Monthly Archives: August 2016

Happy Birthday, Dad!

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Eighty-four years ago a man was born in Flushing, New York. He married young, at age 22, fresh out of the Air Force, with a promising career as a civil engineer. But with the first child born, and then twins right after, that dream was dashed.

This man was my father, who died six years ago today. Six long years. And yet every morning I still say hi to him, wish him well, hoping that he’s doing okay in whatever dimension he resides, smoking a cigar right down to its wet spinach stub and cradling a glass of chardonnay.

My Dad’s passing was the first time in my life I experienced a close death. I guess I was lucky over the years, through my thirties and forties, never witnessing a death, never having been to a wake or funeral.

That all changed six years ago, when my dear Dad died from—what was assumed—a massive heart attack. Who knows? There was no autopsy. Christ, there wasn’t even a wake or funeral. It was as though this man who lived and breathed on this beautiful blue planet suddenly vanished, with no fanfare at all.

He was whisked away, only to be subsequently burnt to ashes in a matter of days, still wearing the golf shirt, overly long shorts, and tennis shoes he wore when he died. I never did give him a proper good-bye. I tried, but when I called the funeral home, the woman informed me that “I’m sorry, Honey. He’s on his way to the crematorium.”

I remember that day, six years ago on August 10th, when my brother from Florida called me and told me that Dad had died.

I was floored. I didn’t believe it. I was pissed, angry, confused, bewildered. I ran into the backyard, bent to the ground on both knees, and wept, big, wet wracking sobs.

To this day I still cannot fathom that he is…gone.

Dad, even though some family members have said in the past for me to get over it, I still greet you every single morning with a hearty hello and plant a kiss on the portrait I did of you. The picture above was taken a day before he died, on Friday the 13th, 2010.

Or who really knows? It could have been August 14th, the morning my Mum returned from vacationing in Maine, where my Dad was just there the day before. She found him lying face up, his legs resting on a chair in the living room, as though he was doing sit-ups, lying there staring at the ceiling, his last gaze probably looking at the years-old resin stain from countless Christmas trees dragged and hoisted into the room. Maybe he thought, with his last dying breath, he wondered how he could get rid of that stain, having not seen it from this angle lying on the floor.

And then he released his last breath.

How do I feel on this momentous day, the sixth anniversary of my father’s death? I am still angry. I still miss him. Terribly.

I love you, Dad, and wish you much comfort. Know that at least this offspring, one of seven, still think of you—every single day.

Happy 84th Birthday, Pops!

With much love,

Paul Harry

 

© Paul Grignon – 2016

All Rights Reserved

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Christ the Redeemer…and Gold Medal Winner!

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Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer

He rises 125 feet into the sky, arms outstretched, welcoming the world to the Rio Olympics.

But after standing up there on Corcovado for the past 85 years, watching all the glowing bodies swarming the sands below, Jesus decided to spend a few days on Ipanema beach, catching a few rays and going for a few practice swims.

Later on, at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre, he got ready for the big event. Donning rather unique-looking bathing trunks, he stood on the 3-meter platform, tanned and buff.

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I captured this moment just before he bounced off the springboard, performing his signature move, a 4 ½ somersault pike with a twist, with a slight hover at the end.

Announcer #1: “Wow! Jesus really nailed it! I’ve never seen anything like it! It…it’s almost as if he was defying gravity.”

Announcer #2: “Or deifying gravity, as some would say.”

I managed to ask him a question at the end, as he slipped out of the pool.

“Your entry was otherworldly. How do you account for your extraordinary skills?”

“Well, I’d like to thank Father, for all my dad-given talents. Without his support, I’d probably still be a carpenter. I love ya, Dad!” And then he walked away beaming, as though a halo surrounded his hirsute visage.

Every morning, after my early walk with my dog Andi (will he soon have a female companion? More on that later) I go for a bike ride and end up at St. Annes church. There, in the quietude of trees and birdsong, I come to this statue of Christ. He resides atop a stairwell and this is where I begin a second work-out, to the consternation of rosary-beaded worriers below and a priest who drives by in his golf cart, wondering just what in tarnation this long-haired guy is doing, running up and down the stairs beneath the gaze of Christ.

There are 68 steps to the top, and I go up and down them five times, 680 steps in all. It’s quite a workout. And then I pedal home, past the worshippers sitting quietly in the outdoor pavilion, past the votive chapel where, for $5 you can light a large candle, and down the hill to home.

Christ, fresh from his victory, with gold medal around his neck, returned to the pedestal high on the hill.

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Trust me, you’ll just have to go there and see for yourself, to witness the brilliance of sunlight reflecting off his hard-earned medal.