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wed- 1st day home posted: Wed 2017-10-04 07:34:57 tags: healing, books
The rule of thumb for sign legibility is 1" character height = 40' visibility, i.e. 3" high lettering is legible up to 120'. Sans-serif fonts are more legible and most popular street / facility signage fonts are Helvetica, Frutiger, and Clearview. source: Mental Floss

We got in around midnight last night (as evidenced by the "your Lyft driver is here" text at 11:45) and didn't wind down to sleep until after 1. Slept in til after 9. Unpacked, updated accounts registers and here I am.

I finished 2 books and most of a third on various flights: Gottman's "7 Principles for Making Marriage Work"; Sara Miles's "Take This Bread"; and Stutz + Michels, "The Tools: Transform your Problems into Courage, Confidence and Creativity". The first was largely skimmed, but well worth a careful re-read and work-through of the exercises. The second was deeply moving despite getting a little repetitive. The third was cogent, direct, genuinely motivational, and may end up being the most useful self-help book on my shelf. Up there with "How to Fall Out of Love" or the Big Red Book of Al-Anon.

* * *

With Mom often on my mind, naturally I also thought some about the contrasts between Mom and Dad and my relationships with them. First, that Mom would have enjoyed SEEING Mt. St. Helens, as would Dad, but Mom wouldn't have been up for climbing to the rim, whereas Dad would. At least when he was younger and more physically able. Second, when Grams died, Dad cancelled the family's Europe trip and turned inward. It was like some key motivation had been suddenly yanked away, and he did not recover his footing quickly or graciously. Not because he thought that's what Grams would have wanted or expected of him; perhaps in spite of that calculus. I think Mom wouldn't have cancelled. I think having that yanked out from under her, and from under Pam and I, for that matter, was a major blow to her marital investment.

I understand and don't resent the travel cancellation. I imagine Mom did resent that it was never rescheduled. I think Dad was at most semi-consciously, but powerfully, driven largely by a need to provide his parents a comfortable retirement they had been unable to secure for themselves. But the security didn't translate to health or happiness. Gramps still drank heavily, Grams still lay in bed depressed a lot. When she died, I think to him it finalized and crystallized their life as fundamentally unrescue-able. His focus scattered. Money, his yardstick of success, failed to fix his parents, his marriage, or himself. It bought certain creature comforts but it didn't buy genuine connection, respect or growth.

I don't remember the timing, it was probably a lot of hectic in a short timeframe but I think it would have been very possible to do justice to Grams's funeral AND still go to Europe. Aunt Vivian, Uncle Bud, Edith, lots of people were around to look in on Gramps. All that to say, I think if the roles had been reversed, if it was one of Mom's parents who had passed rather suddenly and Mom's sole decision to follow through or nix the trip, yes Mom would have grieved but I don't think she would have cancelled the trip. Dad does not handle loss well. He did OK with Gramps because despite a lifetime of smoking, heavy drinking and losing a leg to diabetes near the end, Gramps lived past the median mortality age and his waning health was clearly presaged. But he did not handle the reality of Mom's estrangement well. I don't remember where he was most of the time when Albany Grandpa was sick, but I feel like he and Mom were already disconnected.