Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Dad

This is one of my all-time favorite photos. It encompasses emotions sweet and painful. I took it on September 18, 2003 at Our Lady of Good Council Cancer Home (hospice). Sweet Girl was three and about to face something she had never imagined: A world without a grandpa.

My mom is home in Minnesota tonight and I am thankful that she has good friends. They are taking her out to dinner and keeping her company. This is important today. You see, it was three years ago today that my father passed away after his second battle with lung cancer. And the first time that I haven't been with her for this day.

Today has been a day of memories; reminding my dad to kiss me at my wedding when he handed me to Champs... Telling him to go away when he asked me "how long are you going to keep me here? The Practice is coming on!" and I was in my 15th hour of labor... learning to forgive him for being harsh when I needed gentle and common sense when I needed silliness... Calling him when I got the big promotion at work and explaining that no, I wasn't going to get my own office and laughing at his respose; "oh, too bad. I thought you'd finally have a quiet place to fart!" (yes, that was my father's favorite passtime. Isn't it the favorite passtime of every dad born in the 30's?).

I miss my dad. My mom misses my dad. And I know Sweet Girl misses my dad. Sometimes she sits in her car seat in the back when the two of us are running around town and quietly talks to him, telling him what her day was like and asking if he is watching her from Heaven. It is sweet and heartbreaking all at once. If I could bring him back, I would. But he is happier now, not suffering and not bearing the embarrassment of losing his independence, as he did for the last month of his life. That's all he lasted after he was put into hospice: just one month in a wonderful Catholic home where they took great care of him and tried to help him maintain his dignity. In the end, though, I believe he chose life - and death - on his own terms and decided that he was ready to go. He had three strokes within a week and passed on a Saturday. I wasn't there; I was home waiting for Sweet Girl to wake up from her nap before we went to see him. I still regret not being there, but I spoke to him the night before he died, and I will hold that moment in my heart forever. When I went to see Mom at the Hospice that day, I took his wedding ring off his hand and gave it to her to keep. Then I helped to clean out all his belongings.

My dad was a rough man who spoke little and shared less. However, he let us see little cracks in his demeanor that let me know he loved us - and loved us lots. In her eulogy, my sister wrote that my dad once said, "you can never love too much". I believe his words and hope that I can model them for Sweet Girl and somehow convey them to my Mom, even though she is three states away this day.

Bye Daddy. I love you.

Some comments from this post:
princssis said...
You mean we spent 1:14:37 on the phone tonight and you didn't mention this to me? I'm so sorry you aren't with your mom today.
I, too have been missing my dad lately. As you know, it was 7 years ago on Sept. 9th that my dad passed. I was there. Sometimes, I wish I hadn't been there, cuz he wasn't. I sometimes wish my last memory of him was not him taking his last breath, but the face to face conversation we had the day before.
CJ will, just out of the blue, get upset that his grandpas have both passed. He doesn't understand why they had to die before he really got to know them (he was 2 1/2 and 3 when they passed). Memories of them are fading for him. We need to get out the pictures again.

Ginger said...
He sounds wonderful. What a beautiful tribute to him. I especially liked the part about your own office being a quiet place to fart! :)

MissMeliss said...
What a beautiful tribute - funny and sentimental and sweet.

Anonymous said...
So sorry to read about your father. I can only imagine what it must be like. The story of SG talking to him brought tears to my eyes...

No comments: