Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Specters of Our Past

Posted by Lara at 9:25 PM
Most of my complaints will be pretty minor, I'll admit. Like about the horrible day I had today, for example. I won't bore you with the details, but I'd say the defining moment was when I struggled with the school's front gate - the HEAVY front gate - while juggling way too many bags of books and materials, as well as a cherry coke. And of course, the coke fell and exploded and I was covered in sticky, syrupy grossness, including all over my feet and sticking to my flip flops, all while a lady stands in the main office watching this disaster unfold and NOT HELPING.

Needless to say, it was not a good moment. And that about sums up the kind of day I had.

But there are other complaints too, some of them a little less superficial. Some of them feel a little more real. Like how much all my preparation and schoolwork has me missing my dad. I feel him in all this "back to school" hubbub, weaving his spirit through all my work. I see him when I watch the football coaches eating lunch together, talking playbooks and two-a-days. I hear his voice in my ear, teaching, coaching, encouraging. I think to myself that he would be proud to see me following in his footsteps, becoming an educator, hopefully changing students' lives.

I was once browsing in a stationary store downtown, just looking at pens and paper and interesting school supplies, wondering if there might be anything to tempt me to splurge a bit. And there, in a little cubby, in the middle of a row of a dozen other cubbies, was a pile of red pens. They were the exact type of red pens that my dad always used to grade his math tests. And I started crying, right there in the store. It's not fair, the way the specters of our past can sneak up on us when we least expect it, attacking our hearts with their whispered memories. But then I remember to be grateful, because I have something - someone - so wonderful to remember.

Still, though, it's hard. It's hard to remember him and still have to face each day without him. It's hard to talk about him only to have people ask, "So where is he now?" or "Does he still teach?" I don't like making people uncomfortable, so I sometimes think maybe I just shouldn't talk about him at all. How unfair to me, though, to be shut away from someone important just because he's no longer living. So I talk about him, and I talk about how good he was at his job, and I talk about how happy I am to be following his path in my own way.


The start of school is an exciting time. But I am sometimes sobered by how sad it is making me.

26 comments:

flutter on 10:00 PM said...

((you))

califmom on 10:06 PM said...

tears and hugs for you.

Clair on 10:19 PM said...

Lots of hugs. My dad has cancer, and we don't know what the future holds, and that's so scary. Thanks for pointing out that part of him will always be here.

Erica on 10:30 PM said...

Oh, my friend. Joy and sadness walk together often. I'm wishing you peace in the midst of your new beginning.

pincushionpoints on 10:47 PM said...

Lots of hugs today...and save a special one for an especially hard moment.

tpiglette on 10:53 PM said...

Your dad would absolutely be proud of where you are today. *hug*

Jody on 12:07 AM said...

*virtual Hugs*

I understand..

redcloud on 1:43 AM said...

Yes, he'd be very proud of you.

And yes, you're lucky to have someone to remember. My dad died of cancer when I was two. I have no memory of him other that a photograph of him holding me as a baby, and the stories my mom told me growing up about how he adored me and "spoiled" me.

I have my own son now, He's 4; already older than when I lost my father. And I try to be for him the man that my father lives on in legend as for me. I imagine that's the same pride and love that you take with you, in being a teacher. It's hard sometimes, but rewarding, and I think, admirable.

Be as proud and as loving toward yourself, as your dad would be. You deserve it!

Middle Aged woman on 5:27 AM said...

What a precious thing to have your dad in the classroom with you every day. Don't worry if your eyes leak a little. Nobody minds.

Amanda on 6:45 AM said...

I can imagine the hurt, the shock of the unexpected remembrances, but oh how sweet to be able to have him come hurtling back with such precision. I wish I could hug you, sweet friend.

Mayberry on 7:35 AM said...

Grief can sneak up on you in the strangest ways, can't it? I am sure your dad is so proud of you.

Ashley on 7:36 AM said...

Oh, sweetie.

So painfully beautiful you write.

He'd be so proud of you, and probably is.

Lindz on 10:35 AM said...

He was a handsome devil! Hang in there... you are going to be amazing in the classroom, I wish I could witness it. Me, on the otherhand. I am freaking out!

