His Ready Smile

The first anniversary of my father’s death is two weeks from today (Monday), and I realize that he and I spoke only briefly after I left home. Almost always about books, and if not what we were reading, stories about who he’d run into and what they were doing, leading into memories of people, places, and events.

Dad left so many papers and photographs. I got a nagging feeling for a while, that I should have kept and read at least some of them. He was very important to me in my youngest years. He gave me the gifts of literature and knowledge and the freedom to pursue them without hindrance. Once I had learned how to read, he treated me as an adult, when it came to choices in books, magazines, and interests in general.

It is odd that I do not care—really, I do not!—what he may have written to me. Thoughts that he might have left behind. He would have mentioned having left a note. Instead, he would offer books to me from his library during those last years and months. When he had something that he wanted to say to me, he said it. Nothing was left unsaid.

We had a deep bond in  several ways aside from books and discussion. Our care for his wife, my mother. He would almost always, once he’d greeted me on the phone or at the beginning of a visit, he would hand the phone to Mother or wander off into another room to give her plenty of room to visit…without competition?

Left to his own devices, Father could talk for hours, always saying something. He and I had our moments—fond memories—but Mother’s needs came first for both of us. She needed to be cherished. She needed to be the center of creation. Dad was always there for her. Well, sometimes he had to get out of the house to take his walks and have coffee with old friends and new, but otherwise, he was always available for her. They traveled a lot. Enjoyed one another’s company. Never mind the complaining from either one.

He died 103 days after she did. Unexplained (?) death. No apparent cause other than not taking in another breath. I think that the last words that we said to each other were “I love you”…”I love you, too” as we hugged. It did not occur to me that he would die before I could see him again.

There was nothing left unsaid. If I were to see him again? In a dream, perhaps? It would be “I love you, too. We’re still good.”

His Ready Smile


The new year’s plans

My plans for this year’s writing and blogging have not yet gotten off the ground. I had hoped to follow the Finding Water progression as a basis for getting back on track. Organized. Instead, I find that I am more in need of unstructured time and non-ordered thinking.

I have been spending more time playing with the dogs, taking naps, being less compulsive about my eating habits (not necessarily a good thing, but good for short-term unwinding), and starting once again with relearning piano warm-up routines: mainly multi-octave scales and arpeggios. 

I am reading fewer books, right now. Rereading old favorites, mainly. (Sharon Shinn, L.E. Modesitt, Jude Deveraux, and Francis Fukuyama, and a few other, scattered series.) I am reading more articles in The New York Times  and at Medium.com. I find myself reading fewer pieces and more slowly, rather than speed reading. Discovering what it’s like to have forgotten the beginning of an article by the time I’ve gotten to the end of it. Remembering why I’ve stuck all these years to speed reading. The unified whole. 

I was pleased, this past week, to discover a note on one of my other blogs from a favorite former client. I hope that there will be continued contact. I feel that I am not particularly good at that, but I would like to be. I must consider how follow up on this and other habits that I wish to develop.

The time is now well past midnight, and I must sleep. My alarm is set for nine o’clock in the morning. I will not sleep that long at a stretch.

Two dogs in the front sitting room, howling at the top of their lungs
The Scampers

They are, however, good company.


Just thinking

I had been thinking about my latest visit to my doctor and the RN diabetes educator, a few days ago, and recalling the pleasure of their company as we work together to plan out ways of modifying my activities and interventions to optimize my health while under treatment for T2 diabetes. They really are fun to work with. Outside of my own family, there are very few who take the time to visit, interact, laugh, smile, and share an occasional hug. To discuss real matters. Thinking!

I also am happy that I can learn so much about what to do and how to do what’s needful. Glad that I am making my own decisions, thanks to my own research and the guidance of medical staff. Their willingness to take time to discuss alternatives and offer honest opinions while helping me to carry out my health care plans to fit my life.

It might sound odd, but this past year has been a lot of fun. In the midst of all the family deaths during the past fourteen months or so, spending these twelve months working at improving my health and maintaining my joy in life has been a blessing and a welcome activity. The hours that I have been able to spend, also, during the summer and fall, with the bereavement counselors, have turned this time to exploration of additional facets of my life that have profited me and my family.

This week, I went back to reading Fukuyama’s Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy, with particular attention paid to chapters 30 through 36. The first volume, The Origins of Political Order, helped me to make sense of what I saw happening in the larger world surrounding me as things played out. This second volume is helping me to firm up my convictions about how I would live during this time. What decisions I would wish to make. Who I can be, and who I can’t.

I was going to say, “Earlier today…”, but that time has passed. Yesterday evening, six or seven hours ago, I found myself writing a sketch for a poem, which I shall not write as is, but I want to follow the ideas farther…I will share the sketch here.

I reach…
not to live
this life forever
but for immortality

I would not cling
as though the end
were just
a cliff
off which I’d slipped
and then could
claw my way back
into life again

[breathing hard
fingers bloody]

there is a proper end
as were beginnings

what are minutes…seconds more
when stacked beside eternity eternal life

[sketch]. Copyright © 2017-12-22, by Lizl Bennefeld.

I think, also, about an article (at medium.com) that a friend/Friend posted on his FB page, last night, the article describing the unhappiness that must devolve among Americans at their declining quality of life and their slipping steadily into poverty of various types. Miserable and not recognizing that their lives are growing shorter and their quality of life is vanishing. And further, that those in Europe, whose standards of living and life expectancy are so much beyond those of those in the United States, do not recognize or appreciate how well off they are in comparison.

I think that these are odd, broad generalizations. There are, I am sure, many of us who dropped out of the “rat race” decades ago to continue enjoying what of life that really matters. Taking time to nourish self. To smile and exchange a word or two with friends and strangers. To laugh and to appreciate the small beauties around us. Surely not so many are so harried by life that they cannot or will not see the realities of the people around them.

Life is not perfect, and most of life is beyond our control. This always has been true, and it’s not likely to change. But we continue to do what seems right to us and do what should be done. Continue to be who we have determined to be in the face of whatever comes to pass.

Speaking of beyond control, I am not going to be up for grocery shopping in advance of the holiday if I do not get to sleep. Having too much fun thinking? 😊