As I think about the past week and the tremendous effect it will have on the rest of my life…..I can’t help but think how do I carry this? How do we move forward like my father wants us too? How do you respectfully keep going, stay positive and live up to his memory? Just how do we do that?
The other day my cousin Kathy sent a comment that has stuck with me …….She told me how my father was her first crush….I can see that…my father was very handsome…((the was is so hard for me to fully grasp.))
However, that was not the part I am speaking of……….The one thing she said that stuck with me was…….”I always found comfort in knowing my Dad (and Mum) were only as far away as my heart.” “Just listen…you will hear him.” She is so right…….I can feel him……… everywhere. He truly is everywhere.
But, before I can find the comfort and peace to go on with my life, and before I can get things to the point of a “new normal”, these are the things I want to remember for the rest of my life:
I want to remember how my mother, my father’s wife of 56 years, has been a pillar of strength for her husband and her children through out this whole ordeal. During the times my father was sick because of cancer, radiation or chemo….my mother was always by his side, taking care of him. She was always encouraging him to get up and eat with the family. She was always encouraging him to get up and sit with the family. She was always encouraging him to keep working and to keep going. The last days or weeks of his life it was our mother that let us sit with him and keep him company. On the really bad days she generously let us be alone with him and just hold his hand. She let us help her, help him. She was truly amazing. She IS truly amazing.
These past four and an half years when the doctors would say…….”Bill, we don’t want you uncomfortable.” My mother would say “I just want him here….I don’t care about his comfort. Let’s just keep him here.” My father loved to hear this. He would smile his biggest smile and laugh with pure joy and say…”That is the nicest thing she could ever say to me.” He accepted her words for what they were……True Love. When it was time to let go….She simply knew and as hard as it was for her……she did….again…..True Love.
She knew he would be with her forever……living in her heart.
I want to remember my Aunt Mary Lou and how she stayed with my parents the nights she was really needed. I want to remember how she let my mother sleep and how she stayed up all night with my dad watching over him, helping him anyway she could. I want to remember the love and dedication she gave to us, my father and most of all her sister, our mother.
I want to remember how my sister in law, my brother in law and my husband would make time to see my dad everyday. How Linda helped with his care giving her time so lovingly. How Reiner worked in the yard, Mark worked on the equipment and how both of these men would go and just sit with our dad. They would just sit with him, letting him know he was never alone.
I want to remember, my oldest three children serving on the Alter at my father’s funeral Mass. How Matthew held the cross as high as he could…..I know he wanted his Grandpa to see it, to feel the love, admiration and how honored he was to be part of his Mass….I want to remember how each one of the children stood on the Alter with pride and just how lovingly they served for him and my mother that day.
I want to remember how the older grandsons were pallbearers for my father and how James and William read the readings at the Mass with such dignity and respect.
I want to remember how each one of the grandchildren put a rose in a basket on the Alter by my father’s casket and how significant that act of love was for both my parents.
There is nothing more important then family… The final act was perfect and honored them both in such a way I never dreamed possible.
I want to remember, Jen’s eulogy and how she started it off with ….”Uncle Bill, you can not drive.” And how Jen’s tribute to my father left everyone with a smile on their face……Just remembering.
I want to remember the day of the wake: When we were trying to get the house ready for all the guest…..Jen was there working, helping us get ready. She told me she needed to run to the store and she needed me to show her how to get there. I want to remember how I really didn’t want to go but she insisted. After all, as she said, she lives in California now and she could get terribly lost…. She said it was very important that I go with her…to show her the way.
In reality it was important to me. She knew I was becoming over whelmed and had to get out. Our ((or at least my)) spirits were lifted as she filled 2 great big carts and baskets with mums, pumpkins, candles, flowers, and a wreath. After the shopping we were off to McDonald’s for a nice FAT comfort meal that we both seemed to enjoy all to much. Jen said she wanted to get all those things to bring happiness and color back into my parent’s home…… and that is exactly what she did.
On the way home that day I realized she had a GPS in her car and I thought she lied….. But I am so glad she did……She knew I needed to get out more then she needed me to show her the way. I remember saying to her….”Thank you for making it sound important that I come….I needed this.” I think she said; I know.
I want to remember how Aunt Ann sang and just how beautiful her voice and the songs we picked were that day. My father loved her voice and to have her come down and sing would have been such and honor for him. I want to remember; how her daughter Peggy and Aunt Ann’s husband Paul came down without a single thought. They just came a thousand miles to be with our family. It was all so wonderful.
I want to remember the out-pour of friends and mostly family….how Ann Marie came back down even though she was just here a couple of weeks ago. It was just that important. And how Uncle Bernie and Sue showed up and made us all laugh and feel good about the day.
I want to remember; how my in laws just came and gave and did. My sister in law, Kim, stocked the shelves and refrigerator at my house. She knew shopping was the last thing on my mind. She knew we were mostly out of everything…..The night of the my father’s wake I even came home to a very clean kitchen because of her. She knew walking in the door to a clean kitchen was almost better then a warm hug.
I want to remember how very loving my dear sweet husband has been. How he comforted me and just gave to me when he was hurting too. Mark told me just how much my father meant to him and how grateful he was that when the odds seemed against him my dad was the only one who truly believed in him and gave him a real chance to prove himself in the business world.
I want to remember the food people sent over…..the flowers people gave…and what flowers there were…
I want to remember the friends and family that came and cried and loved us. How my father’s brothers came down without a thought. I want to remember just how Uncle Joe and his wife came back down even though he and Aunt Millie were just here. I want to remember my cousin Lyn and her tears of love. I want to remember Uncle Bob and his wife, Pat, their daughter Patty and her children. I want to remember how both my father’s brothers told stories about their childhood and how the love shined through. Each tale told with devotion, humor, honor and joy. With each Aunt and uncle came their children…. Cousins I hardly knew.
I want to remember Aunt Jean and Aunt Joan came with Kathy and Kristen. I want to remember how my aunts stayed just a few more days in an effort to make this transition just a tinny bit easier for their very good friend our mother.
I want to remember my cousin Judy’s genuine sorrow.
I want to remember how my friend Denise filled the pantry with food and paper products at my mother’s house and how she just thought of everything. I want to remember how my friend Kim just showed up at my parent’s house the morning of the wake and started cleaning bathrooms….How our girl friends from the karate school were just there in my mother’s kitchen after the funeral putting deserts they made on the table, making coffee, feeding my mother, my children, my sisters and me. It was an amazing display of love…..pure affection.
I want to remember the people that came to the wake and how they cried and how we comforted them. I want to remember their true sorrow and how grown men told me through their tears how my father and my mother were better to them then their own parents. I want to remember how many times I heard my father’s favorite saying that night from each one of those men…. “ Luck only comes to those who work at it.”
I know I will always remember my father and the love he shared because after all ~ my cousin Kathy is just so right when she said;
…….”I always found comfort in knowing my Dad (and Mum) were only as far away as my heart.” “Just listen…you will hear him.”