That being said, I have not been idle in my steps. I have been cautious to have purpose in the small steps I take, so that when I reflect upon my days, they may have value, if not to me, then certainly to another [purpose].
I do forty percent of my intention; so it does not surprise me when I make plans and don't actually show up. It does not surprise me that when I'm inspired to write, I do not.
I went to see my father in his grave and the internal work leading up to the visit was difficult. My brain poked at me and asked, "How long has it been since you've seen your father?" and then started calculating the time to lay a path of guilt. My brain chastised, "You don't even know the cemetery name! You only know the approximate location! Bad, bad kid!"
I thought on the memories of my father and reflected on none. They came like sharp needles in my thoughts with sharp words that I would no longer hear audibly.
In my daily life, I came to know two ladies with graves of loved ones in the same cemetery. They checked on the other's plot from time to time and spoke of the landscaping and upkeep. It seemed to be an extension of housekeeping for them to have their appointments to visit and keeping fresh flowers rotating with the ones wilted from the previous season.
I remember going with my father to my grandparents graves and we would sit or kneel and pray and talk. It was important to go visit. We didn't always have flowers. I think I was the only kid in our family who ventured into Holy Sepulchre with my dad? I don't know - I was indifferent to a lot as a child.
So, in the past ten years I have realized that I have always wanted to be an accountant because the only man of whom my father spoke with respect as I grew up was his accountant. He spoke of this man's intelligence to add a row of numbers and create a balance sheet when my father owned a dairy farm. So, for me, school wasn't important because I was a girl he said; but to the contrary, he valued the intelligence of this stranger. And I hear it in my own experience. When I say, "I'm an accountant," many furrow their brow and say something banal like, "You must be really smart." And the thought rages in my head, "I AM SMART!" but not because I can organize numbers. It is my opinion that the ability to reason is equated with intelligence. And I search for knowledge and keep my brain busy so that I will be smart. Not because it's important to my father - although realizing this, he didn't even know how to say that it was.
So, in this epiphany, knowing my father thought his accountant was the bees knees, I wondered if I focused on math skills and took accounting theory and then later majored in the field, ultimately getting the jobs I've had to please my father? And the resounding answer in my head, of course is -- yes.
And to quell any curiosity about his pride in knowing I was an accountant, he never understood that was in fact my profession. He dropped me off, toting clean laundry, at the dorm not understanding my major. He wanted me to get a better job throughout my life - something with a pension (and a time machine?), he would say. Before he passed away, he asked me if I was still a secretary and how long I had to work until retirement. And when I said, "I'm an accountant Dad." He responded, "That's a good job. I hope you make it." As if I hadn't been accounting for inventories and finances for decades already.
My writing and drawing was always squashed by the same man. Sure he told me how great it would be if I could become a cartoonist; 'but you have to be really good to make any money at it,' he warned; 'and this is not good enough.' And yes, of course a child doesn't realize that a man who struggled his whole life to pay bills and ultimately retired from the police force after a terrible accident is not qualified in the least to critique her creativity -- but still, squash!
I digress to the cemetery. I wandered around looking for his grave and felt more guilt. In my younger days I knew exactly where headstones were for folks with interesting names or extreme ages within the cemeteries in the city through which I would tramp. And yet, now I could not find my dad.
What a dummy I was not to ask, not to prepare, not to organize this trek to the grounds.
So, I started over again. To the corner of the grounds in which I knew he now laid. I counted up nine and four over. Nothing. Start over. The numbers had to be correct. Up nine and four over. A hole. I walked over the other tiles that laid flat upon the earth and found him. Exactly where he was said to be. I laughed aloud and a man wearing his very best military garb turned to me and said, "You finally found him, eh?" Yeah. Yeah I did. I found in the ground, sunken into the earth, a marble stone that read my family name with both my mother and father.
I climbed over the stone and sat atop the mound of soil that presented itself from the sinking stone and laughed with my father for having a stone that was four times the size of any of his new neighbors and told him he was showing off, like he warned the rest of the world not to do.
I talked to him a lot that day. And I don't know the result, other than I know I have to make the serene conversations with this ghost a part of my routine. It was the cup of coffee on Sunday morning when everyone else was in church. It was the drive out to the park to turn over the car so the engine would not forget its purpose. It was time with my dad that no one else could understand.
I watched yet another version of Hamlet this week and I of course had to share with the world that I had found it. So on facebook I wrote my little introduction to the video and edited it over and over again because I was reflecting on his descent into madness. It reminded me of a few things and triggered some thought.
I decided that a better turn of phrase would be an ascent to madness. For if a descent is a downward motion and the earth/ground is below us, the term grounding would be a descent. Conversely, to have one's head in the clouds/to think lofty ideas/to be aloof? would be light and airy - not at all grounded in reality - where we all wind up in the soil becoming dust. Very plainly I shall say, it occurred to me that the path to madness is an ascension and to remain grounded is nothing more than a descent into one's grave.
I thought again about this heavy stone sinking into the ground prematurely. And my thoughts aren't all sorted out with it yet. (Unlike numbers, my thoughts don't fit into neat little columns.) In the eulogy I wrote for my father, I noted his need to work through the mechanics of living. Make sure there are groceries and locking the door at night. I didn't mention I couldn't see his passions. There was nothing lofty to counteract the dirt and grounding of life. I was angry that I was finally exploring my creativity and didn't want to acknowledge that he had any. I was bothered by the missed time cowering to working hard to the objective of getting through to the sunset. I was angry that he set me up to want a grounded reality being rewarded with nothing but a pile of sinking dirt.
I don't know where all this is going. I have been thinking all these things for over a month, with everything being so important I'm making notes in my head and then balling up the scraps in my head when I can't make sense of them .
So, it's been too long. For everything. I've been walking through my days getting stuff done and even having a good time doing it. But I feel like there is something so completely missing to make me whole. And at the same time, I feel like it could just be I'm looking too hard for the heavy rock that's going to hold me in the ground instead of letting me breathe the air and float into the clouds for a bit with some freedom. And understanding my thoughts have defined the descent into reality and ascent into madness, I wonder how open I am to the ascension of freedom knowing that when I feel most crazy--- I guess I haven't worked it all out yet.