Encomium For My Father

A Pilgrimage to Pops

Last Saturday, January 7th, Julie and I ventured to visit Dad. At least, what was left of him.

This coming Saturday will mark the 18 month anniversary of his death, and a day does not go by without me thinking of him.

I mention ‘what was left of him’ because there, where we went to see him, only a small portion of his ashes were dispersed during the summer months. The rest remain interred in a place where he did not wish to be buried. But that remains a tale yet to be told. Suffice it to say that I managed to ‘procure’ a tiny portion of his ashes and we made the small trek to the place that he loved—and wanted to be.

My Dad always went on a daily jaunt, walking for miles, and one place he loved to amble was in the State Park. There, amidst the dirt roads, many trails meandered through the forest of firs. One particular path did he enjoy and, at trail’s end, he always paused before a pond to watch the herons nest.

This swamp, festooned in the spring with lily pads and stands of ancient leafless trees, is home to the great blue herons that abound in this area, their primordial presence always captivating when chanced upon. The pattern of all patience, they stand in the shallows, waiting for a passing meal.

I went for many a walk with Pops along these trails, and he pointed this one out to me. I, too, am very fond of these quiet and majestic birds, and a few times we just stood silent and gazed at the huge twig nests high in the trees, and watched these magnificent creatures.

This then, during a sultry summer day, was where I dispersed my father’s ashes, a tiny fistful of dust, into the swirling eddies of the small pond. Julie took my picture just as a slight wind took hold of my Dad and gently carried him along the currents.

Our visit there this past Saturday was much like that day, although without the verdant foliage. For the first week of January, it was unseasonably warm, so much so that as we sat quietly upon the rocks the sun, low and moored along the treetops, was warm and soothing. We sat there and the only sound was the soft susurrant wind that caressed the brittle stands of cattail. We sat, thinking about Dad, happy knowing that we saw him on his 78th birthday, four days before he died.

He died on August 14th, 2010. Much like the great birds he loved and witnessed on his jaunts he, too, was silent and patient. My Dad was a loving, generous and great father. I miss him very much.

At least now, when we want to visit him, there is this haven, this memorial, a sanctuary where a portion of him resides, a place he wished to be.

I love you, Dad.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

 

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