I have kept myself busy to keep myself away from grieving for my dad not being with us anymore.
I have quickly scrolled past photo’s of dad when editing images of my paintings in my albums on my phone.
I scroll past earlier posts and photo albums on Facebook and Instagram.
I avoid looking at the large photo of my dad sitting on our hall table.
I felt a sudden lurch of my heart and skirted the edges of the well of my pain of loss when I came across my speech at his funeral when I was sorting papers for my tax. I quickly tucked it away in my bookcase and moved on with the sorting.
This morning has been busy, packaging paintings for collectors, social media posting to promote an upcoming art course I am teaching on, video face timing my mum, talking to my husband on the phone, answering knocks at the door. Busy, busy, busy.
I was still ‘busy’ in the kitchen this morning whilst I was making myself a late morning coffee. I was unguarded. I looked slightly beyond the kettle and saw the red wine bottle that has been sitting there for a couple of weeks. I had noticed it there many times over the past days. But this morning when I noticed it, a little memory association jumped onto a thought train.
I felt it first.
Before I consciously connected the thought to the red wine bottle.
The red wine bottle triggered a recollection of red wine memories of dad.
Dad liked a red wine.
It didn’t have to be a ‘good’ red wine either.
In fact, one of my memories which are shared within my family (he played this game on all of us at different times) was of him presenting me with two red wine glasses on his kitchen bench. Dad invited me to take a sip from each of them, saying that one was very expensive ($20 ~ he was a Scotsman, so that was xxy for him) and one, a cask wine. He then asked me to guess which one was the expensive wine. When I got it wrong, his face lit up with delight! He was enigmatic and triumphant over the fact that his cheapie cask red was as good, if not better, than the $20 bottle of red 🙂
Frequently, growing up and later when I was older, visiting mum and dad’s house, I would jeer dad on for the cut out newspaper articles he had stuck to the fridge, purporting the relevant facts of how the antioxidants in red wine were good for cardio vascular heart health. Again, I would see that joyous sparkle in dad’s eye when I teased him…us both knowing he now felt well justified to have two, maybe three glasses of red that night.
The childhood memories of listening to parental banter of my mum admonishing dad for drinking mid week. Dad’s favourite and reliable comeback was, ‘it’s medicinal’. Another memory, was dad saying…on any Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday…”I’m having a red because it’s Monday” and so on…
In that micro second staring at beyond the kettle, that red wine bottle conjured a multitude of fond memories, humour, warmth, connection, times gone by, family, places, people, love, laughter and then, haltingly; the loss of all of that.
The loss of my dad streamed into my consciousness, into my now. My heart burdened by the vacuum of dad’s ever present beingness. And I crumbled. And I will crumble again when I am least expecting it.
Memories sneak into the grieving, unbidden. A flood of wonderful warm memories to illuminate the chasm across to loss and grief.
This mornings memory made me realise, how I comfort myself with a glass of red, or a cup of tea, or food. The kitchen is where our family connected. The rituals we had with pouring a glass of red or a cup of tea for each other from the kitchen while we shared our stories, gains, triumphs, insights and sadness to a caring and listening ear…these are what I am looking for when I come back to the red wine in front of me and the cuppa. To feel closer to those who nurture/d and loved me and made feel safe and heard and loved. Where I belong/ed.
We all seek that. All of the time. We often go back to where we first felt it and carry on the rituals ourselves, to self comfort and self sooth.
Thanks dad. Thanks for the insight.
I won’t be so scared of the next lapse in thought and unbidden memory associations…I will expect them. They will take me close to you again. And I am strong enough to see through the pain of loss reverberating back at me afterwards.
I love you dad. And miss you so very much.
I’ll have a glass of red for you tonight.
As it’s a Friday…I can have four glasses. Maybe even the bottle
PS. Stay tuned…dad has inspired me with thoughts of gatherings with other beautiful peeps who are grieving. Art Journaling and reminiscence groups with cups of tea and a biscuit (wine even) and of course…art supplies + connection. In my kitchen x