I was planning on writing about Charlie's birth today. Sort of in the spirit of the 'circle of life' as I think about the anniversary of my dad's death and the arrival of Charlie Archie, his little blonde, blue-eyed youngest grandson. But frankly I wasn't expecting to feel quite so sad and low. Anniversaries don't usually have a big affect on me, mostly because I am hopelessly renowned for my ineptitude when it comes to remembering dates - including birthdays, special occasions, and even sad memories. And so I wasn't prepared; not at all.
I'd said to Rich that I thought it might be a difficult week; that black Friday would be quite hideous (it sort of was) and that I'd appreciate us making it special, at least to mark it in some way. I had wanted to get the Christmas tree today but Rich was going to be working late so I knew that would be difficult, and then we thought we might head out for dinner but the idea of taking two tired children for a late dinner was not that appealing, so we didn't do anything, didn't mark it in any way whatsoever and even though it's still the anniversary I'm already feeling very regretful and sad that we didn't do anything.
Mostly I spent the day with just Charlie, sitting and snuggling and then driving aimlessly around until I decided to stop at Whole Foods. Dad was really fun to food shop with. He hardly liked any foods save for white bread and cheap pot pies and cream cakes. He didn't approve of Whole Foods - the awful cost - and yet he was so funny as we wandered down any shop's aisles, in the often hopeless pursuit to find him something he would tolerate.
Dad was wonderful company. I loved spending time with him. He was self-deprecating, empathetic and supremely kind. I know these descriptions are habitually overused, but the truth is he really was sincerely kind and if I ever needed a kind word or for someone to say, 'poor Billy' (Billy was his name for me), he would be the person I would go to. He was generous with his sentiments and words and so very gentle. He loved hearing about Rafi. He was the only person who I could call and would know that he was truly interested in hearing about the mundane, everyday things that make up a person's life. When I was in college I would speak to him at least daily, and even when we moved to the States he would call at least a few times a week.
He was a good man. He was a wonderful grandpa to Rafi and he made such an impact that Rafi still talks about him and points to him in pictures and chats about him as though he were still a regular part of his life. I feel sad for me and the boys that he's not here anymore, that Charlie will never know him, will never be held and comforted and loved by such an incredible person. I think of all that they'll miss out on and the huge hole that they won't even be able to comprehend. I think of the tenderness and sweetness that'll be absent from their lives - and mine, too.
I suppose the craziness of last year, being in Spain, bringing my mum back to the States and then moving a couple of weeks later, and then all the physical complications with Charlie's pregnancy, made the loss recede into the background as life carried on. But as the holidays loom, and as mum is set to visit us again in a couple of weeks, his death has been brought into sharp relief.
I can see that Rafi has inherited some of my dad's tenderness. Last night he was having a singalong as he went to bed. he stopped and sang a bit so I could record it but he was distracted by some trains on the computer and so he forgot half the words. Still, a very sweet clip, and it's cheered me up no end today.