Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January 28 2009 - my Dad - my hero - died

This is my Dad - his name was Richard - known as Dick or Richie - either way - my hero -
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.

Here he is holding my youngest son Matthew about 10 hours after he was born - Papa was pretty happy here!  #2 Grandson - 2 baseball players comin up!  My father loved his grandsons - they were always encouraged by him - never ever did I hear my father say a bad word or admonish them for anything - in his eyes they were perfect.

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!

We have lots of good memories - much to be thankful for - saying this doesn't make the hurt of losing my Dad go away.  It just reminds me that there are folks less fortunate, who didn't have a dad or didn't have a dad that treated them well - or lost their dad when they were 10 years old. 

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.


  1. Bee, that was a beautiful tribute to your Dad. I lost mine almost 16 years ago. I wish I could tell you it get's easier. I still miss him.

    What a handsome guy your Dad was.It sounds like you were one of the lucky people in this world that had a loving Dad to remember.

    I'll be thinking about you and Meg on Thursday.

  2. Thinking of you, Meg and your mom today.

    My mom lost her husband a year ago, as well. It's not been easy, but the love of family always helps.


  3. We are so fortunate to have had Dad for so long even with his failing health. He never gave in and that made it easier for me to care for him since he didn't complain about his situation and tried to be well always. I am so grateful to have had him to share my life with for so long and to have you and Meg to give me support now without him. We will always have him with us, I know....always in my heart. Thanks, Bee for giving him a wonderful remembrance today. He would be so proud of you all. Love, Mum

  4. Ok, I not supposed to be leaving the house crying this morning, but I'm so glad you wrote this! I will see you at Mom's tomorrow and we will all toast Dad.

  5. What a beautiful tribute to your Dad!! This made me cry at my desk this morning!

  6. Thank you ladies for your kind comments! My Mom, Meg and I had a nice dinner last night at a french restaurant on Cape Cod and toasted my Dad - it was a nice evening of Mother/daughter bonding and we will always have my Dad in our hearts! We celebrated his life and that is a good thing!

  7. Bee your thoughts came right from your heart and they were beautiful. How lucky you are to know and appreciate all your Dad did to make a wonderful home for your family. I know he appreciated you as much as you did him. I remember when you were first born and what a miracle we thought you all were.
    You are a rich family indeed and so blessed to have each other.
    Mrs Foley

  8. BRIDGET DUNNIGAN???! Remember me? You were my very first and very best childhood friend! My mom sent me your blog link and I am so sad for your loss BUT so happy for all of the wonderful times you had with your dad. I remember when he would take us to the French Restaurant in Maynard and serve us up French Vanilla ice cream - and when we would have Swiss Miss hot chocolate after sledding! Your dad was a wonderful man and you are blessed to be so close with your family! Love, Eileen FOLEY

  9. Thank you Foley Ladies for your kind comments - I didn't know I was a miracle - all these years I thought I was a mistake! :) But I do know I was loved by both my parents!

    Eileen my best memory is the two of us playing in a new Buick? station wagon! I recall we somehow got it in reverse, where it rolled backwards across Bancroft St into a tree! If I recall your Mom handled it pretty well - just another day in the life of 7 kids under 1 roof! Another favorite is the bat attack in the basement! We certainly had been through alot by the time we were 10 or 12!

    Love to you both - you made my day with your kind words about my Dad!

    Bee :)