It’s been a month and I wrote you a song….

Good Morning Dad!

Well, it’s been a month since you continued on to spread beautiful energy around us.  I can feel you with me always. I sure miss you though.  And I can’t seem to talk to you without crying my eyes out.  But here I am.  Surviving.  Like I’m supposed to do.  Thanks for teaching me how to survive in this crazy world.  And really, thanks for teaching me how to survive like a CHAMP.  I mean, you don’t get all the credit…..mom gets at least 50%.  Although y’all divorced a million years ago, you know how awesome she is.  She’s been amazing through all of this (AND, she just sold her house and bought a new one and still manages to be available 24/7 for me.  GO MOM!).

I made it to the Woody Guthrie festival this past weekend and really enjoyed it, dad.  It felt impossible at first.  I think I was just overwhelmed with the LOVE from my most fantastic music community.  Thank you MUSIC COMMUNITY.  There’s no way I could do this without you.  Seriously.  I am blessed and it never goes unrecognized.  You met a whole lot of these folks, but I sure wish you could have met them all.  They are a shining light in my life.  They shine like you did…..like you do.  I wrote you a song and it was the first one I sang at the festival. I felt like throwing up when I stepped onto the stage.  I was pretty sure I would just cry out my songs.  You must’ve given me strength though, because I made it through and managed to have a good time.  You were with me, dad.  Thank you.  I made a crappy video of the song, but wanted to share it because it represents my reemergence into music again.  Playing music helped me feel human again.  So I’m back in the saddle!  Watch out world!  I’m going to write A LOT of SAD songs!

Danny and I left Okemah, OK (home town of Woody Guthrie) and hauled ass to Denver where we surprised Danny’s mom for her 70th birthday!  OMG.  It was the best.  You would have loved it, dad. To be honest, it wasn’t a surprise.  Donna already knew (but she shrieked and smiled so big it must have hurt her face).  We didn’t think she knew, but after much talking, she couldn’t keep it in any longer.  It’s a long story how she found out, but man is she sneaky.  We’ve been celebrating since Sunday!  Headed back home tomorrow to get back into our lives in Austin, but this has been a time of JOY for us.  Being with the Schmidt’s is so healing.  Please know I’m taken care of, dad.  This family has wrapped me up tight and hugged me so hard.  I’m so lucky (I’m sure I’ve said that like a million times, but it can’t be stated enough). Here’s a photo of the birthday girl and family  just before we went paddle boating on Evergreen Lake…..

donna's birthday

On the craft front, I’ve been embroidering like crazy….see…..

I am
For Telisha
do epic shit
For Annie
damn it feels good
For Jo

I’ve been thinking about volunteering for hospice, dad.  The things happening in my life seem so insignificant after spending that month with you.  I mean, I’m appreciating all these moments and I feel present with my friends and family, but nothing compares to the feeling I had when caring for you.  I do realize you were an exceptional patient, but still, I’d like to help others.  AND, I’d love to help people navigate through some of the business stuff, too.  It’s SO CONFUSING and I’ve learned so much about it all.  So please send that out to the world…..to those folks in need…..I’m here to help in any way I can.

And to end this post, here’s the final photo before they took you away.  I can’t believe it’s been a month.  Wish I could hear your voice.  I miss it so much.

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I love you, dad.  I promise to write soon.

Compartmentalization, fear, and getting back to life or whatever.

Good Morning, Dad!

I don’t know.  I just really don’t know.  I keep thinking of how on earth I’m going to transition this blog into a crafty/touring/random life stuff blog, and I have no idea how to do it.  And I guess I’m not QUITE ready, really.  Tomorrow will be three weeks since you passed and now things are getting tricky.  Like it all feels so much deeper.  I’ve never been good at compartmentalizing, but I’m starting to understand the importance of such a skill, and I’m working on it, and getting pretty decent at it, I must say.  I guess the “my dad died” compartment gets full a lot of the time though.  And then the flood gates open.  I woke up this morning looking like I had been punched in the face.  And feeling like it, too.

