Remembering Pa

My father-in-law recently died. I will miss him and wish him happiness and fulfilment in his journey ahead. Pa, as he was fondly known, was not highly educated in the traditional sense but he was a student of life. He taught a love of family because he loved his so much. He taught laughter because he understood the subtlety of humour. He taught a love of animals by showing how different and beautiful that love can be. He was unconcerned with what “others” thought of him but very concerned with what we, his family, did. He often told my children things that made me cringe at the inappropriateness of them. But he knew something because all his grandchildren loved him for that. He appreciated our love and attention and never focussed on our lack of it. (Unless we forgot to kiss him hello. Now that was trouble!) Personally, I always felt he understood me without needing explanations. When my father died 24 years ago I remember that Pa felt like a solid person next to me. He was the first person I called when I crashed my car into a stationary one on a rainy night. He always gave me the benefit of the doubt and saw my good intentions even when I made mistakes. We had a connection, him and I, that is built on years of that kind of unconditional love. Thank you Pa. XX

My oldest son, Ilan and my niece Tamryn spoke at his funeral. Their words were heartfelt and I believe their grandfather would have appreciated them greatly. In essence they were both saying something similar. How did he make his mark in this world? It is not so much about the things that he did but how he affected the lives of those those around him. The passing on of values and how we treat our family and fellow humans is our true legacy, is it not?

Yesterday, Gabi and I were watching a slide show of photos taken about a year ago, with my 3 year old nephew, Aden. Gabi was amazed and then concerned that Aden did not remember the events (in this case, a zoo) depicted by the pictures. Later she expressed that it seemed a waste to take young kids to anything because they didn’t remember them. Our conversation went as follows:

Me: Aden loves Polar bears, right?

Gabi: Yes.

Me: Well, he saw Polar bears at that zoo for the first time. And then perhaps a couple of months later he saw a picture of a polar bear and that sparked his interest. At that time he probably related that to the one he saw at the zoo. Maybe 6 months later he saw another polar bear and became very excited even though he didn’t remember the other ones. Memories build on each other like that. All experiences are important even though we may not remember all of them.

Gabi: Yes! And sometimes photos remind us of things and we think we remember them even when we don’t.

Me: That’s the purpose of photos.

Gabi: And sometimes people remind you. Like I think I remember when Dani pulled my arm and dislocated it (sorry Dan, she’ll never let you live this one down) but I don’t think I do. I just think people have told me the story so much that I think I remember it.

Me: Yip. You’re right.

So while Aden may not “remember” Pa, he may remember my ingrained game of bouncing him on my knees chanting “dumpie, dumpie.” Thanks Pa.