What Did I Get From Him?


Dad Collage

The few last weeks I’ve been thinking of my Dad more often.  It seems when I watch my husband and our nine year old daughter together,  my own dad comes to mind.  As I pondered thoughts I was trying to figure out what “things” my own father taught me as I grew up.

When I wrote this piece for his funeral I meant every word.  Many things to be grateful for but yet a 46 year old daughter longing to recall exactly what he taught her is puzzling.   My parents divorced when I was 11 and he was basically absent the couple years before that more or less.  It’s hard to think of any of my daughters being without their fathers. Fortunately they all have had active ones their entire lives.  I hope they realize what a blessing that is.

pvmv-corn

This post isn’t a bashing on my deceased father, it’s a thought process.  It’s how I deal with things that fester and instead of letting them grow into something ugly, I’ll turn it into something good.  That working through words will weave an acceptance to an area of my life.

I think he may have even been okay with it.  Writing letters.  I suppose he taught me that. After the divorce we wrote to one another. This was my only real connection with him. He didn’t get me every other weekend or call.  He wasn’t much of a talker.

I recall playing poker with my Dad once, I’m sure there were other times too.  I think I remember it so well because it was Christmas time and my brother and I ended up walking home from our grandparents house.  His pickup broke down and it was freezing out.

There was the time Dad and I were in my Grandpa’s pickup.  YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE came on the radio and he sang to me.  It was funny.  There was more turmoil than laughter in my childhood so this memory is very precious.

He didn’t teach me to ride a bike or even drive a car. Elementary and high school graduations he didn’t attend or the birth of my first daughter.   The absence of him as I began dating was hard but I had a good replacement at the time.  My step-father came into the picture when I was around 14.  I still longed to have my Dad present in my life but Bob really was a good father figure.

I can look in the mirror and see physical traits that resemble my Dad.  But as the youngest of his four children, the question what did he teach me that enables me to conduct my life the way I do is present.

Yesterday I was watching this music video, my Dad came to mind.  I showed it to my youngest daughter, the one that seemed to “give him a new reason to live back in 2008”  as my husband put it.  Johnny Cash always reminded me of my Dad, the physical traits mostly and his size.  As I watched the video with my daughter I couldn’t keep the tears away.

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Almost three years and I still miss the man that I am not sure taught me much.  I’m okay with that I guess.  I am not so very curious for the words I have placed upon this post have brought acceptance I suppose.  Hugs from that little girl he thought was pretty special made things better too.

mother daughter

Julie

When You Know What’s Coming – August


It’s here.  Year 2.  The anniversary of the death of my Dad.  I wouldn’t say it’s easier this year but it’s different.  I think part of it is that I know what is around the corner.  Last year I had no clue that my pain in the area of death and parents would become so tremendous. I didn’t know that it would bring me to a place where the darkness could almost win out.

Dad & I
He beat cancer. He was being treated for it in this photo.

This year around the corner is the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.  One year and nine days after the death of my Dad my mother passed away.  So the days between August 17th and the 26th are ones I am just keeping my head above water so to speak. Oh let me just be honest, the entire month so far hasn’t been easy for me.

I didn’t know that the death of my parents would affect me so much.  I’ve had issues with depression but only once in my life had it ever been at this degree.  At the moment, today it’s been a good day.  I got some very joyous news on the 17th which has kept the darkness at bay. It’s still there underlying but I can function without feeling overwhelmed.  The joyous news doesn’t take away the truth, the hurt, the grief, the depression 100%, but it has brought me to look at things a little differently.  To smile and focus on something spectacular.

Today my dad would have been 77 years old. He died two days before his 75th birthday.  The birthdays have stopped.  The tremendous hugs are gone.  The hearing him tell me I’m “lookin’ good” is only a flicker of memory now.  I have photographs, memories, and time. I’m grateful for the memories and the photographs.

Tomorrow will be spent with extended family.  I’m looking forward to being surrounded by people that loved both my parents as much as me.  I hope we can remember old times and make new memories they’d be proud of.

