It is a grey and rainy day today, the kind of day for staying in one’s pajamas until mid afternoon (at least) and for cleaning parts of the kitchen that haven’t seen a sponge in three years. It is a day for making chocolate-chip banana muffins for no good reason other than that there are ripe bananas to be dealt with, and then, for eating one of these superfluous and lovely muffins while it is still warm. It is a day for puttering, organizing, and nesting on the home front.
Having inherited all of my father’s earthly possessions, my abode is much like a warehouse right now, full of boxes and piles of stuff. It is a good day to chip away at the morass, both his and my own.
I was just taking a few minutes to clean out the disaster that is my purse and I found something that gave me pause and caused me to stop all organizing efforts to write these words. What I found was a five dollar and ninety-six cent receipt for Dairy Queen. I was stopped in my nesting tracks because I remember that this was the last time I spent money while my dad was still alive. The time on the receipt is 21:34:52, the date, 9/26/13.
Flashback sequence: It was getting close to 9:30 in the evening when my mom and I said goodbye to Georg and left him in his bed at the hospital. Dad seemed surprisingly cheered when we left and so we decided to treat ourselves to root beer floats. We foolishly thought he was on an upswing.
Really, I think he was relieved because I had finally stopped saying, “hang on, Dad!” and instead, that particular night I told him, “Dad, if you are tired, I am all right. Illia and I love you. Do what you need to do inside yourself to feel better.” Immediately after that, his doctor came in—totally unexpected at 8:30 at night—and talked with Georg about the fact that he did not have a “do not resuscitate order” in place. This was discussed, and Dad indicated that should he have a heart attack, he would not want Herculean efforts to bring him back.
At 11:45 that night, while he was by himself, Georg’s heart gradually slowed and stopped beating. I think he must have determined it was okay to go. Previous to this, he had been hanging on to his crumbling body like an autumn leaf hanging onto a tree in a gale. I guess my words had let him know that I would do my best to handle things in his absence. At first, seeing his pain come to an end was a huge relief to me.
I try to remember that feeling of relief whenever I get particularly sad about his passing. It was time to go. Is that all right with me? Sorta kinda I guess. I miss him every day. I wake up some mornings and my first thought is, “I should call dad.” Uh-uh. Nope. Not here anymore.
I don’t want to throw away the receipt. I know I should, but, I am goofy that way. The receipt really means nothing in the grand scheme of things, right? It is just a piece of paper that marks a time and a date very close to the time when Georg took off from this plane of existence. Why is this so important to me? If I keep the piece of paper, every time I come across it again, I will be saddened. Why would I do this to myself?
Perhaps I need to take a lesson from my dear father and just let go. Let go. There are many places to be and many things much more uplifting and wonderful to catch one’s attention. Dwelling on a little scrap of paper in a sad place does no one any good: not me, not my family, not Georg.
I will go now and throw away the Dairy Queen receipt. In fact, I am going to light a match and burn it in the kitchen sink. I will transform the paper into something else entirely. Light. Air. Ash. That makes a lot of sense to me all of a sudden. Georg would like to see this reminder of my sadness be transformed. I think he would applaud me. He is applauding me now.