Friday, January 4, 2008

Opop, Charlie, and the cat

Before I post this story, I need to give you a tiny bit of background information. My nephew Cameron, when he was 2, started referring to my mom and dad as "Omom" and "Opop." They had planned to be Oma and Opa, the German terms for Grandmother and Grandfather, but Cameron had other plans. Everyone thought the new names were cute and funny, so we kept them.

Of course, my dad died before Skyler was born, so she only knows of him in photos and stories, but lately, she's taken a special interest in learning about Opop. She seems to have just grasped the idea that her mom and dad have a mom and dad, and who is who, and that only 3 of the 4 are still around.

Yesterday, right in the middle of building a block tower, she said to me: "You must really miss your daddy." In that moment, I have to say, I am certain that she really understood that he was my dad, and that I love him very much, and that I don't get to see him anymore. She looked at me with such total empathy and clarity. I said "Yeah, I really miss him." We just nodded at each other and then moved on.

Tonight when Sam went in to kiss her good night, he said: "Who loves ya?" (He was looking for a "Daddy loves me.")
"Opop" was her reply. I then heard her asking Sam a host of questions about Opop.
"Why is he in heaven?"
"Is he alone?"
"Is he with Charlie?"
"When will I see him?"
"Is he mommy's daddy?"
"Can he talk to me?"

All of this talk, I think, has been spurred on by two things: a song on a CD we listen to in the car about a cat who dies when left outside all night on Christmas Eve. Am I kidding you? No. It is on a CD mix someone made for me, and it is terribly sad. It is simply heartbreaking. She wants to hear it OVER and OVER. She is very worried about this cat and why someone would leave it outside, and yet she totally freaks out if I won't play the song. I'm very worried about why someone would write a song about a cat who dies on Christmas eve. So, she has been thinking about death.

Secondly, I have a drawer of my dad's ties. I took them b/c I wanted to make a blanket or quilt with some of the material, but now I just have them sitting in a drawer and Skyler and Reed pull them out every once in a while. Skyler has taken a special interest in them lately and proudly wore one to the grocery store last week over her sweater.

What must be her conception of death? heaven? having someone "live in her heart"? I don't know, but I love the fact that she wears his special ties and falls asleep sometimes thinking of Opop.


Tiercy said...

Oh Emilie, this is such a sweet post! Your mom is going to love it when she reads it. Way to keep Opop alive for your children.

Christine said...

It never fails Emilie. I am always so touched by your writings about your father. Opop is certainly with Skyler in a very special way. You honor his memory so deeply. It truly touches me.

Sarah said...

i am definitely tearing up. em, you need to WRITE A BOOK!!!