The day was approaching and my feelings remained...confused, torn, and a bit fearful. The first anniversary of my Dad's death came recently and I couldn't and can't seem to get a bead on it. Everyone grieves and memorializes in their own deeply personal ways but I felt at a loss on how to feel about that day.
Strangely, as the anniversary grew closer, the day kept filling up with events and activities. I hadn't set out to make that a goal; in fact, I was feeling progressively guiltier about allowing the day to get so heavily scheduled. I'd spoken with other friends who understandably set aside this anniversary day for a more quiet time of reflection and prayer. Lord knows, I can also be a Master of Avoidance when the mood strikes me as well. For whatever reason, I allowed the day to fill up with four events, which I've documented in the last few posts. What was I afraid of?
The fact is, I wasn't avoiding Dad and his memory at all. I "talk" to him every day...I ask him for advice; I tell him I miss him and mostly, I ask him for guidance and plead with him to watch over Mom. I have no doubt that he is indeed doing just that and as my sister and I fret over various concerns over Mom's care, I continue to ask him to to guide us down the right path. I have always wrestled with the choke-hold of guilt when it comes to my family...being so far away, I feel as if I'm constantly neglectful. So sometimes I think I was a bit afraid that Dad was looking on me in disappointment; that maybe he didn't feel as if I were doing enough. I believe he fought death so hard because he was afraid to leave Mom. I know that Mom is receiving excellent care. I suppose, though, that I will always question if I'm doing enough and will continue to ask Dad to guide us through.
I also struggle with the very idea of marking the anniversary itself. As I pointed out earlier, everyone deals with grief in their own way. I wasn't and am still not sure if I want or need to mark the day of his passing as an anniversary I want to recognize in any great way. I think, for me, that his birthday will be the day when I will celebrate his life.
Apparently, when I wrestle with these powerful themes, I can't seem to move forward very easily. I've been struggling to write and even cook. K and I decided that we would focus on baking as we go forward into the winter months. Baking is more my friend Kristy's forte and we decided to we needed more practice. Our first was a particularly intricate recipe for baker's croissants from scratch courtesy of King Arthur's Flour. This was an all-day affair but worthy in baking education and most certainly taste. We did both sweet (chocolate) and savory (ham and cheddar) and both were excellent...light, flaky croissants filled with melty goodness. We enjoyed them with a steaming bowl of Giada De Laurentiis' onion soup with fontina and thyme which was seriously good.
A few days later, we also made cinnamon-pecan rolls from scratch out of the Seven Wives Inn recipe in The American Bed and Breakfast and Country Inn cookbook. These also turned out well but were not mind-blowers for us. Throughout all of the baking, I was frequently frustrated; my mind always drifting back to Dad and that endless guilt. Finally, while trying out one of the chocolate croissants, some of the filling dripped down in a long streak down my shirt. I cursed for a minute and then looked up and grinned to the Heavens. I have certainly taken up my Dad's propensity for wearing my food and I'm gonna take that spill as a version of a reassuring pat on the back from the Gravy On The Tie Guy.
Thanks, Dad. I miss you.