Past moments in time are never that far away


Dad & MOM

The past few days my parents have been on my mind. Maybe because Facebook has that deal that shows you past posts or just because it’s July.  I know August is around the corner.

At lunch on Sunday with my entire family I was laughing and joking.  I made a comment about moving in with my kids when I was old and the son-in-laws weren’t too sure about that. I started to say I understood that I wasn’t sure I could live with my parents and it brought me back to the day my Dad died.

 

That morning, while we were alone in his hospital room, he told me that he needed to take me up on my offer.  The offer I had given him a few days before about moving in with us.  I had forgotten that, which surprises me.   I couldn’t stop my eyes from filling with tears but I gathered myself quickly I think.  I had a beautiful baby boy in my arms to look at and hide my tears.  I felt my husband’s hand on my leg for reassurance as well.

Dying Alone

While dancing and singing with my other baby grandson later,  in my home office, I saw the pictures of both my parents from various times in their lives.  The display has a photo of each of my parents holding me when I was a baby, I told G how that was me and continued to dance.  My mother loved to dance.  When I danced with my father at my second wedding we glided across the floor and if I shut my eyes I can still feel it.

The memories are here  in my mind and next to my heart.  Although they may fade they are still inside me.  Tears may have fallen on this day but I’m glad I remembered that memory with my Dad.

Until next time,

Julie

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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

 

Treasures can be Hidden by Despair


I will never taste the Spice Peaches or Macaroni salad again that her hands made.  These are two of my favorite recipes that my Mom made as I grew up.  I remember requesting her to make the peaches for Christmas often.

She loved peaches.  She would eat them fresh with cream on them or in a peach pie.  I love peaches too.  That’s something nice to have in common with her.

When it struck me one afternoon that I would not be eating the food she made anymore tears began to fall.  I clutched the book that held the recipe to my chest and just let the tears fall for a bit.

I can still smell the aroma of spiced peaches and the taste of the macaroni salad with cucumbers.  (Another thing we both loved)  Connection to our past can come in different forms.  Whether it be with food, photographs, a song, poem, or holiday.

 

Craft Projects

Although I wouldn’t want those connections to be gone, sometimes they are hard to handle.  One must not stay in the mode of connection that brings them despair.  If I stay in my grief, the treasure of the past will be eventually be forgotten.  All there will be is sadness, despair, what if’s, or I should haves.

So, when those moments of connection occur, I will allow myself to wallow in them but eventually I will make my way out.  For instance, on the afternoon those tears fell I found my way down a country road.  To walk among the fall foliage and beautiful milo field.  This gave me distance from the sadness, opportunity to clear my mind, and see that the treasure was just that.  A treasure.

I’m not over my mother’s death or my father’s for that matter.  I am just making my way through this journey called grief.  I am managing my life the best I can with the tools provided to me.  I’m not ignoring the past, the grief, or how much it hurts.  I just will not allow it to rob my present life of the treasures that have been given to me.  Having the joys God gave me is not something to throw away by living in the past.

Mother and I 2014

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

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

Making this Journey


As I took a walk in the countryside one morning this week I stopped along the way.  In the wide open spaces of Central Kansas I pondered a few things.  I looked to the sky where there were many clouds moving slowly to what seemed to be the northeast.  Some of these clouds were white and some were darker with color.  The sky was blue in the distance and the sun hidden behind them was peeking out ever so lovely.

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The thoughts in my mind touched on the clouds being symbols of all the believers of Christ, making their way to somewhere better than here.  Some had dark moments and others lighter shades of white.  Each with their own story but yet each having a connection to one another.  Traveling along as if in unison.  The bond between them being the faith they have and the belief of their Father in Heaven.

Then the thoughts in my mind were of the father I had here on earth, the one that passed away nine months ago.  I found myself visiting his grave this past weekend.  You can see where the small whole is that holds the box of his ashes.  The grass hasn’t completely grown in and the rain has pointed it out.  The headstone was lovely and the cemetary well-kept.  I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t really anything.  Just kinda indifferent. I know that one day I will see him again for he was a believer and baptized in Christ.  I don’t know how often or if I will appear at his grave again, all I know is today.

As I began to walk again, I looked into the distance.  The clouds were still making their journey and so shall I.

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