Saturday, December 18, 2010

i am my father's daughter

last night, and i don't know how we got onto this subject, someone asked me if i knew why a woodpecker knocks on trees the way they do... i said "of course i know, i am my father's daughter"... because yes i do know why.. and i can tell you why i know and the circumstances as to how i learned the answer...
and i started to think.. there are many tidbits of seemingly useless knowledge that i have... because of my papa.. there are also specific traits and skills i have because of him... and as i thought about the woodpecker... i realized these things were taught... things i take for granted were lovingly taught to be by my papa...

i know how to fish.. from the casting to the gutting (although i refuse to do the icky stuff.. yes, i do know how)
i know how to build and start a fire
i know how to pitch a tent of all kinds with out the dumb directions
i know how to sit still and listen to nature
i know how to get my bearings and not panic if i am lost (i know this all too well, thanks papa for getting us lost in the first place haha)
i know the practicalities of knowing fractions
i know how to shoot, and i am a good shot
i know how to jump a vehicle
i know how to grease a disc brake and change a tire
i know the lyrics to all the songs in the world that matter
i know how to brush my teeth with a stick
and i know how to pee just about anywhere

yup, i am my father's daughter!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

gifts

this is a little statue my cousin gave me to over the thanksgiving holiday.. it was very touching.. especially because sometimes i think people are afraid to bring him up or remind me of him.. and in getting this for me it showed she thought of us.. not just me but us... thank you!


in just a few weeks i will be home with my family... and we will celebrate Christmas without papa...this is an idea that i thought i had gotten used to.. until i began, as most of us are doing now, shopping for gifts... i found myself picking things up to buy for my dad... then being hit.. yet again with the reality that he will not be there (when does this stop happening by the way? i am no longer in denial.. right? so why does this happen? i am really ready for that fresh feeling of pain to stop)... well over the weekend.. i really did buy a gift... i rationalized that i had bought it for my mom.. but once i got it home i had to be honest with myself in that i actually bought it for him... i called my brother... "is it weird to buy and wrap a gift for dad?" "not weird, just really sad"... we decided that he would open the gift... i find myself wondering how many years will we do this before we stop including him entirely?

on the subject of gifts i asked a question today... what was the best gift you were ever given.. and the answer had to be something tangible... we all love our families and appreciate the love we get from friends.. i had a hard time coming up with one... i appreciate everything i receive.. if someone gives you something it means they were thinking of you.. and that is what matters most... but.. in choosing i remembered how my cousin took me for a pedicure last year on my birthday.. it wasn't just my birthday.. it was also the day of my papa's wake... (more on that later)... i was happy to go.. especially because it meant i would spend quality time with one of my most favorite people.. but in getting there and being pampered... i was really able to relax... the massage chair worked out all the knots i didn't know i had been building up.. it was such a release... papa was no longer in pain.. and as much as i ached for him.. i was able to breathe.. to let a little bit of it go and be flushed with the foot bath water.... if you know someone who has lost someone... yes the casseroles and plants are nice.. they are very appreciated... but concider giving the person a neutral place and time to let.. go...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

turkey day


truth be told i never liked thanksgiving... i've always thought it was a silly holiday.. we eat.. then we eat some more.. but.. at least we get together with family and i suppose that is what matters... i hadn't spent thanksgiving with my family in quite a while... we would fly out for Christmas or they would come here so it didn't make sense to take two trips a month apart... and that has always been pretty okay with me...
but last year we were blessed to spend one last thanksgiving together.. as a complete family.. last year on this day we were picking up my husband at the airport... i was readying him for what he was going to see..the last time he had seen my dad he looked pretty well.. he was easily tired.. but was walking... and still had a considerable amount of weight on him... what he was going to see is our big strong papa.. in a wheel chair... thin... far from frail.. but needing more help... he was not going to be able to talk with him as he would have in years past... he was going to avoid talking about hunting for fear that it would make papa sad that he was unable to be in his beloved outdoors... also at this point papa wasn't talking a ton.. and the morphine made him less and less lucid..
the day went without incident.. my husband was very optimistic.. until that night when we clung to each other and for the frist time really sobbed.. together... we never lost hope as a family until papa's last day on earth.. but i think that night we both realized that losing him was inevitable... and our new hope was for more time...
what we were given instead of more time.. was a good day... thanksgiving if i remember right was a good day.... there wasn't a ton of pain and papa discovered he could eat mashed potatoes.. which later turned into a couple late night runs to KFC... and i remember him wanting for us to go home... (to my mom's house because we were at my aunts) to have a singing contest... because we were playing rockstar on the wii... we didn't.. but he was well enough to go to my other aunts home for desert... and i believe still feeling entitled to his singing contest... had my aunt play the guitar for him.. he remembered a song he used to sing to my cousin when she was little.. and while i wasn't there for this event.. the story goes that he had her sit in front of him while he sang "i love" by tom t. hall... i mist up every time i hear that story that my cousin bravely told at his funeral.. and it is a bitter sweet blessing that i wasn't there for that... i had worked so hard to be strong for him... to show him i could handle anything.. truth be told.. i could not have handled that...
again..in my papa's way.. he gave us a wonderful thanksgiving to remember... and this thanksgiving... of course we will be thinking of him and missing him... but pssssssst... i'm still stressing about Christmas :)


just a reminder... if you would like to contribute to my blog as a "guest blogger" (and please do, as i am sure there are many wonderful memories that i wasn't present for, or would like to hear from a different point of view).. if you would like to write about my papa, cancer or loss... please email an entry, photo or memory to amberumen@yahoo.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

not the reaction i was hoping for...but maybe the one i needed







here is my papa about to open his traditional gift of Stetson cologne.. that he miraculously ran out of every year around Christmas time!







i had been putting it off.. my mouth would go dry and my palms would get itchy... and i could already hear his voice... i could already see his 6 year old face.. i could already see his little fists balled up in pensive anticipation... because this is the way i picture my brother when i have to say something i don't want to... but the moment came when i just had to say it... "i think we should skip Christmas this year".. about 5 very slow seconds passed before he looked at my mom and asked "is she stupid? are you hearing this?" at which point i begin to make my case... "i don't know if i can handle it this year... it is just going to be too hard.. how about we all go to Disney land instead?".... i was so confident that the Disney land thing would work.. it didn't..."then what?" he asked.. with that same stupid smirk on his face.. full well knowing he had us all where he wanted us..."are we going to cancel birthdays too?"
so... we are NOT skipping Christmas... we are facing it.. whether WE want to or not... so.. i have put my game face on.. i decorated the house early... super early... i have yet to turn on the Christmas music for fear that one of the songs that we sang to him that last Christmas eve will be playing...
i just see him.. so frail.. so sick.. on that last Christmas.. my goodness it was only a few days before he took his last breath... it would be easier to face had he been healthy or were i able to think of him healthy.... we did have beautiful memories... he fought so hard to stay lucid.. to give us a good one...
there was a moment that replays in my mind... my uncle had just put french doors in the kitchen instead of the huge heavy window door... it was finally done and my dad seemed to be gazing in that direction.. my mom asked "what are you thinking about?" (keep in mind that this is a loaded question and while we asked it from time to time i don't think we ever really were ready or an actual answer) my dad answered "about next Christmas"... my mom asked "what about next Christmas?" a whole minute passed....and i can tell you from experience i know what was going through her mind... i knew the answers she thought that were going to come out of his mouth... instead of any of those he said "just thinking about how to decorate the doors" a breathe of relief was heard around the world...this moment reminds me of what he was willing to do for us... the brave face he put on for us...
so.. can i do this for my brother? sure i can... do i hate that he was right all along? sure i do!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

