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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Miss You Dad

Today is the anniversary of my dad's death. I've been meaning to do this post but I am having a hard time trying to figure out what direction to go in. He lived for 76 years. How do you put that in one post? He was a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He was a ditch digger, soldier, truck driver, Boy Scout leader, baseball & softball coach, an avid Cleveland sports fan and a founding leader in his church. Of course he wasn't a perfect man and at times drove us all crazy but we loved him and in the end he showed us what a strong man he was. That's what I want to stress today. The proud way in which he died. In November of 2005 my dad turned 75 and we came up to surprise him. My brothers & sisters, their spouses and as many grandchildren as could showed up to celebrate and he loved being the center of attention . Here is a "generation" picture of the day with the three children that had grandchildren.The spring before he died he decided to go to Florida for the month like he and my mother used to do. It was hard on him emotionally even though they got on each others nerves, he was lonely. Thomas & Charlie decided to meet him there and go to see some of the Indians training camp. I know my boys came back with some great memories. Christmas of 2006 was the second Christmas without my mother and we all still seemed a little lost. We drove up from Maryland to spend it with him like we had for so many years. We never imagined it would be the last. He was scheduled to have a small blood clot removed from his leg on January 18th and even though it was a minor surgery I told him I would come back into town to be there. I didn't really want to. I was working and had used all my leave up and he would only be laid up a couple of days but he wanted me there so I came.
The surgery went without a hitch (or so we thought) He was doing well, sitting up in a chair and drinking a bit of iced tea when I looked down and saw a fluid in his drainage tube that looked just like the iced tea he was drinking. The nurse said there's no way for it to be iced tea because the drainage tube was in his chest and there's no way food or drink would be in his chest. . . but it was. Unknown to the doctors until much later, his esophagus was torn during the procedure. Then started the 3 month roller coaster. Different doctors, rooms, tests, hospitals and finally hospice care at my brother and sister in law's house. It's hard to know how much detail to go into. I want the kids and grandkids to know what happened but no one needs the gory details. So I think I'll just tell a couple of stories.
We talked about food a lot since he couldn't eat. He loved food. he scheduled his days around meals so the inability to eat was one of the worst things that could happen to him. When one doctor told us that the only way for him to live was to have a permanent feeding port put in Cookie told him that she was sure he would rather be dead. He said if he could ever eat again he wouldn't wait for the peach pie to go on sale, he would just buy it.

During the surgery when he had the port put in he said Mom came to him and told him it wasn't his time and that he needed to take care of the kids first. Those of us that are grandparents assumed that it meant the little ones but as we ralleyed to take care of him we realized that she meant the five of us kids plus four, she meant the 9 of us. We learned a lot about each other and really learned that we genuinly loved each other.

During the three months that he was sick. I traveled back and forth. Jennifer came with me most times. Shawn was very understanding about her being away so much considering they were newleyweds. She learned how to knit during our time too. She knew the ins and outs of taking care of Dad but he didn't want her taking care of him. He kept his pride, even not letting anyone but my brother help him with the toilet until the end. Good thing Matt was only five minutes away.
Also during this time Charlie & Michele got married and as much as we tried to figure out how everyone could be there Matt & Sue stayed behind to take care of Dad. They graciously opened their home to him and all of us. Even having all of us there for Easter dinner with Dad in his hospital bed right in the middle of it.

That last Christmas Jennifer was scheduled to spend with her in laws and I told her she should go and she did. I thought that was more important and that we always had next year. . .

1 comment:

  1. Oh Bless you. I know how tough it is, it doesnt get easier it just changes, from deep sorrow and shock to an acceptance. I lost my Mum and Dad 6 years ago, within 19 days of each other, totally unexpected, never thought I would be able to cope but having had such wonderful memories really helped. Hang onto the good times always. Thinking of you. xx