Sunday, June 8, 2008

In Remembrance

Nine years ago today my father died. He was 79 years old and a few months. He had just been to his doctor and he assured me that the doctor said he was continuing stable in his COPD and Emphysema. He was looking forward to celebrating the millenium and his 80th birthday that would have occurred shortly after, in February of 2000. He didn't make those milestones.

I remember coming home from the hospital after we had the respirator removed and he was truly gone to see my hollyhocks, which he had planted for me, gloriously in bloom. They were so effulgent that they seemed to billow over the "easy-riser" steps leading up to the house. A Monarch Butterfly was alight on the top most spire and it took my breath away with its rare beauty.

I have never liked butterflies as religious symbols or as resurrection symbols and for a while (particularly in the seventies) they seemed to be everywhere mostly in a way that was gaggingly, cloyingly sentimental. Death, like joy, is austere, but somehow the butterfly, maybe because it was a Monarch and they are not frequent visitors to our yard, took me by surprise and gave me joy and comfort at the same time when all else failed.

Papa planted those hollyhocks for me during my rampant gardening phase. The flowers are purple, glorious flowering and the plants are, fortunately, self-sowing. I hope they will continue as long as I remain in the house for they are a tribute to the kind and steadfast man who planted and tended them as a gift even though he did not particularly care about flowers or enjoy gardening all that much.

He has been in my thoughts a good deal this past week and this weekend especially for he loved me unconditionally. He did not see my disability, as unfortunately, others sometimes have done. He accepted me as I am and shared his life with me. He was an exceptionally bright, perhaps even brilliant man and our conversations ran deep.

I remember that when I was studying history in college he wanted to know what I was learning and told me that he was glad to have me share with him the things that he had not had time to study when he was in college. (He simply triple-majored in physics, chemistry and math and then took an electrical engineering degree.)

We miss him today, my sister and I. Heaven is home and we trust and believe he is there along with our mother. It is a long way away still for those who remain behind and I wish they could come visit.

Requiem aeternum, Papa mine. Frederick James Manor, February 16, 1920-June 8, 1999. I am so grateful for the privilege of being your daughter.

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