I Remember

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The dish in the foreground is a mix of wheat, nuts, raisins and cranberries with agave nectar, cinnamon and nutmeg. In Russian it’s called “kOlievo” and is a ceremonial dish for funerals and remembrance ceremonies. 

  I lost my father to esophagus cancer 5 years ago this week. It was a long, unfair and partially unnecessary fight.

   He loved fishing passionately and he loved dogs. He played the guitar, quoted Russian classics and thought highly of Shakespeare. He used to smoke tobacco in a pipe and drink endless cups of black tea. He had a number of different pipes and would explain the nuances of each one: this is made of red cherry tree and is good for this type of tobacco and it burns like so, this one is from a pear tree, it’s prolonged shape adds this and this to the flavor and so on. I wish I remembered more of that. Quince was his favorite jam 🙂

   We haven’t been close, but he was by my side, he had my back, when I needed him. Actually, he was there for me when i did not even know. When my grandma – who was my primary care giver all my life – passed away, I was absolutely sure that I would have to be in charge of the funeral and everything that comes with it, even though I had no idea what to do. When I contacted a funeral service agency, it turned out that my father had already arranged everything. Couple days after the funeral I called my dad to thank him for stepping in and taking charge, but I had a meltdown over the phone – so intense were my feelings of gratitude.

  What I know about my father mostly comes from people who I talked to about him. My grandma, his wife (my parents divorced when I was 4, but retained warm relationship throughout life) and my mother. Also, dozens of nameless people – my father’s friends – who talked about him at a funeral dinner. All of these people knew me very well, but I knew none of them. To my surprise, I was an inseparable part of my dad’s life, even though we used to see each other about 10 times a year. Which does not change the fact that my father was an exceptional man.

   After his death I became very close with his wife. Talking with her, I realized how much my husband is like my dad. And I started valuing both of them even more.

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