Everyone goes through grief at one time or another. My period of grief began with the death of my parents, Bernie and Dee Schapiro.
I have spent the last year in quiet reflection. The television is silent, the car radio off, and other forms of media are all dark much of the time. No, not all the time! I took no vows of silence nor abstinence, but after the death of both of my parents all of those things lost importance.
Instead, I sit with my thoughts as I sip a cup of tea, sometimes I write in my journal, sometimes I go for a walk. I often find myself awake between 3 am and 5 am, the time we needed to get up with my parents for one reason or another. While I sleep through to a respectable 6 am most mornings now, I still keep the occasional early morning vigil, which I have come to think of my time with Mom and Dad.
Yes there are some tears. But more than tears, I have gratitude for a lifetime of memories with them both.
The Victorians had a very structured period of mourning with those experiencing grief wearing black. Those Victorians were smart people! My parents dying had left me with a deep well of anger. I do not go looking for a fight, but if one presents itself I am not shy about joining battle, and it doesn’t even have to be my fight! I’m perfectly happy to holler at the redneck fool in the Wal-Mart parking lot who wouldn’t even slow down and let an older woman (older than me anyway) pull out when there was no way she could see him coming. (Did I say I don’t go looking for a fight?) Like my husband, just behave, and don’t cross my path.
As time goes on, I have become less prickly. I have to overlook a lot on social media. Everyone knows where I stand, and if you get nasty about it I’ll let you practice your right of free expression with someone else, because I have the right to not listen to nastiness.
I grew up with Rock n Roll, but now I find the Classical music of my father soothes my soul and reminds me of him. I planted flowers in my Mother’s honor. Their garden was strictly the domain of my German Dad, and when I traveled to Germany I saw gardens like my Dad’s, with ferns, hosta, and pachysandra. Mom wanted flowers, and I lined my front walkway with them.
In the aftermath of their deaths, I also wanted to build something. I joined the Auxiliary Board of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital. We raise money for the hospital. I am meeting some fine women and helping to build up the hospital. I also volunteer, working with a fine group of nurses to make their job easier and the patients stay more comfortable.
My parents only wanted one thing that I can still try to do. They want me (and all their family) to be happy. Our happiness is the only legacy they want.
With happiness in mind I give up many fleeting pleasures for deferred gratification. Instead of the immediate enjoyment of junk food, I focus on health and fitness. Instead of impulse purchases, I think about what I really need and why, and save for the future.
My sister called Mom her heart, and I called Mom my home at her funeral. Our parents home was certainly the gathering place for the entire extended family, where we their children came together again. My parents home was where my children got to know their cousins, aunts and uncles. Without my parents, the shape of the family is forever changed, but we reach out to each other maintain better contact.
A year of reflection is coming to an end, and you are never far from my thoughts Mom and Dad.