Dewars, Neat.

I walked into my dad’s house for the first time since the funeral. I paced through the kitchen, into the dining room, around the living room, peeked in his office and finally settled in at the kitchen table trying to figuring out where to start.  Do I go through the enormous pile of mail? Do I pick up where I left off cleaning out his desk drawers? Do I do none of it at all and just let myself sit there and cry?  For the first time, my childhood home felt like a house. There was no lingering scent of dad’s cologne, or hint of spices from whatever he’d just cooked. It smelled like a house.

Too eager to get inside, I’d left my luggage on the porch knowing I couldn’t sleep there alone anyway, so why bother dragging it all in the house. Overwhelmed with my to-do list, I decided against all of it. All I wanted  was to wash the airport off my body, put on a civilized looking outfit, and drive to Jill’s to embrace her newborn baby girl because the anticipation of her arrival brought me so much joy in the sorrow filled days after losing my dad. I also longed for Jill’s calming presence, abundance of love and mastery of all things grief.

Before I could do any of this, I had to pour myself a Dewars even though I hate scotch. It made me feel connected to the empty space I was sitting in. My dad, while never much of a drinker would always offer his brothers, cousins or friends a drink when they’d drop in. He’d go in the liquor cabinet and grab his handle of Dewars and ask “neat or on the rocks”, if I were there he’d offer me a glass. I’d always scrunch my face and  he’d laugh at my disgust. Most often I’d pour myself a glass of wine and join them for a game of dominos or rummy 300. That day I sat in solitude as I swirled a single ice cube in a scotch glass while I carefully studied the details of the grain in the hardwood floors and drifted in and out of childhood memories wishing he were there to share a drink with me. I tossed the ice cube and put the teeniest pour in my glass. I walked around the outside of our house, Dewars, in hand as I pulled weeds from the flower beds and vegetable garden. I filled my basket with tomatoes, cucumbers and squash that were still popping up despite my 8-week absence and sobbed as the loneliness came over me like a heavy wet blanket and all I could think of was “dad’s missing out on his own God damn garden”.

One drink, one long shower and several tissues later, I talked myself into a calm place. I walked around the house realizing the dust has both literally and figuratively settled and my new life as an only child, with parents on the other side has begun. I wrote a gratitude list of things, people and places to be thankful for. While my house no longer feels like a home, I was always raised to believe that “home is where the heart is”.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the village that raised me. My “home” may no longer be on Walnut Plain Road, but it is a near- infinite amount of other places. I have this village of family and family friends and friends’ families all whose houses I’ve always considered home. Love lives there, in abundance.

I recently read an article featured in Vogue by Madonna Badger, where she detailed her own experience with grief after losing her parents and 3 daughters on Christmas in a tragic house fire. I, like Madonna am taking my time in considering my dad’s ashes final resting place, for now he’s on my bookshelf in a temporary urn. Some days, his heavy green box of ash brings me a comical laugh, sometimes it brings sadness. He too needs a home (not facing my friends who won’t admit to getting weirded out when they visit).  I’ll continue to navigate where I’ll call home and in the process hopefully find his too.

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~ by tortillacachupa on November 19, 2013.

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