Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Because He Said So

I am writing this from my Daddy's veranda. I don't think it's technically a true veranda, but it's what he called it. So a veranda it is. Because he said so.

He's gone. From the veranda, but not our hearts. I miss him so much. But the veranda is comforting. He loved it out here. Overlooking the brick terrace and what's left of the moat.

It's not a real moat, mind you. It's a retention pond that runs in front of the house. But since you have to cross a bridge that spans the retention pond in order to get to the front door, he called it a moat. So a moat it is. Because he said so.

He did that a lot. Called things by names he preferred. He didn't like other people's rules. He made up his own. He was strong willed and fearless. Cut his own path. Did things his way. Never took no for an answer. I want to be like him in those ways.

But most of all, I want to love my family like he loved us. Full out. All in. 110%. He knew how to be a family man. He knew how to love us. Perfectly. And I loved him for it.

We're a big immediate family, us Langfords. I have 4 siblings. 3 sisters-in-law. 8 nieces and nephews. 2 grandparents. 2 aunts. 3 uncles. 5 cousins. That's a lot of immediate.

Especially in one house. At the same time.

And we all love to talk. LOUDLY. But when you're competing against 3 dozen or so people, you've got to speak up. And we do. Shyness isn't a family trait.

These last 2 days have been gut-wrenching. We're all stunned and incredibly sad. But there are things to do. Arrangements to be arranged, decisions to be decided upon, lists to keep track of, phones to answer and people to hug.

And there's a lot of activity. People are whirling. And bumping into one another. And talking over each other. The house is busting at the seams. It's thumping with energy. And grief. And laughter.

We tell the same stories. Over and over and over again. "Remember that time..."? And we cut each other off with eyes rolling and finish the sentence with "when we..." or "when Dad...". And then we all laugh like we've just heard the story for the first time. Because it's still funny.

And will be again in about 3 hours when we retell it. That's what we do.

And we look at the 1.5 million pictures our dad stockpiled. The man never threw anything away. Ever.

I really wish he had. Some of my past looks are quite unfortunate. I'd rather not relive them.

But I thank God for those pictures. Bad hair and all. And the stories that never get old. And the incessant teasing we do of each other. For the house busting at the seams. And the energy. And the deafening noise. For the stress that comes with planning a memorial for your dad. One that you want to be perfect because you only have one shot. And you don't want to miss something, regret anything.

Because he wouldn't. He'd know exactly what to do. Because he would do what he wanted and it would be perfect.

Because he said so.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Tidal Wave of Reality

Have you bought the new Zac Brown Band album? If not, stop reading and go here. Now.

You’re welcome.

My favorite song on the CD is “Knee Deep”. It’s a duet with Jimmy Buffett. I am a confessed Parrothead. A conservative, Republican Parrothead. {gasp!} And I know of others just like me. {double gasp!} Jimmy loves us anyway.

How do I know? He’s a liberal. And everyone knows liberals are the most tolerant human beings on Earth and love everybody.


Alright, back to my favorite song. I’ve had it on repeat for close to a week now. I just love it. It’s so carefree and takes me back to that boat, in that harbor, in that Pass, in those islands. My favorite place.

And there’s a lot going on in my world right now. Some really big, life-altering things and some small, inconsequential things. But the really big things make the small things seem larger than they really are. And so everything seems big.

Does that make sense? I’d be surprised if it does, frankly. Making sense isn’t my specialty these days.

But I just put that song on and for the 3 minutes and 23 seconds that it’s playing, I forget all that stuff. So hitting repeat 10 times gives me over half an hour of forgetfulness.

I love repeat. Thank you, Apple.

But I screwed up the other day and allowed myself to think about something other than how I could talk The Hubs into moving to my favorite place permanently.

I was listening to the lyrics too closely. And I realized something not all that profound, but eye-opening all the same. To me at least.

Here are the lyrics:

Gonna put the world away for a minute/Pretend I don't live in it/Sunshine gonna wash my blues away/Had sweet love but I lost it/Got too close so I fought it/Now I'm lost in the world tryin to find me a better way 

Wishin' I was/Knee Deep in the water somewhere/got the blue sky, breeze and it don't seem fair/the only worry in the world/is the tide gonna reach my chair/Sunrise, there's a fire in the sky/never been so happy/never felt so high/and I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise

Wrote a note, said "Be back in a minute"/Bought a boat and I sailed off in it/Don't think anybodies gonna miss me anyway/Mind on a permanent vacation/The ocean is my only medication/Wishin' my condition aint ever gonna go away 

Now I'm knee deep in the water somewhere/Got the blue sky breeze blowin'/wind thru my hair/Only worry in the world/is the tide gonna reach my chair/Sunrise, there's a fire in the sky/never been so happy/never felt so high/and I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise

This champagne shore watchin' over me/It's a sweet sweet life livin' by the salty sea/One day you can be as lost as me/Change your geography and maybe you might be 

Knee deep in the water somewhere/got the blue sky breeze blowin' wind thru my hair/only worry in the world/is the tide gonna reach my chair/Sunrise, there's a fire in the sky/never been so happy/never felt so high/and I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise 

Come on in/the waters nice/find yourself a little slice/grab a backpack/otherwise you'll never know until you try/when you lose yourself you find a key to paradise

And here’s what hit me.

I will never, ever, ever, NOT have a care in the world. Whether the tide hits my chair will never be my only worry. Ever. Because I’m a mom.

All at once, this thought makes me want to jump for joy and cry in utter despair.

It is my greatest privilege to be a mom. I thank God every day for the blessing of my little men. I am in awe of them. I always will be.

But in that moment I realized I will be worrying about those two boys even when they're grown men. Even when I’m floating around on clouds with my wings on and no doubt annoying Jesus with my suggestions on how to fix whatever trouble my boys find themselves in.

My point is, I can’t imagine a time in the future when I will ever again be able to lay back, breathe the salty air in deeply, sip my Painkiller and let the ocean drown my worries.

If you let yourself think about that too long and too hard, you’ll take to your bed and refuse to leave. It’s depressing.

Of course they’re worth it. The little vultures. Without question. So don’t start with the “You wanted them…” speech. I did. Do. Always.

I’m just saying there are things about becoming a parent you don’t consider or even realize until you are one.Most of them are so incredibly delicious you can barely stand it.

Others come fully loaded with reality.

Like the fact that the tide will more than likely reach not only my chair, but also our beach towels, the kids’ dry clothes, the sandcastle-making toys, and our snacks.

So consider yourself warned if you are thinking about having children. You will still have vacations, drink rum drinks in the sun and bury your toes in the sand. But you’ll never do it without wondering (and worrying) if your precocious son has introduced his forehead to the corner of the baseboards or if your other son’s colon has decided to try and digest his small intestine (yes, this has happened).

I really have to stop thinking. I can even ruin my favorite song when I do it.

Someone bring me a Painkiller and hit repeat.