As omega blocking allowed us to still enjoy sun and good weather here in Serbia, I took advantage of it to take a couple of shots with my dad’s favorite apple. 🙂
Today was October 12th. It’s been exactly a month without dad around. Am I doing better? No, not really. Has it started sounding real? No, it hasn’t, it still makes no sense at all. It’s as if somebody pressed the permanent pause at the end of that accelerated horror story movie of the battle for dad’s life and now time flows in some badly directed nightmare that I still wish could end any time. Have I moved on? No, I haven’t, I still catch myself begging him in my mind to come back even though I know very well that he never will.
I almost decided to quit blogging for good. Because you know, somehow I think that I shouldn’t complain that much or all time. Everybody lost somebody. Everybody will lose somebody extra special and handle it better than I do I suppose. On the other hand, I am who I am and my grieving process is uniquely shaped in my own way, I can’t be here talking about good and cheerful things right now. I’m well aware that it pushes people away and that all this long lasting “rant” is the best way to lose even that couple of tiny friendly bonds I managed to create (which I’m afraid has already happened). But I can’t pretend. I’m tired of pretending, I’ve been doing it for years and years, for almost as long as I remember, faking that my days are the same as the days of the majority of people out there who live without anxiety issues. Call it the fear of stigma, desperate desire to fit in, struggle not to lose the last good standpoints I badly need if I want to survive any longer. Whatever it is, one thing is certain – I’m not crazy or delusional or any sort of threat to anybody, I just have anxiety issues which have filled my soul with lots of pain and solitude for so long. That pain is there, the same as always, it is just multiplied many times and worsened by the grief that’s been haunting my days for weeks and weeks in a row. When I wanted to quit, I remembered the title I gave to this unfortunate blog of mine – “Thinking diaries”. Even though it was created with quite a different idea, and even though it should have been a place for interesting contemplations on various issues, it took a completely unpredictable turn… but it was still meant to be a diary of some sort. Diary entries aren’t always cheerful or fun. Diary writers are not all and always bursting with optimism. This is my life, and such should be my diary as well. I almost opted for writing it back on paper again in order not to choke or bother other people out there any more, but it would be hard to fit in things like images or sounds into a palpable version. So, all in all – if the negativity is too much for you guys out there, what can I say – there are plenty of other places where sun shines brighter than on my pages. As for those who will still stick with me “in sickness and in health”, one big thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Back to October 12th – in the Christian Orthodox religion to which I belong, this is a special, festive day called Miholjdan, dedicated to the Saint Kirjak, who among other things spent his life healing the sick and unfortunate people. This day is also dear to many Serbian people, marking the period of Miholjsko summer, equivalent for the North American Indian summer. It is typical that around this date summer briefly returns for the final goodbye, even though the autumn has officially started three weeks ago. It’s no different this year as well, daily temperatures are around 80 degrees and will stay that way for the next couple of days. This year Miholjdan came immediately after the day dedicated to the dead – in the Orthodox religion, there are four such days in the year, they are called Zadušnice (za dušu – for the soul) and they are always on Saturdays – the first day of the dead in autumn this year was October 11th, and the second one will be on November 1st. You are supposed to visit the graves of your deceased family members on these dates, light candles, bring flowers, take care of the grave, remember the ones who have left us. I was at the cemetery yesterday. I somehow always feel that wherever I go, my father will appear somewhere out of blue and tell me that none of this was real, that he is well and that he’ll be happy in his garden as he has always been. I went to the cemetery, my mom went to the garden to take care of some of the last fruits of dad’s this year’s labor. His last labor as it turned out. It’s horribly sad to find all his stuff there as he left it and the ground slowly succumbing to neglect, weeds and silent abandonment. Each and every thing there was made by his hand or placed where he decided things to be. It requires lots of work and the kind of strength me and my mom don’t have to keep that garden living. Yet it is still unimaginable to me to let someone else take over that little piece of land, destroy everything he made and turn 30 years of dad’s work into dust. It’s still too early to decide. She “looked for” him in the garden, I “looked for” him at the cemetery. He was nowhere to be found, there were just evidences that he once walked on this Earth and shaped some of its parts in a certain way. We ordered his picture for the tombstone and arranged for the letters to be carved in, his name and years of birth and death, right under my grandma’s picture and name. I arrived yesterday afternoon and there it was, almost completely done. It made me cry in some good way. It was beautiful, if such things can be called beautiful. He smiles from that picture the same way he does from the photo I hanged here previously, as if he were about to open his mouth and say something at that very instant you look at him. I lit the candles and as I was moving away, that light in the dusk accompanied by the light of other candles all over that nowadays huge cemetery made some very special effect on me. It was almost some kind of blessing, some special peace that was spreading all over that huge, flat, open space. Mom brought home some potatoes, parsley, carrots, a couple of pears and some of dad’s favorites quinces. They have that special, one of a kind smell of their village childhood when old women traditionally kept quinces on the cupboards in autumn and winter which filled the air with the last breaths of that year’s fruits of the nature. I remember my grandma and later my mom making that extra special quince jelly with nuts that we called kitnikez, word distorted from German Quittenkase whose tradition of making these sweets we inherited and adapted back in the times of the military occupation. Having been a diabetic for many years, dad turned over time to the stewed mixture of quinces and sour apples (compote) with no added sugar, but this imposed change in habits didn’t changed his love for his extra special quince trees. There are almost no apples this year, but he lived to see last year’s apple outburst – he gave out kilos and kilos of apples as presents to everybody we knew, that was his last goodbye with giving out healthy fruits he produced with so much love and care. He never sold one thing he made in that garden, he never knew how to make money. If the state hadn’t given him salary for his job as a doctor, he would have cured people for free. It was all about love and giving out to the world with a smile in his life. He was quite a unique person, and I am not saying this because he was my dad. It still feels weird to use past tense when I speak about him.
