My Dad died peacefully on Wednesday., May 18. I heard about it from my cousin on Thursday. He made arrangements for his cremation and burial at the VA cemetery in Portland and requested that there be no service. My dear friend Maria said to me, “You have always had a relationship with your father, even in his absence”, which is somehow true. His absence has always been very large in my life. I do remember loving him as a child and in spite of everything I’ve continued to love him all along. As a child, he was never unkind to me, and of course I did not realize in childhood that he would later drop out of two families. I guess we’ll never really be able to understand everything about a life. I’ve had many emotions since his death, and I’m glad I decided to go see him in the last couple of years.
Even though we are not having a memorial, I made a little altar at home with a vase of Rhododendron, ubiquitous in our home state of Oregon, and beautiful in its prehistoric tenacity, rosemary for remembrance, a string of Danish flags, candles, and some childhood photographs of Dad and his siblings. Many of his childhood photos were lost when my log house burned down in the 1970s.
Things turned out differently than I might have wished, but he was once a beloved mother’s son, and that mother was my loving Farmor (father’s mother in Danish). So I honor the memory of those days for him and for her. We all begin life as innocent children, and no matter what choices he made, I find forgiveness in my heart for my father, and know that he is now at peace. Although it may sound strange to some, I feel that our connection may become stronger now. There is a song that my friend sings by the poet Rumi, and some of the lines are: