4.23.2008

Remembering My Dad Appropriately

Today is the anniversary of my dad's death.

I could not travel to be with my brothers or my mom, and none of them were able to come out here, though my brother Chet tried.

But my mother was out last week, to attend Grandparents' day at Iz's school. She and I decided to have a memorial morning of our own, ahead of schedule. We drove out to the coast, picking up some appropriately wholesale cut freesias and tulips along the way, and looked for a place to cast our blooms upon the waves and say some words about my dad.

We didn't find any such place. Plus it was bloody cold, and windy. There are no picturesque piers anywhere close to Half Moon Bay, or at least not that I could recall in the time we had available before doing the afternoon kiddie pickup rounds. So I asked my mom if she would like to go to the local hilltop, coastal view memorial park, and find a spot there to remember my dad. She agreed.

I showed her my favorite spot on the north end of the hill, with its view of wild canyons and christmas tree farms. But what I had not noticed before is that in the center of the hillside is a memorial bench with the name "Artag." (My family name is D'Artagnan.) My mom and I both squealed in delight.

My dad was a wonderful, sweet, thoughtful man. He also believed in utility and cutting corners. He insisted on being cremated, mostly because the thought of wasting money on a casket and plot was abhorrent to him. He didn't see why he shouldn't join my neighbors' Fourth of July celebrations, inviting my family to come with him and eat their delicious food, too. He loved nothing more than getting something cheap, or for free. So what better way to celebrate him than by co-opting someone else's memorial bench?

My mom and I took turns sitting on the bench and covering the missing pieces of our name with legs and flowers. My mom said a prayer. We both giggled. I silently thanked the people we were mooching from. Then it was time to go.

This morning Iz had an appointment to pick up her new reading glasses. The appointment only lasted five minutes, so I asked her if she wanted to come with me to see the bench and think about her Pepere. She agreed:

Co-opted Memorial Bench

She and I also agreed that, in honor of my dad, we would always:
  • Use as many coupons as possible
  • Drink wine from boxes and 1-gallon jugs when we could
  • Not shrink from putting the occasional bag of trash in someone else's dumpster
  • Try to think of other people first
  • Try to be kind and friendly to everyone
Since it's been a year, I finally deleted my dad's cel phone number from my phone. It was less hard to do so after my mom realized last month that his account was still active and deleted it. Before then I could still his hear his voice whenever I wanted.

I miss my dad.

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