Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rest in peace, Dad

On Saturday April 30, 2005, my nephew Bill married his girlfriend DeEtte. On Sunday May 1, 2005, my sisters (Nita and Carol) and I went to visit my dad. He was in failing health and couldn't attend the wedding although he really wanted to. I took photos at the wedding and shared them with my dad via my laptop. He couldn't get over how "good looking" all the kids were. We had a very nice visit and met with a hospice worker (my dad was ready). He had his favorite sandwich for lunch that day (Italian sausage) from Subway. Carol picked that up for him. At this point in his life, he was so very frail and in a wheelchair.

After that nice Sunday visit, my sisters and I left. We later learned that the hospice people delivered a hospital bed and set it up in my parents' room. On Monday morning, May 2, 2005, I was getting ready for work. My mom called and told me she couldn't wake my dad up and that she had called the hospice nurse. I went through the stages of denial I had read about. I began to rationalize his probably being over medicated or something; anything but the obvious. I knew he was ready and I told him it was OK and that I loved him and was OK with his decision. We had that conversation he a few weeks earlier on my birthday of all things. His hanging on in pain with zero quality of life wasn't really a good thing. I had previously assured him that he wouldn't have to worry about my mom; that we'd take care of her as best we could.

I don't think we ever told DeEtte how much he liked her. They never met, but she always sent him photos and cards. He loved getting those and would always call to tell me about them. I should tell her how I appreciate that, as I don't think I ever have. He always said it would be a shame if Bill let her go. You see, my dad grew up lacking a family and that was really the one thing he strived for. I only hope that as annoying as I was as a teenager, I somehow contributed to his having what he wanted. He was tough on us, but he was also easy on us and we could always get a laugh out of him.

Oddly enough, he always enjoyed it when our friends were over at the house. Now, I can't begin to imagine myself enjoying a house full of teens! He offered opinions, but never judged too harshly. If he didn't like what we were doing or thought we were acting "stupid", he let us know. He made us take responsibility for our actions, but also helped us develop. He never accepted our opinions if we couldn't back it up with reason (he probably secretly did, but made us work for it nonetheless). He didn't have much more than a high school education, but would constanlyt correct us at the dinner table when our grammar was bad or if we used slang that he didn't find proper.

My dad and mom taught me to never "judge a book by its cover". Actually, I do just that with murder mysteries books and wine bottles, but NEVER with people. My parents were also big believers in never judging someone until you “walk” in their shoes, and I have grown up with that philosophy. I am truly thankful for that. Maybe that is why I am now so determined to learn about my dad's mother, a woman he grew to pretty much despise because of his childhood. Because of him, I want to know about her and what circumstances contributed to her being the mother she was. When we mentioned wanting to research her to him when he was alive, he said he’d never talk to us again if we did. Obviously, this was a deep wound that was beyond my grasp.

My dad had long time friendships that he maintained and cherished throughout his life, and I got that from him. I, too, have been blessed with these friendships and have learned from him the importance of that. I have also learned from him (and my mom) that we all do the best we can and must move forward, trying not to be paralyzed by the past. That may have been his greatest gift to me, as I know he did struggled with his own past. I wonder what he might be doing now and how he might be presenting himself. I imagine that the hell that was his childhood and the anger he held has now dissipated. I imagine he has come to terms with his parents and is at peace, feeling youthful and well, and hanging out with the big players from his life, including our dogs, Puddles, Goldie and Jasmine (his main girls)!

His friends and the people he cared about stretched the gamut. He had childhood friends, new friends, young “biker” friends, you name it. All were welcomed in his life. I miss my dad, yet at the same time, couldn’t imagine him still hanging on in so much pain. I had to learn to let go of that selfishness. Although others were disturbed by his choice to go to hospice, I accepted it. It was his decision and I had to respect that. He had, after all, gotten to the point where he prayed to be taken in his sleep. This was from a man that was not “religious”.

I miss my dad and think about him daily. I hope he is now at peace and I look forward to the day I can see him again. I really do wish, though, that I’d get some messages to help me in my research. You know, I sleep every night, just like “Medium” does, but don’t quite have the same dream patterns. From what she’s told me, my mom does. She sees him in her dreams holding framed pictures, trying to tell her something. I wish I knew what that was. I am my father’s daughter and just as stubborn and determined. I am confident I’ll figure it out!

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