A letter to my wife upon the loss of her father --
Just finished watching the movie ""Under the Tuscan Sun" and now I'm sitting here at 31,000 feet thinking of you . . . and outside my window, the sun is slowly setting below a horizon full of colorful red, orange and yellow hues ~ and lucky me, I'm chasing it all the way to California. It's really quite magnificent. I kind of got lost in the moment and I began to cry. I must be mellowing. It wasn't so much the coincidence of the moment as it was a scene from the movie . . .
There was an old man in this movie – a very dapper Italian gentleman. He was elegantly dressed, complete with sport coat, tie and a beret. He was walking along this gravel road -- walking cane in one hand and a bouquet of flowers in the other. The road ended near a Tuscan villa and across the road from the villa was a stone fence surrounding a vineyard. The stone fence had a special place of remembrance, a vase, built into the side of the wall. The vase was full of wilting flowers. The old man replaced the wilting flowers with fresh ones he had brought with him. He then dropped his head in a silent prayer and walked away. The main character, Diane Lane, speculated that the man must have lost his wife and this act was his way of remembering her. I think so too.
The parallel to your parents life could not be missed. . . how your mom returned to Dad's grave this week . . . how you asked her friend to make sure the gravesite was cared for so that your mother wouldn't be shocked by the appearance of an unkempt grave . . . how Mom probably felt guilty that she wasn't there to take care of Dad anymore . . . how much your mother misses your father . . . and how she breaks down and cries when she begins to reminisce about him.
I really miss your Dad too. I miss his astonishment at things I thought so simple and commonplace. I miss showing off to him with my music and my cooking. I miss taking him for rides in the convertible roadster and watch his huge comb over go flying up and away. I miss his stubbornness . . . I miss the way he spoiled the kids and made them feel so special. I miss the special gifts that he always bought for them ~ somehow they were always a little out of place ~ toys for someone a little younger or a little older than they were. Remember our daughter’s first bicycle? I miss the crappy way he'd fix things like the flagpole holder. Remember the garage electrical outlet? I miss his complaining like the way he'd say I needed to "put an elevator in here" when he was tuckered out from walking up the stairs -- or the way he would simultaneously be angry and loving to his dog Augie . . . or the way he loved our dogs and spoiled them like they were his grandkids. I especially liked his surprise that I could support my family by "sitting in a home office" . . . God I miss him.
I miss his fatherly example and his pride in me. I miss his blessings -- and his curses. I like the way he cared for people and the way people liked him in spite of his outward demeanor. I miss his "bread runs to Publix" and taking Augie "to make" at the school playground. I missed the sandwiches he made, esp. what was it, the “Saint Bernard?” Hell, I just miss him honey.
We will get through this honey. Our marriage will be strengthened because of it. God forbid should you pass before me, know that your loss will be tempered by a solitary walk to a special place of remembrance . . . to place flowers in a vase and say "I miss you and I love you."