When life forces us to pause

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Terri Patrick’s blog

Terri Patrick
Oregon writer

There are times in our lives when we really have no choice but to pause. We can fight our way back to our routine and pretend it all didn’t happen but eventually we will crash and burn. So what’s the point of doing it that way, pausing is a good thing. Events happen for a reason. Life is full of causes and choices and each event carries its own level of significance.

Last week I was in Cleveland for my father-in-law’s funeral and I was not only reminded of the history of my life, during the past 32 years as a member of his family, but I was also reminded of the history of his life. The truth is, neither of us really had a huge impact on the other. That may have been different if we had lived in the same neighborhood, or state, but we didn’t. We were connected but separated by over 400 miles for half of our relationship and 2,500 for these past 15 years.

Our lives influenced each other on many levels but we were sort of like a good book we would each pick up and reread once every year or two. In my life – a good book is huge – and worth rereading because every time I would learn something new and appreciate the story more. That’s how I feel about my father-in-law, every time we got a chance to sit down together I learned something new and appreciated his influence in my life at a deeper level. There just weren’t many opportunities to be together as we were separated by hundreds of miles and we were both involved in our own lives.

It’s sad, for me, to know there was a really good man, a really good story, that was unfolding during my life and was a part of my life, but it was outside of my life. My father-in-law’s life was centered in Ohio with historical connections to Slovenia. I lived in New Jersey and now with my family in Oregon. Our lives developed in different states and were separated by more than miles.

My Irish emigration story is generations old, his is recent with refugee camps, a war, and more horrors than a potato famine. The connection is poignant. My father-in-law may only have been in Hospice House, on the shores of Lake Erie, for a few hours at the end of his life but my mom was there for two years and two months before they kicked her out because she hadn’t died yet.

And here I am – once again – reassessing how to best use my time and life on Mother Earth, while dealing with jet-lag. I really hate to travel on jets across time zones. I prefer to travel through time and space in my own home with a good story.

I learned a lot of good stories from my father-in-law.