Hello friends. My dad passed away Friday morning at 6:20am. My mom and I got into town Thursday evening about 9:30, but we decided to wait until the next day to see him because he was having a pretty good day on Thursday. At first, I was just wrecked that I missed my chance to see him one last time. And then I reminded myself that I deliberately had made a decision not to see him like this... that I wanted my memories of him alive to be of him in March. He knew we were coming and I think he chose to go. He took that choice out of my hands. Dad always knew my heart.
We did go see him shortly after he passed and he died so peacefully. His hands were crossed over his stomach and he was clearly asleep. His soul leaving his body wiped every single line from his face; it became as smooth as a newborn baby (albeit a bit rough). I made note to self: make sure someone continues to moisturize my face when I am old and dying so that my skin is soft when I go.
We talked about dad's favorite things, and one of those was casinos. He moved out to Vegas for a while he liked them so much. So, we woke up very early this morning and drove for a couple of hours to go to Cincinnati and the casino Hollywood. We had a great time and I felt my dad's energy every time I hit it. I had a really good day. I think he was pulling some strings for me from high places:-) Normally, I would call him after some of those wins. In this case, I just talked to him right there at the machine. It is nice to know you can do that.
Tomorrow we meet with the funeral director to discuss the details. The funeral will be Wednesday. Because he is a veteran, he will get a military funeral with the 21 gun salute and the flag, etc. I know that I will cry through the whole thing. I cry through those when I don't even know the person, so this will be a gusher.
Thank you all for the support. I don't have easy access to internet here, so I apologize if your comment doesn't show up right away. I will get it and I do appreciate it. I love all of your feedback. Especially now. Thank you for continuing to show up.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Whenever I wonder about the potency that my words have as a parent with C-Man and H-Girl, I think about the fact that when they were entrusted into my care, I found myself saying the EXACT same things to them that you and mom said to me. I am also keenly aware of the value of words that affirm a person. I vividly remember when we borrowed Uncle W's van to move my stuff out of my NYC apartment. You guys had me drive since I was more familiar with the city. All that really meant was that I knew how crazy NYC drivers were and my nerves were absolutely frayed at the thought of driving in that madness. But, I agreed. We found ourselves on a one-way street with cars parked along both sides of the street. This was not at all uncommon. Parking is terrible in the city. However, we reached a place where two very wide vehicles were parked right across from one another and it was a tight fit. I took one look at that and thought "Trouble."
However, you said, "You can do it, Rob." The thing was that you meant it. While my mind was replaying all of the times that I stalled out that Subaru stick shift the first time I tried to drive it, you were convinced I could pull this miracle off. So, I took a deep breath, sent up a prayer, and slowly pushed on through. No one was more surprised than I when we made it through, and there were no sounds of metal on metal or a bumper falling off. And then you said, "Yay! You did it! I knew you could." Boy, you were the only one, but that sure felt good. You knew I could.
I think that is how the impossible gets done. Someone says, "You can do it." And that person might not believe it, but they try. And because of someone else's belief in their ability, they succeed. We all need cheerleaders. People who believe we can exceed our own expectations. That is how we become great. Outstanding. Better than we ever thought we could be.
So, you have taught me two things. Not to give up. Keep striving for outstanding. And always, when given an opening, let someone else know that they can do it. They have the potential to be amazing. And when they exceed what they thought they could do, say, "Well, of course you could do it. I knew you could." And if they ask me how I knew, I will tell them my dad told me a long time ago.
I love you.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Several years ago I read a wonderful book called The Five Love Languages. I was trying to understand why my relationships weren't working out. I wasn't yet ready to admit to the obvious (I had chosen terrible partners), but I did learn something unique and wonderful from this book. People understand love like they do language and if you aren't speaking their language, they do not feel loved. The five love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Most people have a primary love language and, possibly, a secondary love language. It is only when people "speak" their language do they feel loved. Of course, they tend to show their love in the language that they understand.
