Mortality. I don't like it.
When I was 5, I was stunned, saddened and hyperventilating with tears to learn from the neighbor boy that "we're all gonna die someday ya know". I was sitting on my back porch, sunshine in bloom, and BTW, you're gonna die. I remember even then thinking at 5, "I have no control over this." Sure as we grow up we learn about prevention, health, wellness, being present, not worrying about death and on and on...
I have looked death in the eyes many times. Grandparents that passed too soon. A beautiful cousin that had a tragic end, at our neighbors house on the 4th of July. She was 9. My brother's close friend hit by a car in 5th grade and buried with GI Joe and a fishing pole, as tokens from my brother. I had a stillborn in 2006 that I am grateful that I was able to deliver naturally, knowing his fate. To feel Henry coming through my body and out into the world, alive for less than a minute, was a feeling I can still feel today.
Then there is Dad. Gone too soon. Too young. Day after Thanksgiving. Last time I saw him alive. November 24th, 2005. Dad had trouble with his speech for years after his 2001 stroke.In his last words to me he was stammering, stuttered, holding my hand and gently asking me to stay a little longer.In hindsight it was a peaceful request spoken like none other from him.I was the retail asshole, with impatient urgency and anxiousness about next days workload, who was like "Dude, I gotta be at work at 6am, duh, Black Friday." I felt guilty but never thought for a moment that this was our last goodbye.
Prior to his stroke dad was robust with wit, honesty, insight. He still had it in him, he just couldn't keep up with the fast paced conversations. I remember asking him what his thoughts were on 9/11 shortly after. He didn't have much to say. But my mother later confided that he cried and cried as he watched the coverage. This brought me much closure to learn. To not have him to discuss 9/11 with, was a loss all it's own. I wanted to listen to his perspective, insight and how the world could change as a result. Bob Burton was my go to on all things from Carl Sagan, the galaxy, is there a God, politics, Nixon,Carter, Reagan,Clinton, democrats, republicans, not aligning with a political party. He was my touchstone every night as we both smoked Marlboro lights on the back swing. No not healthy for either of us. But I was 18, in rehab, and he was helping me to stay motivated to find a new path.
He was so proud when I went to start working at Nordstrom. My father, kicked out of high school, finished with a GED and went to Bates where he studied mechanical engineering. He was gifted. He loved that I was going to work for a company where it was not about your pedigree of degrees. He challenged me to read "In Search of Excellence" and I still have that book he gave to me along with his first copy of "I Gave Them A Sword" (Nixon/Frost). When I had been accepted to WWU, but was sucking ass in Chemistry and risking a late graduation despite my overall GPA, he worked with me to PASS. He could figure out mathematical problems that were on scale with "Good Will Hunting" . Like Will Hunting, it wasn't his upbringing that gave him those gifts. My dad, nor his 3 other brothers, lived a charmed life. Theirs was a youth spent, with parents who either punished them, or left them to their own devices, to fend for themselves. I know that if Bob was here, he would be such an advocate for Wyatt, and he would bring out the best in Wyatt's wiring. They would likely be building a car together (Dad rebuilt 3 of them).
I've always felt that my dad was right by me at all times, after his passing. I have had some spiritual conversations with people who have told me about the older man they see as my spirit guide, they see a cane, and a description of his ring, in detail, and they tell me his light is so strong with me.This has happened on more than one occasion. Starting back a few years ago. First time with a woman I was putting makeup on, she nailed it. They have brought personal messages that only I would understand. Last time , I learned that my father is at a place where he feels he can step away from me a little bit, because he has great work to focus his efforts on. Whether I've lost you at this point and your thinking "geeze Holly, enough with the Sylvia Brown crap", there is something to be said for learning that when your soul leaves your body your are still purposeful and find new paths and new roles.
My dad was not religious, not exactly spiritual, had more questions than answers about one God. So I never really got that insurance policy from him," you're goin' to heaven, fear not death." But I don't fear that all we'll ever be is fertilizer after this life is over. So when my life is over ....at 105...I hope that I am doing what I imagine my dad doing now, flying over rooftops of all the people he loves, dropping in like Santa Claus down the chimney, or Mary Poppins with her bag of magic, and bringing them gifts of light and peace.