About 37 years ago, or so, my paternal grandfather died which made me about 26 years old at the time. I remember watching my father just sit and stare. He hardly spoke for a few days; he just sat in chair outside and stared at the big oaks trees in the back of his land.
This didn’t seem right to me. I handled my grief by trying to be as positive and supportive as possible. Although I was really sad, I hated silence and felt a need to fill the air in some sort defiance of death. Others my age in the family did the same thing, perhaps not as outgoing as I was- but they did not sit and stare. We were all in motion. I thought my father’s reaction was odd.
That has all changed. Since my father passed away on Friday, I find myself just staring a lot into empty space, but also sometimes at the branches of a tree on my own land. I noticed that Dad’s very kind and loving grandchildren have a tendency to be active during their grief, just like I was 37 years ago. The noise doesn’t seem inappropriate…I understand it…but I am not able to participate in it. I prefer just staring.
If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know that I tend to be introspective at times as I try to learn more about myself, life, and the great mystery some call God which all leads to this question: Why did my father stare at trees when grandpa died?
I think I now know why. His North Star had fallen out of the sky. It takes a bit to orientate your life, your direction, especially if way down deep you have been trying to make your father proud of you…even when you are older.
What should I do with this new insight? For one thing, I need to make sure my own children know I am proud of them not for what they do, or their accomplishments. I am proud of them for who they are and that pride was born the instant I first laid eyes on them…although they were indeed kind of messy at the time.
The other things I need to do with this insight? Well, I am going to have to sit silently and stare at a tree for some time before I know that answer.