Apr 14

i googled my father today. i found a blog post written by an old friend of his. i remember going kite flying with mike at smithfield plantation when my brother and i were kids. i remember later my dad talking about how mike was protesting some development going on around blacksburg. dad told me because mike and i shared a similar opinion on the development. dad was proud of his friend for protesting that development. i emailed mike to ask if i could post his words here. he said yes. so, the few visitors that come here – here is the best collection of words to capture the essence of who my father was. i couldn’t have said it better. okay, i could have. i would have put something like “and he loved his daughter the most.” or something like that ;-D. hahahahaha. not only do the following words capture my father best, but it’s also just a beautiful piece of writing by a friend about a beloved friend that has left. so, if you don’t care about my father, but you care about some good writing, read it for that.

* * Celebrating the life of Harry Robertshaw
FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010 AT 11:02AM
(c) 2010 Michael Abraham

Harry Hull Robertshaw, Ph.D, died a couple of weeks ago. His memorial service is tomorrow in Blacksburg. It is hard for me to piece together the appropriate thoughts about such an interesting, intelligent, and insightful man. To say that Harry was influential in my life is a hopeless understatement. From the day I met him, I have always wanted to be more like Harry.
Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 20

they are verbs, ala erin & vickie. i figured i should put something here because it’s been 9 days! since i put something here.

the last 9 days have been a haze. i’m busy, really busy. all day monday is science ed class that i’m ta-ing in. tuesdays and thursdays are 7.30-8.20am tae kwan do and then 2.30-3.20pm tai chi. wednesdays are stats days all day. thursdays at 3.30 are another meeting. friday 9.30-10.30 is meeting with my favorite professor to write and research. in between is running stats for some really cool special ed work, mentoring a wonderful doc student, letting my brain take a break, writing my dissertation, reading articles for various things, and trying to get some job apps done. i call this “practicing to be a faculty member.” i’m building my stamina. i’m learning how to use coffee more effectively, and sunflower seeds, and carrots, chocolate, pasta cups, applesauce, and water too.

i’m buying technology like it’s going out of style. that’s what i seem to spend the weekends doing. or the weekdays.. yesterday it was an e-book reader. or, as i like to call it, a pdf reader that is less cumbersome than my computer. i think i like it, but it doesn’t have the smell that books have.. but, when i’m going to work with someone on stats at their house, lugging 50lbs of books around isn’t fun. hopefully this e-book reader will also become my stats library. i’m sad that the big red book – the psychometrics book that gives me some stats street cred – isn’t electronic. it’s a badass book. i’m also sad that i can’t find the HUGE non-parametric/parametric book either. those 2 books are really heavy. to be able to have them on the e-reader, which fits nicely in my pocketbook, would be nice.

on sunday i’m going to oregon. it’ll be a really quick trip. driving sunday, 2 days, driving back. i called my friend and told her i couldn’t wait to see her but i hated the reason i’m going. i’m driving to oregon, with the help of a blessed friend who will be dropped off in the gorge, the last major stop before pdx. it will be nice to have her for the hardest part of the drive, as well as the majority of it. i have errands to do in eugene. i need to bring home tofu pate, yumm! sauce, and books from my favorite used bookstore. i also need to bring home hugs and more recent minds-eye images of a few particular loved ones. most importantly i’ll be leaving a part of me there. *sigh*

death, again. i think this is a good-bye trip. i really fucking hate good-bye trips. i can’t believe this is the second fucking one during this process. stop. just stop. dying. actually, it’s the third one – because visiting my grandfather on 27 december 2009 with my father – i knew i’d never see him alive again. he was 93, not 53, and ready to die, not trying to live long enough to see a daughter graduate from high school.

i know, all this sounds depressing. in between it all i AM learning that i love doing research. i love being in academia. i’m getting to practice being a faculty member not only with everything going on, but with an office as well. i’m not paid, but i’ve been blessed with a really nice office that has a HUGE window. the window overlooks the atrium in the building and people on the other side of the atrium can see right in, but i don’t care. i am also on the top floor and so the glass ceiling lets in even more natural light. it’s letting me get work done, and feel professional, and forget that i’m not being paid.

