Archive for March, 2007

A Lesson from my Father

March 23, 2007

My father has always been somewhat emotionally detached. He has never, for whatever reason, been willing or able to verbalise warmth or love, let alone to demonstrate it. He has successfully driven away both family and his few friends with his irascability. He lives in a resthome, which gives me the odd twinge of guilt, because if I were a truly good daughter, I would take him in and care for him myself. But he is such a moaner – nothing, but nothing, is ever right. He never has a good day, he never sleeps a wink, the food is never to his liking, he is always bored, the staff are always too busy to spend time listening to him and I don’t ring often enough. And I know that with my tendancy towards depression, that were I to take him in, I would in all probability fall off my precarious perch of positivity. Besides which, he and the Manpet simply don’t get along. They rub each other up terribly. And I’m not willing to inflict that on the man I love.

My father has two grandchildren – Shmoo, who is 28 years old and Chris, who is nine. Dad’s relationship to his grandchildren has been pretty much on a par with his relationship to my brother and me. Stern, cold, distant and judgemental. Shmoo can remember staying out of his way when she was a child, because of his gruffness. My brother’s child, Chris, has always called him Grumpy Grandpa, because the first thing he hears when he does visit is: “Don’t touch anything. Just sit down and be quiet.” Shmoo visits him when she can, but that isn’t very frequently. She feels guilty about this, but my thinking is that if he had put more effort into accepting her as a small child, she would want to see him now.

The sad part of this is that I don’t think he particularly likes being like this. Whether he recognises his own tendencies or not, I don’t know, as we can never have that type of conversation, but he certainly must feel the results. Interestingly, he has a twin brother who is quite the reverse in temperament. Uncle is warm, welcoming, chatty and great fun to be around. Quite how two genetically identical individuals came to have such different personalities is one of those mysteries of life. A friend reckons that long, long ago, my Dad chose to be the grumpy one and that it stuck so well that he couldn’t get out of it even if he wanted to.

The scary part is that I have a lot of my Dad’s personality.
I can be unthinkingly critical. Often, I’ve said things that would have been far better left unsaid.
I look for the downsides. If there is a reason for not doing something, I’ll surely be the one to find it.
I’m not very social. I’d far rather spend an evening alone with a good book than out at a party. When I am with people, I natural tendency is to listen and watch, rather than talk and interact. I find reasons for not doing social things rather than for doing them. I’m happy with my own company.

And now this grandchild, this mokopuna is coming, no doubt to be followed by others. And I do not want to be towards my grandchildren as my father was towards his. I don’t want to alienate them with harsh comments. I don’t want to make them feel small and unwanted. I don’t want them to feel unloved.

I want to make them feel that they are special, unique human beings. I want to make them feel that they are truly in the centre of my universe, that they are always wecome, always wanted, always loved.

I can only hope that I am up to the task.


Sorrow and Joy

March 19, 2007

Today, the 19th of March, 2007, is a day of sorrow. It is the first anniversary of the the still birth at thirty-seven weeks gestation, of our first grandchild, our first mokopuna.
His actual death occured sometime during the days just before the sixteenth. Our darling daughter Shmoo, had not felt the baby move for a time and woke during the night, certain that something was terribly wrong. She had been an anxious mother-to-be, going for frequent scans and checks and unwilling to waken her sleeping partner Mike for what would probably turn out to be a false alarm, had dressed and driven to the hospital over a high mountain range in the dead of night where her worst fears were confirmed.

The events of the following days and weeks are seared into my heart forever. The details aren’t necessary here and indeed, it would be impossible to convey through the written word what went on, except in the most superficial manner. Mike was a huge support to Shmoo, never leaving her side during the following days that lead up to the actual birth of Little Pea. How he managed this without breaking down I will never know, as he was still grieving the suicide of a son from an earlier relationship.

Going into the dimly lit room after the birth and seeing our daughter lying with their wee, dead baby tucked snugly into the crook of her arm was the most utterly heartbreaking moment of my life. And you could clearly see what sort of a person he would have been. Most new-born babies are a little blank and although the etheric life forces are fully present, the still incarnating individual is yet to mark the new face with the expression of their individuality. But not this little chap; already, you could see strong expression on his face, the broad forehead, the stubborn, set little chin indicating his character. He would have been one of those small, determined children who stamp their way through life, crashing through all obstacles and opposition.

We all wept, impossible to hold such searing pain within. Weeping for ourselves, for each other, for the loss of such potential, weeping for Little Pea. We each cuddled him, handling his cooling body with the greatest of care. He felt so fragile physically, his head lolling, the neck without tone.

The specialist established that the reason for the loss was a condition known as a foetal-maternal bleed – a very rare occurance.

Shmoo and Mike had the wee man cremated and they laid his ashes on the ground in a special place somewhere out near the coastal lake.

But today is also a day of joy, as our daughter and son-in-law are once again expecting a child. A girl-child this time, Nam, due to be born some time during Matariki. It has taken a while for us to allow ourselves to feel joy as the hurt of the last birth is still present, but the scans show a perfect healthy baby and the risk of another loss due to the same condition is statistically so slight that it virtually doesn’t exist. But the apprehension is still there, hovering in the background. I wish I could banish that and just feel the warm positive joy that should accompany a new soul’s journey to earth.

How can the human heart simultaneously hold such conflicting emotions?