This is my Dad - his name was Richard - known as Dick or Richie - either way - my hero -
always and forever.
always and forever.
Today is the day my father died, 1 year ago today. It plays over and over in my mind - rewinding and replaying - reliving each segment of that day. I knew it was coming - I knew he was dying - but you hope that by some miracle of God that you're wrong. I didn't expect it to happen as it did - but does losing a loved one ever happen as you think it will? Instead of kissing him the night I left him - I saluted him - it was a running joke it our family - My Dad always used to salute my mother when she asked for something to be done - it was his way of having fun with her - and for some strange reason I saluted him that night! He was so tired from being moved to Boston that he was falling asleep and I didn't want to get in the nurses way so I stood at the end of his bed and gave him one last final salute. Told him I would see him in the morning. We'd be back bright and early so we could talk to the Dr about the test they were going to do - the test they never got to becaue he didn't make it through the night. He died in the wee hours of of morning in a big hospital in Boston - my Mother, my sister and I walked back to the hospital from our hotel in the dark hours of the morning when the city was still quiet - it was a very cold night and we weren't in the greatest of neighborhoods in Boston - 3 woman walking alone, quickly, half dressed in the streets of Boston - we even laughed at ourselves as we walked over there - and I thought why are we laughing - and then I thought - because none of us wants to cry and make the other cry - we're in this together and we took my Mom's cue - if she was being brave - we were going to be brave too. Even though I felt like crawling up in a ball and crying I could not do that to my Mom - the strongest of the strong. We don't crumble in crisis - that is how we approach things. We face them head on, as best we can, and with dignity. In fact I asked my Mom that night if I could get up and talk about Dad at his funeral. She looked at me and said "Oh I don't know, you can't get up there and blubber you know." My argument was that I thought someone from the family should do this, someone who knew my dad. The Man's Man backed me up on this one - he said "Ann she'll be fine - let her do it - I know she can do it". I did do it - my knees shook and my voice cracked a few times but I did it - because that's the kind of gal I am. Not a priest nor a stranger was going to give my Dad his final send off, that is reserved for someone who really knew him - someone who loved him like only a family member could. It was an honor to do that and I will never forget it - even if I did think my legs would never stop shaking! We took him to his final resting place at a National Cemetary on Cape Cod - where from his resting place you can see through the trees - the ocean. It's is one of a handful of places in the cemetary where one can actually get a glimpse of the the ocean that is so close by. It warms my heart and makes me smile to see the ocean when I visit my Dad there.
It's a difficult day for me, my sister and especially my Mom - I'm not going to lie. I am however, very thankful for all that my father did for me. He was a wonderful father, friend and advisor. But quite honestly - I miss my Dad. I can still hear his voice in my head "Hi Bee, whatcha up to today dear?" "You wanna talk to your Mother" - "Ok Dad - feel better - listen to the Dr's - take your medicine - bye bye" .......that would be the extent of our phone conversations before he would hand the phone over to my Mom. He just wasn't much of a phone person - he liked to talk in person. Sometimes he would talk and talk and talk more - if you stayed over for a few nights you would get the newspaper read to you in the morning while drinking your coffee (but starting to think Bloody Mary anyone?) - "Look at these morons, look at this idiot, they're shooting up the whole city, kid flipped the car over - must have been driving 100 miles an hour!" - and so it would go.........most of the morning - in between that we would get ourselves breakfast from the kitchen - usually 2 or 3 for my Dad - always wanting to share his and make one for you - because that's the kinda guy he was. If you went to the refrigerator my Dad would suddenly appear right behind you "whatcha lookin for?" "what'd ya need" "want a piece of raisen toast Bee?" - "ah no thanks Dad - I can get my own - thanks anyway!" By then my sister and I would give each other the look - mix up a bloody mary and retreat to the back deck - for some sun and hopefully no more questions about breakfast! That used to annoy me sometimes - other times I would just laugh at him, and we would laugh together! What I would do for 1 more morning of breakfast with Dad.
I have no regrets - even before he got sick I made sure to try and spend time with him. We did have 1 wonderful afternoon together the summer before he passed away - he had finally gotten back on his feet after open heart surgery that left him hospitalized for over 2 months! The Man's Man took the kids fishing and my Mom was off with some friends at a show or something, My Dad and I sat on the back deck all afternoon - just talking about life and how far he had come and how lucky he was to have survived what he had. He told me how much he enjoyed that view of the water and how lucky he and my Mom were to have it. He thought the shrubs were a bit high and blocking the view, if someone trimmed the shrubs a bit he would have a much better view - so the next morning the Man's Man and I were out there trimming the shrubs - really such a small thing to do so a man could enjoy the water view at his dream retirement home. I was so glad to be able to do this small chore for my Dad - he smiled brightly when we showed him the trimmed shrubs and thought it was wonderful that he had his full view back! It's the small things sometimes that mean the most.
We also got to celebrate my parents 50th anniversary prior to my fathers heart issues. It was a very special day and alot of fun for both of them - It was a surprise right up until an hour or so before when we had to tell them to get dressed up and come with us - prior to the truth we told my mom we would be cruising the local waters off Cape Cod - she didn't seem all that thrilled about that! I'm not sure why because my Mom loves the water! What a handsome couple too!
I hope if you share the love of a good drink that you will hoist one for Dick today - I know I will - my Dad very much enjoyed his nightly cocktail or 2 prior to his illness - and I hope you are dancing with the angels Dad - because you deserve nothing less.