on God.. and faith part 3

i was recently talking to someone (sometimes i forget that blogging is entirely MY choice and no one else's, so i have to try to respect other's privacy if i am going to blog about a discussion or event that he/she is a part of.. but i digress) i was talking to this person about Heaven... i was shocked to find out that he did not believe in Heaven... he did not believe in any kind of existence after death... his theory was that when we die there is darkness.. nothing more..
one thing my papa taught me with his faith is that it is VERY MUCH a choice... you can believe... or not... he never said this... but he showed it in his faith.. in his choice to give his life to God... and his choice to trust that there would be a beautiful life after he was gone...
as a skeptic.. think about this... consider a child.. born into an abusive situation.. the worst you can think of.. imagine this child's life cut short by this abuse... what would be the point of this child's life if there wasn't a Heaven.. if there wasn't someplace that her soul could go to.. to heal.. to become complete? consider my papa who spoke to God in his prayers as if he were in the room... my papa was new in his faith... but old friends with God...
so is it harmful for that little girl, my papa or me to believe that there is a life after this one... do i know what it is or what it holds? no... but can't i chose to believe it is full of beauty.. and a chance to see my papa again?
an hour after our conversation, he came back and said... i chose to believe in Heaven... i want to see (your) dad again... so if i have to stretch my beliefs to do that some day... i can...

dear papa, we are finding our way.. just hold tight... we will see you again...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

enjoying the moment part 2

the bride's bouquet with a little picture of my papa hanging from it....the maid of honor and my own bouquet had one as well


i was feeling such anxiety about the wedding... i think we all were... it was going to be too obvious that my papa was missing.. especially because he loved the couple so much and was a strong supporter of their love....i also didn't want my missing him to overtake my joy for them...
he was missed.. very missed... but i am glad to report we did well.. as a group... his absence was noticed but i thank the bride and the maid of honor for making him a part of it all... while i worried that having his picture on our bouquets as well as the "in memory" flowers set next to the guest book.. would make me miss him more.. instead it felt good to know he was there with us... within us... this made it easy to enjoy the much anticipated moment...
the daddy daughter dance was hard knowing i would never dance with my own father.. ever again... but watching Katy look so beautiful and happy made all that disappear... sure there were tears... but more than that.. there was happiness... and dancing.. lots of dancing... i think we did him proud... he would be proud to know we were able to support Katy in the way that she needed instead of being stuck in our grief....

now... time to tackle Christmas... yikes...

Monday, November 1, 2010

10 months

dear papa,
it is a bittersweet day papa... today i am reminded of the mixed blessing of death... i miss you so much... and you missed so much this month.. but i know last Halloween night was one of your worst.. i know how much pain you were in just one year ago yesterday... maybe in the most pain you had been in throughout the fight...
so while i hurt for you... and need you every second of the day... i also have to thank God that you are no longer in pain... that your fight was not long... that you passed with dignity... and that you are in heaven.
thinking of you in pain is not something that is easy for me to cope with... i also thought of you as i danced all night on Saturday... i thought of how hard it must have been for you to succumb to a wheelchair... to know you would not do your silly dances again... it's not just the physical pain you were in.. but the mental anguish of worrying about us and the realization you must have felt about what was happening.. it is when i think of those things that i can actually thank God for taking you when he did...
i love you papa... and i want so bad to see you smile at me.. or even frown at me... i want to kiss the top of you head...and i want to mean it when i tell people that i am ok.. that everything will be ok... today in this hour.. this minute.. i will allow myself a moment to think it won't...

always,
ana marie

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

adventures of a shirt

i made a couple of shirts to wear during various cancer walks i have done this year.. one of them exclaims CANCER SUCKS in big green letters.... the shirt didn't get much more than a glance at the couple of cancer walks i had worn it to... but recently i have worn it out and about... grocery shopping etc... mostly during laundry day :0)
and there is something that i have noticed.... there are so many people out there that have been touched in some way by cancer.. and they all want to talk about it...
it starts with "i like your shirt, where did you get it?" when i tell them i made it, they want to know why... i tell them about papa.. and they have a story to match...
the check out lady at the grocery store lost her six year old daughter a few years ago. she has never done a walk nor has she been a part of any cancer community... she didn't even know support groups existed.... the woman at micheal's has helped me pick out yarn many times... turns out she lost her dad on christmas day... he had lung and prostate cancer...
there is a man who was at the car wash.. his wife is in remission... another man there lost his mom to breast cancer...he has a picture of her in his wallet that he wants to show us....
when i go to turn in my hours for pay at the district office there is a temp. working for the usual secretary... she had oviarian cancer... and her oldest daughter was just diagnosed with the same at stage 4... her daughter is only 32... and the woman cried openly...

if i could i would make shirts for all of those people... and the others who give me thumbs up.. or say... "yeah it does"....
we know all too well that cancer does suck! it sure does!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Don't forget those who have lost...



Don't forget those who have lost
we don't have the luxury of memory
our dads, moms, daughters, and sons are gone
but still, we remember..and your world spins

don't forget those who mourn
it has been weeks, months...maybe years
when do you stop needing what is missing?
but still, we need..and your world spins

don't forget those who cry
we hide, we choke down, we avoid
we don't want to burden..burn the bridges we use
but still, we feel..and your world spins

don't forget those who have lost
we can't..and the world still spins
ready for a mishmash of feelings and thoughts?
i have been going through those feelings again... when i am driving i see the leaves.. yellows, oranges and reds that are so bright they make my eyes hurt... and i feel sorry for my dad that he can not see them... i watch my friend's children laugh and smile and think my dad will miss out on grandchildren... but i have to work on wiping those feelings out of my mind.. if i truly believe in heaven then i have to believe that my dad is seeing things and experiencing things that are so brilliant there are no human words for them... i have to rationalize that i am missing him.. and what i want is to selfishly have him here to share in these things with me...
i had an eventful day at work and of course i think of calling him... (when he was home after he had to stop working i would call him in the day to tell him about my crazy adorable students)... i called my mom instead... and while i love talking to my mom it just wasn't the same... i wanted to hear my dad's laughter...
a week from today i will be flying home for my cousins's wedding.. i am so happy and excited for her.. but also terrified of what it will feel like to have the family together.. and see that he is missing... there will be an empty chair.. but really there is this huge empty space in me.. in us... and i am so anxious and nervous.. my brother will be in a tuz.. and my dad will not see that... katy and juan.. who my papa loved.. will start their lives together and my papa won't be there... i can't even wrap my mind fully around all that...
there is no lesson learned in this post.. there are no heart warming stories... just how i have been feeling in the past few weeds...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Journal part 1

before my papa passed i kept a written journal.. every entry is a letter to him that was never sent... much of it are things that i did not say to him for fear of scaring or burdening him... here is an entry written one year ago today:

