Tag Archives: father

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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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.

Mother’s Day…an excerpt from my Memoirs

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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.

In Memory of Pops…

August 14th, 2013

Three years.

It has been three years since my Dad died.

36 months.

Still, it doesn’t seem possible.

Still I expect to see him at the store, hunched over, his purple hands dangling at his side, his glasses filthy from some chore he was doing at home.

Whenever I go over to the house, I feel his presence; silent as always, sitting in an armchair, reading the paper while Mum and I prattle on about things.

And still, still every day do I think of him. Even after 1,000 days, I think of him.

I have been remiss in visiting my Dad’s special place, where Great Blue Herons roost. But on this solemn anniversary, after work I will make the trek there. And I think I’ll take Andi along. My father would have liked Andi. I always thought that in retirement my Dad would have gotten a dog, someone to keep him company on his long, solitary walks.

Here’s to you, Pops. Just wanted to let you know you are always in my thoughts. It’s not the anniversary I wish to celebrate, but I celebrate this day in your honor.

Earlier today, at my new job, an older gentleman came in. His name was Al, and he was 80 years old. He took out a batch of work, 35mm photos that he had produced, and we chatted for over 25 minutes.

His first piece he ever did was of a Great Blue Heron, and I thought that his presence in this store was somehow an appearance of my Dad, incognito, stopping by to say hello.

It was quite touching to watch this old man, explaining his process, how he has done this ‘hobby’ for the past 53 years. I looked into his eyes and saw the passion and kindness that enabled him to produce these exquisite works.

All the time listening to him, it reminded me of my father, how out of blue he would regale some untold tale of his youth, and I would be rapt.

I bid the old man a pleasant day and I thought that, for the briefest of moments, it was indeed my Dad incarnated. He had stopped by, on this anniversary, to say hello.

Dad, may rest, calm, and peace be yours.

Take care, Pops. I love you.

Your son, Paul.

Copyright, 2013, Paul Grignon, All Rights Reserved.

To Pops…

Second Home

A soft wind blows

Over my father’s

Fragmented grave.

He is out there,

Amongst the frogs,

The cattails,

The herons;

A second home.

I pay tribute

To the man

Who loved me

In his own

Particular way;

A quiet man,

Silent and solitary,

Dispensing rarely

His life story.

I rarely heard

Words from him

Of his childhood.

‘Twould be nice

To engage in

Conversation once again

With him alone,

Wine in hand,

Where herons roost.

blue-heron-in-flight

©paul grignon, 2013, all rights reserved.*

*Image courtesy of Mark Hilliard.

Where Herons Roost, and Father Rests…

Yesterday, I planted pansies at a site where parts of my Dad are scattered.

Flowers for Pops

He died two years, eight months, and fifteen days ago. He died three days after his 78th birthday. Some of his ashes are scattered here. Other parts of him are strewn closer to home. Sanctuary

I visited this site because it was a sanctuary to him. He would go for long, solitary walks and sit idly here for a while, watching the herons in their nests, gazing into the sky for a heron in flight.

I went there with my Beloved Julie and, after I planted the yellow and purple flowers we, too, took in the splendor of the scene; a soft murmur of wind, the delicate trickle of water over a dam, the firmament reflected in a shimmering pond. Reflections

It was a perfect spring day.

The task done we perched on an old lichen-covered stone wall and sat in silence, and allowed our senses to be embraced by Nature’s wonder.

A heron suddenly flew overhead, it’s slow, rhythmic wings fanning the air. I knew it to be Dad. We both said hello to its magnificence as it passed on by. Heron

Other bird calls pierced the air as lazy Monet-like cumulus flitted across our path. A single heron popped up from its nest, its roost for the summer. We lingered, and soaked up the quietude, pleasantly  immersed in the languid flow of Nature.

Forty minutes later, we packed up and headed home. With one last glance behind, we bid my Dad peace and comfort.

“See you, Pops. We’ll be back soon. Love you.”

We left, to enjoy the remainder of a sunny April Sunday.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.