Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday, Dad!  You would have been 74 today and you would have said,”Isn’t life just GREAT?  I feel younger every year!  Isn’t that great, care?!?!”  I would have laughed and made some comment about how much I love you and how you were going to outlive us all.  I love you, dad. And I’m sorry you didn’t outlive us all.  You deserved to.  Yesterday I was running errands and I picked up my phone to call you.  That’s what I do when I run errands.  I call you.  It’s so strange now.  Everything is strange.  I don’t have an understanding of the world. I miss you. I miss hearing about your bike rides and about how many reps you did at the gym and about who you met that day and about how friendly everyone is in Peachtree City and about how every day is the most beautiful day EVER.  And I miss you stating the facts with no commentary.  Like “wow, there’s a lot of traffic.”  And it would stop there.  You wouldn’t complain about it.  You would just get it off your chest and sit there being all positive.  Thanks for doing that.  I’m really good in traffic because of you.  I’m still working on Danny though…..

I went for a bike ride in your honor today!  My first time ever on a road bike.  Thanks for passing that sweet ass bike onto me (did you noticed how I swore???  I thought that might make you smile).  It’s fast!  I’m now on the hunt for some folks that’ll teach me to ride that thing.

On my bike ride I was thinking about how beautiful it was to take care of you during your final few weeks.  You never complained.  Not one time.  And you ALWAYS thanked me. Even when I sat on the floor crying not knowing what to do to help you.  You said,”I don’t know what I’m doing either.  We’ll work through this together.”   I realized, from this experience, what the definition of GRACE actually is.  Thank you for showing that to me.

Danny took some photos of our final two days together and I’m going to share them with the world if you don’t mind.  I actually know you don’t mind, because I asked you before you died.  They’re difficult for me to look at, but so healing….I’m thankful to have them….

Oh, and your ashes were delivered today.  You knew something big was going to happen on your birthday…..you kept talking about that throughout this process…..now we know what it was all about.

I miss you.  Happy Birthday.  Their are actually still no words…..this is just a bunch of gibberish, it feels like.  But I’m trying, dad.  It’s hard to talk to you sometimes.  I really want to hear your voice…..

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Good Morning, Dad!

Good Morning, Dad

A blog in memory of the sweetest man on earth to let him know about my travels and time at home….

I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to start a blog.  This past Tuesday, June 16th, my sweet papa died peacefully at home and I’d like to continue talking to him…..continue to let him know what’s going on in our lives.  To tell him about our journey to have a baby, to tell him about my life on the road as a singer/songwriter, to tell him about what craft projects or house projects I’m getting into while at home.  My dad has inspired me to live the life that best suits me. The most honest life I can live.  He told me the world would be a better place if we all did what we love to do.  He said it was the most responsible way to live.  My dad was the healthiest man on earth until he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three weeks ago.  He died one month to the day of his last bike ride of 13 miles. He was a champion sprint triathlete, never had a drink in his life, ate a perfect diet, was a champion weight lifter in his younger years, was a guidance counselor to his entire family and his friends, was the most positive man on earth…..no joke, he was.  He never had a health problem.  Not one.  Never took a prescription drug, never had a headache, and only vomited one time in his life after having bad pizza.  That was 30 years ago. My dad was my favorite person on this planet.  He was incredibly kind and generous.  He was pure joy and anyone that spent even a second with him knew it.  He was a special force in this world and when his energy was leaving his body over this past week, I could feel it.  It was impossible not to feel it.  He gave me the strength to take care of him.   We had some nights of no sleep during this past week.  He said he was never in pain, but was having trouble getting comfortable, so night time was difficult.  When I was a little girl and couldn’t sleep, my dad would sit on the end of my bed and run his fingers between my toes.  It’s one of my first memories of his care and love for me.  Six days ago, after a night of no sleep, dad was sitting at the end of the couch and I was napping on the couch with my feet toward him.  When I woke up, he was running his fingers between my toes.  He literally had no energy left and that’s what he was doing.  He cared for me while I cared for him until the very end.  That’s the kind of man he was. When my dad was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer, the doctor said he probably had three months to live.  My dad asked if there was any way to make it faster.  It actually made us laugh.  His body was not his own, he couldn’t exercise, he couldn’t eat, he lost all his muscle mass in what seemed like a matter of minutes.  Fourteen days after his diagnosis, he couldn’t walk on his own anymore.  He had no interest in living in his new body.  We didn’t want to watch him live like that for long either.  We wanted him to die quickly and he did.  He died just like he wanted to.  We joked that it was like a sprint triathlon.  On Tuesday morning, we called Hospice and let them know we thought he was getting close.  Our nurse and social worker came over straight away.  I’d like to say, having hospice around is like having a bunch of angels in the house.  They were amazing over the past couple weeks.  And they loved my dad and were amazed at how quickly he made dying happen. My cousin, Dave arrived at around 10AM the morning of my dad’s passing.  I believe he was waiting for him to arrive. Dave looks just like my papa and is goofy like him, too.  Once Dave arrived, we each took turns saying goodbye to him and letting him know it was okay to let go.  My brother and his kids were a huge part of this process.  We were all caregivers together. My husband, Danny, opened his heart so big I’m surprised it didn’t explode from love for all of us. He was our rock.  After we all said our goodbyes and sang him a few songs, Dave, Danny and my brother, Rick sat on the bed and told stories, just chatted a bit, and then looked over at around 4:00PM and noticed he wasn’t breathing anymore.  Just like that.  He willed himself to die.  That’s how true he was to his own life.  That’s how connected he was to his body and to his spirit.  So with his family present, his spirit lifted.  I swear the world must have felt it.

For the two mornings since his death, I found myself saying,”Good morning, Dad” as I was waking up.  It’s the strangest feeling knowing he’s not part of our physical world anymore.  Knowing this Father’s day will be my first without a father.  My heart is broken.  But I promised him we’d be okay and I meant it.  For he passed his joy onto me and I am committed to spreading it……..

Thanks, Dad.  For being my biggest inspiration, for spreading so much joy, for being a father figure to so many of my childhood friends, for your generosity, for your honesty, for your unwavering commitment to leading a healthy life in every way.  Thank you for being a beautiful father for the 41 years I’ve been on this planet.  I haven’t wrapped my heart around what life will be like now, but I promise to do my best to follow in your footsteps…..

Thank you, also, for always letting me order the biggest, most expensive steak on the menu starting at the age of six.