Dear Papa, 10/10/09

my goodness it's been so long since i have written in this journal.. maybe because i have spent much of the last few months home.. with you... now i have been back in michigan for almost a month and i am having another one of those days.. when you are on my mind.. and today i realized something.. that this really is the worst.. my very worst fear... did you know that when i was little i used to hear your truck start for work.. i would wake up and watch you drive away and i would cry... at the time i don't think i understood why.. but today i realized that i was scared that you would not come back...saying goodbye has always been so hard to do with you... even over the phone i choke up when it's time to hang up... and now.. my ultimate fear is being realized.. that i may have to say that last goodbye..
today i miss you so much.. and i want to call you just to hear your voice.. but i am afraid of breaking down and being weak when what you need is for me to be strong.. so today i will avoid calling you.. and today will be the day that i let myself break down,,,
mom told me you were avoiding me too...you don't answer my calls when you are having bad days.. but dad that's not fair.. i hide from so much of it on my won..i can't have you adding to that.. i can't have you allowing me to be an ostrich.. emilio and mom can't hide from it.. they live it everyday... why should i be exempt...

fight dad, please beat this... i need you to beat this...
ana marie

Friday, October 1, 2010

9 months

dear papa,

another month has passed without you... the leaves are changing here, my forget-me-nots are dying... time won't stop... and you won't come back.. but our family needs you more than ever.. i think we second guess ourselves at every move because we are so afraid of leaving you out..
we can't have you here with us but we hang on to every thread of you... what would dad say? what would dad do? what would dad want? ..i know.. we are scared of loosing you any more than we already have... we haven't quite found our footing... sure we move past every day... we wake up.. we get out of bed (sometimes)...we live..and mostly people see us that way.. but inside..we are teetering on this very thin rope.. balancing our pain with responsibilities... which will win out today?
more and more life wins that battle.. little by little we make it across... it's the 1st of the month and i have to go to work.. i have to push you out of my brain for 7 hours... life wins today dad... and i know you would approve

your daughter

Friday, September 17, 2010

I hadn't blogged in a while so I am making up for lost time :)

also, if you would like to "guest blog" and add a memory or feelings about cancer, my papa, or the grieving process please email me an entry to amberumen@yahoo.com and I will be happy to post it here.. thanks!



There are few things that would cause my papa to lose his patience... very few... even still.. you would hardly know when his limit was reached... if he was trying to wake my brother up in the morning, he just kept telling him to get up... but when he said "ok get up son".. it was sure enough time to get up... another tell tail sign is if he used the word "stupid"... stupid.. didn't mean.. just.. stupid.. it was like his version of cussing... stupid.. was the ultimate straw...
one thing he really did not like was texting… it was stupid… there was nothing worse to him than texting or playing with your phone while “visiting” with him… there was one instance when we were together at a restraint for a cousin’s birthday.. he was not feeling good and was in no small amount of pain.. but he wanted to be there for my cousin… my brother and I didn’t know that he was upset until he had us alone.. he was so disappointed in all of us for texting during the birthday lunch.. “what was the point of coming?” he asked.. no one talked to each other… I feel so bad about that day knowing how much pain he was in and the trouble he went through just to be there… and we were just… stupid…
He didn’t like the idea of texting over calling either…there was no connection in that… doesn’t “I love you” get lost in translation? doesn’t it mean more when you go to the trouble of calling and talking to someone? my brother got me thinking.. (sorry mom you won’t like this)..I flipped him off one day and he said..”you know.. that would mean more if you used your toes or something…if you went to the trouble of learning to flip me off with your toes.. then I would really be offended”… and it applies here… don’t text me “I love you”, “happy birthday”, “thinking of you”… tell me.. talk to me.. connect with me.. show me….
So.. as my papa was in his last hours there was a cousin who pulled his phone out to text… and I stopped him.. and asked him to leave the room…not rudely.. but I wanted to pass on my papa’s lesson…
I think we are learning.. and it still amazes me how much we will continue to learn from him even when he is not here to teach us….

why fight it?

i think it must have been my brother's birthday (Tuesday) that stirred up all these feelings... and i have made an important discovery about the grieving process... simply put...you can not hide...it will find you...
i worked at staying strong.. i noticed that even when i was alone i was pushing away the painful things.... the things i don't like to remember... but like i said.. it found me
my brain betrayed me... thursday morning's dreams were a constant cycle dreaming about him, like snippets of memories... then (still dreaming) realizing it is just a dream...i cried in my dreams knowing that when i woke up i would not be seeing him... i woke up crying and kept it up most of the day... doesn't help that it rained all day... i just couldn't shake that feeling of the disappointment of waking up to a reality in which he no longer exists.. i was so safe in my dreams.. in his arms..
recently i reconnected with a friend who lost her dad to this monster when she was a teen... many years later she still hurts... so i need to stop acting as if there is a light at the end of this tunnel... this pain is forever... all i.. all we.. can do is live with it... move forward... and quit fighting the grief... because it will find you...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Stand Up 2 Cancer

StandUp2Cancer telethon airs Friday...if you would like to make a donation in my Papa's honor, or in honor of any fighting or fallen loved love affected by this monster we call cancer, please follow this link

please feel free to forward this link too!!!

https://www.standup2cancer.org/?c=donate&su2ccs=PRUPTO2009-8372

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

8 months

dear papa,

today marks 8 months that you have been gone...there is a child's voice within me saying "come back now"... the rational adult in me won't let her talk.... i have been suppressing that child who wants so much just to sit on your feet while you read magazines at Walden Books..... i keep her from reminding me what your stubbled face felt like on her lips when she kissed you goodnight... i keep her from crying... from remembering... from hurting... but today.. she's won... today she is free to feel.. even if it is pain....

i miss you papa.. i miss you no less today than i did 8 months ago... i think i began to miss you sooner than that... it's funny... i think the sicker you became.the more i needed you... and now that you are gone.. have been gone.. i need you even more...

i know that you would not want me to feel this..i know if you were able to see me now you would feel helpless... know that i am okay.. for the most part. i am getting by.. i am living and loving life.. i take your memory with me.. and i trudge on...

but today... today i am just that little girl.. and she needs her daddy....

always,
ana marie

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Guest Blogger- Katy

I realized, or i was reminded, that i hadn't blogged in a while... i am dealing with some feelings of disappointment and anger that could easily be displaced in this blog... so i have kept myself from writing until i work through these feelings..so this is my first "guest blog" post... if you would like to share a memory, story or thoughts please email them to me at amberumen@yahoo.com, i hope to have at least one "guest blogger" a month...


this is katy. my papa tended to "adopt" his nieces and nephews and became a father figure to them in the process..it is such an honor to my brother and i to know that others love him and cherish him as much as we do...katy is the baby of this group of "adopted" sons and daughters..the following is what she wanted to share as she reflected yesterday (her birthday).

