January 15

Three years ago today, my father died.  Three years starts to feel like it has some distance and heft to it, and at times it seems almost normal to me that he is gone.    Sometimes, when I have that feeling, it brings me up short, as if I  am losing him all over again.  Grief is a very strange emotion.  Today, I am filled with memories, both of my dad as a younger man when I was growing up, and in his later years when I believe he fully came into who he was a human being.

This past year we finally sold the building that had housed the store that my grandfather started with a partner in the 1920s, and that was my dad’s life work.  My parents began their married life together in an apartment on the second floor of the store building, and I spent the first four years of my life there as well, until we moved to a house.   At the time my dad died, the building had been sold for a few years under a land contract, but by late 2010 the new owner, who resided in California,  had become a victim of the economy and had to turn it back to us.   Happily, we were able to resell it to a local family, who has remodeled it for a lovely children’s clothing store, called Chick’n Dots.   During the renovation they found old papers in the walls of the building that dated from the early 20th century–the building is one of the oldest ones in town.  My dad would be happy about its new life,  and I sincerely hope they are doing well.

Though I was tremendously relieved to finally have the building off the books, selling it  permanently also severed a final physical connection.  Now, when I look at a picture of him, or use a well-worn book or even an old shirt that I kept around to remind me of him, I think of a poem by Emily Dickinson that he especially liked:

Death sets a thing significant
The eye had hurried by,
Except a perished creature
Entreat us tenderly
To ponder little workmanships
In crayon or in wool,
With “This was last her fingers did,”
Industrious until
The thimble weighed too heavy,
The stitches stopped themselves,
And then ‘t was put among the dust
Upon the closet shelves.
A book I have, a friend gave,
Whose pencil, here and there,
Had notched the place that pleased him,–
At rest his fingers are.
Now, when I read, I read not,
For interrupting tears
Obliterate the etchings
Too costly for repairs

Dad in India with Ganesh, his nurse and friend