I'm thinking of my father this morning because today is his birthday. This third weekend in June always belonged to him with birthday and Father's Day all falling together about the same time. He died a little over a year ago at the age of 93. He caught a cold and five days later, he didn't wake up in the morning. I will be forever grateful for his peaceful passing, but still, I miss him.
My parents lived with me for the last seven years of my dad's life. When they were still able, we went for daily walks on the Mendocino headlands. My mom couldn't walk very far so I stayed with her while my father went on ahead. He found a big old driftwood log further out the trail and he would sit on that log and rest for a bit while he gathered up the energy to walk back.
My father was a quiet man and kept very much to himself. I used to watch him out there, sitting on that log in his red windbreaker, his walking stick in hand, knowing he was enjoying that bit of time to himself. He would sit there for quite some time watching the ocean. Then I would see him rise. His crooked, bent body would press into the wind, and posting with his walking stick, he would make his way back to join my mother and I.
That image stays with me as it took on a mythic quality. He looked like the "eternal traveler" facing into the elements, his tall, strong body now bent and worn by the journey, but none the less, he was traveling on. Its an image fitting for the old ones among us. And they do travel on, until they stop. Then those of us who remain remember them, learn from their journey and from what they left behind.
Since he died I have been very grateful for those last years we had together. And I'm grateful to live where I have so many memories of his presence. I find the places where we spent time together very comforting. But especially comforting are the places that belonged to him, like that old driftwood log on the headlands. I go there now and sit. I talk with him, sometimes ask for his help, something I rarely did when he was alive, and I thank him again and again for everything he gave to me.
Expressive Arts Experience
If you could sit on this bench and have a conversation with someone you love who is no longer here, who would it be? What would you want to talk to them about? Write an imaginary conversation between the two of you in your journal. Ask them for advice about something important to you, and thank them for their contribution to your life.
This blog is dedicated to the healing power of nature and the arts. It encourages a different way of looking at the purpose of the arts in our lives. While we can all appreciate well known artists, musicians and writers, it is good to remember that expressing ourselves through the arts belongs to all of us. It is part of being human. The arts and time in nature take us out of our small selves into something so much bigger. We need this larger perspective to guide our daily lives. I have a Masters Degree in Psychology, am a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist and am owner and founder of For The Joy Of It! Creative Retreat in Mendocino CA.