"This year has been so full of change. Losing my Tio Robert, graduating college, buying a house, starting my career, and getting married. So many changes it’s sometimes…well a lot of the time is just hard to deal. I remember sitting there at my graduation thinking about my Tio and how I’m actually doing something that he would be proud of. Not another tattoo…or something silly I know he didn’t care too much about. But actually something that would make him proud. After graduation we went to dinner…my Tia gave me a graduation card and signed his name. This made everything I was feeling just come to the surface. I felt him and missed him with every fiber of my being. As these other milestones have approached I can’t help but think of him. Like today, I thought of him and wondered what kind of musical card I would get...because that was his thing. My friend’s mom gave me a musical card tonight, very similar with the same exact characters of the card he got me for my birthday last year. It made me feel like he was there tonight. I still miss him and think of him every day. Just thinking about getting married, hurts my heart. That is going to be such a sad day, without Robert and where the wedding is taking place. It’s morbid for me to think this way, but I use to think…if anything happened to my dad...I wouldn’t want either brother walking me down the aisle, I’d want my second dad, Robert. I really love him like a dad….and I just can’t imagine October 30th without him."

thank you katy.. i love you!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

seriously almost choked when i heard about this:

This is precisely why I wanted to blog about my own grieving process… of course I wanted to share my dad’s story… and share memories… but this is what gets to me!

What is Prolonged Greif Disorder (formally known as Complicated Grief Disorder)? It is just another way of saying “get over it already”

According to http://www.grief-healing-support.com/complicated-grief.html, I have PGD... and should seek treatment…HA!

You also have PGD if you experience at least one of the following symptoms

Intrusive thoughts related to the lost relationship

Intense feelings or emotional pain, sorrow, or pangs or grief related to the lost relationship

Yearning for the lost person

Hi… who doesn’t yearn for the person they have lost?

You also have PGD if you have been mourning your loss for more than “six months”…. hmmmm well I am now in month 7 and while I am healing I am also doing so ON MY OWN TIME!

So wait.. now that I know that I have PGD how.. oh how.. do I treat it?

“Get more sleep, manage stress and emotions, practice relaxation techniques, and pay attention to life in the moment and without judgment...”

Hmmmm sounds to me like a coping mechanism for a little thing called LIFE!!!!

And there it is right there… this is life.. loss is a part of life… and while there are better ways to live we all have to choose our own paths… that being said…there is no guide book or guide lines as to how to deal with loss.. there is no time line for grief…. I have said it many times.. this is a loss one carries forever… it is not a wound that can be healed… one simply learns to live with it….

So.. if you have stumbled upon my blog following the loss of a loved one.. and you are now part of a club that no one wants to voluntarily join.. then know this… your story is your own… your feelings are your own… if my blog or blogs like mine help you in your process then I will be so very happy.. but please do not let anyone tell you HOW TO GRIEVE and know that there is nothing wrong with you!

Grief-healing-support my big ol’ behind!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

enjoying a moment part I

i am home from Ariz. now... trying to transition all over again...so far so good... mostly because i have so much to catch up on...including my poor neglected blog...
the trip was full of moments that i struggled to be in... to enjoy... to allow myself to feel whatever i was feeling...
as a family we "attempted" to go camping.. if you know my dad then you have probably been introduced to camping and fishing through him...i have heard over and over "if it wasn't for your dad i wouldn't have known how to appreciate the outdoors" and other things like that... our trip started (as normal family affairs begin) with drama (that is not to speak lightly of other people's feelings, it's just a word)... but we moved through it.. mostly because those of us that intended on completing the trip felt like it needed to be done.. for us... i know personally i needed to prove that i could do it.. could enjoy it...without his physical being.. but make no mistake.. my dad was all over the place during the trip... seeing familiar tree lined paths while being in his truck brought lump after lump to my throat... fishing on the lake he most frequented was even tougher...
at one point i inexplicably felt sorry for him... sorry that he would never see this beauty again.. well that was stupid... i forget that he is seeing so much beauty that i can't see, that there are no words to describe... i was really feeling sorry for me.. that i would not be able to share it with him again...
our trip was also missing another important person who at the last moment decided it was not something he was ready to do... understandable... while i questioned whether or not i could do it myself.. i am so glad that i did... because when i was able to fix broken and tangled fishing line.. and make a fire.. i knew.. without a doubt..that i am truly my father's daughter... and that was very healing..
my papa was very missed on this trip... when we got lost, still within city limits... it was said that it would never have happened if my dad were there.. as i watched my mom's haphazard grocery bag packed food fly all around the bed of the truck i thought... my dad would have packed, organized and tied down everything... my cousin's son and daughter fondly remembered their tio robert when they saw or thought of familiar things... i giggle now thinking of the hotel/cabin we stayed in... my dad would have bucked the system and slept on the porch.. i could hear him saying "this isn't camping!"
later in the week my brother and i discussed heaven... you know the bible mentions mansions made of gold... but i guarantee you that my papa opted for a four room tent and hammock instead!

Monday, July 26, 2010

comming home...

i have been home in Ariz. for a few days now...i will be the first to admit i was quite nervous... this is the first time i have been home since my papa passed... i worried about how i would feel being in the house... seeing the sink we spent hours at... seeing his recliner... seeing all of the empty space he left.... while it has been hard it has also been healing.. we have been able to talk about him.. not always accompanied by tears.. we have laughed.. cried.. and shared...
being in his truck was hardest.. it smells like him... like work.. like desert dust...
it doesn't help that my brother in his masochistic style.. insists on listening to dad's music at most times...
i have yet to visit the grave site... more apprehension... not knowing how i will react is the hardest part... odd that reacting is the easiest, most natural thing to do...
i have done very well, considering... and i was thinking about it.. more than likely while i was supposed to be listening to someone...i apologize in advance for being a bit spacey, as i have a lot to contemplate... but i digress... i think i have been able to simply feel because he is very much a part of us.. and the house... i know my dad is in paradise.. more than likely cooking fish over a camp fire... but he is here as well.. in the form of memories... my papa wore hats (ball caps) all the time.. and there is at least one hat in every room.. as if he left them there...
i also believe... as many people remark on how well we are doing as a family.. that it is a testament to my papa.. we were not left with hurt feelings, regrets.. ugly memories... he truly left us in tact with beautiful memories and knowing with all our souls that he loved us...
here is hoping i can remember this when i visit his headstone....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

music to our ears...

