A Cup Full of Crazy

My father does not breathe any more. That’s just a way of saying that he’s been dead awhile now. Today is his birthday. He died half a dozen summers ago. I lost track of how old he’d be or how many candles he’d be blowing out now if he were still breathing. He was a big man, so no doubt he’d be blowing all those lights out.

My nature is to be optimistic and see the glass as half full, not half empty, as the saying goes. Yet, when it comes to my dad and crazy, that man was full on crazy. Even now looking back, the most lasting memories are the crazy ones. And I use that word “crazy” with a mixture of endearment and heartache.

To see a loved one go crazy on you changes you. Crazy also conveys for me the feeling of being overwhelmed by something and not knowing what to think of it, as in, “Oh, man, that’s crazy!” It’s when something doesn’t fit into our ordinary, everyday or fit into neat little IKEA organizational cubes.

My dad didn’t fit into lots of things. With him it’s easy for me to see what was missing…all the missing parts to our family life together, stolen by mental illness as if by L.A. gang bangers.

However, on his birthday anniversary, instead I will conjure up some other memory. A memory of joy, if even a drop of joy mixed into this crazy full cup of family life. And it is of this: me, six years old in a red and white candy striped tap dancing costume. Him bringing me red roses after my first recital.

Mental illness is a strange communion, a cup full of crazy with drops of joy.

15 thoughts on “A Cup Full of Crazy

  1. I love the way you look at life, sister Sarah. I am glad that I had an opportunity to meet your Dad at your wedding. Despite his mental illness, you still see his goodness. That’s not easy to do. You are a remarkable and strong woman, Sarah. I love you!

  2. Wow, I did not know that. I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and it’s a daily battle. Happy Birthday to your Dad in heaven.

    1. Yeah, it’s not something that is easy to talk about. But it feel like things are changing now and people are more open to sharing. I appreciate your sharing about your experiences. I hope we can all support each other through this one day at a time.

  3. What kind of crazy did your dad have? Sounds like a roller coaster. Do you have any photos of your up moments, ie tap dancer?

    1. My father refused mental health treatment most of his life, so we never got a full sense of the exact nature of his mental illness. At the end of his life he was diagnosed with Bi-polar among other things. So yes, roller coaster is a good way to describe the manic and depression. I don’t have any photos at hand of that tap dancing memory, but it is in my mind so clearly.

  4. Hi Sarah, It’s so good to see and hear from you – it’s been a long time. Thanks for having the courage to share your story – for it’s healing for you while bringing freedom to others as they identify and gain courage through you to share their story as well. Continue to be blessed – as you in turn bless so many others. Shirley Hensford, PTS

    1. Hi Shirley, Thank you for your kindness. It is wonderful to hear from you, too. I am so grateful for a community in which to share, so that together we all might find healing. Blessings to you in your life and ministry.

  5. Sarah,
    I remember your Dad and every now and then, your godfather & I will talk about a memory…..
    when he took the 3 oldest kids to downtown LA, rode the elevator up & down in a skyscraper hotel then ordered steaks for the 4 of you………
    when he wanted to paint the playhouse, he bought a large paint sprayer to do the job!
    when our Boston Terrier became ill, he took care of him….
    Thank you for sharing.
    Love,
    Godmother

    1. Hello Godmother, Thank you for sharing your memories…things I don’t even know about! He certainly had a way to do things! It’s wonderful to hear about the ways he made the world a better place.

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