Tag Archives: dad

Happy Birthday, Dad!

4344484

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

Advertisements

The Return of the Heron…

Leaving our house today, I saw the last remnants of my once majestic snow pyramids.

They had once soared, towering into the heavens…(well, at least seven feet high), but now only a slight hint of their past magnificence remained.

Beyond, our metal Blue Heron once again displays its exquisite plumage and profile, upright and resplendent against the fallow dun-colored earth.

Traveling to work I peered skyward, at an object that effortlessly winged its way against a cerulean backdrop. It glided along air currents with a slow, controlled flap of its primordial span.

It was a Blue Heron, the very first espied during this young and dreary spring.

It was…ethereal.

I immediately said, “Hi, Dad!” and then it passed silently overhead.

During winter, when no herons roosted, another bird took place of Pops. A lone crow, its darkled countenance the only presence visible against a jaundice sky, soared over treetops with a “Caw! Caw! Caw!” sounding ever so close to “Paul! Paul! Paul!”, as though my father, dead now over four years, was calling to me, wishing me a hearty good morning.

But now, now with the first glimpse of a blue heron, I know I will be seeing more of ‘Pops’ as spring hesitantly presents itself.

From our heron in the yard, once buried to its beak in snow, to sighting an actual heron overhead, it gave me great joy and comfort, knowing that its return was yet another season to behold, in aviary form, a wonderful and sweet glimpse into the visage of my dear Dad.

‘Good to see you, Pops! I’ve missed you!’

Welcome back.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2015 – All rights Reserved.

A Day in December…

Claude Monet

The bitter cold seemed not to bother Andi. He jigged and pranced in the driveway, his tail whipping the frigid air. I tugged on my gloves and joined him on the pavement, securing his leash for our morning stroll. Well, not exactly a stroll; more like a brisk jog/run. Damn, it was cold!

We crossed Rte. 19, passed on through a slight dirt road, and started our walk up Tower Hill Road. It was early, about 7:30am. There was not a hint of wind. Bare trees scraped the dun colored sky, and a mere smudge of sun appeared now and then through streaking ragged gray clouds.

No one was up and about. Distant dogs yowled as we trudged upward, Andi sniffing everything in sight, pausing here and there to listen to the howling of unseen hounds.

We ascended the hill, and with the higher elevation, a brisk brumal wind whipped at my layers, as Andi peered up at me, pleading for a return to warm confines.

But I would have none of it. It was good to be out in such frigorific climes, braced against such biting winter chills, and I knew the walk would do us both good.

To assuage Andi’s beseeching stares, I started to run, something I knew he loved to do. We raced, up and up, the cold stinging and tearing my eyes, Andi frolicking through pockets of snow and piles of dead withered leaves, up, up we went, and soon I paused, slightly out of breath.

We crossed the road to a lifeless lea, flora long dead, mere fragments of stalks jutting from crusted tufts. I let Andi run loose and gave a half-hearted chase, but soon I elected to stand rigid in the middle of the meadow, while Andi skipped and whirled in wide wild arcs across the fallow field.

I stood there and embraced the icy grip, at one with nature; the brutal cold; the thin, skeletal branches of a windbreak swaying gently in a winter breeze; the bruised passages of sky above, the wan sun feebly filtering through scudding scrapes of clouds tinged in pinks and grays and purples.

I was one with everything. Even Andi stood motionless, his gaze far off into the darkled edge of woods, where unseen creatures scampered.

A lone crow appeared, a black rent in the sky, cawing as it glided by.

“Caw! Caw! Caw!” it screeched, but to me, it sounded like, “Paul! Paul! Paul!”, as though it was my Dad, just passing by, saying a good morning hello.

‘Hi Pops!’ I whispered back, as the crow disappeared over a copse of birch.

We stood there, just Andi and I, immersed in the wonder and beauty all around us. Some folk would describe the scene before us as drab and dreary and depressing. But I thrive in it, allowing my body, mind, and spirit to embrace such a peaceful vista.

At length, sensing Andi’s desire to return, I leashed him and we wended our way down, down Tower Hill, across the thin expanse of dirt, and back into our yard.

Once ensconced inside, Andi bounded on the couch, gnawed his bone for a moment, and promptly went to sleep. I poured a cup of coffee and stood by the kitchen bay window. A light snow was falling, and the last of the sun disappeared. Cradling my coffee, feeling nice and toasty, my face still thawing, I relished our little walk.

