A week ago, our belongings arrived from Korea; they had been in storage for about 8 months. When we were in Cortona, we had planned to have them shipped there, but plans changed when my better half felt we should move to Phuket, since we have a love affair with Asia. We had almost forgotten what we had owned. Kaya certainly did. She kept yelling ‘Presents! Presents!’ as we took her books and toys out of the boxes. She had last seen them when she was 2, so indeed it was like an early Christmas.
We have been slowly putting books and games away, and I found several boxes full of photos. First, it was all of our wedding pics. We began to recount our wedding, our honeymoon in Asia ( the first time my husband had been here). We found Kaya’s baby pictures, including when she still resided in mom. We found a number of Papa’s old photos from college ( most of which were him drunk on a couch, which I found amusing…)
Then, I found my childhood pics, photos of my family. This brought mixed emotions. I don’t talk about my father often, as he died in front of me when I was 19, and despite his long battle with alcoholism, we were incredibly close. I found photos of us all over the world, from Germany to Malaysia, the UK to Florida. It’s hard to write about how I feel, the reminder that my husband never met him, and neither will any of my children. The pain of knowing we had argued about his drinking ten minutes before his death. He had downed two bottles of wine and was chain smoking, and I went to take a shower. That was the beginning of a long night of sobbing, police, tests, and the final result of what had made him brain dead. All in one night.
He died before digital, so until I scanned some photos, none existed of him online. It was like he had been erased, from my thoughts and actions. The agony could be ignored.
Seeing the photos brought up so many issues, such as how I can have a relationship with him, have him still in my life (somehow), even though he is not alive. I am a vedantist, and an interfaith minister, so no I don’t believe he ceases to exist. But do I know where he is? No. I don’t. And yet I know he still is, somewhere and somehow. Regardless, I want him in my family’s life. I don’t want to cry every time I think or talk about him ( which I do). I want to have his photos up and be able to look at them instead of shy away for fear of my heart breaking. I want to talk about him with my kids, all the amazing things he did in his lifetime. I don’t want to dwell in the sadness, the cancer, the alcoholism and fights. I want to celebrate his life, and all he did for me.
Fate had it that my family would travel as much as I did as a child. I never expected this. The Murder She Wrote addict that I am, I pictured us settling down somewhere, maybe in the UK or back to France. I wanted to bake pies and have a small, welcoming community. But somehow, we ended up on this travel-lead path that I embarked upon when I was born. It is odd, it is unique. I guess the question in my mind is can I use travel as a doorway to interacting with my father, to be able to talk about him and where we went, what we ate? The photos are there, can I be? Can I show my children the delight he and I shared when we ate a good meal ( he would have loved Anthony Bourdain)? Can I try to catch up to the amount of countries he has been, unleash my inner explorer and find out more about him, who he was and what had taken him from being a geologist to musician and polymath, to yacht salesman?
It is a big question for me, one that may get answered with every new picture that emerges from the boxes of my memories. One thing I know for sure: however odd nomadic living may be, it certainly opens one’s mind to the endless grace that exists in our midst, the possibilities. The opportunities ( although sometimes hidden). And love, in all of its varying forms.