after the last post i felt i needed to write something less sad.. gotta have balance right?

we did a lot of bed hopping in my family... before my brother was born my mom and i would switch because she couldn't sleep with my dad's snoring.. sometimes it was so loud it vibrated against the walls... i got so used to my dad's snoring that i slept with him for mannnnyyy years.. until my brother took over... poor dad... because my brother has always been a wiggly sleeper....

so last night it was raining on and off... more like pouring and pounding my rooftop on and off... and it made my husband's snoring erratic... i just could not get to sleep.... so as always i go to thinking about my papa...

my brother and i have agreed... it is easier to fall asleep with steady snoring.. he once said my dad's snoring was music to his ears! music.. i don't know about that... but it certainly held its own lullaby... maybe of security... and hilarity

a few years ago my dad and brother came to visit my husband and i.. we rented a cabin up north and spend the weekend there... the cabin had these weird short walls that created an open gap between our rooms... my brother and dad were in one room.. my husband and i were in the other... my dad was the first to fall asleep and started snoring.. my husband.. unaccustomed as my brother i and i were... could not sleep through the snoring.. especially once my brother joined in... i told him to close his eyes and eventually he would fall asleep... moments later i found out neither of us would be sleeping... my dad started laughing... like actually laughing.. there would be a snore with his inhale.. but the exhale was laughter.. and not quiet giggles... real laughter... it was infectious laughter.. because my husband and i could not stop laughing... we came up with dream scenarios that my dad could have been laughing at.. in the morning we told my dad about it.. he didn't believe us... while my brother slept through that night he was familiar with this laughter.. he walked in and said he'd heard it before.... no big deal.. which sent my husband and i into more fits of giggles

years later as my dad became more and more sick we, as a family, started to miss his snoring... one afternoon nap my mom caught him snoring... she told him when he woke up and he was excited... he said "yes, that means i got some goooooood sleep!"

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

on God.. and faith part II

i am not sure where it comes from... the day will have gone well... i will have gotten through it unscathed... then.. i lay down to fall asleep.... i am sure to tire myself out completely.. so i know i am tired.. i know i should be able to sleep... a little tossing...a little turning.. then a flash.. the memory that sends pain to my core.. the memory of my dad in his last hours... unresponsive but his mouth searching for water... i used the stupid ice chip sponge to put water on his lips and gums but he moved his head... grunting.. he was so thirsty... and i was helpless... i don't know who noticed.. who knew... and i don't share this at all... because even now.. typing it.. so much is going on inside... a whole storm of emotions...... this is the only moment...after all he had already gone through.. when i questioned God.... when i was angry with God for reducing my dad to this... to allow suffering... needlessly..i had done really well until that point in understanding that cancer was not something God gave people.. was not a lesson to be learned.. was just a monster in and of itself... but i asked.. why not just take him now.. why allow him to lay there.. helpless. thirsty... why put us through this?
so my night was spent thinking... and reliving these questions...and sorting out some other stuff...my relationship with God is personal.. and new... i am finding my way through this in the best way i know how... i don't know if i will ever be open to religion.. i see what it does to individuals.. i see people using religion to judge, condemn and justify horrible things... i understand that individuals never represent the whole... but it causes me to be wary of it all the same... but my dad, being new to Christianity... was obviously not new to virtue.. and i think if i can try to emulate his virtues i will find my way....

fellowship without judgement- when my dad had to stop working he would spend much of his time on the front porch reading and watching the neighborhood.. he befriended some Jehovah witness women... even after he began to have fellowship with his church they did not forget about him... one day he was in the shower and i answered the door.. they asked about his well being and left a scripture for him to ponder... when he got out of the shower another person made a snide remark about him talking with them...later he told me that he just wanted to talk about the bible, he didn't care with who...it wasn't a matter of being swayed toward any kind of religion.. it was about gaining understanding in any way....and that i should not judge wrongly like that other person had
honesty- my cousin was reading the bible to him one afternoon.. i suggested they read the story about the 4th man in the fire (my favorite.. plus it's a good johnny cash song).. dad had never heard it... in the story three men are brought to the king for refusing to worship a Babylonian god...they told the king that they did not fear the firey furnace they were to be thrown into because they had faith that God would protect them.. the furnace was so hot that it burned the soldiers who took the three men to the fire... and killed them.. the men came out of the furnace unburned and not even smelling like fire...while the men were in the fire a fourth man was seen (usually inferred to be God)... anyway after the story had been read my cousin asked my papa if he would have that much bravery to stand up to the king and be thrown in the fire... my dad thought a bit.. and said.. no... he would bow to the Babylon god.... he somewhat shocked my cousin, who was also his preacher and pillar of faith.... we laughed... he was honest in his answer... it was not in question of his faith... my dad had a very strong faith in God... it was a question of bravery and fear...

i think my dad's virtues are better followed than any religion.. and while someday maybe i will find my way toward a church and religion.. i will in the mean time work on my personal relationship and understanding of God.. maybe until i have faith enough not to lay awake questioning and reliving an all too painful moment...


Thursday, July 1, 2010

6 months

dear papa,

another month has passed.... and nothing has changed.... my world is standing still... i am in a bubble slowly working my way out... i have begun to forgive which i think will help.. and which i think you would like... i wish i had more of your non-judgmental heart in me... it is something i will continue to work on....

we had a bit of a dramatic... albeit hilarious event... in the house... your super smart son-in-law dropped a huge knife on his foot, butt first, and broke his last two toes... he writhed around on the ground yelling and cussing... i threw him a bag of frozen peas and walked out... i couldn't stop giggling... and i was thinking of you and your foot/heel problems... i don't think you ever writhed around on the ground yelling and cussing... i know you went on a two hour hike with us... through the pain... even with chemo and the horrible pains of surgery and ever growing tumors... i don't you ever writhed around on the ground yelling and cussing... i will admit i lost my patience with him... but i can hear you saying "pobrecito".... so i am STILL trying not to compare him to you.. or anyone else to you... cause in that battle.. they will always lose....

speaking of feet... mom and emilio went to California this week.. they are still there... and the other night.. for a fleeting moment.. i did it again.. i forgot you weren't there... i thought.. for just one second... about calling to see how you were getting along with all that walking they did in San Fransisco... again my heart sank... when i remembered yet again... you weren't there...and i wondered when that would stop... but i still do it with Nana and Tata.. so i suppose it won't.. ever stop happening

i think back to last year... at this time.. this day.. i was home with you... we, no doubt, had breakfast together... i can't pinpoint the day.. the actual day.. and i hate that.. i want to remember every moment with you.. but my memory fails in that respect... my brain is too caught up in missing you...

