Goodbyes and hellos

It’s a process. This healing. The healing of the physical body from my surgery back in October (it seems years ago so much has happened since then)and the healing of the emotional. I am learning that you will never be able to rush these things.  

Last summer I could have never imagined that laying in bed in chronic pain would have the calm before the storm. I never could fathom my father would be gone just a few months later.  

He would call me during the summer unable to really understand why I was suffering so. He wanted someone to fix me.  Sometimes he would seem confused about things I had told him. Maybe that was a clue that something was wrong. I knew he seemed much more forgetful but I thought his wife would have alerted me if things were wrong.  

Most of the time dad was on it.  When he would forget some details I told him on one call he was right on in the next one. In fact he planned to be here in early November to be present for his high school football teams induction into their Hall of Fame. When he was in town he said he’d get the doctors to listen to me and he’d get them to help me. It was sweet and unlike my dad. But he could surprise you sometimes. 

He was glad that I found a nerve surgeon to help fix me. He didn’t quite understand what they do nor did he fully grasp what surgical clips were. I actually sent him an email to help clarify it. I’m not sure he read it but I know he was happy someone had finally listened to me. 

Five days before surgery spit hit the fan. His wife left him suddenly. She had her reasons. I even understand them.  I have my feelings of how things could have been handled so much better. But had they been maybe the end results would have been different maybe my dad wouldn’t have died just two weeks after her departure. But maybe he stilll would have died later. I don’t know. I’ll never know. But I have faith that God has a plan and I think He was saving my dad from a harder life here which looked like it would have included assisted living and maybe even memory care. And my dad liked to drink. Had he been able to live alone he may have be unable to control his drinking. Maybe he was drinking more because he noticed his forgetfulness was getting worse. Maybe he was afraid. But he would not have shared that with anyone. 

About a week after his death after a few signs from him that let me know he was ok -I was waking from sleep and his voice was in my head and he said “I held a lot of things inside.”  That wasn’t a shock but hearing his voice admit that was quite a surprise. I often wonder what his demons were. We all have them and we alll deal with them in different ways. 

Living in a care facility would have taken away my dads freedom to come and go as he pleased. My dad loved his freedom.  Loved his local restaurants where he went to watch games with fellow sports lovers. He’d often call me from such places noise blasting behind him.  He loved that part of his life. He would have been like a crazed beast had that been taken away. 

But I miss him. He wasn’t perfect but he was my dad. 

So this grief thing takes time. I know it -but it hurts deeply – Physically and mentally.  I don’t need  more physical pain but it doesn’t matter what I want- it’s what I have to deal with.  It’s a process that I have no control over. The tears just come when they want washing me with sadness but then leaving me with a calm I find soothing after the attacks of sadness. I’ve come to know that I’ll find relief if I just let it wash over me. 

My dad would not want me to feel this sad. He was a master at not showing his feelings. But he was also good at not letting life bulldoze him over. He kept going. And I know it wasn’t always easy for him.  

We laid my dad to rest a little over a week ago.  It was a busy week. My mom -who had a health scare just two weeks after I lost my dad that landed her in the IICU and intubated -was thankfully recovering and was going to rehab here in Maryland (she had been  living in PA) with the plan that she would come to live with us after rehab.  So she was dropped at rehab on Monday and on Tuesday we had a mass for my dad at the church we attended as a family years ago in Potomac, Md. 

The day was chilly, the church filled with a small crowd of old friends. The majority of friends he had were back in Florida where he had lived for 20 years. The mass was beautiful. The next day we laid him to rest in a cemetary here in Maryland. It was sad but also there was some closure.

So I said goodbye to my dad and in the meantime my mom moved in with us. Hello mom! We are now the blended family of 3 teens , 2 middle aged parents and one Grammy. Let’s not forget the six dogs in the house as well and the farm animal in the barn. 

We are adjusting well to my mom living here. But I know this is a huge adjustment for her as well.  She’s a trooper. 

We have a lot ahead of us. Selling her home and getting her things down here and some will need to be stored. Renovating an old bathroom to accommodate her.  Figuring out if we want to convert our garage into a suite for her. Getting her new doctors and having her medical records sent. It’s a process and we will get through. I’d surely rather be doing this than be mourning her. There was a point when she became ill that I thought we might lose her. So I’m grateful that’s she is here with us. 

When I look back at the last six months I can’t believe what has transpired. It’s hard to fathom. But I life as a series of ups and downs. We have no idea what hardship or sadness will come next so we have to grab the joys and cherish them when they come. I’m not sure I’ll ever relax enough to stop waiting for the next shoe to drop. The last three years have been full of tough stuff. But they have also been full of good stuff. It’s easy to get beat down by the bad stuff. But it’s the good stuff that has kept me afloat. 

My dad always said to me “keep the nose of the plane up. ”  sometimes that platitude annoyed me. How was I supposed to do that when life was being so crappy to me? But sometimes it’s a choice to just keep going. There were times this last six months where I didn’t think I could keep going but I did. By Gods grace I have been able to grab onto hope and to the love and care of others and I kept going. 

So here I am. I am healing. I said goodbye to the huge presence  that was my dad and hello to my mother living with us. I’m moving forward. Life’s not waiting for me so I best go live it. And like I wrote in the eulogy to my dad:

“I’ll try to keep the nose of the plane up dad.” 

Or at least level. 

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