06 June 2011

It's been a while, what I've been doing....

I’ve been coming to a deeper understanding of grief. My father, Randy Lee Teach, passed away April 19.
Sudden, unexpected, stunning everyone. His 68 birthday is coming up June 11. When I flipped the page to June I saw his name filling the second Saturday square. I thought of the gift I planned on buying him, the 30 year-30 movie Clint Eastwood collection. When VHS players came out when I was a pre-teen we would watch the spaghetti westerns together. Recently he had started watching them with my 12 year-old half sister. We laughed the day before the funeral when she quoted one of our father’s favorite lines.

My 20 year old son could not join us. He’s in Brazil. We displayed a photo of him near one of Dad from his early 20’s. The forehead, eyes, bridge of nose of the two young men mirrored each other. A collection of old family photos hangs on his living room wall. Dad’s Danish grandfather (Grandpa Pete, Peder Lauridsen) stood stolidly posing with his wife and two year old daughter. The forehead, bridge of nose, eye’s the start of this ripple. Will my five year old half brother also carry this family trait? As my sister and I went through boxes of mementos I found a large gold wedding band. When I tilted it to the light just right I could read the inscriptions. Marie Schlesigner and a date- Pete’s wedding band. I mentioned something about them to my sister. She shook her head and said, “I don’t remember them.” What a difference four years makes. I was 12 when my great-grandparents passed away my sister 8. It dawned on me I’m the only blood relative who remembers them. My mom remembers Pete and Marie but she and Dad split up when I was seven. 

The family relationships are complicated. The choices my father made shaping my life; bringing pain, sorrow, joy, love, and amazing people and experiences. My step-sister came for the services. The invitation made with grace and sincerity by Dad’s third wife. They had never met before. We had lost my step-mom last December after a long hard fight with cancer (Dad and step-mom had divorced 16 years ago). That began my journey of losing those who shaped who I am. Losing those I love when they still had so much living to do. At that time a year and a half ago my mom was fighting breast cancer, my son getting ready to leave for two years in Brazil, and my 102 year old maternal grandmother beginning to have serious health issues. It’s been a growing, stretching, deepening year and a half. 

For the last month and a half, on days when it is dry enough (few and far between in northern Oregon), I’ve dug in the garden. Planting and encouraging things to grow. I’ve reflected and remembered. I’m the story teller in the family; the lover of words, of family history, of things old. I’ll write the memories stretching back to Pete and Marie and forward. So that my children will know the forces that shaped me that are shaping them.