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Archive for the ‘Dad’ Category

This week kicked off with Memorial Day on Monday. For most North Americans, this day means a three day weekend of BBQs to welcome the warm summer days and longer evenings. It also means that it is now officially acceptable to wear white pants in public.

For any foreigners that may not be familiar with this holiday, North Americans celebrate Memorial Day to commemorate U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service.

But I now have a new reason to celebrate Memorial Day: to commemorate both my Dad (who passed away two years ago on June 5th) and my Uncle Mike, who just passed away this past Monday. On Memorial Day.

Grandma Bernie on her 90th Birthday

They were brothers, the only two boys of my Grandma Bernie, who at 92 years old has now outlived her ex-husband AND her two sons. My father was 63 years old when he passed away. Cancer. My uncle was 62 years old. He was paraplegic, also suffered from cancer and other ailments. And they passed away in the same week. This week of Memorial Day.

This Watson Memorial Week.

I spent the first anniversary of my Dad’s death in the fisherman village of Cadaques, on the northeastern coast of Spain. I remember sitting in the Casino cafe, watching the water and writing about my Dad. Coincidentally enough, tomorrow, on the second anniversary of his death, I will once again find myself in Cadaques. Perhaps my Dad, who’s ashes were cast to sea off the Coast of San Diego, swims to visit me each year in this mystical pueblo. We visited Cadaques together, exactly two years to the date previous to his death, on the beginning of a two week European vacation. He got up early, and went to the sea for his morning coffee. He took pictures of pigeon’s nests that he found, and the boats. This weekend I’ll keep an eye out for nests. And I will have a coffee on the coast along with him.

Uncle Mike

My Uncle Mike had suffered quite a lot over the years, so I feel assured knowing that he really is much better off now. He used to fight for his life, but when my Dad died my uncle sort of threw in the towel as well. Everyone noticed a change in his health and character, and there was no bringing him back. He has slowly been getting worse and spent the last year in a hospital. So I really mean it that he is now resting in peace.

My Grandma Bernie visited Mike just 20 minutes before he died. He was in a coma. Mike’s wife, my aunt Tomomi, held his hand when he came to very briefly. She asked him if he saw Bob, my Dad. And he reacted and tried to say something. Who knows what he saw, or what he was trying to say, but I know that my sister and I like to picture them back together now. Wherever they are, I imagine them playing football and my Uncle Mike is back to running on two legs that work again.

There are no other living males in my immediate family on my Dad’s side. My sister now has a new last name. I feel like Tamenund, in The Last of the Mohicans. I’m the last Watson. For this reason, I hope to always keep my last name and somehow pass it down to my kids one day. We’ll see…

To both my Dad and Uncle Mike – I love you both. I promise to celebrate you, and not mourn. After all, during Memorial Week white pants is the new black veil.

My Dad

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Dolphins on my mind…

Outside my window the rain is pouring. Inside my window I sit here snuggled up in bed with a large bottle of water on the bedside table. I am looking through my pictures from playa San Agustinillo this past weekend, mainly at all the blue shots of water with the dolphins popping up all over the place.

I am tired and would love to fall asleep, but I have water – and dolphins – and my Dad – on my mind.

There is a long-standing joke with my friends from middle school about how I used to be a dolphin in my past life. When these same friends are not teasing me about my dyed purple jeans I brought IN style in the early 1990s, they never miss a moment to remind me about my odd, early teenage obsession with dolphins.

Yes, it is true. I used to tell people I was a dolphin in my past life, with such zest and craziness that they thought that I believed it to be true. They would probably argue that I did believe it was true. I guess it didn’t help that I wore dolphin rings and a huge dolphin pendant necklace, and would make myself cry when telling my past life stories.

I had invented animal past lives for all of our friends at the time (which in retrospect I guess is a bit strange), based on their physical appearances and/or their personalities: Ashley was, and remains, a turtle. Andrea was, and remains, a camel. Halsey, with all her freckles and speed, was obviously a cheetah.

Then it came time to invent an animal for myself, and for some unknown reason I chose a dolphin. I either had a wild imagination or perhaps a sixth sense, but my story developed over time and I used my aquatic “past life” to explain certain desires and fears. Previously a dolphin, I was naturally drawn to the sea and needed to be by the beach at all times. But at some point in middle school I developed a strange fear of the ocean, to the point that I did not swim for years. I used my dolphin past life as a way to explain this fear: simply put, I was caught in a tuna fish net and died (which simultaneously explained why I hated tuna fish).

From time to time I am reminded of my odd behavior, but to be honest I haven’t given my past life as a dolphin much thought in years.

As it turns out, my Dad loved dolphins too. He used to (repetitively) tell us this amazing story about an encounter he had with dolphins in the deep-sea. His eyes would get all big and wide and his body would flutter around like a fish as he excitedly told his story.

Life is funny. I used to always tell him, “Yeah Dad, I know, you’ve already told me this story about a million times,” and yet, now I cannot seem to remember the details. I really wish I had listened better.

From what I remember, the story involved him on a sailboat with a bunch of guys that woke him up in the middle of the night. They dragged him out of bed and forced him over the edge of the boat, dangling him by his feet. My Dad thought he was being hazed (apparently there is a hazing tradition of some sort for sailors crossing the equator for the first time). He was scared, and struggled to get right side up and back on the boat. And then suddenly he heard the dolphins. They were all around the boat playing and my Dad was right down there with them, floating in mid-air as the dolphins jumped around him. As I recall, the sun was even rising on the horizon (of course it was, as my Dad’s stories were always exaggeratedly perfect).

When my Dad passed away a couple of years ago, according to his wishes we spread his ashes at sea. He loved the ocean, and had spent most of his adult life living on islands: Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii, Coronado. We tossed bouquets of flowers and rose petals overboard to accompany his ashes. With mimosas in hand we toasted my Dad and watched in silence as the tide pulled his ashes and the flowers gently away from us. Some long, sad minutes went by. It was so hard to say goodbye.

The flowers drifted far from the boat, but our gaze stayed on them. And then suddenly, like in a dream, dolphins appeared around the ashes – swimming and playing all around my Dad. And I couldn’t help but smile. It was the absolute perfect ending for my Dad, and I guess for me too. My last vision of him was dancing at sea with dolphins. What is not wonderful about that?

As a result of that bitter-sweet day, my old school obsession with dolphins returned. My imaginary past life transformed into my Dad’s imaginary future life. I just know that somewhere in the big sea out there, our “non-lives” are playing and swimming together.

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