i’m also getting to do a guest post over on another blog. i’m excited about that. i get to talk about faith issues. i’m a little nervous, but it’s a blog post, but i want it to be good, and the blog, well – it’s someone well known in the faith world.. or at least pretty well known.. at least among the presby usa church. i wonder if he knows i’m episcopalian now? hmm. i should let him know. hahahahaha. i don’t think he’ll mind, bruce reyes-chow is a good guy. i like the way he thinks, i like the way he writes. it’s too bad he left his church and isn’t a pastor anymore, because i know he was a good one. i met him through social media, social media i’m no longer participating in. if you go read his blog, his past posts, i’m sure you’ll like him too. (vickie – you know he was the previous moderator of GA for the PCUSA, right?)

okay. read, write, eat, mentor, clean. that’s what’s on the agenda for the rest of the day.

Aug 9

i went to fill out a promissory note for student loans for this upcoming year. they wanted parents and grandparents. okay. i can list a mother, but father, dead. and grandparents? dead. so i called to ask what i do about it. they said just put not applicable. i’m not sure which is worse – my father & grandparents being dead, or not applicable. honestly? not applicable feels like non-existent, never-existed. i’m sure that’s not what the nice man on the other end of the phone meant to mean, but that’s the existential meaning i carry with N/A. being the freakishly honest person that i am i think i’ll put dead for father and grandparents, rather than N/A. i think i may even put the date, 4/24/10 for dad, 2/22/03 for his ma, 1/06/00 for his papa, 12/01/00 for my mothers ma, and 1/13/10 for my mothers papa. they can’t be n/a, even on something as unimportant as a promissory note for student loans, they simply can’t be.

May 14

that was the thought that went through my mind just a second ago as i was walking by my fridge and looked at the picture that’s front and center  - my grandparents + my dad. it’s mainly my grandmother, my father’s mom, looking with excitement at the 50th wedding anniversary gift from their children. my grandfather is in the background, and my dad is just noticeable in the corner of the picture. 3 dead people. blunt and to the point, that’s how i think. crude or crass even, but it’s true.

i don’t know if friday will ever be the same. tonight marks 3 weeks since i got the call. technically i know it’s saturday on his death certificate, but i got the call at 11.15 on a friday night, so to me, it’s friday that he died on.

the amazing vickie asked how i’m doing with the grief. i think i’m still in shock. i’m not sure how long shock lasts. i just know that a couple of times this week i’ve nearly emailed my counselor with something along the lines of “hey, my dad is dead, he’s really dead. did you know that?” of course he knows my dad is dead, but in those moments it’s like it’s brand new information for me. i don’t know if shock is part of the grief process, i should know – i’ve got kubler-ross’s book “on death and dying”, but i’m not interested in reading that right now. i don’t need to read about the stages of grief as i’m going through them. reading about my grief really doesn’t help me any.

i do think the shock is slowly starting to wear off though. i have more and more moments where i want to talk to my dad. it’s been too long since we’ve talked about stuff besides him dying. it’s getting to that point where i need to call him and hear his voice. when i get to that point and beyond, where my need to talk to him is like a thirst i can’t quench, i think that’s when shock will be completely gone. right now, while shock is still here, i do know he’s gone and i struggle with verb tense. do i have a father who was a boater or did i have a father who was a boater? is that my father’s big ol’ marble buddha, or was that my father’s big ol’ marble buddha? i don’t know about tense. my counselor and i briefly talked about it, but we were in the middle of something else when that came out of left field and so i need to hear from him more about verb tense.

other than shock and tense.. this ever present sense of grief just follows me everywhere. when i’m not thinking about dad, i can still feel it weighing on my shoulders. even when i’m with the sweet & amazing parker kids, even when little l says my name (18 mos) or 3 year old k grins from ear to ear because it’s me, or 9 year old d asks if *i* am coming some place, or 6 year old a just curls up in my lap because she can, my world is still shaded in gray. i can’t shake it and i don’t know how long this will last. it’ll last as long as it’s supposed to and i suspect the world will never ever look the same again now that my father is no longer in it.

