Nine years ago, in 2003, it was a day much like yesterday. The sun was shining and it was hot. The kids and I were at church, sorting at the Grove sale. Around 4 in the afternoon, we pulled into the driveway and I started unloading kids from the car. Christie was 11, Mac was 9 and Howie was 6. I headed to the back of the car to get the treasures that we bought second hand at the sale when Jim approached me. He stopped me where I was and put his hands on my shoulders..."your father is gone." I looked at him closely and made him repeat the sentence..."Your father passed away, Terry. Your brother found him at home and your sister called to tell you. Honey, I'm so sorry." I stood at the back of the car and waited for awhile...
My father had been ill for a year. He had a heart attack in 2001 and really never recovered. By the time he died, he could barely walk out to the car, go to the mailbox or do any of the things he wanted to do. We knew his heart wasn't working and that he was dying. But, for me, it was still a shock.
We all flew to Florida and had the service at good old Brewer's funeral home. It was becoming a place for destination vacations...After the funeral, I sent my husband and kids home. I stayed to get things taken care of with my siblings. After a week, I headed to the airport and came home. When I got in the car with my husband and kids, I sat silently and cried all the way home. I was an orphan...both of my parents were no longer alive. A very lonely feeling...
Fast forward to nine years later, August 8, 2012. I spent the day thinking about my father. I thought about his work ethic, how he loved to eat and drink, how he could fix anything that was broken and how he loved us kids.
My father was a NYC cop and worked at Fort Apache, or as my father referred to it, "The four one " before retiring and moving to Florida. He was never really happy that he had to retire and he didn't really want to move from good old New York. I was in 6th grade at the time and loved Florida. I played all the sports that I could get involved in and my father would pick me up after school with a cold soda to ride home with him. It meant a lot to me.
He and my mother were not the lovey-dovey type but they fought the good fight and stayed together through thick and thin. I was sure that they never loved each other in that romantic way. I remember thinking I never want a marriage like theirs.
Then my mother got sick. My father stuck with her and took her to her radiation and chemo appointments, took care of her after and put up with her when she was very difficult...and as I look back, he never complained. While all of us kids were living our lives, he was taking care of her without our help...because that's what you do when you love someone all these years...huh?
When she died, he was lonely and missed her terribly. He would say "the other side of the argument is gone" and I really think he missed even that part. He never looked for another lady, he just spent time with my sister and brother who lived in Florida at the time.
Yesterday, as I drove to go to the gym, I realized what the date was and began to think about what I took from him. I love to eat and drink, maybe even more than my father. I love to read the paper. My father would read the daily paper every single day. My father was able to fix anything, and I mean anything. He was the ultimate handyman and did a professional job with all of it. I will try to fix anything. He was dedicated to his family. He had his favorite (Barbara) but always took time to know us and talk to us.
I think he was an amazing father and I think of him and get that little twinge of missing him every day. The man was a gem.
I named my youngest son after him shortly after my mother died. I wanted him to understand how much he meant to me and how taking care of my mother and honoring her wishes meant to me. Too bad I never said that out loud.
Nine years without my father...seems like yesterday that he was in Colorado visiting me and pushing the kids on the swings in the yard. Seems like yesterday when we were getting our house ready for sale and he was painting the walls with me. That was the last time he was feeling good and I am so glad that I had that time with him.
One of the last funny things he said to me when he was here sticks with me to this day. I was walking down the stairs, doing chores at a mile a minute while he was at the kitchen table reading the paper..."I don't understand why you are overweight, you are on your feet all day doing something." I giggled to myself and agreed with him, "Yeah, Dad, I ought to be thin" and went about my business.
I miss that old guy a lot. I wonder what he would think of my kids in college and how my house is coming along with the projects and how I have so many animals to care for. I wonder if he would be proud of me and my family...I wish he was here to talk about these things. But he's not and I'm sure he is fine. It's just me that misses him more than I can handle.
Happy 9th anniversary in heaven, Dad.
I love you and I miss you and hope to see you again.
We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,