It’s been a year since you had to go. What a year it’s been. One year ago I visited you in the afternoon and you said your last words to me, “You can be quiet now!” Because you were trying to take a nap. I can still hear it in that funny, matter-of-fact Poppy voice of yours, complete with the raised eyebrows and all. Some people probably would wish that their last words from a loved one would be “I love you,” but this was perfect for you and for us. After that visit, I felt pulled again to visit you on the way home from work. Usually I only visited once per day, but this particular day I needed to see you twice. I knew our time was almost out. You didn’t have a voice anymore, you were basically in a coma, but you could hold my hand and you could squeeze it, and those were the words “I love you” just in a different way. I told you that I would be OK, that when you were tired of hanging on, you could go. And I thanked you for being the best Poppy anyone could have asked for. And then a couple hours later, you were gone. You know that Teale knows best, and I’ve always been the only one that could get you to do the things you really didn’t want to do. Like leave me.
The rest of the year was filled with tying up loose ends. Lots of work was involved in taking care of the estate, financially and otherwise. Thankfully you were a very smart man with money later in life, and set things up so that no one would face any financial hardships dealing with your bills once you were gone, whether that was me or Mom. We were able to pay off all your debts (though of course they were few, you were so frugal!), as well as some of our own. And we were able to give money to Hope and Hannah to help them too, as I know you’d have wanted me to do. The biggest task was that big old house. Home. There was just so much stuff! Of course most of it was Mom’s, as we know she loved to “collect” (which is just a nice word for “hoard”!). But there were a few things of yours that were important, that you had held on to through the years, that I believe you meant for me to find. To fill in the gaps about our family prior to my birth. The stuff no one really ever talked about, but that was always alluded to. The “family secrets” so to speak. Tucked away in your filing cabinet, I found the letters between you and Mom–good ones from happy times, and tough ones from bad times. They told a story. And I know that you left them for me because you knew I wouldn’t care, or love you any less, knowing about the indiscretions and challenges that you and Mom faced in your marriage through the years. Thank you for trusting me with those letters. I will treasure them forever, because it allowed me to see a piece of history that no one else can really fill in for me, since I’m the only one left.
This morning as I let our dogs out, there was a male and female cardinal under our canopy, just sitting on the outdoor coffee table. Of course when the dogs came out, the birds were frightened off and flew away, but I like to think that was a visit from you and Mom on a day you knew would be tough for me. I won’t go to the cemetery today, because I know that’s not where you are. Sure, your ashes are there, and a stone with your name on it, but you are all around me, every day. I love you, and I miss you.