And this past week.  ugh.  I keep having all these anxiety dreams and mild panic attacks.  I didn’t think I even had the ability to have these things.  I thought it wasn’t part of my Elkin make up.  As it turns out, it IS possible for me to feel enormous amounts of fear and anxiety.  Every time the phone rings, I fear the call will be about someone I love dying. And these nights are so restless.  And I’m walking around in a fog.  In circles.  But I always want to be doing something, because when I stop, I think, and when I think, I cry. I tried to play music for the first time since your passing and I couldn’t get through 10 seconds of a song without having a melt down.  This weekends festival is going to be interesting, huh?  I’m gonna do it though.  I’m headed to The Woody Guthrie festival with a bunch of my pals to “get back on that horse and ride”.  I’m scared to death.  I’ve never been afraid to step in front of an audience, and for the first time ever, the thought makes me sick.

I missed you on the 4th.  I remember sitting between your legs as a little girl and you would cover my ears because I didn’t like the noise.

And now, my beautiful community of friends keep asking me what I need.  They keep asking what they can do for me.  And I just don’t know.  I wish there was something I could tell them.  But all I can say is it’s nice when they check in. I think it’s because what I need is to have you back, and although I have the most beautifully powerful friends, I’m pretty sure none of them can do that.  Right?  Wait, can anyone do that?  Text me if you can….

I do want to thank you, dad, for your birthday joke.  I was actually excited to receive your ashes on your big day.  It made sense.  I decided to wait to open them until later in the evening and what happened??  Oh, I think you already know.  But I’ll remind you.  THEY SENT THE WRONG ONES!  THEY SENT THE WRONG PERSON’S ASHES!  OMG.  I couldn’t even get mad.  I was laughing so hard.  In response to the whole episode, I just kept asking myself,”What Would Rich Do (WWRD)?” I find myself doing that in all kinds of situations. You would have been so kind and gentle, so that’s what I was.  And it worked.  I got free shipping! HA!

On a crafting front, I’m taking an online embroidery class.  It’s meditative.  And sweet.  And good for me.  Plus, I can take projects on the road!  If you were still around, I’d make you something that you would have hung on your “Carrie wall of fame”.  I always made fun of that wall.  Taking that stuff down from your room was not easy, I must say.

On the house front, I have been painting away in the back house.  AND IT IS CUTE. I also refinished a piece of furniture that’s been hanging out in our woodshed for, oh……FOUR YEARS (Paul, it’s a good thing you guys moved out, because there would be no storage space for your drums now that the cupboard thing has been painted!). And we put a new ceiling fan in, too.  I’m getting ready to make some curtains.  I need to start photographing this stuff.  Mental note. Photograph stuff.

On the fertility front.  Well, this topic we’re keeping a bit more private to the whole world, but after miscarrying your last would be grandkid, we’re moving forward with things again.  HORMONES INCLUDED! I shouldn’t make light of such a thing, but really, and REALLY, there’s no other way to get through these totally shitty and overwhelming two months without shaking my head and laughing. Note to self…..do not wait until you’re 41 to have a kid. Oh wait, we totally screwed that one up. eh.  We’ll be fine.  Today’s hormone injection was only a two on a pain scale of one to ten. Things are looking up.

And now.  I should go make myself busy because my heart hurts. I miss you, dad.  I called your voice mail just to hear your voice say your own name….you’ve reached the voicemail of “RICH ELKIN”!

And I’m gonna attach some photos here that I found when going through your things.  One is of you in 1965 when you were in Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis (BAD ASS).  One is of you and Rick and me at a picnic in Squires Castle where the Hells Angels used to hang out and you would make friends with them. And one is of you and me on my first day of school. Pretty cute.

I love you so much.  And my heart is broken. I guess this is what it feels like, huh?  A broken heart.

marines squires castle school

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.