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My Dad's memorial service turned out to be excellent. When I had reviewed the program at my Mom's a week or so prior to the event, I thought there was so much music it would go on forever. However, most of the pieces were short, so it wasn't overly long. And, the brass choir (2 trumpets, tuba, french horn, trombone) that performed most of the pieces was absolutely wonderful. I enjoyed the eulogy as well. There was a lot of humor and reminiscence at the outset, but the minister wrapped with a wonderful and moving insight into my father's perspective on life:
He enjoyed almost everything he did - cutting brush, hunting, meetings, arguments, concerts, eating, taking naps. It seemed to me that any time I’d see John, regardless of what he was doing, he had a kind of half-smile on his face - working, playing, listening, talking. He embodied a sense that life was good.
I think his capacity to enjoy was the source of his confidence, his unquestioning conviction that things would work out, that we’d find a way, that, if we did our part, all would be well. John really believed that all would be well, and this is why, I think, we liked to be with him, and work with him and catch his faith in the future.
This rang so true to me. My Dad did have that positive outlook on life, but it wasn't just that some miracle would occur that would make everything come out ok, it's that we could positively influence our lives through our individual and collective efforts.
I used to feel that way, too. The long, downhill slide of MS and the unrelenting demands of caregiving have eroded that cheerful, positive outlook I once had. It is a goal of mine to regain that positivity. After all, we have a history of continually facing new challenges that we overcome. We can perservere despite all that MS has stolen from Skip.
Other updates ...
- I ended up not speaking at the reception following the Memorial Service. I decided it was stressing me out thinking about it, so shed the stress by choosing not to. My sister spoke, she had prepared notes she read from, and did a lovely job. Lots of others got up and spoke off the cuff, most telling funny and moving anecdotes about my Dad.
- Addy is 6 months old today. She's still a handful but a wonderful, loving puppy to have around. We were experiencing some real behavior problems, so a few weeks back had a woman who specializes in puppy problems come over for an hour and evaluate what was going on. She gave us some useful tips for getting better control over Addy and they've paid off beautifully.
- My vacation, right after the Memorial Service, had two distinct phases. The first week, I was incredibly indolent, doing as little as possible. By the second week, I was able to dust off the to do list I'd prepared and actually got a few things done. Skip and I went to a nearby museum for an afternoon's visit. It's called the Higgins Armory, and specializes in armor through the centuries. I'd been wanting to go there for a long time and even Skip ended up enjoying it, though she was very disappointed in the gift shop at the end. I also had a chance to visit my Mom for a few day trips during the second week, avoiding the summertime weekend traffic to/from the Cape.
- Yesterday was my birthday. Skip had seen a review on TV of a Mexican restaurant about 30 minutes from here that sounded excellent so we decided to celebrate it there. Skip was never much on spicy food until recently and now it's as if she can't get enough of it. The service was excellent, the housemade guacamole came in 3 different varieties (we tried each), each dish we had was very good and I even drank margaritas. I hardly ever drink, but I just wanted to break out of my set-in-stone routine for the evening, so we got a pitcher of Sangria Margaritas.
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At the top of this post, I mentioned that I'd come to some realizations about myself. I know I often joke about being cranky in this blog, but the reality is that, of late, I've been angry a lot and it's no joke. And, you know what I've found? That expressing that anger just amplifies it, it doesn't dissipate it, as conventional wisdom says. And, if you try to step back, take a breath, and react appropriately to the situation rather that in an angry way, it often fails. So, I'm trying not to express my anger or act appropriately, but to just shut up when I feel angry. I'd say I'm succeeding about 70% of the time, but that's been a wonderful experience for me and for Skip as well, who gets to hear me rant and rave far too often.
Since taking this approach, I've felt a weight lift from my mental state. I feel angry less often. I feel less guilty about being angry and ranting. It's been so much easier to have a positive mental attitude when I haven't been walking through the world with a cloud over my head (like Joe Btfsplk in L'il Abner).
Now, if only I could lose a few pounds!