All of these eyes are related.
Except for the first two, they belong to different people.
Missing my dad today.
He was 39 when I was born. Strange that he passed away when I was 41 and that I was the same age my mom was when her dad died.
My older son dimly remembers him (he was six when I flew with just him from Florida to the wake in Maine). My younger son doesn’t remember him at all.
I’m the youngest of four. The 11 year gap between me and my oldest sibling, a sister, feels like a lifetime. She has memories of him I don’t share, but then, as an adult (21-25) I lived off and on with both parents, and then in the same state for a few years in my late 20’s, and late 30’s and early 40’s.
Dad was a Navy pilot. He started flying young in Stearmans, then SNJs, then SBD Dauntless, then after the service, a Navion, a Twin Bonanza, and later, a friend’s Shrike. There were others, I know, but those are ingrained. He told me once he regretted not staying in the Navy, but had a family and that was no life for them.
He was a marketing person (he told me my being in marketing was genetic), and a lover of animals. He accused his Yorkie, Molly, of attempting a “brain transfer” on him when she stared at his cheese eating.
He was a steak and potatoes guy. And loved a good Martini. When I arrived on my parents’ doorstep at 38 or 39, sans kids, for a weekend of just being me, he’d be sure he had Cosmo fixings ready. My mom, who is still alive at 88, told me he would “light up” when he knew I was coming to see them and that his energy changed, and I had a residual effect on him for days. This still makes me smile a soft smile.
We called him a curmudgeon and that he was loved in spite of himself. He was gruff, but got misty-eyed and told me to “never settle” when I was in my twenties and dating. In 1993, I married a pilot who asked his permission first, to the delight of my dad. At the wedding my dad overheard my groom say something he found concerning, and yet, never said a word to me about it. He knew my first marriage was in trouble when he died. My regret is his not meeting my new husband of four years, who, I am sure he would say “deserves me.” And prying them apart would be hard.
He’d tell the same stories over and over, and we’d all laugh anyway. He wasn’t much of a friend maker, or socialite, but the friends he had, he kept for good. And if you put him in a room with them, he turned animated and grinned.
I talked to him last, in April of 2005, two days before he died the way he wanted: of a very fast massive heart attack, brought on by COPD, brought on by smoking unfiltered Camels and pipes most of his life. (He quit in 1996). I told him about my business trip and that I would come up that weekend to fix his DSL issues. (He lived about an hour and a half away).
My mom called from the hospital two days later and had to put the nurse on the phone after telling me. I drove to her that night, an hour and half away, my best friend on my cell, keeping me centered and not thinking about what I was driving to. My mom insisted I could come up the next day. I realized then she was in bad shape. She had married him at 18 and the adjustment to life on her own would contain giant Bell curves of ups and downs.
I have never been afraid of dying. I am quite sure that it is an extension/new version of this life. And now I get signs from him all the time. He sent me my husband. We’re sure. Too many “coincidences” not to be. And every single year, on his birthday and on his death date, I get a big, fat, HELLO. A Stearman flying over the house. An obscure song on the radio. A weird story on NPR that reeks of my dad. Or I start reading a new novel and the main character’s name is Jack, or lives in Maine or drives an Oldsmobile.
Explain that. I can.
Hi Dad. Miss you. Love you. Always.
The unquiet mind. Monkey Mind, she calls it.
Goosebumps went up me and the voice inside I call LISTEN said to me. “That’s what we are! Monkeys!” LISTEN is the voice that says, “Oh you’re trying to relax? Let me help you with that.” When I am trying to make my mind go blank. The voice that says “Are you INSANE?’ when I am about to get on a plane just because I have “a feeling” it’s the right path. (grin).
When I read the book, I had around 20 monkeys. And they have names! But I realized the other day, some go into hiding.
Paranoid has left.
So has Timid..
So has YouCan’t…
So have Shouldhave, Wouldhave and Couldhave..
So has, Itsme (as in I am responsible for EVERYTHING that goes wrong)
So I’m making progress.
But the ones that are still here: sigh. I try and have them pile rocks while reciting the multiplication tables to give them a task. Sometimes they leave me alone. Sometimes they don’t listen at all.
I still have some I cannot name here, but they know who they are.
One has my dad’s voice. That’s STOP as in “OH FOR HEAVENS SAKE! QUIT THAT!”. LOL
There’s WhatIF. She drives me nuts. Tries to predict the future and plan for things that might happen. “But what if…” All the various scenarios drive her into a tizzy. I can get her quiet with a glass of wine.
There’s DoIT! She can be annoying (exercise today! Get a massage! Pay the bills! Be a grown up!) but also be encouraging (you CAN do this).
Faith has gotten very strong, but remains very, very quiet most days. She has a chant when thing quiet down. “Shhhhh.”
There are at least THREE creative monkeys who appear on a whim (I cannot call these muse monkeys) to throw multicolored confetti and recite amazing words I need to write down for my book. They ALWAYS show up when I don’t have a pen, a keyboard or a witness.
Their chatter varies day to day. Sometimes one’s louder than the rest. Sometimes they all talk at once. (Usually after a Venti latte).
I wonder if I can trade a few in for a few I “need”.
Who wants a sad monkey for a happy one though?
I am a big girl. A professional.
I have been laid off before.
I have quit before. Both types of exits done with grace and class.
I have NEVER burned a professional or personal bridge. Never.
“Don’t take it personally,” they said. “It’s a business decision.”
How could I not?
I was the ONLY one let go.
I had OVER performed.
I had NEVER had a performance review.
I had one raise I built into my employment letter.
The company was thriving, thanks in a large part to my role and my effectiveness.
I was productive, effective, a team player and loyal.
(Note that last word)
And at my interview, they boasted about company integrity. And how I would work there forever.
I wasn’t told in person. And just a week prior I was at a trade show with the whole group. No one said a word. I was included in meetings.
Instead I get a phone call: “We decided to pull all you do in house (I am remote). ”
And the instant I end the call, I get a last text from my hiring manager, who wasn’t even on the layoff call:
Four words: “I am so sorry.”
That was the extent of our communication.
Half an hour later: Email and work phone shut off.
I shipped back all my work equipment. I got a small severance.
I cried. Yelled. Shared it with others.
Everyone I have told about this asked the same thing: WTF.
Never have I been treated so poorly by an employer. And I had a boss who YELLED a long time ago.
And about those bridges I never burned?
One was burned for me.
I am learning the hard way people and companies may not be what they “sell” themselves to be.