Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It's Been Almost 3 Weeks...

Since Dad's funeral. Tomorrow is three weeks... I think I'm finally ready to share what we wrote for the funeral - what my siblings and I wrote and couldn't get up to actually say... The closing of the casket was way, way rough. For all of us. It is something I never want to do again, and something I am so glad I did.
So here it is...
Thank you for coming out to show your support to our family as we struggle with this difficult time.
We wanted to tell you a little about our dad.
Dad didn’t always have much to say. Sometimes – most of the time -  you knew what he was thinking just by looking at him, especially when he was amused, disappointed, or mad. Or teasing... You just had to look for the twinkle in his eyes - it was there most of the time. In some of the pictures out there (on the picture boards we made for the funeral), you can see random shots of him being not sure of what us kids are up to. We never liked to see the disappointed or mad face, but because we were such “angelic” children all too often we did see that face. Often all he had to do was give us “that” look and we were silent and doing our best to behave. Or, he’d reach for his belt – which instantly brought five quiet, completely behaved children. The funny thing about that is – he rarely, if ever, had to use the belt. And when he did, you can bet your butt we deserved it. (side note - not me, because I was a true angel child. LOL)
For the most part, though, he simply rolled his eyes and shook his head. And… he did that a lot.
One of the things we learned from our dad is that there is humor in every situation. He hated funerals – hated wearing black, hated having to be so somber and stoic. He didn’t like to see people so sad. We don't think he wants us to be so sad now... We're not saying he wants us to be happy, but we think he definitely wants us to remember with a smile and be glad that he's not suffering his pain anymore and be celebrating his awesome life. That's easier said than done. Right now and probably for a long time. 
The month and a half leading up to Dad’s death were rough. We watched him go from walking with a limp, then to a cane, then with a walker. He suffered through urinary tract infections, having to have a catheter, falling, and having to drive with mom. J (just kidding, mom. We know it was harder on you than it was him.) When he went to the procedure that was supposed to make him feel better, the doctor refused to do it because his pain was so great. Things went from bad to worse in the following weeks, resulting in a nineteen day hospital stay before finally coming home with Hospice care. Hospice was awesome and took wonderful care of him and taught us so much. He was home with all of us caring for him - taking turns being there and doing meds and cleaning up - for his last ten days.
We tell you his journey so we can also tell you how he still had his sense of humor. He teased the nurses, teased mom, and us, and ended up with a toy his great-grandson left behind – this talking cookie monster (that is now beside Dads ashes at Moms). It amused him and one night in the hospital he put in under his sheet to scare the nurses. Even though we were all worried and distressed by the constant flow of bad news, we had a lot of laughs. He laughed so much the weekend before he passed. We all did. 
And we had a lot of hugs and love.
The past few days we’ve been looking through pictures of the past – camping trips, birthday parties, holidays, random gatherings, vacations. Pictures of Dad playing with the grandchildren, holding newborn grandchildren, playing games, random football games, baseball games, horseshoes, and badminton, or quietly sitting in the back ground and taking it all in, laughing. Always laughing. They were some of the best times we’ve had through the years – you’ve seen some of them in the picture boards sitting around, but there are so many more great memories in our hearts. Things we couldn’t even begin to explain or describe. Times where Dad would just sit with us in silence, offering his quiet support and gentle guidance. The times where if one of our families had a crisis – our parents would be the first ones there. Whether it be Dad watching grandkids on Christmas morning so his new granddaughter could be born and Gram could be there for her birth, to rescuing us when we were stranded motorists, driving for miles to help fix a broken down truck in a deserted boy scout camp, not freaking out “too much” when we wrecked or dinged the family car, handing out cash, picking us up and taking us to the doctor when we were sick and our spouses couldn’t be there, helping in our yards and homes – with tree removal, painting, renovations, or taking time from work to come to school when one of us got into trouble for doing something stupid. (There might have been more of those times than any of us care to remember, especially with the older two.)
And we did the same for him – driving him to work when he had a broken foot, picking him up when he got sick after eating something bad, not wrecking his tractor when we helped clean up their yard after a particularly bad storm, but that’s what you do as a family. You work as a team.
We’re going to miss him more than we can ever say, but thanks to him, we have a strong family and a lot of wonderful memories to hold in our hearts and share.