I don't know if acts of service is the language that I understand, or the one that you understand, but it is the one that I would say we both understand. When I was overwhelmed with doing dishes, it was always you who walked into the kitchen and silently picked up the drying towel and set to work in order to make my job go faster. During the summer, I eagerly anticipated you coming home for lunch, so that you would make grilled cheese sandwiches. When I was learning to drive, you were the one riding shotgun, because it was too much of a strain on mom's nerves. I don't know how many times we made that circuit around the church parking lot. During my college years, I know that you worried about the maintenance on my car, and I always had you down to the filling station putting air in my tires each time I came home. You even made me a list of which gas stations had "good" gas. I still don't know the determining factor, but I only bought from your list. I kept it in the glove compartment. I thought of it as a Love List. My dad didn't want me buying bad gas.
It's unfortunate that you couldn't have made me lists to save me from every bump that comes down the road of life. I know that you would have had you been able. As it is, I wish that I could make a quick pop back in time and grab that gas station list out of that old car. I really miss that list.
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Monday, May 16, 2011
When we were discussing memories of my childhood, I know that what you remember most when I was a kid my gymnastics. I was always cartwheeling, backbending, or forward walkovering down the hallway. I remember that, too. However, I also remember having really cold feet and curling up in your lap, sliding them under your legs, and settling in for warmth. I know that they were like ice blocks, but you never once complained. I felt very safe in that lap.
Do you remember that couch with that hidden leg in the middle? It was covered by the material swag (or whatever that is called of the couch). I constantly stubbed my toes on that thing, because I ran around without shoes. That experience was followed by me saying nasty things to the couch. Whenever you heard that, you would say something like, "You really shouldn't talk to the couch that way. It isn't the couch's fault." Ooooh. I would get so mad. Isn't the truth a terrible thing to have to deal with sometimes? Of course if wasn't the fault of the couch. However, that only left me being angry with myself and that didn't feel so good! I love how you took those little opportunities and used them for teaching moments. I have tried to do that with C-Man and H-Girl. It always amazes me when I saw the fruits of my efforts.
One of your great strengths was patience with people. I think back to how easily you dealt with Grandpa. He was such a difficult person. I think maybe you were used to dealing with difficult people. People who sucked all of the air out of the room. People who were used to being the sun and the rest of the people were planets who revolved around them.
I know that Nanny was likely one such person for you. By the time I knew her she had slowed down considerably, but I can imagine that in her day, she was the sun. In one of the last conversations that she and I had, in Athens, she told me that your dad was the only man she ever truly loved. I know that is tough to wrap your head around. It only goes to show how complicated love and people are. And it is a well-known fact to everyone, but you, that you were her favorite child. I tell you this for a couple of reasons. I am not sure that you really knew that your mother loved you. She did. So much so that she created a real problem with her daughter who was always trying to measure up. Families are so dysfunctional. And then your sister did the same thing with her kids. She favored her son over her daughter.
I know that you say that you and Nanny "made up," but I am not sure that you ever allowed yourself to fully love her because you felt betrayed by her. She did love you. So you can let that you go, before you go, if you haven't already. If you have, and you know that she loved you unconditionally, well this is just reinforcement.
I just heard something the other day that I will share with you. I have no doubt that I will get the opportunity to use it in my life since I heard it! If you are given the choice in a relationship to be right or be loved, it feels so much better to be loved. That isn't to say you shouldn't stand up for what is right. But you just don't have to be right all of the time. Sometimes that need to be right pushes people away. I tell you this so that you know that I am still growing. Still learning. And I know that I am not right all of the time. I just want people to feel loved. I love you dad. I will miss your wisdom.
But, most of all I will miss the man who would let me climb in his lap and warm my cold feet. You don't get many of those.
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Sunday, May 15, 2011
I knew someone who used to talk about rollercoasters in terms of stress. When it is really bad it is sort of like this: you are stuck in a rollercoaster park. All of the coasters are unlabeled. You must choose one. So, you get the stress of the choosing, the stress while you wait in line, and then the stress during the ride, and then you get to do it all again. Of course, everyone likes and dislikes different coasters. Give me the smooth ones with lots of up and down and tight curves. The wooden coasters and the ones that go upside down are the ones that alternately make me feel like I need a chiropractic readjustment or just downright sick to my stomach.
Yeah, this post is about my dad. I spoke to him just about a week ago and he was doing well. In fact, he was doing about the same as when he was initially diagnosed. He was still getting up daily and his pain meds hadn't increased at all. In other words, his routine was pretty much the same as right after his initial diagnosis. On Thursday of this past week all of that changed. Bam. No longer did he feel capable of getting out of bed, and he isn't able to eat or drink much of anything. That has affected his ability to speak. His need for pain meds also changed. He went from doing very well to looking like he has a life expectancy of about two weeks.
There are no words to truly express how shocked I am. He was using an alternative treatment that I think might have worked had he found it six months to a year ago. However, I was beginning to hope that it was going to work ~ even now ~ since he wasn't getting worse. You see, I was beginning to disbelieve the original diagnosis. I thought my dad was going to be the person to beat stage 4 cancer.
And then today arrived. My brother called and told me how bad it was and that my dad was not going to beat stage 4 cancer. My dad possibly would not live to see the month of June. Wow.
Hope is the best and the worst thing in the world.
I had to go lie down because it gave me in instant migraine. I know I jumped right in line for the roller coaster. I remember the people in my dream, but I don't know any of them. I just remember my parting shot at all of them being, before I woke up, "I don't have time for your crap and your drama. My dad is dying of cancer." I was literally crying when I came out of that sleep.
I pondered the what to do for a while. Talking on the phone is never good. He can't understand me and now it hurts him to talk. I considered going back up there, but I don't want to remember him like this. That decision was reinforced when I did talk to him today. It greatly upset him when I cried on the phone. He wants me to be okay with his dying. And I will be... eventually. But, I am not sure that it will be in less than a month. I don't want to make his passing worse. This cannot be all about me.
So, I suggested to my brother that I write my dad an email every day and he read it to him. I have decided that it is unimportant if dad remembers our history or not. I remember it. I want him to feel the love in it. And if it jogs his memory, that is wonderful. If it doesn't, than I will be remembering for both of us. It is the last gift I can give him before he goes.
I am thinking that I will post them here. You can read them or not. I will call them Letters To Dad and then give them a subtitle. If that is your thing, read away. If not, come back when it is over. Either way, I understand.
image found at www.weheartit.com
Friday, May 13, 2011
SURPRISE. I know, I can hardly believe it myself. I began thinking about this post a week and a half ago. Yeah, I just don't move like I used to.... Anyway, I started writing ideas down as they hit me for this post and I finally pulled *this* together. Since it didn't even land on Thursday, I think we can all safely assume I am not quite ready to make this a weekly event just quite yet. However, I am moving in that direction. I really have missed the Thursday posts more than I can tell you.
If you are wondering what I am blathering on about, let me catch you up to speed. Drum roll please. I present to you HERE'S TO YOU FRIDAY. With love.
Here is what is going down: this is a weekly event. (It used to be a weekly event. And I hope it will be a weekly event again soon:-) The best (or worst) part is that I am not going to explain why I chose "whatever" footage for each of you. If, you watch your footage and are scratching your head at the end, well that means I didn't do a very good job. However, all is not lost. You can email me at email@example.com and ask me what I was thinking when I chose that particular piece of footage off of youtube and connected it to you. And then I will tell you. Then I will start sending up prayers that I haven't offended the crap out of whoever is on the receiving end of that email....lol. Because, honestly, I will tell you right now... I admire all of you enormously so I really hope that doesn't happen.
Also, this is not an exclusive venture by any means. I hope that you will take the time to watch ALL of the footage because I don't pick bad footage:-) I also hope that you might check out the blog of the person I dedicated the footage to because they are pretty darn awesome. If you haven't figured this out yet... I pick the footage based on something that you've written or something that I've gleaned from your personality. Think on that for a while... If you are having trouble watching the entire video (meaning it is being cut off on one side), click on it a couple of times and it will take you straight over to youtube. If you click on the four squares at the bottom corner of the video, it will enlarge it to fill your screen. The escape key will bring it back to normal size. The back arrow will bring you back to my page.
Now, let's get this PARTY STARTED!!!!