A crow suddenly appeared, and perched on the wooden fence beyond the driveway. It bobbed its head, this way and that, and then fixed its onyx stare upon me. We gazed at each other, for a moment or two, and it turned and flitted off, cawing as it sliced through the swirling snowflakes.

‘Bye, Dad. Hope you are well.’

I turned from the window, sat down to my laptop, and began my post.

©Paul Grignon, 2014 – All Rights Reserved.

The painting above, by Claude Monet, is called  ‘The Magpie’. But for all intents and purposes of this post, it is a crow.

The Fault of our Feelings…

I just finished watching the movie, “The Fault In Our Stars”. It immediately brought back feelings of when my Dad died, at the unexpected and premature age of 78.

This movie, based on the novel by John Green, is absolutely wrenching.; heartfelt, loving, in-the-moment-kind of storytelling, the kind that tugs…no, wrenches your heart. There is no way this relatively unknown film can NOT pull at your heart strings.

And personally, why would such a flick hold so much resonance for me?

Well, because my Dad—my father—died four years ago.

“Yeah, big deal, he died, Paul. Get over it.” “It’s been four years. Geesh!” Yes, that may be the outlook of certain siblings. One of indifference, of complacency, of “…who the hell cares? He’s gone! Deal with it.”

Yeah. Deal with it. The death of my father, my Dad. My Beloved father who I love so much still. Still, after four years.

Still does he speak to me.

Still.

I miss him terribly.

I miss you, Dad.

I love you.

Mother’s Day…an excerpt from my Memoirs

071

Pops hamming it up. (when he used to smoke cigars)

This past Mum’s Day (she’s British) I traveled to the ol’ homestead, all three miles away, and thought of Dad. Come August 14, it will be four years since he died. (How he truly died, who knows? The paramedics said he had a massive heart attack, but there was no autopsy. He was whisked away, and before you knew it he had become nothing more than a pile of ashes.)

There, at the house, were a smattering of siblings as Mum held court with her beloved children. But the presence of Pops was palpable.

We sat, as we usual do there, in a circle, drinking our respective beverages (alas, mine was only tepid coffee from a jar. JD would have been preferable), and chatted away. As always, Dad was brought up, and various stories ensued about this man, our father.

He hated such gatherings. Too many people. He would sit there, in the Lazy-Boy and utter not a word. Sometimes, when he was especially peeved, he would stroke his temple with an index finger and clench his jaw. When he had had enough of all the cacophony of chatter he would get up, go to the kitchen, and  hope to find an errant spoon to wash, anything to get away from the braying of folk in the living room.

“Sometimes,” one of my sister’s said, “he confided in me that he would wash the dishes and when they were all done he would put some back in the sink and wash them again.” All to get away from the boisterous blabber beyond the walls.

I remember two years ago, on yet another occasion where we found ourselves in a circle (why do we sit in a circle?), Dad was mentioned and I told the assemblage that I think of Pops every day and say hi to him. This same sister replied, ” C’mon, Paul. It’s been two years.” And a brother added, “I don’t think of him at all.”

I could not believe my ears. How could they not think of this man, our father, a man who selflessly gave everything to his family? Sure, he was an exceedingly private man, but that was the only thing he was selfish about (if you can call it that). I thought my siblings’ comments to be quite callous and distressing, to know that that is how they felt about our dear father.

I stayed for about two hours (“Leaving so soon?” my mother would ask) and got up to leave. It was a pleasant visit, despite the feeling of Pops in the air. It felt as though if I had suddenly looked up, he would be there, hunched over, with huge glasses and purple hands.

Soon I shall venture to where the heron’s roost, a place he was very fond of, and where I dispersed a few of his ashes. It is a quiet, restful place, a calming peaceful spot, a place where my Dad would stand and watch those magnificent blue herons.

Heron

Even though it was Mother’s Day, Pops always lingers in my mind, memories of what a wonderful, loving father he was to me.

I love you, Dad.

Copyright, Paul Grignon – 2014

Character Immersion…

So I’ve been woefully neglecting my WPI, a Dystopian love story that takes place in the near future. For added authenticity, I thought I’d live my protagonist, a slice of ‘his’ life. I thought it a good idea to get into his head, to better get into gear and off my sorry ass to finish my damn novel.