Today I celebrate the gifts that my Dad gave me.  Rest in peace.

Grace is a gift,

JulieDad Memorial

 

Generational Parenting – Pull Yourself Up By the Bootstraps


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One of the repercussions of being raised by two “tough” and”strong” individuals is that when a tribulation arrives in one’s life and you feel weak for feeling alone in it, too quickly the guilt seeps in.

There are moments or days when my emotions seem to get the best of me regarding the latest loss in my life. Then shortly after it begins, I find myself thinking “mother would hurt but she wouldn’t necessarily show it.” That’s the guilt. I feel alone yet torn because I should just pull myself up by my bootstraps and move on.  Sometimes this task is so very difficult for me.

My parents were not heartless, they were just strong because of the things that occurred in their lives before I ever arrived. Then there were the things after their fourth child arrived that created the hardened exterior that was their armor in daily living.

mother and daughter

Like most children, my parents hurt me periodically.  As I’ve mentioned before it wasn’t a Norman Rockwell kinda life.  I have always felt that our parenting is generational and comes from things that were taught to us or seen by us while growing up.  Some of us, make a conscious effort to change those “less than stellar” qualities when we are granted children of our own. Unfortunately, in my parent’s generation this wasn’t as common as it might be today.  Although,  later in life my Dad seemed to reflect, as a lot of us do and apologize for his actions. And Mother treated her grandchildren with love and dedication and it wasn’t just a “grandparent’s right”.  I’m glad she was able to enjoy her grandchildren and see her children grow into who they became.

Dad & MOM

Some people may think this is a parenting bashing post and very disrespectful of the upbringing that my parents provided me.   Don’t get me wrong, my parents provided us with food, shelter, and taught me to be strong.  Which being strong has come into good use a lot in my own life!  They loved me how they knew best just as I do with my own children today.

As an adult that has lost both her parents now, I can appreciate what they did provide for me.  I can be grateful in the the gifts that were given, whether in a soft manner or slightly rough one.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

The anniversary and where I spent it.


8/17/2015

One year ago this evening my Dad was struggling to stay alive.  He was riding in an ambulance on his way to a Wichita hospital. He died in it, probably on the side of the road or in the Kingman hospital parking lot. I don’t know.  I only saw him after, in that hospital, laying on the bed.  A life-less being.

This evening I was sitting at my computer.  I had just read the post of the speech I gave at his memorial service. I looked up at the clock.  It’s ironic.  What I just read and the clock showing only minutes before they called his time of death a year ago.

The tears are not falling.  They are not coming.  They are put away.  They are not at the forefront today.  I haven’t shared on Facebook or even mentioned to my spouse the date.  A couple cards came in the mail remembering and my sister text me sending love and I went about my day.  They were very much appreciated and needed.  My emotions were sensitive and I fell apart while vacuuming the bathroom today, feeling overwhelmed with it all.

I think that God had the best plan for me tonight.  I’m not spending it with my family or in bed weeping.  I’m spending it with a group of ladies that bring me joy and support without even knowing it most of the time.  Two or three will be gathered tonight so our Lord will be present for sure.  I will be wrapped in His arms and His love via sisters in Christ.

The Lord knows best what I need today on the anniversary of my Dad’s death. I am grateful.

Before I fall asleep I will close my eyes and remember my Dad’s hugs, his hands, his smile.  I think he would have liked it that way.

 

Dad Collage

Grace is a gift,
Julie

Grasping Later 8/15/2015


I’m not really coming back from my break, I just really needed to write.  I wanted to share this in hopes that I could work through what lies within my mind and heart.  It was a year ago that Grasping a new turn in the journey made its way to this blog.  This particular post and my Dad was on my mind most of yesterday.

The image that is mentioned in the 4th paragraph is what was on my mind yesterday.  I recall it was a Friday, the day I thought a new routine would begin for my life.  The day my Dad held my hand and I cried silent tears as he did.  The sadness of never getting to make him ice cream or a meal one last time makes me sad now.  That I can not serve him any longer even makes my heart ache.