This one is for everyone:
This one is for Chris at A Deliberate Life:
This one is for That one girl at What Was I Saying Again:
This one is for Phoenix at Res ipsa loquitur:
This one is for Shoes at Red Shoe's Chronicles:
This one is for Yvonne at Writing My Life Away!:
This one is for Yenta Mary the Food Floozie:
image found at www.weheartit.com
Monday, May 9, 2011
I am always amused and awed when I get an email from one of asking if I am okay. It makes me realize that I haven't blogged in a week or so and you are wondering if I have kicked the bucket. Blogging friends truly are wonderful. My regular friends can go months and not think anything of it. Kind of a sad commentary, no?
I think I mentioned that my mom has been watching the Oprah Network. Well, she has sucked me in, too. I like "the story behind the story" and I like shows that are digging for personal truth. Sort of like what I try to do here. If you are having difficulty in your life or your relationships, work it out. A show that is now ending on OWN is The Judds. Apparently Naomi and Wynona have had a volatile relationship forever. There are so many reasons for it and they get into all of them. I try to imagine being a teenager and having my mother for a mom and a boss. So not cool. That made the transition from mother-daughter to mother-friend an unnatural one. They love each other like crazy BUT...
I think about how hard it would be to work that out on television. On the other hand, if no one worked out their issues publicly, other people wouldn't have the opportunity to learn. If Chris didn't write her weight loss/life blog, no one else would have all that great information. If Phoenix didn't write her love each better blog, I wouldn't stop and think I could be doing that better. If Shoes didn't write his crazy ass blog, I wouldn't laugh every day. If JJ didn't write his philosophical stuff, what would I think about? If Lira didn't post her struggling actress tips for others, they wouldn't have that foundation. [I could go on and on about all of your great blogs but my hands would lock into position over this keyboard. ALL of you are amazing.] This is what we do for one another. We live our lives out loud for ourselves and other people. Some do it in writing and others on TV.
I have learned so many things watching Naomi and Wynona interact. First of all, people often are the most cruel to the people that they love most. Second, if there were a device to take words back, everyone would buy one. Third, revelation is a slow process. I think it is because you have to understand yourself before you can understand another. Think on that for a while. Yikes. Fourth, it is essential to speak your truth. Until you do that, you do not feel free. You are shackled by silence that eats your soul. It is only in speaking your truth at all times that you can remain free. That doesn't mean shouting it with the most pain and bitterness you can throw, but speaking it gently with the solidness of its truth. That is all.
Last night, Wynona said how important it was to her to be right. All of these years it has been so important to be right. She never saw before that if there were a choice between being right and being loved, being loved was so much better.
The answer here is not to cave in to everyone else on everything just so that you are loved and they feel good about themselves. That just makes you a doormat and you lose your truth (#4). However, everyone deserves to be heard and both can be right from their viewpoint. Acknowledging another person's rightness is okay, too. It is saying I hear and love you. And that is where Naomi and Wynona arrived. Some people never get there. One person is right and another is wrong. There cannot be two right viewpoints on the same situation that are different!
Look at what that little bit of learning did for their relationship. Now they can apply that to all of their relationships. Everyone who watched that show can start processing that in their relationships. Powerful stuff.
I called the kids on Saturday just to talk to them. I had been trying to get hold of H-Girl all week. I had talked to C-Man last weekend. My ex called me yesterday to wish me Happy Mother's Day. He told me that the kids said we'd talked the day before AND that they'd said they'd wished me HMDay then. I corrected him by telling him that I had called them, but nothing had been said about Mother's Day. After we hung up, H-Girl's cell rang. It was C-Man calling to wish me HMDay. He was rushed b.c. it was close to their bedtime. I thanked him and told him to go on and get ready for bed. I asked about his sister. She came to the phone, but she was clearly ticked off by her tone of voice. I asked her how she was, etc. I could tell that she was not going to say HMDay, so I just told her good night and she said good-bye. And that was that.
I sent my ex an email asking him not to do that in the future. The kids are old enough to know the holidays. If they want to call, they will. If they don't, they won't. But forced expressions of love are not love. And I am hoping that H-Girl unwittingly employed tactic number one on me. People are often the most cruel to the people they love the most.