As for the candles at the beginning of this post – all those who can’t visit the graves of their loved ones, either because of illness, distance, or simply being busy are more than welcome to light candles for the dead in any nearby church, both on Saturday and Sunday. Even though I was at the cemetery yesterday, I felt the need to go to the church today, especially because it was both Miholjdan and a month after dad passed away. I always used to light one candle for the grandma and another one for “all the rest”, other people usually light just one candle for all those who are missing from their lives. Now I lit one for the grandma, one for the dad, and one for everybody else, dad’s candle is the one in the middle of that photo dominantly depicting three candles. Then something strange happened, there was this very old lady that came with a handful of candles, stood right next to us and started lighting them one by one, while as we say “attributing” each one of them to a certain person. My mom said – my goodness, look at that flame… and I said – mom, my goodness how many dead people though… Then I remembered what my grandma’s best Belgrade’s friend who is 95 and still alive said – I don’t know what’s worse, to die early or to live long – if you live for a very long time, everybody you’ve ever known will be gone and you’ll be still there to be aware of that. I’m sure that the old lady that lit these candles would agree with her. We stood in silence, watching the flames and it was again a moment of piece in all this storm. May all that people remembered this way rest in piece and may these candles light their path, till we all meet again some day.
I wanted to add just one more thing, as I said Miholjdan made me think of the term Indian summer, which brought back in my memory that famous old French song by Joe Dassin, “L’été indien”. When I learned French well enough I memorized these words by heart and I still know them – here is a youtube link with the text in French for those of you who understand it:
It speaks of how things used to be beautiful and nice, of one past love… and how now everything is gone. Places are still there, waves, the beach, but she is gone for good. It somehow perfectly fits in my present mood. Here is the translation:
You know, I have never been as happy as I was that morning
We were walking along the beach a bit like this one
It was autumn, an autumn when weather was nice
A season that exists only in the North America
Down there they call it Indian Summer
But this one was simply ours
With your long dress you resembled a watercolor by Marie Laurencin
And I remember, I remember very well
What I told you that morning
A year, a century, an eternity ago
We will be going, where you want to go, whenever you want to
We will be loving each other still even when love will be dead
And all of life will be like the shades of the Indian Summer
Today I’m far away from this morning of autumn
But it’s like I was there
I’m thinking of you
Where are you?
Do I still exist for you?
I’m watching this wave that will never reach the dune
You see, like the wave I’m lying down on the sand
And I’m remembering the rising tide flowing in, the sun and happiness drifting away into the sea
An eternity, a century, a year ago
We will be going, where you want to go whenever you want to
We will be loving each other still even when love will be dead
And all of life will be like the shades of the Indian Summer
My flower balcony 7 days photo blog diary stopped at day 4 – it took me quite a while to get back on the track, but I decided not to give up, especially because my geranium posts got a lot of likes. 🙂
Day 5 was supposed to be dedicated to moss roses which is really interesting English name by the way – in Serbian we call it PRKOS, challenging word for translation… something like innate willingness to oppose especially to hardships, stand for yourself, do something in spite of circumstances that don’t work for you. We are well know round here to do things in the best possible way especially when somebody or something blocks us or prevents us from doing something, so I think this is a perfect plant for me to continue this flower story. 🙂 If my computer had died irreversibly, these pictures would have disappeared… but here they are, against many if not all odds.
