I’ve been in Greece for almost a week now, and twice I’ve simply slept all day. I think my system is telling me rest is long overdue.
Of course, I managed to get away without finishing thank-you notes, so Kay will finish mine for me. I don’t know why I didn’t – but every time I had “time” I fell asleep or found something to do. I kept rushing around like a crazy person, and the stress was taking its toll. Every day my ability to focus diminished radically. By the time I left, I could barely focus on one thing to get it done.
Maybe for me those thank-you notes were another level of reality. I was able to handle everything else – including being in the room with Dad after his death, with no trouble at all. This, though, threatened to tip me over for some reason.
I have some to write, and I will, to friends who did other things. When I’m in Athens I plan to write people.
Odd, though, how the dreams have started, dreams in which Dad is here, or with Phil and Mother. And we’re all together. Not bad dreams at all. I just hadn’t dreamed much about him at all in the last weeks.
Maybe it’s that I’ve stopped, that I’m removed – or that it’s time.
After all, this week I’d normally be giving him cards and presents – for Father’s Day and for his birthday. Those two days always fell within two days of each other, so I always “doubled up” and sent two cards, two presents. This is the first year I won’t be able to do that, to find books he’d enjoy.
Of course, June is a month of birthdays – or was. My grandmother Ella’s birthday: June 11, the day before I left for Greece; I spent it at my cousin Carolyn’s house, and we talked about her. I think my Grampa Charlie’s birthday is this week too – June 21, if I remember correctly. Then Dad’s on June 22. It’s also my cousin Barbara’s birthday – she always told Dad she was the best birthday present he ever got. And her grandson Colton is one year old this week too. Not a sad month at all, though — how can it be? To celebrate the first birthday of the newest member of the Ware/Kaatz Clan? The month simply presents another example of how life’s cycles continue.
I am a bit sad today, as I write this. But just a bit. Mainly I am grateful, grateful for so much.
For a father who gave me such a role model, who gave me strength and good sense (I hope). For parents who loved me and let me find my own career, not forcing me into anything just because I would make money. For a family that remains linked and close and supportive. We may live in several states and spread out, but we’re in touch. And there for each other.
Today, I sit here by the pool in a small town in Xalkidiki in Greece, enjoying the sunshine and cool breeze, watching youngsters play in the pool. I am grateful to a grandmother who loved traveling and brought me to Europe in 1974 for the first time – and paid for my 6-week summer school in England. She was 66 at the time, and widowed – she took Kay and me to Italy and Germany and England. Phil didn’t want to go. She’d enjoy this place.
The Greeks have a wonderful word: iliotherapia, or sun therapy. I think that’s the gift I am enjoying right now – the healing power of the sun. After the busy days leading up to and including the wedding I came here to Northern Greece for, now I can start to wind down, to relax, and to find my way again.
Because that is really what my time here this summer will offer me – time not only to heal, but to begin to find my way again in this post-retirement, post-Dad world.
There’s a lot to do when I get back to Louisiana. My house has things to repair, to improve. I need to clean out and purge books and boxes from it. And then there’s always Dad’s house that Kay and I have to work on clearing out and deciding what to do with. And the Blazer. And the boat. A huge garage sale to organize and execute. But I don’t have to worry with those things now. Not for a couple of months.
And when I return? When all of that business is concluded? What will I do? Find a routine, a rhythm. Things I’d hoped to do but that got interrupted or never really started – yoga, painting, exercise – these will emerge as I find that routine. Being able to bounce between Lake Charles and Crystal Beach, visiting family in Austin and other places in Texas — or indeed visiting friends anywhere I want to go – will be fun. I won’t really have to make arrangements other than making sure the dogs and cats are okay while I’m gone.
But for now – iliotherapia. Sleep. Music. Friends.
Dreams, too, and memories.