Monday, October 31, 2005

A very personal day

I have a slightly macabre sense of humour. 26 Years ago, today, my father died. I try not to make a big deal out of it but I always remember the day almost as soon as I wake up. Also, it’s Halloween. Am I the only one that sees the slightly sick humour in that?
Today I am wearing black, in honour of the date. Black shoes, charcoal jeans, and a black top. It’s just my own little way of marking the day. But here’s the funny bit.
The top I am wearing today – black, as I mentioned – has a sort of motif where one would find a pocket if it were a shirt. It is a big number 26, and the caption below it says “Keep it moving”.
Sort of coincidence, sort of not, but it’s my own slightly macabre private joke today.
Well if you didn’t think I was a little odd before, no doubt you do now.

Seven-year-old Jade was happily painting away in her Kindergarten class, concentrating so hard on her big yellow sun that she didn’t even realise she was frowning. The other kids around her were chatting and laughing and making a noise, but Jade had a task to do and she was taking it seriously, as she always did. The intercom crackled for a special announcement; the teacher tried to shush the class of youngsters so that they could hear what The Headmaster had to say. Jade didn’t pay too much attention – she was almost finished colouring in her sun – until she heard her name being called. Over the intercom!
This was unheard-of. Nobody got called to The Headmaster’s Office unless they were in Big Big Trouble, and Jade was never in trouble.
But wait, it wasn’t just Jade; her elder sister, Amber, was being called too.
Teacher bustled over to where Jade was sitting to help her pack all of her things into her little suitcase. Jade was confused. She hated being the centre of attention, and right now all the other children were looking at her and wondering what was going on. She wished the floor could just swallow her up. Also, she was a little cross because now she knew she wouldn’t be able to finish her painting. On the other hand, she was a little excited because she would get to see Amber, her big sister, her idol. Normally she had to wait until break-time to see her and even then it wasn’t for long.
One of the Prefects came to the classroom to fetch her, a kind looking girl with long blonde hair tied up in a ponytail. Amber was already waiting at the Office when she arrived. The Secretary looked up when they walked in, but Jade didn’t pay much attention to her because Amber was sitting on one of the blue chairs with Aunty Bernice. She wasn’t Jade’s real aunt, but a close friend of Jade’s mother. Her mom’s family lived far away, on the other side of the country.
Jade smiled and Aunty Bernice smiled back, but something felt strange. Nevertheless, Jade was happy enough because Aunty Bernice told the girls that she was there to take them home. Jade thought it was rather nice to be going home from school early, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. Aunty Bernice didn’t say why they were going home and she was quiet on the short drive home.
There were several strange cars parked outside the house when they got home, and the front door was open. Amber took her hand as they walked inside. Aunty Bernice’s husband was there, as was their other friend, Uncle Andrew, and some other men Jade didn’t know. Everyone seemed to be talking in hushed tones and Jade started to feel a little scared, but Amber was still holding her hand so she was okay. The girls were ushered through to their parents’ bedroom, where their mother was sitting on the bed. She beckoned to them to sit down with her, Jade on her left and Amber on her right. Briefly, Jade wondered where their little sister, Amelia was. Her mother said that Uncle Andrew’s wife, Aunty Jenny, had taken her out shopping. The bad feeling grew stronger upon hearing the strange tone in her mother’s voice.
All three of them looked up as the Priest walked in and started talking in his calm, gentle way, but the words started flowing over and around Jade, and soon she couldn’t hear what he was saying anymore. The world stopped for a few minutes and her mother and Amber started crying. There had been a car accident. The Priest was telling them that their Daddy was gone and wouldn’t be coming back. Surely that was a mistake? But her mother was sobbing quietly and then Jade found that she was crying too. She didn’t really understand but she knew that this was a bad, bad thing, although she couldn’t really comprehend fully what she had just been told.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. Her mother’s friends stayed and looked after them, made them lunch, comforted her mother and generally bustled around the place. Amber seemed more upset than Jade felt, but then, she was a little older and Jade couldn’t help feeling that she knew or understood something that Jade didn’t. Amelia, who was only four, was brought home later in the afternoon, and when it started growing dark all the people left, and all that remained were Jade and her two sisters, and her mother. They ate sandwiches for supper and when it was bedtime her mother came and tucked them in, as she did every night.
And when she turned at the door after switching out the light, Amelia, who slept in the other bed in Jade’s room, said, as she did every night,
“Mommy, please tell Daddy to come and kiss us goodnight,”
Her mother replied, in a strangled voice,
“I wish I could girls. I wish I could.”
And right then, Jade knew that he never would again, and for the first time that day she cried not because it was what everyone else was doing, but because she knew.

Rest in peace, Daddy.
31 October 1979

14 comments:

LiVEwiRe said...

Oh my goodness. I think that when we finally do cry tears that are our own, it has such a profound effect. There is a deep pain but also an acceptance and a cleansing of sorts. That was beautifully written. Now, in addressing the issue with the shirt, I sort of got a kick out of it. I know someone else who would do that (ahem); besides, it's all about your comfort level, no one else's, hon! {hugs to you and your shirt ;)}

Underachiever said...

Beautifully written, Terri.

Undr(at a loss for words)

BUDDESS said...

You made me cry again! So beautifully written. Your "Daddy" would be so proud if he could read this.

(Lovely pic!!)

kyknoord said...

[sniff] That 'realisation' moment is a real bitch, sometimes.

ChittyChittyBangBang! said...

An apt post, Terri, and a fitting tribute to your dad.

DelBoy said...

I can't believe that it was so long ago Cuz. Hope you had an OK day yesterday.

Great pic too. Now that's how I remember Jacki, Jessie and Joker...

beadinggalinMS said...

That was a beautiful tirbute.

Terri said...

Thanks for the kind words everyone. LiveWire, somehow I suspected you might appreciate my slightly dark humour (excuse the pun!)
Undr, that is an achievement indeed :-)
Didn't mean to make you cry, Buddess!
Kyknoord, ain't that the truth!
Chitty, ta very much.
Del, ja we were cute as kids, weren't we?
Beadinggalinms, thank you and good to see you!

You'll all be glad to hear I had a good day yesterday, all in all. I just woke up yesterday morning and knew I had to write this. Now it's done, I feel better, and will move along again.

Mom said...

Beautifully written, and that touched a tender spot in me that I thought was long gone.

Bosbefok said...

I dont know what to say mluv ...
It never goes away, but the people around you help ease it a bit.Lean on us when you need to ....

Ben O. said...

Wow - I always like to try and make my comments a little on the funny side . . . it's just my way.

I have nothing here -

You're very strong.

Ben O.

Terri said...

Aw Ma... now ur gonna make me cry! ;-)
Glad u liked it.

BBF I do.

Ben, didn't mean to depress the whole world with this thing at all. Feel free to be funny anytime. As for being strong - sometimes, and sometimes not so much. But hey, we do what we need to do to get on in life, y'know?

Jared said...

So, I do not really believe it will have effect.
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Nathaniel said...

This can't have effect in actual fact, that's exactly what I believe.
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