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I am going to be Okay.

I found it odd that I did not get airsick on the flight up to Ohio. I always get a bit nauseous, but this time I didn't. There was no snow on the ground as the cab took me to my mother's. Again, a bit odd. We pull up, and as Mom comes out to greet me, she looks at me like she is seeing me for the first time. Well, I guess she is. It is the first time in over 2 years. But there is also another look in her eye. I have seen it before. You see, of all us kids, I look the most like my Dad. Everyone always said so. It was that look in her eye. Maybe she looks at my sisters, Melinda and Elizabeth, the same way, maybe she sees a bit of Dad in all of us. But it kind of creeped me out a bit. Walking into the house was not as emotional as I thought it was going to be. But after a while, little things caused me to tear up. The den has all of Dad's Navy plaques and memorabilia. Oddball things as well, our senior pictures, models of cars he had put together, a cute little cookie jar that is in the shape of a hut you would find on Gilligan's Island, complete with palm fronds for a roof. S.S. Cookie Hut is above the door.. As I am looking over some of the other items in the case, my sister, Julie, asks me, "Do you know that you are standing right next to him?" I turn and look at her and look back at the shelf and the glass case behind. I don't see anything that looks like an urn. "Where?" I ask. "The cookie jar." Figures. My family is certifiably weird. I quickly step back and head to the kitchen for something to drink, but in reality, I wanted to leave before the tears fell.

The house and my mother are about the same. Every kind of potato chip, Little Debbie snack, ice cream novelty, cereal, bread, you name it, it's there. Variety is the spice of life? Well, there is plenty of variety of junk food at my mother's. It has been like that since I was about eleven. For those of you who have been to my home know that I don't keep snack food around. This is why. It was always available and I have been conditioned to eat when I am bored. I have to make firm decisions to break this habit. So no goodies in my kitchen.

While fixing a turkey sandwich, I hear my mother say from her position in front of the kitchen sink "There's the old man." Curious, I turn around and ask what she is talking about. "This cardinal here on the bird feeder." Sure enough, it was the fattest male cardinal I had ever seen. And it was old, you could see it graying around the wings. (I never thought about birds going gray.) "He showed up a few weeks ago...kept banging into the bathroom window...then started feeding at this station in the backyard," she continued. "Liz said maybe it's Daddy, and I told her, if it was, he knew where the door is!" With that, she laughed and went back into the living room. That got me thinking a bit about religion. Or my family's view on it. We are Christians. Maybe not by the book, but we are Christians. So why would any of us entertain the, actually find comfort in the idea that my dad came back as a cardinal? They happen to be my mom's favorite bird. And she stands at the kitchen sink, looking out the window quite a bit. But Christians don't believe in reincarnation. So what gives? Maybe our own version of religion or beliefs. But that is for another day. Back to my visit up north.

There were times where me and the kids (nephew Raphael 16, nieces Angela 14, Jessica 12, Katey 9, and Rachel 8) would be in the kitchen, eating, and telling stories about Grandpa. I did good for most of it, but then I could feel the tears welling up and I would make some excuse to leave the room. I can't cry in front of them. The older ones know why I leave. It is too difficult to explain it to the younger ones. Throughout the entire time I was there, I do not cry, unless I was talking to Annelise or Laura on the phone, up in the attic. Something prohibited me from crying even in front of my mother. But I could see in her eyes that she understood. You see, we don't talk about emotions in our family. Not even now.

The light in her eyes doesn't shine like it used to, and the smiles seem forced at times. But she is going on. She is still living. She takes care of my brother, and helps babysit the girls when Liz is working. She is thinking about going to a lunch that is hosted once a month by women she went to high school with. Kind of a small group environment. I guess what I was dreading the most about this trip, was seeing how Mom was coping. And she is doing just fine. Considering. Maybe that was what I needed. I may be almhis trip, was seeing howown, I still needed my mom to show me that everything was going to be alright.

On my flight back, I actually had a window seat. I thought about it not snowing while I was there. I don't care much for the snow, and neither did my father. Liz said that it has been years since it hasn't snowed on Christmas. I hope that it snows today for Julie and Raphael. That would be interesting...Like Dad put in a special request to make us all happy. As I looked out the window (I didn't get to see the sunrise, but I did get to see a beautiful night sky filled with stars), I realized that I was not uneasy about the flight. I did not get nauseous. I didn't feel panicky like I do if I really think about how the plane is flying. Instead, I felt a kind of peace come over me. Maybe I felt closer to Daddy up in the sky, looking at the stars, like we used to when I was younger. Maybe I realized that life must go on. As a dear friend wrote to me once saying, "Also, remember to rejoice. Honor your father and his memory, laugh and love. If nothing else, remember that he does live on. He's in your heart." So that is what I will do. What I have to do.

I am going to be Okay. Everything is going to be Okay. It is time for me to stop dwelling on the death and the pain of this past year, and start rejoicing in the life that was and still is. My father was a wonderful man who continued living after his beloved father passed away.
And I will too. There will still be tears, but they will become more happy than sad.

I love and miss you, Dad. But I know you will always be with me.

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The following comments are for "Realizations in Reality"
by leftylink

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