Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dad


I’ve often debated about what to share and what not to on here.
My professional conscience has mostly abstained from too many personal outbursts but my artistic self wears her heart on her sleeve and this blog is, after all, a merging of the two.
For years I have called this journal my ‘house of cards’. 
Sometimes the wind blows a little stronger and I find myself running after my scattered walls, my queen of hearts sitting in the mud as I begin rebuilding again.
Also, the clouds are going to dump one month’s worth of rain on us today. 
As if that wasn’t a sign.



'When Mum asked me to write a eulogy for Dads funeral once it became clear he was on his way out, I couldn’t put pen to paper.
The man in the bed before me looked nothing like my father, but a much older, tired and worn stranger with sunken eyes and for the life of me I didn’t know what to say about him.
But when he finally left us and the madness of his torture was over, the tears finally fell and the memories started flooding back, like little specks of light, dancing around me, bright fireflies coming from behind the trees.
I pluck them out of the sky, randomly, one by one and share them with you.

Dad helped me build a frog pond one summer and we found oodles of jelly eggs and, as he explained their development every step of the way, we watched them turn into tadpoles together and eventually hop away, only to return every year for a long time to lay their eggs in our back yard.

He was compassionate with humans and animals alike, but never over-emotional. That was left to Mum and I.
One of my favourite stories is about the penguin he found covered in oil on a beach which he wrapped in his best jacket. He took it home, cleaned it up and released it back to a clean beach. The jacket of course was ruined.
He always had a clear mind when it came to right and wrong and what was fair and just.

Dad taught me that slow and steady wins the race.

He was a fantastic nurse.
Once I tried to put a bandaid on his finger which he’d badly cut and promptly fainted on the floor from the sight of all the blood, leaving him, finger still bleeding like mad, having to tend to me with cool washcloths.
He also brought down many of my fevers with vinegar socks and tended to my many scraped knees and elbows with his immaculately kept leather bound first aid kit.

One of his favourite memories, he often told me, was when I flew back from Australia to Switzerland at 4 years of age with Mum and ran towards the glass door separating us from him at the airport, a single tear trickling down my cheek. I don’t remember this at all, but I’m glad he kept it in his heart.

Dad could get the best tan just by working in the garden for a few hours. Mum would always be envious of this.

Everything he tried his hand at he ended up mastering to perfection. From becoming an incredible chef and teaching me the joys of food, feeding me with garlic snails and bouillabaise before I could even read and write, to building things for the house and taking long distance drawing lessons. Each lecture book carefully filed away after the exercises had been finished and his artworks sent off to be marked.
Later in life, he and I would spend a few afternoons painting in the garage. I would tell him about my relationship problems and he would teach me meticulously how to layer oil paints. His brushes were always cleaned and put away pristinely. Mine were bent, sticky and unruly. As much as he tried, his careful and neat ways never rubbed off on me.

Dad was one of the hardest workers I’ve known. Always dedicated, on time, thorough, respectful and committed, he was a prized asset to every employer.

He never treated me like a child but rather like a little lady. He would invite me along to the galleries in Zurich, the opera when Mum didn’t want to go and cheese tastings with his boss, giving me a passion for the finer things in life long before I truly understood them.

He was incredibly intelligent. Quite often if I was passionate about a subject and had done my research on it, on bringing it up with him, I was always baffled that he had already read up about it and could give me a whole new set of views and angles I hadn’t considered. He was never boastful of this, but to this day I am still in awe of the breadth of knowledge he kept inside, of which I may never even have touched upon more than the tip of the iceberg.

The household he grew up in, nestled in a valley, was a crazy and colourful one. His parents, who owned a shop downstairs from the main part of the house and who most of the town people turned to in times of need, were some of the most generous people to have lived. He had many siblings and other people’s children came and went, all participating in the many stories that would surround his childhood. But as with a lot of large catholic families, especially those from a fairly conservative Swtizerland at the time, there were emotional barriers that were instilled and a need for independence from an early age. This formed my Dad into an incredibly able, polite, proper, private and proud man, though often a little distant, which could make it difficult for the people that loved him to reach out to him and harder to know more about the amazon - sized soul within him.

I’m incredibly sad to let him go so early in his life, knowing of the plans he had for the future years and just so few weeks shy of meeting his first grandchild.
I hope our new family member inherits some of his incredibly good looks and honourable qualities so that I may not have to miss him quite so much.






9 comments:

Lisa said...

I should not have read this right now, for I’m a mess of mascara tears and a late meeting very soon but how could I not...in fact I shall read again my Dear Jess...over and over, for you honour so beautifully. This much I know, it is the tucked up memories that linger, they thump loudly and they caress with warmth. You are a treasured daughter, a treasured wife, a treasured friend and soon to be a treasured mother, a role that you will find is greatly influenced by your own dear parents...you’ll find yourself thanking your father at perhaps the oddest of times. Another thing, time does not dim the memory of a loved one, it in fact illuminates them that bit more; it shows more than anything, their humanness. Love to you, now and always. A stunning tribute to your precious Father.

Steph Tout said...

Words so beautiful, brave and deeply moving...I'm totally floored. You have such wonderful memories to keep close to your heart, and to share with your little one. And you yourself, beautiful woman, are a testament to what an amazing man your father was - incredible good looks, true intergrity and so, so much more. Massive love to you darlingheart, xoxo

Katrina said...

Stunning tribute. Looking at the photographs what struck me was the similar facial characteristics your partner shares with your dad. I reckon they look similar anyway.

MnM said...

Jess,
I have been reading your blog since I saw one of your images at a photo salon a few years back. I always love your photos but tonight I also feel a little close to you. I lost my dad 2 years ago this month and my grief is one of the hardest emotions I have ever had to come to terms with. I felt at once like a child and an adult and so, so incredibly sad when he died.
I hope you take the time to let yourself heal and remember all those beautiful things that made your Dad so special. I'm sure you have all the love and support you could ever need around you but know a stranger is sending some your way too.
xxMM

Jessica Tremp said...

Thank you so much xoxo

Paul Louis Villani said...

Oh Jess, for the pain and loss you have endured, I send you prayers and hugs of faith and repair.
What a wonderful tribute too.
Much peace and calmness to you and your family at this time.

Anonymous said...

To Jessica you are a brave beautiful talented lady your choice of words at this sad times makes me proud and humble as a person but makes me proud to call you my niece . May your child inherit all your beauty,laughter adventuress and and your fathers wisdom,talent and love of life along with your mothers compassion,caring and tolerance. From your loving uncle Kevin .

msdebbie said...

Hi Jess. I'm a fan of your photography, and wow, love how you've honoured your father here. I've been thinking about my own Dad for weeks on end now as I turned 37 end of April, and in a matter of months it will be 15 years since he passed at a really young age (45). I truly agree with Lisa, memory does not wither the memories of our loves - it brings them into focus in unexpected ways. I just wanted to comment that your blog has made my day - it is good to be reminded of the small and large associations when people have died. It is an insult to me that many people just want to forget. Much love and care to you, especially as you become a parent too xxx

Jessica Tremp said...

msdebbie, that's so kind of you, thank you.
It makes me feel relieved to know I will have these and more memories in the future years and can reassure myself now not to stress about losing them. xo