By Jimmy Patterson
Online Angelus Editor
Dad seems to be doing quite well these days making his way through his first November-December-January holiday stretch since Mama’s death last year, but the cruel turn of it all is that not only was Dad expected to handle his first Thanksgiving and his first Christmas without her, but December 31 would have been Mama’s 80th birthday and today would have been their 60th anniversary and frankly it all seems a bit much for any one person to handle if you ask me which nobody did, I know. If all those dates and memories and events are not enough baggage for one person to carry, once the holidays are behind us, a week from Saturday, January 13, will mark the day of Mama’s passing just one year ago.
The mind has a strange way of remembering anniversaries, especially those just a year later, but the memory doesn’t confine itself to remembering only particular days or specific events because the mind will also recall other things when least expected. Mama was hospitalized and never came home a year ago December 26, which was a difficult day for us, and yet it was even harder when a couple days after that I was walking across a Home Depot parking lot with a large plastic storage box poised on my shoulder. I was listening to my iPod as I walked toward the car and the song “I Can Only Imagine” came up and Mama loved that song and it was played at her funeral and even though I was carrying a large plastic box across a cold parking lot last week it felt like I was back there all over again, in that Baptist church, trying to remain composed and not doing a very good job of it.
I’m pretty certain the people loading the car next to me in the Home Depot parking lot wondered why I was so traumatized at just carrying a plastic storage box and the more I thought about the whole little episode a couple days later — from the being OK to the not being OK when the tears came as they so seldom do to me (and of all things while I was carrying a box) — the more it dawned on me that yes it might have been difficult at the moment, yet in reality what had happened on that parking lot was just another example of how God keeps us close to — and unseparated from — those we love most.
I am left to wonder though: I will call Dad tonight on this his 60th anniversary and his first alone, and I will likely be at a loss for words.
Happy Anniversary do you say?
Or those weak, horrible words, How are you doing? Do you say that?
What exactly do you say? If anyone’s been there, I’d
like to need to know.
For now, I guess my plan is to ask him what he was doing 60 years ago today. Was he nervous? Sweating? Emotional? Happy? All of the above? My hope is that whatever words come, they will be words that will work for his betterment, and not serve to set back in any way.
Karen my very wise wife tells me that you cannot simply ignore an anniversary once a loved one has passed. It must be acknowledged somehow. For 59 years it was the most important day on my dad’s calendar. That Mama is no longer here does not mean it just ceases to be important. No. No. Perhaps with this year, it is more important than ever.