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. 

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