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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Death and Memories

     Dad was finally close to coming home from the nursing facility.  He wanted to be home more than anything.  But he started having labored breathing.  Then the nursing facility after discovering that he had pneumonia and congestive heart failure decided to send him home instead of back to the hospital.

     My brother picked him up and brought him home for what we didn't know would be the final time.  I tried to visit but Dad went to bed early that night.  Then overnight Dad couldn't breath well so my brother took Dad to the emergency room.  I wasn't there when Dad was admitted.  My brother has become my father's and my rock I couldn't have gone through these last 14 months, or even the last three years without him.

    I visited Dad and I knew it was bad.  We met with the doctors and we decided to bring Dad home with Hospice care, but he had to survive the weekend first.  My birthday was on Saturday and I jokingly told Dad, after he told me that he wasn't doing well and I found out he asked for last rights, that he wasn't allowed to die on my birthday.  He laughed and wished me a happy birthday.  I will always remember that conversation and the last time I hear his laugh.  Of course his last laugh was actually passing away on my birthday; bright and early in the morning too.  He always had to do everything early in the morning.

     My relationship with my father has gone through so many different stages.  Some I remember better than others.  My mother tells me when I was a child Dad and I were inseparable.  We would play together and we had a special father daughter bond.  I have no recollection of that.  I have seen photos of us playing together and it is like looking at photos of people I don;t know.  I have no emotions or memories connected to them.

     When I was in fifth grade I went to an after school event involving basketball.  My mom picked me up and took me to piano lessons.  I remember being in the gymnasium that day and not much else.  When I got to piano I ran across the street and hit a car driving by.  The impact was on my knees and I hit my head when I landed.  I received a concussion and I lost most of my memories of what happened before that day.

     I have a flash of awareness in ambulance and in the emergency room.  I have an impression of people all around me and working on me.  It is like they show you on tv.  A flash here, it is blurry and you hear sounds and I can remember the smell of rubbing alcohol.  My first clear memory is waking up in a crib.  I was a fifth grader in a crib, I was in the ICU at Children's Hospital and the bed had a drop side that was all the way up.  I was in a CRIB!  I didn't care, I was in pain, my head hurt, my knees were completely covered in giant bruises and I was alone.

     My first real memory after that event was breakfast in the morning and how HORRIBLE it was.  Runny eggs, I can still smell them, feel how slimy they were and taste their sulfuric flavor.  Dad picked me up from the hospital and when I got home he had me set the table.  It hurt to walk.  My knees have never fully recovered from that accident.  I remember how mad I was that I had to set the table on the day I got home from the hospital.  He didn't let me off the hook just because I was hurt.

     I hate that my first real memory of my dad is me being upset with him.  I am sure we got into a fight and I am sure I was furious with him.  It is a horrible memory and it will always be something I think of when I think of my father.

     Our relationship when I was a teen was not any better.  He and I were always fighting.  We were always at odds with each other.  We were mean to each other.  I hated him when I was a teen.  I think our relationship was worse than others.  I was not a happy teenager.  I was picked on in school, I wen to a Catholic high school to get away from being bullied at school.  I felt bullied at home.  And I couldn't wait to get away from him.

     In my twenties I didn't live with my parents.  That was when I started to reconnect with my father.  Now that I was adult and I was becoming more assertive.  Not like I am now, but compared to how I was in my teens it was a world of difference.  I moved out of state and Dad begged me to stay.  I actually considered it too.

     After I got married he and I had a different kind of relationship again.  We would talk almost as equals.  I still remember dancing with me at my wedding.  He was such a wonderful dancer.  He guided me around the dance floor with no effort.  A skill I never managed to develop. I think it was the best I ever have danced.  Maybe you just need a good leader.

     When I became a mother again our relationship changed and I found myself asking him for advice now and again.  If my teenage self could only see me then.  She never would have believed it.  I seriously hated my father back then.  Will my teen think of me like that?

     Then I caught my husband cheating on me and it was my father who encouraged me to give him a second chance.  I tried for years.  When I finally told my father about the abuse he no longer asked me to forgive D.  My father by then couldn't walk long distances and needed a walker.  I wonder what Dad would have done if he had been at his peak condition.  I was afraid of him when I was younger for good reason.  He was not someone you wanted to make upset.

     It was after my mother was blown over in that windstorm and I finally left my husband that I reconnected with my father.  Our roles were reversed.  I was the one taking care of him.  I had to make sure he took his meds and made him his meals.  He and I would talk and laugh as I took him to visit Mom every day.  He told me stories about Mom that I never knew.  (She almost got in a fist fight with a friend who kept trying to steal Dad away from her.)

     I am the one who brought Dad to visit his wife for the last time.  I am the one who got the phone call when she passed and had to walk upstairs, wake him up and tell him that his wife had died.  When he forgot because of the dementia both my brother and I had to tell him again what happened.  He blamed my brother at first.  Even when I told him I was the one who signed the papers he blamed S.

     It was the 14 months after that that my brother and his family took over my father's care.  When asked I would help out.  I hated to see him deteriorate before my eyes.  He lost his vision in his last year.  He lost most of his mobility.  He didn't even like to leave the house.  He missed his wife and now he is with her again.

     I think he was proud of me.  He saw me go back to school twice.  He witnessed my graduation Magna Cum Laude with my bachelors degree.  He saw me became a mother.  Go back to school and get my teaching degree so I could provide for my children.  He saw me assert myself and get out of a bad and abusive marriage.  He allowed me to move back in with him and taking care of him and my mother.  I have to say those were the best nine months.  It ended being more than I could handle but I will never wish I did anything different.

    He is gone now, but never forgotten.  I miss you so much Dad!

In Loving Memory Of My Father  -  October 30, 1935 to October 17, 2015
You will never be forgotten 

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