My southern balcony is usually horribly warm, hit by the strongest noon sunshine, so plants struggle to survive – one of the plants that has absolutely no problem with this terribly warm sunshine is moss rose, which is why I used to plant a lot of them over there in the past years. They come in many different bright color varieties and I am really sorry now that I didn’t take pictures for quite a long time, but anyhow the point is that normally a moss rose flower is uniform in color – pink, red, yellow, white… To my astonishment, this little plant unfolded its flower and I was really amazed to discover – multicolor petals! I don’t think that there was some special manipulation here as I paid a normal, very low price per that small plastic container, it was perhaps just nature that had some fun mixing orange, pink and yellow seeds to come up with this unique solution. 🙂
These flowers open up only if hit by bright sunshine, and one flower lasts typically just one day, then another one opens up. They are sturdy and strong, real warriors – that was how they earned their name in my language. The plant lasts one year, which means that with the arrival of a new spring they have to be cultivated again from seeds or bought as already developed seedlings.
I was about to continue with that unfortunately interrupted photo blogging diary when I got distracted by my father’s crazy tomatoes 🙂 – I don’t know if it were the seedlings, this year’s abnormally high humidity due to constant heavy rains or some third factor, but tomatoes grew out of every proportion, some of them weigh even close to a kilo. 😀
Our vegetable garden is organic, tomatoes weren’t treated with chemicals or any sort of heavy fertilizers, but anyhow they overcame our wildest expectations. 🙂 Apart from the size, they are very tasty as well, sweet and full of flavor, it’s a real pleasure to enjoy summer salads this year – they can be eaten even without seasoning, just like when you eat an apple. When cut in half, they look like some very special gigantic yummy heart. 🙂
While naming these two photos, I recalled my old fascination with the name of this vegetable – in Serbian we call it PARADAJZ, which is pronounced almost the same as the English word paradise. I’m not sure if someone liked them that much that eating them felt like being in paradise, but these home grown specimens do have a heavenly taste. 🙂
Flower days, day 4 🙂 Have I already mentioned that I have many different geranium types? 😀 I couldn’t resist sharing some more nice pictures, hoping that you’ll like them, too. My southern terrace is in a good covered position so all the flowers and other plants survived tonight’s heavy rainstorm with lots of thunders and lightnings, which hopefully means that I’ll have more nice photos to share in the coming months. Tomorrow I’ll present a new plant… 🙂 Till tomorrow then, have a great day or night wherever you are!
Here comes the sequel of the geranium story – these varieties are more classic, easier to grow from sprouts, have bigger flowers, but are less resistant to hard direct sunshine… in spite of their stunning blossom colors, I somehow prefer those tiny velvet-white little flowers I shared with you yesterday. They are no bigger than a fingernail, yet so strong and really charming. 🙂
Today’s geranium beauties are blossoming very well this year because we’re having tons of clouds and rain, even now in July – temperatures rise and fall like crazy every single day which is extremely unusual here where I live, and also very challenging health wise. Nevertheless, I’m doing my best to focus on these beautiful images to help me go through each of these days. It will also be a wonderful reminder of the fruits of this year’s summer, once the autumn and winter set in, putting nature to one more temporary sleep. 🙂
I’m really attached to this photo, I can’t really say why – is the balance of colors, the balance and harmony between the flowers and the bug, or it simply hit that right spot somewhere deep inside me, but even when everything else was shut into almost forgotten folders, this photo remained as a reminder of better days, as some sort of my trademark as an amateur photographer. It somehow went out right, without any need for retouching or corrections, at least I perceive it this way.
Lilacs are gone here in Serbia for this year, just like many good thing are gone from my life – tonight I feel the depression sinking in together with those wretched pains that I still can’t get rid of. There is so much I would like to do, say, write down, there are so many things I would like to change for at least a tiny bit better in my life, but I simply can’t, I don’t have enough energy, luck, health… No matter how hard I try, there is always that sense of stagnation and being stuck in one place while the rest of the world spins at its own incredible speed without me.
Let’s hope that the next year will be a better one. May it bring more lilacs into my and your days!
Some beautiful photos of my fellow blogger Judy – http://www.crookedtracks.com inspired me to search for the folder from a distant spring when things were much better for me than they are today. I don’t have the date when they were taken and in normal circumstances it would be very hard to determine which spring this was, but PD is the infallible ally in this case. It was the spring of 2005 when anxieties almost completely faded away, thanks to Prozac kicking in at the time or something completely different which I’ll never know, but I had no problem to visit my father’s garden. This is the memory of some long forgotten inner peace that I dream to experience at least just one more time in my life.
We feared that there wouldn’t be any cherries this year because they are really sensitive to rain, but here is the proof how hard they fight to survive especially because my father doesn’t use chemical to protect them. They usually pop open or rot in heavy rainy conditions, but to my surprise even those that got cut open closed and healed their “wounds” and grew, leaving visible only some thin long scar marks. I’m glad they are here! 🙂