i love you papa,
ana marie

Monday, June 28, 2010

healing in forgiveness

i read The Shack... which i didn't like at all... it was an attempt to take philosophical questions that do have necessarily have to have answers, and simplify it all.. it was trite in its attempt at a conversation with God... i will never understand why people flock to "answers"... when the questions are far more important...
anyway.. what i did take away from it was a personal need to forgive...i will be the first to admit that i hold a lot of anger... it fuels me... it allows me to work full speed.... but unless i get rid of it (even a little of it) i can not heal....truth be told healing is scary in that i am afraid to forget him... and to forget this feeling... but... he would want me to move forward (never move on.. move forward)... so i have to forgive....
today i wrote a letter to his oncologist... in it i forgive him.. for his tunnel vision in treating him...for his lack of understanding kidney cancer in it's specificness.... in it.. i ask that he look into reforming IL-2 eligibility criteria... i ask that he review the use of Sutent... neither of which were used on my papa... i informed him that my dad would have had hot lava pushed into his veins if it meant he would have a few more years, months.. even days... i also tell him that i do not not blame him for my dad's cancer.. nor his demise.. i have to believe that my dad would have taken from us even if he would have qualified for IL-2 or had tried Sutent.. but he should have been given the opportunity to try them as treatment options... it breaks my heart that when he was told there was nothing else they could try.. it was a lie... there were options... i also reminded him the power he holds over oncology patients who put their faith in him to fully inform them...it was a letter a long time coming...
i also am going to take this opportunity to formally forgive people in my life that, at the time, i felt did not give us the support we needed.. it was selfish and close minded for me to believe that you could make it better simply by "being there"... blame had to go somewhere and it went to some of you.. i understand now that sometimes people don't know what to do or say... truth be told some of that anger came from jealousy that this did not affect your life as it so twisted mine... what kind of friend am i to only love those that are there for me... friendship is not based on reliance... neither is love.. i forgive and love you!
i will have a harder time forgiving those that i feel did my dad wrong by not being there for HIM as they could have.. i will have a harder time forgiving those who disguised their need to be the center of attention as "caring"... i will have a harder time forgiving those who have abandoned what is left of my family.... but.. the forgiveness will come.. because i believe that those that i will have a harder time forgiving do not know what hurt they've caused... so what is the point in hanging onto that anger? it will come.. i'm sure it will... and today i feel lighter... i feel a pebble sized void has been filled in the giant whole my papa left me with....

Friday, June 25, 2010

like watching Nature





this picture always makes me laugh.. YEARS ago..we were in old town Tucson... he snuck away from the group and had this picture taken... i remember wondering.. what was he going to do with it? well he framed it of course.. and hung it on the wall... on that wall was also a blown up picture of his Jeep... who in the world takes a novelty photo alone? my papa that's who! many years after that he had one taken with my brother.. but that is his story to tell







it is always funny to me when people say "i didn't know that about him" or "he was so quiet"... i just chuckle to myself... and it makes me sad for people who didn't really know him.. or understand him....
sure.. he was quiet and reserved... until he stood up for the sole purpose of doing a funny little dance... (ok side note.. sometimes i think these entries are going to light hearted and i will giggle throughout them... but here i sit crying.. and glad i can type without looking at my fingers or the screen) i digress.. sometimes being with my dad was like watching Nature (as my brother once said)... you had to be still.. you had to watch wait and listen.. and he could burst out of the quiet reserved shell....
something simple like putting chlorine in the pool could cause of sting of snarky sarcastic comments (are you planning on getting any of that chlorine in the pool?).... as can driving directly over potholes (is it your goal to hit every pothole?)... not wearing socks could get you a lecture fit for a 3 year old.... not many people saw this... they usually saw a very patient father.. almost absentee in his lack of discipline.... HA... HA....
when my papa was taking care of his parents before they passed.. people saw a strong man.. stoic in his role as caretaker... they assumed he was quiet and non reflective... what they did not have were my lunch time conversations with him.. in which he expressed that he was sad but happy that my nana cuca was in control of her life in choosing not to undergo dialysis... that she was making her choices known... sure they saw the strong man... i held this strong man as he sobbed as her casket was being lowered....when his father passed..i asked him if it was easier to loose him because he had lived such a very long long life... my brother and i were told it was not easy to loose him because he regretted not knowing him beyond a father role... he didn't teach him how to drive or do things father's did.. he worked hard for his family...and while my dad was appreciative he also wanted a "dad"....
you wouldn't know how important you were to him unless you wanted to.... his family was so important to him.. and more than anything he wanted a relationship.. a closeness... he reveled in saying "my sisters are with me," he was proud of the love he had for his family...and while it was so visible to me.. i wonder how visible it was to others... not everyone knows now to watch, wait and listen.... he proudly displayed blankets, meals and hats made for him... like saying "look how much i am loved, and look how much i love them"... did they know what that this is what he meant to say? do they know how hurt he would be to loose them in his passing.... my brother and i are a part of him.. and right now.. we are our only connection to him... that hurts
my cousin said it drove her crazy to watch him and i sit next to each other, both reading separate books.... "you guys are too quiet".... but we were watching and waiting... once.. we saw a humming bird stop flying.. it perched and sat still for a full minute.. it was amazing... and we would never have shared that moment if we weren't watching and waiting...
my point is... if you ever wondered about him.. if you ever wanted to know him better... know this... he probably wasn't who he seemed to you... he was so much more

Monday, June 21, 2010

father's day

it is the day after father's day... i avoided it yesterday... i think that the build up to it was worse than the actual day.... i was dreading father's day for weeks.. after every commercial that said "don't forget father's day" i would ask "how could i forget?"... i kept busy yesterday and i did pretty well... i had cousins, friends and my brother check up on me... i wasn't lying you guys... when i said i was okay :0)

i think what helped me was the memory of last year... living so far from home, i have missed many (too many) father's days... i sent cards and called...but last year i flew home to surprise him... he was beginning to have flank pain (although we didn't know it at the time, the tumor was growing back, into his flank muscle)... he was already down the rabbit hole of harder pain medication...he missed church that morning... my cousin picked me up at the airport...he was just waking up from a nap and we met in the hallway... he gasped and i hugged him too hard... he let a few tears out.. and in our fashion we both looked away.. leave it to us to suppress the moment.. yes.. i am my father's daughter... he told everyone who came over what a surprise it was to him.. and admitted he cried... i came and went a ton over the summer so i had just seen him a month before... he was truly surprised.... and there is nothing like the smile my dad smiles when he is surprised.. it is a huge grin and he kind of bites the tip of his tongue... the corners of his eyes crinkle...it's real... funny that i remember details of his face and expressions like that...
and i think that is why i was/am able to get through this... my dad was so present... so....there... that i have details to hang on to....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

so you want to know why....

people like to ask why... and i can't completely answer why i tattoo my body... it's maybe something that i don't fully understand myself... but i can answer why i got this one... i can at least explain that...

