I guess I'll dismantle my Day of the Dad altar this weekend. I really loved creating it and having it here, but the marigolds are all wilted, and it just seems like maybe it's time to tone it down a bit. This cabinet already had a Mexican theme though, and I think I'll keep the one main photo and his armadillo collection there, so it won't have to change that much really.
Looking at the altar, with photos of Dad and other loved ones lost, I can't help but reflect on notions of fate, and destiny, and how much time each of us is allotted on this earth. Is it predetermined? Is there any way to avoid the inevitable? Of course each of us must die, but you never know when or how exactly it will happen.
Momo (my great grandmother on my mom's side) was lucky in this regard. She lived to be 96, and was perfectly healthy up until the very end, working in her garden and doing her tummy crunches each day, and keeping her name on the wait list for the retirement home just in case, even though she never needed it. She was smart enough to know that her mind wasn't as sharp as it had once been (although it was still very sharp), and was practical enough to sign herself up for meals-on-wheels, and give up driving after side-swiping a wall. Of course she had plenty of hardships in her lifetime, like losing her husband at a very young age with a house full of young children to raise on her own. And then finding love again in her 80s only to have her new husband die soon thereafter. But she lived a long, happy life, with a graceful exit.
Gramps (my mom's dad) was lucky too. He lived well into his 80s, and although his heart was failing him for the last year or two of his life, he hardly had a complaint up until that point. He wasn't a perfect man (who is?), but he too lived a full life, with his wife by his side, four children and a handful of grandchildren, his ham radio in the mornings and his honey bun and coffee in the afternoons.
Grandma (dad's mom) also lived a long life, with nary an illness, but she suffered with Alzheimers for the last many years (or rather those around her suffered, as is usually the case). Virtually all of her siblings succumbed to the disease, so it was no surprise that she too fell victim to it, but I know that Dad did everything he could to help her retain her dignity and feel safe and comfortable until her final days. And Charlie (my dad's dad) died long before I was even a glimmer in anyone's eye. My dad was only 10 years old when his father died from a combination of a weakened heart from childhood scarlet fever, and alcoholism. I think he was only in his mid-40's, and never got a chance to see his two sons grow up.
And then there's our beloved Wayne, who was only allowed 17 years on this planet. Much too short a life, and those closest to him will never recover from his loss. I hadn't seen him recently when he died suddenly in a plane crash many years ago, so to me he'll always be that quirky little preteen boy, full of sensitivity and intelligence.
And last, but never least, is my own dear Dad. Hardly sick a day in his life, we presumed he would live a long time, but imagined that eventually his mind might start to go, like his mother and aunts/uncles before him. But he never got the chance to go senile, or even get old really. He was cruising along just fine, a picture of health and vibrancy. Then he came down with a "flu," which was diagnosed as acute leukemia a week later, and two days after that he died from a brain hematoma. What the hell? I guess that was his life. He got almost 68 years out of the deal, and escaped quickly and pretty much painlessly, which is good for him. Who knows how many years any of us have left? Maybe our fates are already sealed, and it just remains for us to live until we die and find out exactly what that fate will be.