Father Time

July 17, 2012 9:49am Published by Jules Smith in The Art Philosopher 34 Comments

Time has been very relevant to me over the last few weeks: What little of it we have, how much I waste, how each moment has swam into the next and I don’t know what day it is. 
My stepfather passed away at the end of June and there’s no doubt about it, death sucks.   I have found it very difficult to talk to people about because of the following reasons:
They are too emotionally distraught.
They don’t know what to say. 
They ramble and gush because of the above.
I have noticed that everyone handles it in a very different way and have come to the conclusion that you can only deal with it in the way that is right for you.  
My stepfather and I had a very complex relationship which in many ways makes his passing harder to deal with.  Sometimes I think about the things he did that really upset me and I feel very angry with him and other times I remember something really nice and I feel upset.  There are a myriad of emotions that come and go in random order.  One thing I hate is seeing my Mother so distraught and feeling a great sense of responsibility to make her feel better.  But I can’t.  There is no making it ok when it comes to death, no damage limitation, no way round it. Time. Time to adjust.
My Mother and close relatives decided they would visit my stepfather in the chapel of rest.  I, of course, accompanied my Mother to do this.  I was most uncomfortable.  Whilst this worked for others it didn’t work for me.  He had a massive character and all of that was missing. The personality that makes a face come to life was gone and the man lying there was not the man I remember yet it is the last image imprinted on my mind.
A few close relatives decided they were going to write letters to him and leave them in his pocket.  I found this odd, awkward, dramatic and upsetting.  He can’t read it can he? Plus what would I write?  I would rather have had the conversation with him or said what I needed to say beforehand.  Anyway, a few days later I thought of the perfect thing.
My stepfather was very competitive.  We used to play a card game called ‘Chase the Lady’  The object is to either win all the hearts and the Queen of Spades (the Lady) or get rid of her and all your hearts.  Either way scoring little or no points.  Every time we played he would insist that I sit next to him or I couldn’t play.  He did this because you have to pass cards on to the person next to you at the beginning ( except the Lady, you can’t pass her over, you have to drop her on someone else or win the rest) ergo, he was able to have some control over my cards.  We had many fall outs over this game and some extremely heated evenings.  I found the Queen of Spades in my card deck and this is what  I put in his pocket.  Now he can’t give it back to me and I know this would have made him laugh as he had a sardonic sense of humour!
You can’t really say “It was a nice funeral” as that sounds ridiculous but as ceremonies go it was very fitting.  As one of the people giving a speech I made sure I was very smartly dressed with beautifully applied make up.  This, I decided, would mean I couldn’t cry or I’d look horrid.  FAIL.  The thing is, relevant songs are played at a funeral and whilst I used to get upset at ‘Waylon Jennings’ playing in the background, this time it was for very different reasons.  I also never want to hear Elvis sing ‘Silent Night’ again. Ever.  I must say though that waterproof mascara has come on remarkably and I managed to deliver my speech just as I wanted to.

Losing someone who has been a big part of your life is very difficult but I remember a couple of things the Minister said at the time that really stood out for me.
One was By Khalil Gibran ‘The Prophet’ – “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight”
He also said that whilst we are celebrating the life of someone who has passed, remember to celebrate your own.  This is very true as there’s nothing like a death to make your own mortality slap you hard in the face.
                                                             TICK, TOCK

34 Comments

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Condolences, Jules. I feel the same way about viewing the recently departed. The body is but a shell and what remains of those we loved is in our minds. I’m glad the funeral helped you to reflect and appreciate. Very good quote from ‘The Prophet’.

Thank you. The Prophet is a great book. Very spiritual.

Funerals are for the living, not the dead. It’s good that you found some closure because that helps the reconciliation and grieving process move forward. I’ve lost a lot of people in my life and there is always a “hole in my heart” because they aren’t there anymore.

I agree. Yes, they will all be missed but better to have known them than not.

I feel like I am intruding on a private diary entry but I guess that what blogging is for: to let it out and express.
I love that he has the Queen now and cannot give it away (I think we call this cardgame “spades”) but same same.
As life goes on we will visit many departures, which prepares us for our own I guess.

Just passing through . . .