It took some convincing to get my dad to sign on with hospice. We called it everything but “hospice.” Palliative care, home care nursing and the one that finally worked, our best option. I will never say that he was in denial, instead he was very hopeful and continued to have the will of a barracuda to live. The day that the hospice doctor, nurse and social worker came to meet with us, they talked soothingly and asked their questions tentatively. The social worker asked my dad if he had made plans or expressed his wishes. My mom and I both understood the question to be in reference to funeral plans and life insurances. My dad took it to mean something else completely. He answered, “my wife and I are going to renew our vows in February and we are thinking about buying an RV.” Needless to say the team caught on and avoided that subject from then on.

Then the doctor asked him if he was nervous or scared of what was happening. My dad gave the most telling of answers, one that continues to give us comfort in our loss of him. He asked, “Scared of what?" Long before I was a gleam in his eye my dad rode broncos and bulls in the rodeo circuit. My aunt told the doctor that he rode bulls to explain my dad's answer. The doctor understood that the man he was looking at had stared a two ton bull in the eyes and showed no fear... what was cancer after that?

In my dad’s last hours he stopped responding to us. He fought to breathe so hard and for so long his neck veins turned angry and purple. On January 1, 2010 at 3:30 am my dad cried two tears and went home to heaven. He fought cancer for less than a year and in his last breaths continued to fight. It was as if he were holding on for his eight seconds. Like he was up on the biggest, meanest bull and refused to let go until that buzzer went off. He got the highest score that early morning.

And while tattoos are not understood by everyone, this is why I got this particular one on the day after what would have been my dad's birthday. You can see that the bull has a RCC ribbon on his hind quarter, it represents cancer. And there is my dad riding the beast into the sunset. His story and his words give me strength to get past my fear of living without him. The sheer thought of it can get me through my day. This pain is still very fresh and I can’t see an end in sight. Someone told me that this is a pain that doesn’t ever go away, you simply have to learn to live with it. However, if I am truly my father’s daughter I can do anything. I can look that two ton, angry bull in the face and be his legacy

Saturday, June 12, 2010

my new La Bamba

from since i can remember watching movies... maybe from the first time i ever saw La Bamba, i have had this sickness.. this need.. to cry.... once in a while.. i will take out all of my sad movies... put one in and cry.. my go-to... has mostly been La Bamba....i was minute away from putting it in today... because i knew i needed a release... all week, every night, every morning.. i have been fighting the urge to cry... when i close my eyes at night i see my dad sitting in his wheelchair with his head hung down.. asleep.. i will think about how hard he fought sleep and feel guilty that i didn't fight it with him... that i didn't make more of that time... every morning, this week, i have opened my eyes and felt this sinking sensation.. this emptiness.. all of this is normal.. something i should expect to feel from time to time... but for whatever nonsensical reason i have suppressed every feeling inside of me to let it out... i physically shake my head and say "no, not doing it" and i try to busy my mind.... but today i was prepared to watch La Bamba and cry it out...
something different happened though... something unexpected and strange... i went to the library to pick up a book on CD they were holding for me (i like to listed to books while i crochet)... i left the library without looking at it... when i got home and started loading it onto my mp3 player i realized they had given me the wrong cd set...this was not the mystery i expected.. what i got was a memoir about a girl about my age... who lost her mom to breast cancer.. it was written during her mom's last few weeks on hospice.... it took me about an hour to decide to plunge in....
i have spent the entire day listening to this book.. i've crocheted during the funny chapters... i got down on my bed in the fetal position during the heart wrenchingly sad parts... i have relived my dad's last 3 months on earth through this book... and i have come out clean..
in "The Mercy Papers" by Robin Romm.. i found solace.. i found a kindred spirit.. from the moment she wanted everyone out of the house... to the trip to walmart to buy a rubber bed sheet...
through her writing i relived the lunacy and importance of finding the remote control... buying the right flavor of ensure... and the panic induced guilty feeling of being at the grocery store and not with him... she put into perspective the anger i felt toward people when they would tell me i needed to get out of the house... i think.. i finally felt.. understood....
in a weird change of events i had my release today... but i didn't need La Bamba... i don't fully buy into the universe sending me things... i think it is what it is.. but it just happened to be what i needed today

Saturday, June 5, 2010

agape love

can you spot my dad? he is in the front row.. he is the boy with the biggest smile on his face

someone really upset me last night.... i will admit.. i was seething... angry..
and then i remembered "agape love".... my dad gave me this lecture about having "agape love" for family... there was one person in particular who we struggled to like, let alone love.. but he wouldn't let us talk ugly about this person.. instead he reminded us... that this person was family... and we should have "agape love" for them... this is a love that is unconditional... we shouldn't expect anything of anyone.. just love them.. it was and is really doing us no good to be ugly to some one when they have no idea what they are doing wrong... after some time and in remembering this lesson.. i was no longer angry... anger is not productive in anyway...
so i was thinking about this.. and of course about my papa...people used to always say "your dad is so patient"...i suppose you'd have to be, with a daughter who doesn't think about consequences and a son who has never known consequences...
that is not to say he was a walking buddah... of course he got mad..in fact.. seeing dad upset was an event.. and usually brought more laughter than tears....after all we are the "stupid family"... but he had nothing but agape love for his stupid family!
so, my dad continues to teach me, mold me, remind me... and i understood that last night... i can not call him, i can not talk to him.. but somehow he can still get to me.. and help me become the person i want to be... a person with purpose... a person who is happy.. a person who can give agape love...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

5 months


dear papa,

today marks 5 months...and i wonder.. will i wake up every month on the first and be forced to feel farther away from you? i feel myself healing, filling that space that you occupied so heavily... but every month brings a new fear.. because time is moving on without you... i still don't understand how time goes on... my world exploded when you left... i wonder how everyone else was able to wake up today and not think of you... how has everyone else been able to move forward?
not everyone has dad, and i worry about them more than i do myself... i have you in me.. i am a piece of you.. i have within me your strength and the rest of your fight.. but what about those who don't dad? how do i help them?
for some reason this month has been a difficult one.. maybe it was your birthday and mom's birthday.. then memorial .. but this month more than any other.. i picked up the phone countless times to call you... i had the worst day last week... i taught this kindergarten class that walked all over me.. at the end of the day i walked out of the school laughing.. because i was going to call you and tell you about the little boy who peed in the corner.. when i asked him why.. he said.. "because".. i knew you would laugh... i ended up crying in my car...this huge weight on my shoulders.. realizing yet again.. i couldn't call you... you aren't there..
i am planning a trip home this summer dad. i'm scared.... terrified.. of what i am going to feel walking into the house knowing you aren't there... i am safe in my Michigan cocoon in a way... i have pictures of you everywhere.. you are all over the house when i talk about you or play your music... but i do not see your room, your chair, your clothes, your truck, your life... everywhere.. your headstone was put up too... a finality if you will.. that terrifies me too... unfinished business kept it a little unreal... but thats it.. that was the final thing to do.. it's done... now what?

