youre not alone first year anniversary of my fathers death
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You’re Not Alone: First year anniversary of my father’s death

baby me and Pop 1Column by Linda R. Jones/LindaRJones.com

“I will welcome and care for the ways in which my loved one continues to live on in me.”
~Martha Whitmore Hickman

Wednesday, March 2nd, was the first year anniversary of my father’s death.  I have been reading that the first year anniversary of the death of a loved one is supposed to be trying at best.  I didn’t know how to plan for it until a few days prior.  I didn’t want to be a mess.  I didn’t want to have a major breakdown.  I kept thinking, “What would my father do?”  My father would have had a party.  So, I planned to celebrate his life.

I prepared one of his favorite meals – Schweinehaxe (go to Germandeli.com).  I listened to German music the few days prior.  I kept coming back to “Das Panzerlied.”  I like that song and I know he could have belted it in his prime.  I had flowers in purple and lavender hues.  I put out a beautiful German wine glass with the emblem of his hometown, Karlsruhe.  I was getting happy.

I went through my father’s memory box that my daughter-in-law gave me.  One sympathy card has stuck with me since my father died.  An acquaintance had written, “…he was always such a joy and full of life.  I know he will be dearly missed.  Knowing that he lived life to the fullest must help a little.  Honestly, Linda, you are so much like him and so the legacy lives on.”  I have paused many times when I read that.  What an honor.  I want to be that legacy.  I want to live life to the fullest.

Like my father, I enjoy good food, music, dancing, jokes, laughter, parties, and yes, my wine.  I realized I also share some of my father’s less admirable qualities.  I am egocentric, I am stubborn, I have a mean streak, and I can say and do hurtful things that can’t be taken back with an apology.  That realization means I’ve made progress.  I no longer idolize my father as the perfect man.  We all have our faults, but I won’t dwell on the faults.  We’re human.

Since I saw my father for the last time in January 2015, I haven’t been enjoying life.  I’ve been grief-stricken to the point of clinical depression and counseling.  Yet, seeking help, writing, and reading have gotten me through that first year.  I survived that first year and believe I am better for it.  I have found myself to be more patient and understanding.  I am also on the road back to enjoying life.

I catch myself doing things like my father, the good things that is, and it makes me smile.  My husband and I are back to dancing.  I smile.  I’ll hear a good joke and laugh.  I’ll cook food and enjoy it without worrying about stepping on the scale.  I’ll have a few too many glasses of wine and sometimes regret it the next morning.  I enjoy entertaining.  I enjoy a good party.  Well, actually more like my father, I tend to make the party happen.  I’m an extrovert and will talk to anyone.  I want everyone to have a good time.

My father’s celebration of life was a success.  There were few tears.  The food and wine were excellent.  My daughter was going to pour wine into my father’s glass, she paused, got some water, and said, “Opa’s with Jesus now.  He can change it to wine.”  We all laughed.  That’s something my father would have done and said.  I know he would have appreciated it and laughed along with us.  I treat every day now as another celebration.  Life is wonderful.  I can choose how I live it.  I choose the better.  I am happy again.

My healing journey continues.  Join me.  Let’s celebrate life.

(Henry Alfred Rudolph.  Born April 2, 1930.  Died March 2, 2015.  That’s a picture of me and my father, the early years!  My father was so young and I was pretty stinking cute!  )

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