Ha ha! Sorry about that, I’m generally a lot more upbeat than this, honest! I don’t know if I’ll ever be prepared for my own death. I’m with Woody Allen on that one – “I’m not scared of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens!”

I hadn’t heard that one from Woody . . . thanks, my smile for the day.
Thanks for dropping by my blog. My “other blog” is not really mine but one of those where many can contribute. I have contributed some some fractals that I do but didn’t do “Just a thought in my head” that you liked — I have no idea how he did that. But you can copy any of those pictures if you are collecting art pieces (I have a file for “art” that I add to if a nice image presents.)

Just remember: “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx

Ha ha! Love that quote!

Well, you have a great collection of art pieces there. Thanks for that! I love interesting art and photography so I shall keep looking there.

I’m so very sorry for your loss Juliette. One thing I know is that you never “get over it” – you just learn to adjust and move on. There’s something so empty about death. Personally, I find it difficult to accept even though I know the person is no longer here. What we’re eventually left with are the memories – and a reminder to make the most of our time here.

Thank you Azra. Yes it is very empty and difficult to accept that they aren’t there anymore. I think denial is great!

Yes, sorry to read of your sad loss. As the title of the post suggests though, time really is a great healer. We know, because we’ve been there.

I wish I’d had some of that waterproof mascara when I did the reading at my mother’s funeral!

It’s very difficult to stand up and read isn’t it. You want to do your very best for the person and not make anyone else feel awkward and uncomfortable. Fortunately I went last as a speaker so I managed to gain control of myself and do it ok. Still can’t get that bloody mascara off! Don’t go there!

Sorry about this Julie. He is a good man, he had made a impact on you and somehow this reminds me of Ray – Ana’s stepdad character in 50 shades of Grey.

Hopefully you are able to get over it, yeah if only it could as easy as we say

Thank you MAMTC. Now as it happens I am about to read this 50 shades of grey trilogy as I am intrigued by the hype! I shall look out for this character.

This is one of the best posts I have ever read. It’s moving without being sentimental and totally honest. I always feel a bit awkward at funerals and never know what to say other than the usual platitudes. All that raw emotion held in check makes me edgy. And I can’t think of a more fitting gesture than you putting the Queen of Spades in his pocket. Truly inspired.

Thanks for that Tony. Death and funerals are very awkward and there’s not really anything you can say to people except the usual platitudes as you said.

the last words are so true 🙂

Hi Goku. Aren’t they just!

I’m very sorry for your loss. You’ve described the conflicting emotions – anger, love, nostalgia – so perfectly.

Thank you Deirdre. I’m glad it came across well as it is a very awkward subject.

Sorry about your loss. I did relate to the card game story

It’s a great card game. Very fitting for our relationship.

sorry to hear of your loss, Juliette. each of us has a way of dealing with death. besides, funerals are for the living, really. xx

i only ever use water-proof mascaras during funerals 🙂

Thanks Jaya. Yes but how do I get it off!!!

its a bitch to remove water-proof mascaras. the trick is in getting the first layer in washable mascara and THEN continue with waterproof one. it’s good with tears and easier removal. use wet tissues. i use Simple tissues.

Sorry to hear about your loss; the fact that he made it to the title “step-father” means he lived a full; long life. I’m sure he was surrounded by people he loved. I recently lost my grandma and whenever I got down about it, I thought about the amount of years and experiences that she went through and that it was the end chapter of the book of life. Some peoples last chapters come half way through the book but luckily for others they’ve been able to grow wise over the years

You’re right Easy. He did have a very full life and despite dying too early had done things that many won’t do in a long lifetime. At least that’s something.

Just read your post and I understand what you’re saying, Juliette. That’s why I never look at the dead, ever. I want to remember people the way they were. I even find it difficult to say, ‘My condolences’ when I’m at a funeral because somehow those words don’t express what I really want to say. You take good care now, alright?

I’m currently lying on a sun lounger on a Greek island, does that count? 😉

Good for you.

Pictures, pictures!

Coming up!

My dad died 21 years ago. This is the first time I’ve heard anyone describe the experience. Your monologue and listening once more to “Beyond the Blue Horizon” didn’t make it alright. It made it all right.

Thanks Clark. 🙂

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