Apr 24

i’ve collected photos. some of them aren’t the best- photos of photos. sorry to bore my readers, its about dad right now. this is where i store my thoughts and memories. here’s my father. the only subjects missing? boating and hsing-i’ing.

Apr 24

of course there are lots and lots and lots of memories of my father, and so i may just be writing them down so i don’t loose them.

the summer of.. goodness.. after my junior year of college.. yep, between jr. and sr. year of college. i was supposed to work at a boy scout camp that summer in the outdoor program but during the raft guide training i broke my (lower) leg, so i couldn’t guide or work at the camp anymore.. so i ended up at home for the summer with not a lot to do..

… BUT i did figure out a way to boat, kayak. i got some great stuff to wrap my cast up in a nd was able to fit it in my boat. and dad – maybe in a bit of stupidity – agreed to go on a trip down the new river gorge with me like that.

i remember getting to the put in at cunard. he told me he’d help me get the boat off and get it down to the river and all that good stuff. but i didn’t have a lot of patience, so i think he got my kayak off the top of the truck, but i remember me getting dressed – hopping about on one leg, and getting that kayak the rest of the way down to the river.. the steep steps and getting myself in the boat which i did mainly on my butt.

BUT dad was there, and instead of trying to get in my way of doing what i intended to do, sat back and let me, encouraged me, and dare i say – he was proud of me for being so bull headed to do this myself.. which i got from him. i think he probably knew that if he tried to stop me from boating or from hopping around on one foot with a boat on my shoulder he would have had to go to battle with just a short, female, version of himself.

Apr 23

gone. dammit.

Apr 23

i just went through a bunch of photos on my computer and on my phone looking for my dad.  among the photos on my phone i went back through pictures from our november trip to cape hatteras. that was a good trip. quick good trip. dad was healthy. and so i’m writing down this..

at one point over the weekend i decided i needed to get out and go for a drive and dad came with me. we drove to the bottom of hatteras island.. not sure how far that is from buxton (which right at the cape), but we ended up driving the small lanes of the town of hatteras. really driving around.. exploring each lane possible and just talking. i forget what we talked about, we probably talked about academia among many things.. one thing i know we talked about was an uncle on my mother’s side.. rosalie’s husband.. i think it was, actually, uncle harry. i can’t ever remember on my mother’s side.. was it harry (harry is also my father) who was married to rosalie? i need to write it down. anyhow, we talked about this uncle of mine on my mother’s side who grew up in the town of hatteras way back when. i didn’t know that, but dad did. we admired the old houses – you know, the locals, and looked in amazement at a couple of big houses and i think we were both jealous of those houses on the water.. right on the water, the houses of the locals on the water.  after that we drove down to a museum and i decided to drive out on to the sand just a bit.. just to see over the dune.. of course dad and i argued about that. we argued a lot.. both knowing that we’re right, firm and hard headed about it. i knew what i was doing – driving out on to the sand and he was convinced i was going to get the car stuck. i was right (this time). we looked around the museum .. i think it’s the museum of the graveyard of the atlantic, and then drove back up the island.

i’m writing this down because i don’t want to forget that drive with him. i don’t want to forget how nice it was to be with my father – just the two of us. i’m not going to write about the regrets right now, i just want to write to capture the moment. to try to capture how much i just loved that little drive because it was dad and i, together.. this in psync connected thing that i got to feel when we did that drive. this comfortable relationship with him. this loving, comfortable, super close relationship with my papa. on that little drive i know that i even slipped my hand in his and drove like that, because i wanted him close. i love that feeling – of my hand in his. and i love that whenever i’d put my hand in his he’d never let go.  it was just natural, my hand in his. i pray i never forget what that felt like.

