Sunday, June 15, 2014

Keep Calm and Carry On

I survived Father’s Day 2014. Think I should get that printed on a t-shirt or something? Nah. I’d need too many t-shirts to cover all the holidays and hard days I’ve survived this year.

I knew from the very start that this first year would be the hardest. This year is full of firsts that amplify his absence. This is year is full of firsts that make me sad or miss him or angry that he up and shuffled off this mortal coil (Shakespearean for “died”), leaving me to figure out these things on my own.
There have been birthdays and holidays on top of milestones that come as children grow up. Those are the hardest sometimes. They are tiny victories of childhood that he’s missing. That’s the thought that struck me when the first one came up. It was Jarod’s first high school play and all I could think was, “Kraig’s missing this.” It repeated when Lucy lost a tooth or Kati ran in track.
Right now the meme for “Keep Calm and Carry On” is all over Pinterest and the internet to the point people are sick of it. It will be so dated in about five minutes from now. It has become something people have altered to fit their fandoms or their hobbies or their warped senses of humor. “Keep Calm and trust Daryl Dixon” or “Keep Calm and Call Batman” and so on, and so forth, all line up to put a personal twist on the original. I’ve loved seeing the creative takes on it. But as I’ve walked through this year of firsts, I must say I find something steady in the original.
I looked up the origins of it online tonight which made me love it more. If I can believe sources on the internet it was a slogan created for the Brits in WW2. Only they saved it for extreme emergency. This was the poster to pull out when things looked bleak and so it was never used. These posters were found in storage and instead of tossing them, someone thought they’d be cool to circulate. And an internet sensation was born.
Seriously? Bombs falling on London, children evacuated from their families to the countryside, and air raids weren’t enough for Brits to think it was bleak?! We may grossly underestimate the toughness of the English, I think. Perhaps it is the British in my lineage that contributes a bit to my being able to keep calm and carry on. My love of tea would seem to back that up a bit. And then there’s my love of Dr. Who, Sherlock, Downton Abby, and other British TV. Hmmm… Perhaps I’m more Brit than I realized.
So today I kept calm and carried on. I limited my Facebook more than normal and didn’t talk to anyone on the phone. I focused on getting the kids out of the house into the sunshine. The recent rain limited our hiking choices so we went to the Arts and Crafts festival I usually sell my wares at, this time as customers and spectators.
The kids had fun and each left with something. Jarod purchased a concrete lawn gnome that eerily resembled one he’d drawn for his movies. Lucy spent her money on a cheetah purse. Ryan admired a bud vase a potter had made and was rewarded when she gave it to him. She’d dropped it and the chip meant she couldn’t sell it. He was thrilled. Kati found an upcycled bohemian blouse for only $8 and she does need clothes so I caved.

On the way home we went to Armadillos Ice Cream, a family favorite. They were serving Kraig’s favorite flavor of the day—Strawberry Butter. I seized the moment in the van when they all had ice cream and couldn’t escape to ask that each one share a fun memory of dad. Three of the four could think of something. We laughed. I tried to ask more but was asked to change the subject. I did. I let them lead on many of these conversations. I’m far from perfect in how I bring up his absence but I don’t want them to think we shouldn’t talk about him, remember him, or laugh about his stories.

So for today, I managed to keep calm and carry on. For today I survived. For today I made it not so bad for my kids. Ryan even told me as he went to bed, “Except for missing Dad, this was a really nice Father’s Day, Mom.”

I’ll count that as a win.


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