About a week ago, an idea zoomed into my feeble mind. I decided that I would make a small concrete marker, engrave my daughter’s three initials on it and place it in a memorial area I have in a corner of our front yard. Eight years ago, after my daughter’s death, I built a wooden bench out of two by fours and placed it in the memorial area. I had been off work for about ten days following her death, and I needed something to do with my hands, so I built the bench. I used to sit on the bench quite a bit and feel sad. Over time I added a few decorations to the memorial area in the form of small, ceramic type animals and even a miniature gnome. I would encourage every bereaved parent to find a small bit of ground in their yard and designate it as a memorial area. There’s all sort of flowers, bushes, and decorations that can be placed there in memory of our child. Some parents plant a small tree and as they watch it grow, take comfort in the fact that they’ve done it in their child’s memory.
Anyway, I bought a bag of mortar mix, made a wooden form, poured the mix in it, let it set up, engraved the three initials into the marker and finally placed the small marker in the memorial area. I put small,white marble rocks around the marker, and all in all, I was satisfied with my efforts even though the marker was not perfect.
As I sat on the replacement bench (the old one finally began to fall apart) in the memorial area and looked at the marker, a thought came into my mind-“I’ m trying to redeem myself!” That’s right,I thought, I’m doing these things to try to redeem myself in my own eyes. Why the thought would come to me at that exact moment, I don’t know, but as I spent some time reflecting on it, I decided that it was true. Don’t get me wrong, doing things like the marker project and writing have been good for me. And a small project that fosters the memory of my daughter,Bonnie, has to be right and good. So I plan to continue these projects. If anything I write is beneficial to even one other bereaved parent, then something positive has been accomplished. It’s just that now, I better understand my basic motivation. I’m trying to make up for being a shoddy parent, in some ways, to my youngest child.
My inexpensive paperback Webster’s Pocket Dictionary has five definitions for the word “redeem”. Definition number two is: “to atone for”. I now believe that is my main motivation as I do projects and continue to write. I am trying to make up for my shortcomings and failures as Bonnie’s father. I am not throwing a pity party, but simply trying to express the truth about myself as I now see it. I suspect that some other fathers will see themselves in what I’m saying.
The bottom line is that I plan to press on with projects and writing. None of us can change the past, but perhaps we can improve the future. Even if our motivation is not exactly “pure” (I’m speaking of myself), let’s go ahead and do what we can to make the world a better place in whatever way we can.
Written by David Haddock
In loving memory of
Bonnie Catherine Haddock