Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Gift of 5 Months

I should have posted this on Tuesday of this week, but today is the first day I've been able to sit down and devote some time to writing.

It was two years ago on Tuesday that my father passed away. It wasn't unexpected; he had fought two battles with lung cancer. He won the first one and the prize was 5 years more. In those 5 years he got to see me get married and meet his youngest grandchild, Sweet Girl. In those 5 years he mellowed and learned, somewhat, how to connect with people in his life. But in thos 5 years he also watched 2 of his brothers and 1 of his sisters succomb to lung cancer. When his time came, I think he just decided not to fight. He was gone 5 months after the second diagnosis.

The funny thing is, those 5 months were a blessing to our family. He connected more during that time than ever before, especially with Sweet Girl. I think he knew he only had a short time to make an impression on her. He did; she still talks about him.

My dad was so much like Archie Bunker! My niece and nephew who are now in high school used to call him "Grumpa" when they were children. It fit him and the moniker stuck. Being a child of the 30's and 40's, he was raised to be stoic and distant. His family life instilled more of this. His father was a drunkard who never supported his family. My dad wasn't. He may not have always been nice, but he was solid as a rock. I only saw him drunk maybe 5 times in my life (always at weddings) and he did everything he needed to support our family.

I'm rambling; I should have this lovely, cohesive and touching tribute to my father and if I wanted to write and rewrite, I would. The point I want to make, though, is that he was here. He touched lives and I miss him. Sweet Girl misses him.

We were visiting my dad at the hospice about 15 days before he died when I took a picture of him taking Sweet Girl to see the bird cages at the hospice. I think it personifies my dad: He didn't always talk much and he wasn't always sweet. But he did take your hand and go with you where you needed to go. Just like he did with Sweet Girl.

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