him. There are days when all I want more than anything is to crawl into his arms and say, “Daddy. I’m hurting. Fix it, please.” I don’t know if he ever would have or could have. I didn’t know him long enough or well enough to know how far he would go to protect me and aid me. And though my mother did a really good job taking over the dual roll parenting, I still want my daddy there sometimes. Bony, black-haired man with a fondness for flannel shirts, never willing to smile, and always behind the camera instead of in front.