The anniversary of his death is coming.  The things I recall are the days leading up to it.  The goodbye on that day in his house, thinking I would be back the following Tuesday.  Where I was standing when I got the call he was going to the hospital the next night.  The inner panic and exterior calmness when figuring out the plan for the late night trip to Pratt.  Walking into the ER and him not being very happy with us being called.  My love being expressed to him after that in a manner that I would be angry if I wasn’t called.  The dismal display of the room when my sister and I were helping to check him into a room.  His hope to not have to go back to Wichita hospitals and our longing that he would for better care.  Spending the next morning with him alone.  Saying “goodbye, I’ll see you later in Wichita.”  All the while not knowing that would be the last words I say to him and the last kiss.

Precious moments

Those are the things on my mind and heart today and probably the next few.  Sometimes I feel alone in this grieving process. I know I am not but I still feel that way.

Grace is a gift,
Julie

 

Dying Alone


When I was told my father was dead, one of the first thoughts was the following.

He was alone.  None of us, his family was with him.  Although he passed away in an ambulance with qualified emergency personnel, it wasn’t his family.  The next thought was of how he didn’t die a peaceful death.  He struggled, they worked on him for 20 plus minutes. He died from cardiac arrest.

I watched this movie yesterday and these thoughts that I had so neatly tucked away in the back of my mind re-surfaced.  The scene where the main star is dying and wants her caregiver to leave the room I understand to some degree but every nerve in my body was saying stay with her. She left but as she listened to her struggling to breathe the caregiver made her way back to hold the dying woman.

I remember holding my Dad’s hand.  Holding my own breath as he coughed and couldn’t breathe.  I remember that last day sitting alone with him, a gift I now cherish, and hope to never forget.  I remember telling him “I will see you in Wichita” and kissing him on the cheek.   The last time I spoke to him, the last time I saw him alive, the last time I was with him.

If I was present when he passed, I’d like to think I would have held his hand, or wrapped my arms around him.  That I would have prayed over him and told him it’s ok to go. That with each word spoken my heart would have broken but no more pain would be a blessing as well.

Things happen the way they are suppose to.  People die everyday peacefully and some not so peacefully.  Sometimes I wish I could just hold his hand one more time and feel his hug.   Those hugs.

Dying Alone

Grace is a gift,

Julie

Bittersweet Gifts


Have you ever received something that was bittersweet?  I’m not talking chocolate.  I’m talking a gift or possibly an heirloom.  Something that you didn’t expect or had forgotten about  and then found it much later.  This happened to me recently.

I was cleaning out my email inbox and a gift was waiting there for me.  The sender was my oldest sister and I assumed it was a photo of my Dad. The month of the email made me think this and I knew she had taken a few for me.  What I found when I opened the attachment was not a photo but a video.

DAD 2

The video is of my Dad telling me a story.  He is holding my hand.  When it began to play it was like my mind could not wrap itself around what was playing.  It wasn’t long and the tears began to fall.  They were a mixture of tears of sadness for missing him and tears of joy for being able to hear him speak.

This is my bittersweet gift.

Treasure it, yes I will.  Dwell on it, probably not.  I will keep it safe and take it out on days when I feel the need.  Too many views wouldn’t be right and too little would be sad.  So a happy medium I shall find with this bittersweet gift I’ve been given.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

The That Hand Represents More


In the amount of time my Dad has been gone, a new life could be emerging into this world.  Today marks the ninth month since my Dad’s passing.  Thoughts of him cross my mind periodically, but not daily.  When my mind is quiet and think back to my childhood, he comes to mind.

Yesterday morning on my porch as I listened to the water drip from the downspout, the slight breeze make my hair move, and the various birds make their presence known.  That is when he came to mind.  That is when the first line of this post became a thought.  Just as life is valued (in or out of womb) so was my Dad. A tinge of sadness came across me.

