On Monday I bundled Max up in his bunting suit, stuck an extra hat on his head, popped him in the Britax carrier, tied on the windbreaker blanket cover that I put over the carrier, and ventured out into the cold to find a notary public. Amusingly, I am a notary public, but notaries can’t notarize their own stuff, so there you go. It’s been frigid this month in New York. Many days, Max and I only venture across the street to the grocery store, just so we can get out of the apartment. Anyway, it’s time to pay the state estate taxes for my dad, and the forms have to be notarized. The whole process has been extra, extra stressful and even involved a family trip out to a Bank of America branch in New Jersey last week. I’m hopeful that the tax debacle is over, and if it is, we’re one giant step closer to finishing things. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there will still be a ton of work left to be done. But a giant hurdle will be crossed and that’s something. All I can say is that being an executor is very time-consuming and is, in many ways, a part-time job that occasionally turns into a full-time job. I do not recommend it.
It was bitter out Monday, so I kept the walk short after I got the forms notarized. I don’t like winter, generally, though the stress I used to feel about snow is happily gone. I used to fret so much about the snow because of Dad, but now it’s just kind of pretty (and then annoying when it turns to gross black slush). And while I enjoy the changing seasons, and winter makes me appreciate the other three seasons all the more, and it’s kind of fun to be cozy and warm inside, at this point I’m just done with it. Done done done.
On the other hand, in some ways it’s appropriate that the weather has been crummy. This week marks 9 years since my first date with Jeeves and my mother’s death. I never know how I’m going to feel on the anniversary of her death. Some years it goes by and I miss her but I do not feel particularly sadder or different on the actual date. Other years it is very hard and I cry and cry and cry. I’m not sure how it will be this year. On the one hand – wow, it’s been 9 years. It’s been a long time. I am used to the feeling of missing my mother. It lives with me every day. On the other hand, there are so many firsts, even 9 years later. This will be the first anniversary without my mom where my dad is also gone. And it’s my first anniversary with a baby.
And then there’s Dad, who’s always at the front and center of my brain. Last week Oliver Sacks, the famous neurologist, wrote a beautiful op-ed piece for the New York Times revealing that he has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer. The piece talks about how he wants to spend the time he has left. My dad knew Dr. Sacks – they worked together from time to time at Bronx State Psychiatric Hospital where my dad was a social worker. Dad said he was a lovely man. Sacks wrote in his op-ed piece: “There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”
Then I learned that Wil Smith, a gentleman who did a lovely piece on StoryCorp with his daughter, whom he raised as a single dad while also attending college, died from colon cancer. I remembered listening to his daughter interviewing him for StoryCorp and he talked about how difficult it was for him to reverse roles with his daughter. “You watched me at my weakest point where no father wants to be and you didn’t shed a tear. . . . When I was going through treatments, one of the things that helped me through was knowing that had I not been there to help you through this process, you would have figured it out by yourself. But now I'm grateful that I am here and with you.”
Then JK Simmons won an Academy Award on Sunday and in his speech he said, “Call your mom, call your dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call ‘em. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call them on the phone. Tell ‘em you love ‘em, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you.”
And so, I leave it at that – I am 36 years old and my parents are dead. It has been 9 years since I lost my mother and 8 months since I lost my father. Even though they are gone, they remain the two most important people in my life after my husband and my son. If you are lucky enough to have a parent left, talk to them.
Max just turned 8 months. He has five teeth and he can now army crawl around to grab his toys. He acts like a rabid spider monkey when I’m trying to change his diaper or his clothes. Solid foods are still kind of a struggle, but it's getting a little better. Hugging him is my favorite.