Apr 10

my dad is dying and it sucks. it hurts me more than i can describe. i hate this, i hate this, i hate this. the other day i got a little bit of $ in the mail. that little bit would be enough to enable me to buy an ip@d to entertain myself, to help me avoid this pain, but then i went to the usu bookstore and played with one. it’s cool, pretty cool, but it needs more development, and a camera, and the ability to annotate pdfs like the preview program on my m@cbook. it’s not 500.00 cool. and even if it were, it wouldn’t stop my dad from dying, it wouldn’t make this pain go away. this is the first i’ve been through this level of grief and i’m doing horrible with it. i haven’t talked to him since tuesday because i’m too afraid of the pain it’ll bring. i’m afraid to talk to my family because as real as this pain is right now, talking to my family will only make it more real. i suck at this and i don’t want to. i want to be the strong daughter who flies back and holds his hand through this, each breath him not doubting how much i love him, each breath knowing i love him with all my heart and back and forth and back and forth……………….

i hate this. i absolutely hate this.  like vickie said the other day – harry isn’t supposed to die in the end, it’s supposed to be voldemort and in the books that’s what happens.  in this case, though, harry – my dear harry hull – is dying, it’s supposed to be the cancer, and god damnit – as much as i know i can’t have a re-write, i want one. i want a re-write. i hate that this story is ending too soon, i need this book to be longer, i need it to be a lot longer. the person i love most in the the world is dying and it hurts, it just hurts.

Mar 15

i’m in the airport waiting for my flight to atlanta and then from there off to slc and logan. it was a brief visit to see my father. i’m not sure how much help i was, probably not any, but it was nice to see him and kiss his head multiple times a day, to hold his hand, etc.. you know – all that physical exchange of love between father and daughter. yes, it was a hard trip. i have a hard time with sitting around when i want to avoid feeling – and the trip was a lot of that. work? i could have worked.. but i have a hard time working when i’m avoiding big emotions too. i just want to move and piddle about really. there wasn’t enough of that to do. i wish i were closer – that as much as i love the people in utah i’ve met, that because of dad’s health i’d ended up back at UGa – so that i could drive up and back – to be with him, sit around for a bit and then drive back and do that over and over and over. but that wasn’t an option so i ended up in utah – at least the airport i fly out of is a big one, so it’s flying out of a big one into a small airport. glad it’s not small big small. :)

he looks rough. yep, he sure does. he’s in the end stages of cancer – so why would he look any different? he’s thin and pale, and doped up on lots of drugs – which affects that engineer’s brain of his. he’s got some soft gray hair on top of his head. his hearing is impacted by the drugs. we spent time watching the ACC t0urnament this weekend. (btw vickie – i saw that my aggies are playing your aggies in the first round of that big ol’ boys basketball tournament. i suspect that the southern aggies will win.) we also spent time gazing at walker creek in flood (19,000 CFS – where 2500 CFS is high). crazy and i feel sad for the people who’s basement flooded.  and watching movies and asking dad about pain meds and needing drugs of various sorts and writing those down and walking out on the land (and ann’s) with the dog. oh and reading the lemon tree. what a freakin’ brilliant book – really. and not doing much work except for coordinating stuff from a far (busy piddling work). i’ve gotten good at coordinating from a far. only one meltdown but considering the situation and other stuff going on in my life – not bad – and my dear logan friends were there on the phone – once i got into range – and a dear professor was there over email to give me a little professional boost. as much as i dislike logan – i’ve found some really high quality people that i can turn to in moments of need (and joy – that same prof and i sit around and talk about the meaning of life instead of my dissertation work and those friends – well – they’ve been there through lots of joys and i through their joys (2 kids born!). yep – i’m lucky for that.

and now i just wait for my fight. the first flight of the day is on time. whoo hoo. the plane that is scheduled to take me out of here is actually 12 minutes early (whoo hoo!). hopefully the 2nd (and last) flight of the day will be on time too. and tomorrow it’s really back to the grind. observations, sending data to prof a, drs appt, etc.. and starting on 2 manuscripts. good good good – i hope. oh and worry and sadness about dad – bad bad bad but that’s – as my pastor friend corinne puts it – the story of the love. goddess i love that line. the tears and the pain about what is going on with dad is the story of the love. how bad would it be if that weren’t there – yep – there’s joy in that pain – that it exists.

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