The transition of grief is mysterious to me. Last week I was happily driving to Bible study, then a Classical song came on the radio, which reminded me of hearing a similar piece with my Dad (who passed away last summer), and there I was –crying away. The memory of my Dad and I at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra also made me smile as I recalled how we had gotten a chocolate bar during intermission, and Dad went on to finish it during the next part of the concert—crinkly foil and all! It drove me nuts, but that is just how Dad was: he wanted to do what he wanted to do. I am thankful for his example of fearlessness and savoring the moment. Continue reading
One of the most comforting words shared with me during this time of grieving for my Dad was, “Your Dad was the first man who held you on his arms and said, ‘I love you.’ ” This first photo is the first photo I have of my Dad holding me. It is so comforting that Dad got to hold my son as well as me.
On June 6th, my son and I went to see my dad. He was dressed in a nice blue shirt and was sitting in his wheelchair in the living room with a lot of other folks who were dozing and quiet. He seemed sleepy, but he perked up when he saw us. His eyes crinkled into a smile and he knew who we were. I gave him a hug and then got Joel out of his car seat, and then Dad reached out to hold Joel!
Dad smiled at Joel And Joel smiled back. Dad held him for about five minutes until his arms got tired (Joel weighs around 25 lb. already), and then he handed him back.
My Dad will be 81 on June 4th, and I’m pondering my favorite memories of him…here are a few:
Let’s start with some food memories (since Dad and I both love our food!) We had a huge hickory tree next to our driveway, and each fall it would drop thousands of nuts—at first they we insulated in 1/2inch thick covering, that would fall off in quarters as they dried, then leaving the small (about the size of a blackberry) nut that also had 1/8-inch of shell. My dad made me a “Hickory nut cracker” –a strong contraption that would break through that heavy shell. Once when I was around 10, I took the time to crack a lot of hickory nuts and then I baked them into cookies. They had a strong, pecan-like flavor. I took some out to Dad working in his shop, and he liked them. Continue reading
The word to describe yesterday would be bittersweet: In the morning, the reality of my Dad possibly passing away soon hit home. I’m thankful for tears and the release they bring. Then I switched gears to party preparations for a party for my fiancé passing a huge test that advances his career. I went over to his house, turned on a funny movie and got chopping: white chili, finished the red chili, fruit salsa… Continue reading
Last night at my sister-in-law’s book release party, I got to see family being strengthened: I was holding my nephew, Jack, who is reaching out and loving to feel things. He put his hand in my mouth, and liked to feel my hair. I got to introduce my nephew to my Dad’s beard: he touched it, felt it, stroked it, pulled it. Then my brother came over and I handed Jack to him, and then my brother put Jack near my Dad’s face again, this time where he could feel Dad’s white bead with both hands! Seeing three generations of Campbell men interacting was beautiful: Tiny Jack grabbing my Dad’s beard and my brother and Dad both enjoying just looking at Jack discover this new texture.
Reflecting on it, the image I would assign to this experience would be a silvery, airy, but strong thread: healthy, loving bonds were being woven between these three men, and it was an honor to behold.