Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dad and the Harvest

My heart tugs in all kinds of directions this time of year. Initially, as the leaves start to change colors and fall from the trees, my heart warms. This is one of the best times of the year! Brisk air. The smell of Autumn. Thanksgiving. My birthday. Sweet potatoes. Pumpkin pie. The harvest.

We have always brought in the pumpkins, gourds, squash and ornamental corn this time of year. We'd make a point of heading over to Mom & Dad's with the kids at a time that Dad could harvest with the kids. He enjoyed showing the beautiful colors of corn to the kids. They'd guess what colors there would be and then the reveal: purple; red; rainbow; as well as the spooky looking ones. We have some of this on video which will help us to remember. This tugs my heart in a different direction. Fond memories which follow with heartache that Ande will never experience this and Jaycie didn't have the opportunity either.

Last year we harvested without Dad with hope that he'd be around for future harvests. I have Nike and Maty talking to Papa on video telling him they love him and want him to get better soon so he can pick the corn with them. I'm not even sure if I ever showed him the video.

This year we intend to harvest whatever there is. Mom did plant again this year for numerous reasons but with everything going on, we haven't been able to help her as much as we should have. Dad was the one that loved to garden. He took pride in his garden. He enjoyed every bite of what came out of it as well as just the appeal the harvest had for the eyes.

Dad didn't like to have a meal served without his vegetables. I'd say vegetables were often the main course. Dad would take his salt shaker out to the garden, pick a tomato and eat it like an apple. The memories flood as I recall Dad in his garden.

Eating fresh sweet corn this year... and green beans... there was an enjoyable taste that left my heart tugging in different directions. I found myself reaching for another ear of corn... not because I was still hungry... simply because Dad would have a pile of empty ears with a meal and I knew if he was still here, I'd be letting him down to stop at one ear of corn.

Will the pain ever stop? We have to be intentional not to allow ourselves to fall into a pit of grief that we have to climb out of. I find myself literally shaking my head often. It's as though I'm telling myself I can't go there. I have to remember the good times and be grateful for what we have. It doesn't do any good to delve into my wishes for the future that can never be fulfilled.

Still, pain is part of this process. Grief is a part of my life. It's a daily learning process to live with it and in spite of it.

Recording and sharing memories of Dad helps medicate my heart. It keeps his memory alive and reminds me of how blessed we were to call this man "Dad" or "Papa".

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