 *That's what we meant to say, but couldn't. It's still hard for me to read. I still want to edit it a bunch of times and add so much more, but what's there is raw and from the heart. It's a mix of my siblings and I. We talked about it, edited it in our emotional state... 
Speaking for myself alone, I had a really good childhood. I have a lot of awesome memories, some of them weird because I remember weird stuff, but Dad was always the one thing that never changed. Whether he was laughing hysterically because I picked up a garden snake with the hose, or him laughing at me making gigantic chicken feet prints in the dirt when we camped, or when he told me what I deserved in a relationship and helped me be strong enough to demand it. I could go on... 
But I can't. 
I miss you, Dad. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Survival: Year Six: Entry Two

The natives are restless...
It has been a weird season at our camp. We have yet to break off and do many fun things just us beyond hanging with the family, relax just us, or be spontaneous. We do have plans, but nothing concrete yet...
The natives know we are in transition, but the stress in our camp is outrageous. The natives are at each other like crazy! Neither can say anything without the other taking offense. Both complain endlessly. I am confused and weary of all of the complaining and whining. Earlier this evening, I said our camp felt like it was full of dynamite and would explode at any time. That Man agreed, but the natives just offered to light the fuse. 
One native is still working on summer school and is stressed beyond reason. The other native is bored out of her head. The clock is ticking for school to start and while one native is excited and ready to do school shopping, the other has yet to have a break and does not even want to discuss...
We are a quandary camp.... 
We have ten days of the summer school camp to get through. I hope we will live. And that my house doesn't get blown up. Oy! 
Tonight was insane. We had the grand-native and he was so cute and funny, but crazy wound up. The natives here were like bee stings to each other and us - complaining, judging, making remarks and complaining about things we have already discussed and decided on. I am weary. So very weary. 
I am hopeful the next few weeks ease up and we get some stress removal here before the educational camp begins...The bottom line is that all natives, including the senior ones, need the beach! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Feel Good Friday (Shh... I know it's Saturday)... The Date Night Edition

So That Man and I went on a date last night...
It was funny how it happened. On my way to the day job on Wednesday, I was thinking about how much I missed him and how little time we'd been able to spend together lately... wondering when the last time we did anything "just us". I was going to call him when I parked at work to ask him if he wanted to go out just the two of us Friday night, but ran out of time. He texted me an hour later to say the same thing I'd been thinking and ask if I wanted to go out with him Friday night. (of course, I said yes...)
We talked while I was on lunch, trying to decide what to do... where to go. By Thursday, he had a plan and he wasn't telling me... Just that I needed to come straight home and be ready to go the second I pulled in. He said he had everything covered.
I, of course, had to work a little later than normal. I rushed out and ended up behind him after he made an emergency grocery store run. Apparently, the K's went through all of the food we'd just bought. They were *ahem* starving. I pulled in. We unloaded the groceries and uploaded the things That Man purchased for our evening into my car. After making sure the kids were good, we left and hot-footed it to our destination. I had no idea where we were going. That Man said I would figure it out, but I never did. I knew we were going to a winery, but had no idea where.
I was pleasantly surprised. We went to a small, but awesome, local winery - voted 6th in our state, though they haven't been open very long. He had to call on our way because they were ready to close, but he'd talked to the owner and he told him to just come on over.
By all means, they were closed when we got there, though the "open" sign was still lit. We were welcomed with open arms, tasted wine, talked to the owners wife for a long time, bought wine and cool glasses, then went on their deck to drink some wine. We felt a little awkward because they were closed and it was late, but that didn't last long. We were joined on the deck by one of the owners and we laughed and talked and I drank the rest of the wine in our bottle. (No worries, we bought two more! Ha!)
On our way home, we ate the dinner That Man had gotten us (we felt weird eating there because the one owner told us she hadn't eaten yet...). So good. Stopped for gas, ate some chocolate, then went home.
It was a really good night. That Man is awesome.
When we got home we hung with the K's, did some laundry... I drank more wine. Though I will say, I was completely fine. I drank slow, with plenty of water, and I don't think the wine had a high alcohol content, because otherwise I would be on the floor. And I wasn't at all... Even a little.
I slept in a whole lot this morning, which was awesome. We cleaned the house, did laundry (all caught up), cut grass, and waited for the insurance adjuster. (Did I tell you that the day of Dad's funeral a big hunk of our tree broke off and landed on our house and did a crap-ton of damage? Oy!! (more on that later). By the time we left the house to come to Mom's for dinner, the house was awesomely clean - still is and it smells good in here.
We had lasagna thanks to our awesome friends. That Man's mom came over to hang with us. K4 stayed home for dinner because she wasn't feeling well. K3 drove his g'ma over and then home.
It's been a good few days.
Tomorrow I write again. I've been working up to it all week. I want to. I need to. It's just still been chaos...
I'm coming back. I swear.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Survival: Year Six, Entry One