Maggie, Dammit on 11:27 AM said...

Ohhhhhhhh, honey.

:(

bikerchick on 11:55 AM said...

Lara, that's an absolutely beautiful tribute to your dad's memory. Of course his legacy and gifts live on in your life, every single day.

I got a stab of pain thinking how I will answer the questions of well-meaning friends about my own 83 year old, precious dad. He is now retired, but was the doctor to almost everyone we know.

Betsy on 12:50 PM said...

He would be so proud of you. You know that, don't you? His spirit is with you every day.

Rose on 12:53 PM said...

He's most definitely watching over you as you set up your classroom and pick your pens out. And you know how proud of you he is.
Sending you hugs and wishing you strength during the next few weeks.

Jerri Ann on 3:02 PM said...

My father was a teacher. I was bound and determined to be a teacher as well. I was 19 when he died almost exactly 20 years ago. I was 23 when I took my first teaching position. I hated it. I hated every lasting minute of it except the coaching. I was miserable. At the time it never dawned on me that I was miserable, I just thought something was wrong with me.

My father loved teaching more than anything. He was excellent at what he did. I wanted to be just like him. I wasn't. It was ironic that he died the day before teacher inservice started 20 years ago this month. Since he was active in the state's education system as well, public school systems all over the state excused their teachers from that first day of inservice so that they could attend his funeral. The system he taught in had a small system wide meeting at 8 AM that morning and were allowed to say a silent prayer. And, from there they showed up by the dozens at my father's funeral.

The numbers were estimated to be over 500 just in educators, state educators and people from the State's capital in terms of education. I was over-whelmed. I knew my father was sick. But, I was 19. How could I have been prepared for that? I wasn't.

Anyway, I didn' t mean to write an entire post here. But, the last thing I wanted to say is because of my father and living the life of education, I still think you are suppose to get new socks and underwear along with a new pair of shoes when school starts. It drives my husband crazy when he tells me in mid-October that he needs to new socks and I remind him that we just bought new socks when school started and we would not be getting anymore until school started back in January. We didn't even have a child in school until this year...but at 40, old habits die hard and I've been living life in terms of a school year for 40 years......you can't have new socks or underwear in October or even in March..you have to abide by the school calendar. It is written down somewhere, I'm certain of that!

Mrs. Chili on 3:59 PM said...

You need to believe that he IS still here, and he IS still teaching. You don't get all those signs by coincidence; he's coming through to you.

Anissa Mayhew on 6:39 PM said...

{{HUGS}}

Don't be scared to continue to share him. It's not about making other uncomfortable, but you might be missing out on the chance for them to say something that brightens your day, comforts you, or shares another great memory of him.

Issas Crazy World on 8:04 PM said...

Hugs to you, I'm sorry it's making you sad. I'm sure he'd be thrilled that you are finally here, starting your career in something he loved.

One of my best friends died ten years ago. Now it was by his own hand, but it was still jst fucking hard. Some days I see something, something that reminds me of him and it still hurts. But sometimes it doesn't hurt, it just makes me smile.

I don't know ho long it's been since you lost your dad, but I hope that you get to the smile part of missing him soon. hugs.

seven on 12:58 AM said...

What a sweet story. I'm glad you have good memories of your dad.

My Life My Life My Life on 8:41 PM said...

Hugs for the moments when we miss someone so much that we wish for just one second more to spend time with them...

Jeers Jeers Jeers for the lady in the office window!

smiles4u on 7:28 AM said...

I am sorry for your sadness. What a beautiful post about your dad...he is so proud of you...don't ever stop talking about him...sharing your memories and tears are healing. Your students are blessed to have a teacher such as you...your writing shows that you share from your heart and what a gift that is to all that you teach. Have a great school year!

Omaha Mama on 4:02 PM said...

Aw. This time of year is always bittersweet for me too, since losing a close friend that I taught with for one semester. Every year, I think it will be just the same. The missing them part.

Amy on 2:24 AM said...

He is there, he knows, he's watching. I lost my dad 5 years ago, very suddenly, completely unexpected and I so feel you. It is so, so, so hard, keep him alive in your memories, talking about him and remembering the love is what warms my heart. ((hugs))

 

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