Saturday, August 21, 2010

New day

Beautiful day in Austin, Texas.  A mild 95' F right now, which is pleasant, considering it's the middle of August.  Kids are playing, squirrels are frolicking. I'm sitting at my Command and Control Center of World Domination, looking out the window of our modest but happy home trying to get some work done.

I'm not doing so well.

Mainly, it's because my 3 year old, Danielle, keeps zooming through the room on her rolling pink car, holding a cardboard paper towel tube to her eye as a telescope, squealing for joy at the top of her lungs. She is trailed by her sister, 1 year old Madeleine (who just yesterday took her very first steps).  Madeleine, who has a VO2 max lung capacity that would put Lance Armstrong to shame, cuts loose with her patented Banshee Scream(TM) that rattles windows, mirrors, and my brain stem.  I could go somewhere else and get a lot more done, but despite the chaos, I really do enjoy being around them, especially while they are so little.  I missed Danielle's first steps while I was at work, so it was nice to witness Madeleine's.

There's another reason, too.  Today is the anniversary of my Dad's passing, in 2007.

One of my friends, Eduardo, who is the father of four, told me when Danielle was born that I would "get to relive my childhood" by raising kids.  He's right.  Even though this month is rough for me, it's wonderful being around all this new life and new discoveries.  My step-brother William and his fiance Catherine are getting married next month- another new beginning.  My step-sister Lizzy is returning to UT after a summer in Macedonia(!), starting her new semester, and possibly a new major. I'm starting some fun new business ventures, including an acting class that I've been toying with for years- more new beginnings.  And, of course, our third and final baby is due in late October- the ultimate in new beginnings.

On the anniversary of Dad's birth, and his death, I'll sometimes drive to his gravesite alone; sometimes I take Mary and the kids.  But it's harder to do now, since he's buried in San Antonio, and it's an hour-plus drive there, and another hour back, for what is usually an awkward and teary 20-minute solitary communion at his gravestone.  It feels... conspicuous. Honestly, so does blogging about it.

Neither Dad nor I, nor the rest of my family growing up were very good about that whole visit-the-grave-of-your-ancestors thing.  And that was even when the cemetery was just a two-block walk from our house!  So I guess I never got the habit.  Like church.  We weren't great at that, either.

So, when I get to his gravesite, I'm never quite sure what I'm supposed to do, exactly.  Except remember.  Which I do. Every day.

There's not much point of attending church and doing the rituals if you don't walk the walk every day. But there's plenty of point to being a good person, even if you don't go to church. Similarly, I'm not big on the gravesite ritual, I'm afraid.  But I think about Dad every day.  Every time my little girls smile, and I see the Guilbot crinkle in the corners of their eyes.  Every time they read a new book, make up a new song, or take their first steps.  Every time I have to tell them "no" (either for their safety, or my sanity).  And every night when Danielle takes Ronnie Dog, the stuffed animal that Dad and India gave to her just a month after she was born, to sleep with her.  Ronnie's been #1 with a bullet on the Favorite Stuffed Animal Chart for the past month.

Several times, I almost lost my parents, either physically or metaphorically. Those are long stories. But in the end, Dad and I hung in together, and became very close.  One thing I never doubted was that he loved me, and wanted the best for me.  And for Lizzy and William.

I picture Dad when I see my stepmom, India, and I'm so grateful to him for bringing her into our lives, as well as Lizzy and William, whom have both grown to be wonderful, accomplished adults.  And sometimes when I'm alone, jogging, flipping through an old photo album, or just lying in bed at night, I think about him, too.

Even though it makes me a bit uneasy, writing these posts is also meditative, and a nice way to recollect life with my father.

I remember, Dad.

But, no, I don't get out to the cemetery much.  I hope that's OK.

Ron Guilbot, loving father, 1946-2007.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

He knows.. You were his heart