Summer is now half over...
The day the natives return to the educational camp is marked on the board in red. And it's not that far away. One of the natives has yet to have any enjoyment of his vacation due to finishing his work from the previous camp, and heading straight into summer school camp. He is working hard and hopefully will get a little bit of time away from school before he must go back. The other native is excited to start her new adventure at her new school. She'll be a theater major and can't decide which electives interest her yet. 
The major outlay of shells and beads for proper attire needs to happen, but not before we have some fun... Whatever we decide to do... 
Camp is so different this season. Obviously. The loss of the family patriarch has been rough and hard and we're still dealing. We've come together as a family unit though, and the result, while tough, has been good. We all enjoy spending time with each other and we actually enjoy staying with Mom and making sure she's okay. 
The youngest native and I are here with Mom tonight. We're all on our electronic devices - catching up, playing games, checking stuff, but we're together. Watching old television shows and laughing at them. It's late and I have to go to the day camp tomorrow, but I'm so far behind on everything...
The baby native was here with us earlier. We watched him while his momma went to another camp to do some stuff. He's so busy. I'm so so tired. 
There are natives in another country at the moment. K2 and J are on a mission trip to Guatemala. We miss them. We worry for them. They'll be back next week and I cannot wait. 
This journal used to be a lot more amusing...
Sorry about that...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I'm Coming Back...

My Dad passed away last Monday.
I'm still trying to adjust.
We had a very awesome weekend with my siblings and being home at the 'rents house. We had a lot of very good times, a lot of tears, a lot of food and beer, and a lot of making Dad laugh.
I will always remember that weekend as one of the best. I would never change it for any other weekend or memory. Even though we all knew Dad was dying, we were all there together - talking, laughing, playing music, telling stories, supporting Mom and each other. It really was an epic weekend.
I miss my dad. I always will. But I am so very grateful for the time we had together. I'm so glad I got to tell him how much I love him and that I could be with him every second in his final days.
Missing my dad sucks! I want him here. I miss him so much.
I will be back... I'm still trying to process and get my crap together... I appreciate your understanding through this horribly tough time...

Thursday, July 03, 2014

The Way It Is...

The siblings who can take shifts staying overnight at the 'rents. The spouses stay when they can. It's not ideal, but it's working for now. We can't leave Mom alone. We can't leave Dad.
He's restless and on heavy pain meds. Every day it's something different with the meds. And the pain.
I'm here tonight. That Man is here too, but has gone to bed because he works much earlier than I do and I had to give the pain med dose at almost 11. He will be up and checking things before he heads to work. My sister will be here before I leave for work. I can't remember who is on shift tomorrow night. Frankly, every day is running together right now. Wait. I think it's my brother since Friday is the 4th. We're having a cookout here and when I told Dad what we were doing he was happy and looking forward to it.
Tonight we rearranged the living room where Dad is so Mom's chair is right beside him. I also did some work in her kitchen to make it easier for all of us to cook and clean up while here. All of us kids (and our spouses) are very cooking oriented and the kitchen is kind of small. Space was needed. She was scared of my plan and told That Man and K2 that I was hiding all of her stuff. (ha! She cracks me up!) It looks good though! She helped and we talked and it was good.
Dad had a hair cut tonight. One of That Man's good friends is a barber and he came after hours to cut Dad's hair. It went well, though it took a while because he was "this" side of being a wholly mammoth. (ha!) He was sore afterwards, but pleased with the results. K2 and J stopped by. That was good. K2 was silly and made Dad laugh a lot.
We finally (I think) made him comfortable, but I'm waiting a few minutes before I try to go to sleep. I'll be sleeping in the living room with him, just in case. There is so much noise in this house I would never hear him call me. There are air conditioners, fans, fans, fans.... And it's freaking hot outside... Geeze!!
Tomorrow is everyone's Friday though. That's a good thing. A very good thing.
One day at a time...

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

So... Again... In Case You Didn't Know..

Cancer SUCKS!!!
My dad is dying from it!
This has all happened so fast! Dad is home with Hospice care now. It's in his brain, bones, liver... The doctors haven't given him a lot of time.