In my about blurb I describe this little life of ours as “chaos with consistency”. In the last few days our family has had all of it.
We are grieving the loss of a remarkable man, Clyde Embrey, who left us yesterday, at the age of 83. He was a step father, a huge hug, a dear friend, a cheering squad. He was the only man I’ll ever say I helped re-shingle a roof with, because I knew it would be fun. He was a twenty dollar bill stuffed in your hands every time you got back on the bus for wherever home was, with the words, “You’ll need this babe.” He was the biggest exaggerated wink, wink after he told a ridiculous joke.
He danced a mean Santa every December, surrounded by hundreds of elves, angels and all things Santa land that defined coming home to Virginia each Christmas. Sammy’s biggest memory of him is Clyde and the two automatic dancing Santas on the mantle all doing the Jingle Jangle in an exaggerated figure eight. I can still hear Sam’s laughter and Clyde’s making that music mean something to me again.
He embraced every incarnation of my persona I walked in his door with from age 16 to today. I could shave my head, quit my job, start a new one, have a girlfriend, or a fiance, be a single mother, or a hot shot New Yorker, and it was all “Hey Babe. Come here, let me show you something…” Clyde entered into my life when the word chaos was my first and last name. He brought laughter to our then dense fog of serious. He loved on all of us unconditionally. He taught my mom how to laugh out loud again. He gave us all room to land where we were, because he had provided us with a solid foundation of love, warmth, and can do.
I am releasing sorrow’s hold as I can, and imagining his sweet and well awaited journey to all the laughter that awaits him. I am celebrating all the steady joy he brought to our family’s lives for twenty-five plus years. I am sending so much love to his family. They have so much to celebrate.
In the same largess of love and celebration, I have been packing my bags and Sam’s for a whirlwind tour to New Mexico to celebrate the birth of my father eighty years ago this week. Talk about an occasion to find joy in! Marcel and Shrek will be here playing music, eating banana splits, and wrecking the joint or so I am told. Sammy and I have not had a solo adventure since pre-Marcel. Knowing that all of my siblings will be there to hug on, and toast with is really helping me to do this entire dance in the same breath.
On my 30th birthday, Clyde wrote to me a reminder that when I used to sleep late as a teenager he would say really loud, before I was truly awake; “Katie! Seize the day! It’s not too late. Don’t let the day seize you.”