I wished I’d asked him a particular question from my young childhood while he was still alive. I think he would have been honest, now I will not know that answer.  I don’t believe the truth can be found anywhere else.

I can still see his hands.  His large hands.  The ones that held mine while I cried when I left a few days before he died.  The hands that held my youngest daughter when she was a couple of weeks old, and the hands that held a bottle that turned my life into a saddened mess growing up.

Those hands worked hard, those hands hurt people.  Those hands wrote letters to me when I was young and those hands cared for others.  Those hands are an image I hope I never lose.  Those hands represent a lot about my Dad. With each callous there was a story, with each handshake as well.

I have no idea what “stage” of grieving I am in at this point.  I am just still grieving the loss of the man I called Dad.  There’s not much more to say so I will close for now.
Grace is a gift,

Julie

Writing Prompts 2 – Write about a piece of jewelry you own.


Where did it come from? When do you wear it?

The piece of jewelry I have chosen to write about today is a necklace.  It was a gift from my Dad many years ago, sometime in my young adult life I believe.  It is the only piece of jewelry I received from him my entire life.  Although my Dad and I wrote periodically to one another and cards were sent as well, gifts were not a common thing between us.

My necklace is gold with two interlocking hearts.  On the right side of each heart are red stones and then some tiny clear chips as well.  It’s a very pretty and simple necklace.  The last time I wore it was on the day of his memorial service, prior to that it hung in my jewelry box most of the time. Perhaps because I wear more silver than gold now.  As well as the fact that I am pretty particular about how a necklace hangs on me.  The length is important to manage with the neckline.

This gift is special as it’s from a person I loved and I presume because I wasn’t showered with gifts of its kind from him.  But to be honest, the material item isn’t something I feel I must have on me or around me to fill the space he once occupied in my life.  The memories of our time together mean a great deal more.  When I look at the necklace I don’t feel any less saddened by his passing.  This material item doesn’t bring me peace.  It just reminds me that he gave me a nice necklace one time in my life.

I know I meant a great deal to my Dad.  I know he loved me.  I know he appreciated the sacrifice I made to spend as much time as possible with him and to care for him in his last couple weeks.  That.  That gives me peace.  That he knew how much I loved him and that he knew I knew how much he loved me.

Clinging to material items isn’t going to bring a loved one back.  The gift of eternal life is given to all of us, whether we accept that gift is up to us.  It’s in you and me and my Dad and others.  Peace comes to me knowing that my Dad accepted the gift, was baptized, and believed in Jesus Christ.  I know someday we will be together again and the necklace, well who knows where it will be.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

Write about a piece of jewelry

Little Things That Make Me Remember


It was just an ordinary day for me. Nothing special going on but I found it interesting the little things throughout my day that bring my Dad to mind.

As I lay on the decompression table in the Chiropractors office I thought of him. The memory from when I was young when he went to one in the same town. The building is still there too, occasionally I drive by it on my way through town.

Another thing was when I was standing in Wal-mart waiting for someone to check on something for me. I looked over and there was the display of Ensure. I recall my sister and I buying a large amount of it for my Dad just days before he passed away. He couldn’t swallow so this would give him nourishment. He didn’t get to use much of it.

When I open a certain drawer in my home and I see his deck of poker cards and the money I won playing his favorite game against my siblings. I smile with a heavy heart.

It doesn’t have to be an old photo or gift that brings him to mind these days. As you can tell it can be things that are a part of my daily living.

When I see the photo in my daughter’s room of him and her for the last time together it does bring a sadness over me. But I try not to stay there, I think of how happy she made him. Of the first time he held her and how he called her his angel.

Missing him is here but it’s not nearly as hard as it was. We are coming up on seven months without him. Although we weren’t in each other’s daily lives we were still father and daughter. A bond that isn’t easily broken I don’t feel.

 

Dad & I DSC_8266

Grace is a gift,
Julie