‘K. stands hidden in a stand of pine in the dead of winter somewhere in New Hampshire. He contemplates his life now, of what has transpired in the past few months, years even.

He is fond of Jack Daniels and, cloistered under the cover of shadows, he pulls out a pint and takes a long swallow.

He stands and gazes out at what the country has become. He then thinks of J., a woman he met briefly, only once, and yet that one time is etched firmly in his head……’

So begins my manuscript. Well, sort of. Don’t want to give too much away in style.

I thought I’d immerse myself in his shoes, feel what he experiences, and with that visceral approach, I thought it would stimulate me to put pen to paper.

So here are a few visuals to help you ‘feel’ the mood of my book-in-progress. (The revision part is hell, isn’t it?)

011Taken from inside my barn, internal temperature about 15 degrees. My writing pad, and a shot of whiskey. On the chair rests a plaid shirt that belonged to my Dad.

014A painting I did of my father. He looks down at me, balefully, seemingly shaking his head at his wastrel son.

020That’s me, sitting in the same chair, whiskey in the foreground. Here I sit in the cold, feeling what my protagonist feels, thinking about a myriad of things.

015Paintings by Sargent and Chagall keep me company, another artistic Muse that lies dormant, as evidenced by the next photo.

016Ah yes, there it is. My vacant easel. At least the wood panel residing on it has a coat of gesso. In the upper left corner is a painting done by my grandmother, restored beautifully by my brother Joe.

017And here sits a jumbled mass of frozen paints. Perhaps in the spring they will thaw and I’ll be able to slap something on that vacant canvas.

013But back to my protagonist, his scotch, and his thoughts.

I sit in that chair, sit in the god-awful cold, feel what ‘he’ feels, and then I begin to put pen to paper.

Let’s see, where was I? Oh yes.

‘K. pockets the bottle and descends the hill. Thoughts of J. weigh heavily in his mind. He must find a way to…’

And so continues my revision.

Do you, on occasion, ever ‘live’ your own character?

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2014-All Rights Reserved.

Winter Wonders…

Winter Blue

Winter Blue

Andi and I crossed the road, past the cemetery, and entered a fallow frozen field where ankle-deep  snow greeted us. Above, chem-trails criss-crossed the sky, the only blight to an otherwise perfect expanse of azure.

Here, in the depths of winter, after much frolicking about, did I pause to take in the splendor before me.

snowfallI watched as the distant feeble sun still held sway over snow-dusted branches. The tiny warmth emitted caused small cascades of snow to fall. It reminded me of Mount Crumpet, when the Grinch was struggling to keep the overloaded sled from plunging off the edge. Remember that scene? Small balls of snow fell, little frozen puffs followed by a fine mist of even smaller flakes, all tumbling to the depths below.

new england sceneThe quintessential New England landscape, replete with a sagging red shack. Upon closer inspection of the fence, I noticed a tuft on a post that remarkably resembled those Hostess sno-balls. I cannot recall ever eating one of them as they never appeared edible.

Snowball

‘Sno’ ball

railEven the rail sported a spiky countenance, tufts of ice sprouting from its surface. Beyond the fence lay a pristine pasture and, on closer inspection, the winter stubble of grass poking its blades out wore a winter wig of white.

Winter Stubble

Winter Stubble

Frozen berries on frozen limbs also added their own individual brumal touch.

Merry Berries

Merry Berries

Further along the field, a milkweed pod imitated beautifully a Canadian goose, the pod wearing a most flattering chapeau of white as well.

Canadian Pod?

Canadian Pod?

country roadPast the pasture Andi and I ventured along a winding winter road and, on closer inspection, where parcels of pavement had been strewn with sand, it looked like the inside of a Charleston Chew should one have deigned to tear it apart.

candy barClose to home, our barn provided a lovely study of shadows, our beautiful blue heron (a reminder of my dear Dad), the rusted flower pail, and the slant of black all commingling to present a winter still life.

Brumal Barn

Brumal Barn

And I couldn’t resist this last pic, of Andi embracing our monstrous cat, Boo, a perfect way to end a winter stroll.

Andi & Boo

Andi & Boo

Copyright, Paul Grignon-2014, all rights reserved.