Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Free Weekend

I can't remember how long it has been since I had a weekend with nothing much to do.

I've been off work since Wednesday. My daughter came, we made some wedding plans, then she was off on a side trip before returning home. I did laundry, I bought a few groceries to make it through, I changed my sheets.

I also read a book, caught up on my crossword puzzles, chatted without feeling rushed, went to hear an author at the book store. I visited my mother-in-law who has just moved to a new facility and was happy to just sit and watch the people move through the lobby. I read the Sunday paper today, on Sunday.

And the oddest thing about the whole long weekend were the things I didn't do. I didn't write or edit or submit anything. I didn't plan a workshop or gallery opening. I didn't move my warm clothes up from the basement or organize anything. And most of all, I didn't feel stressed or guilty because I had nothing to do. I liked it. I felt rich with time.

On most weekends, if we're in town, it's because we have a lot going on and this weekend was the rarest of treats. I liked it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Still Looking Back, but Around and Forward Now Too

Yep, this is going to be about my dad. This week I'm feeling a little emotionally vulnerable. a song can make me cry like a baby. The inability to share some recent accomplishments leaves them incomplete. My daughter's wedding, the holidays, all loom large as they will point out his absence. I ran across a thank-you note and his writing made my chest hurt.

I had him in my life for almost sixty years. And yet there was more to share. More to celebrate. More phone calls, more visits. I wasn't finished being my father's daughter.

We're hanging a new show at the 1880 Gallery at the Long View Center tonight. The reception is tomorrow, 6-9, good food and drink and live music by Tommy Goldsmith. It will be a wonderful night with friends. And Saturday and Sunday I'll spend the day with writer friends, honing a new series of stories -- "Eugene Stories" -- based loosely on my imaginings about my dad's childhood. They're fiction, of course, and I couldn't have written them if he were alive. They're too probing and reveal my thoughts about his mother and his vulnerability as a child.

Look at him here with his sisters and mother. The first sister was full of spit and vinegar; the second had secrets to hide; their mother was tough because she had to be. Now look closely at my dad, his smile; he seems so innocent and vulnerable. A boy who lost his father at twelve or thirteen, a father who wasn't all that loving to begin with but was all he knew about being a son.

Grief is like labor: even if you've experienced it, you forget how painful it is. And like labor I'm birthing something new, these stories. It's a way to stay in touch, I guess.