Day 26 – I’m cutting it fine today. Boy howdy, this was a tough day for writing. Knowing that I’ve got three more posts (including today), knowing that people are reading this (including friends from the MA course – hi, guys!), knowing that this was meant to help me increase my creativity… all that knowing created a hefty dose of writer’s block. And it’s not that I didn’t want to write – I do. This is actually my third attempt tonight at writing today’s post. It’s still not great, but it’s a damn sight better than the excrement my fingers kept crapping onto the page.
I knew going into this challenge that it wasn’t going to be easy. I didn’t want it to be. I wanted to teach myself discipline, and expand my creative muscle by exercising it. I think I was being a little too literal today and nothing I saw created a spark. Maybe I’m going over old ground, but this conversation with my son, in which we touched on memory and mortality was quite possibly the most important conversation we will have.
Read. And remember Pop Pop with us.
Conversation with my son over dinner turned philosophical – and not a little bit depressing, as we talked about my father. In the smallest voice I’ve heard from him – so small, I wasn’t even sure I heard – my son said, ‘I miss him.’ You can’t ignore a small voice like that. Not when it says the biggest thing it might ever say. ‘I miss him, too, kiddo.’ And off we went. Talking about what we remember of this man, the foundation of my life, who shaped my world and set me free when I needed to be.
Even the kid – who knew him for only a few short years – knew how gruff and grumbly my dad could be. But also how much he loved to laugh. Even if he was a bit embarrassed about it, he could not begrudge us a laugh. Like when the vets he worked with – who respected this man for decades, worked side by side with him, knew his gravity and his professionalism – when they discovered that my kid called him ‘Pop Pop’, they couldn’t help but laugh. Doc Bauman, the vet every farmer in Southwestern Ontario trusted, who helped generations of dairy farmers, was known by this tiny British toddler as Pop Pop. The cutest name for a grandfather ever invented (and stolen from a tv show). The contrast was hilarious.
I asked the kid if he minded that his own father is now Pop Pop to our first grandchild. The kid – wise beyond his years, sometimes (even though he still loses his phone, his wallet, his school tie) – told me with confidence that he was really happy about it. ‘It’s like we’re honouring him, by keeping that name alive.’ He didn’t even mention the other tv show reference. I think that surprised me more.
Continuing in this rather philosophical vein, and without meaning to, I told him that someday, maybe he’ll be called Pop Pop too. And that I hope I get to be there when it happens. That small voice returned: I hope you are too.
As one, we danced in opposite directions away from what that meant.
It really ain’t easy, talking about mortality with a twelve year old. But we did it, and didn’t get maudlin or teary. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. It’s just a thing.