Monday, February 9, 2015

Hanky Alert

A post from three years ago. Now, it is twenty five years since they let me know he was gone. Time jokes with me. Seems to be like yesterday and then a distance far, far away. I can still hear Dad's voice and see his smile. He wasn't perfect. He had a temper, but mostly he controlled it. We all miss him and agree, he died too soon. 

 Sometimes this seems too private to write about, although my whole blog is a tribute to my father in a way. He truly was the influence of our lives. The granddaughters who remember him, all wrote something in school about their grandfather. Michelle achieved an A with hers. I'm sure the others did, too.
So twenty two years ago today, we buried my dad at age sixty eight. I knew he was dying. We had left the private hospital room after being there all day, my brother, mom, sister, Diane, baby Katie and I.  We had said our good-byes as he slipped into non-responsiveness. The nurses on two shifts told us all how wonderful a man he was. They enjoyed coming into his room. He lifted them up.
Two songs ran through my head that day- American Pie and Fire and Rain. My music died some that day. Our hope had been that we would see Dad again before it was obvious that a yeast infection in his blood from the chemo would be his demise. I sat in a secluded corner to nurse Katie while I softly sang those lyrics.
That night at home I journaled about what my dad meant to me. Around two in the morning, Diane called me to let me he was gone.  A dark morning, one of the girls from ICU called to say they were bringing me a sandwich platter. How did they know Dad was gone? They didn't, they were just thinking of me traveling to Cleveland every day.
I tore out that page of my journal to give to Reverend Hicks to use for the funeral. I didn't think to make a copy of it or ask for it back. At the funeral, which we held in the sanctuary, the family sat in the front row. All of us trying so hard not to bawl our eyes out. Mom remarkably held her emotions well. I thought I'd comfort her, but she proved strong. Reverend Hicks read my journal page and then opened the floor for people to comment on how my dad affected their lives. Diane stood first, breaking into tears. Fred Livingston recounted how my dad took him and his brothers under his wing after their father died so early in life. Many others also gave their stories.
Years later my brother-in-law, Ray, the preacher, commends that funeral. He never saw so many people say how much a person affected their life. He has experienced many funerals.
I know so many have lost a loved one, and many loved ones. Each one is special. I read the new style obituaries, the person comes out in the story. At first that was a little unsettling, yet now I find the stories comforting and enjoyable. We are more than what is between the dash. You know, the dash between our birth year and our death year on the headstone.
Youngstown Airport with first grandchild

Playing with me and Larry Barthlomew in their yard across Haywood Street

At my friend's wedding.
Last birthday on earth, July 23, 1989
Celebrate while you're living, those you love and celebrate after they have gone, too. Be thankful for every day you have together and that God blessed you with someone wonderful.

A few vacations, The Jersey Shore with first grandchild, cherry blossoms, Washington, D.C. and Fredricksburg, Virginia, 1970.
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