i love you papa,

ana marie

Saturday, May 29, 2010

alright.. it was bound to come up

i have a hard time looking at December pictures of my dad, let alone post them... but this is the only one i have of this memory... and it... like him.. is precious....

i was bound to write about it eventually... there have been tons of fun and memorable moments in my papa's long life in being my papa... but.. sometimes i have a hard time going back that far.. sometimes the pain of loosing him feels too fresh and it makes it difficult to reach back that far... so this is a more recent memory that was bound to be written about...
yes.. this is the story of the infamous singing contests!
no one knows how they started.. no one knows whose idea it was... or why we went along with it to begin with.. or how it became such a serious and competitive weekly event...
anyone who was there can, however, tell you how my dad's face lit up at the prospect of being able to judge all of us...
this is how the contests were structured... my dad would have a pad of paper and a pen (he insisted on being the only judge).. and we would take turns singing to him... so if you happened to be at our house on a random week night... you got pulled in.. you had to sing (or cry your way out of it KATY!).... we started with hymns... i did my best Patsy Cline with Just a Closer Walk With Thee, and on another night did a very girly Bill Monroe with Angel Band....a couple nights we were given a choice of songs... i of course did my best Janis Joplin with Bobby McGee... then there was the last contest.. it was a Christmas special and i did I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas...i am proud to say that i stayed steadily in second place except for the last one... but that one was fixed (my mom had never even placed in a contest and for the Christmas special she was told she would win, unbeknown to us, and she did. Call it a Christmas gift from him...either was it was fixed and i was robbed!)... but we had so much fun and he took his duties seriously... he wrote notes about us as we sang and we were critiqued at the end and given our place (1st 2nd or 3rd)...toward the end of my papa's life he struggled to talk... at the last contest, knowing there was no way in the world he would get Eric (the hubby) to sing, he recruited him as announcer and prize giver...
in having these contests he gave us the most fun memories of him, of being with each other... sometimes i wonder if he knew what he was doing...
i was thinking about this a lot today.. i tend to sing in my car (quite loudly, complete with upper body choreography)... and.. as it happens sometimes when people pass... i forgot he was gone.. i was singing a song and thinking.. hey.. i did really good with that song.. i should sing that at the next contest... when this happens you are immediately hit with a load of bricks... with the realization that this is not going to happen.. he is gone...
i miss my dad so much.. there is a pain at the back of my heart when i think of him... i hurt for me.. not for him.. i know he is a place where he is whole an d happy... but i will always selfishly miss him... but i continue to be so thankful with the legacy that he left us with... and memories to remember and laugh.. instead of cry... but what i wouldn't give to sing one more time for him...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

mine, his, ours

one thing my parents did perfectly (albeit by mistake)... was to have my brother and i 12 years apart...
i have 12 years of memories.. 12 years of being their only focus... i wasn't bitter or jealous when he was born... not when it came to my parent's attention (i was too busy trying to keep him out of my room and from killing my gold fish)... i was old enough to enjoy watching them enjoy him... i was old enough to be doing my "own thing"...and i moved out fairly early.. so, he got lots of years of having them all to himself... because of this we have personal memories to cherish, hold close or share....our memories fall into three categories... mine, his and ours
he doesn't have the memory of my dad's jeep backfiring on my leg... and my dad putting a cold beer can on it... he told me i was okay... i still have bits of whatever builds up in a tail pipe in my leg...but...hey... i'm okay... he doesn't have the memory of puking half way up Squaw Peak only to be rewarded with a solo hike with dad around the mountain while everyone else kept going up..he doesn't know how to play chess or what it feels like to watch him squirm as i explained the workings of a Wonder Bra and why i needed one ASAP
i will never have the memory of driving route 66 on a whim with dad... i will never have the memory of sleeping under the stars with him... i will never know what it feel like to be his "buddy," to talk about girls, to be the twinkle in his eye
sometimes we got a peek at each other's dad... like when we drove to Payson to camp, just the three of us... and we sang the same three Metalica songs over and over...
together we can remember fishing at the trout farm, camping in a hotel room, friday night dinners at pizza hut... together we have one memory that will be the same for both of us... something that will never change.... we had one heck of a dad who blessed us with so many memories...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

why i walk....

i even have a storm trooper on my side!


i know that some people may read my blog and feel sorry for me... they might worry that i wallow in my sadness...in the same vein i know that there are people who look at my involvement with cancer (communities, walks etc) and worry that i am not "moving past it"....
please know.. my blog.. writing this blog... has helped me in ways no one else could... i am free here... i say what i want and what i feel here... i remember him here... i think about my dad every day.. most every hour... and it is not always followed my sadness... lately i have been able to think of him and smile or laugh even... i am able to talk about him more freely... when i say something like "my dad would have loved this" or "my dad used to say....." it brings me closer to him... and i feel like with time and the help of writing... i can do this.. and feel this more often...
i'm fighting cancer in the ways that i am able (walking, supporting, keeping up to date on research)... i feel as if i am continuing to honor his fight... just because he is gone doesn't mean the battle is over... there are other people out there fighting this monster... and i want to be a part (even a tiny part) of some of them winning that fight!
when i walk or when i am a part of events i see so much hope.. not only in the survivors.. but also in the surviving family members (they are survivors too because the monster may take only the body of the loved one.. but what is left behind are shrapnel wounds to the heart that take longer to heal)... i see so many people that have been affected by cancer and i don't feel so alone in the battle....
so please don't worry about me.. i am coping.. i am doing.. i am LIVING! and that is all i can do....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

5 more things you should know about my dad

4:15 am.... i did everything right.... i worked out till i was fully exhausted... i went to bed at a reasonable time.. took a hot shower.. turned off the tv.. took my melatonin.... and bang.. i'm awake.. fully awake...
since i am up... since the computer is on... since for once i did the dishes before going to bed... and since my dad is on my mind... i think it's time for another list....

5 more things you should know about my dad:
  1. never ask him for help with homework: my dad was probably too smart for his own good... he watched too much PBS... my brother and i asked him as a last resort....you know.. when you are just trying to get done... you just want to go to bed... but you have one last thing to do and it is stumping you...so you get desperate.. and ask him... well settle in.. it's going to be a while... my favorite example is when i was working on dividing fractions... and he proceded to tell me the history of fractions!!!! the history!!!!!
  2. sometimes he really DIDN'T know: you could have asked my dad anything... ANYTHING... and he would know the answer.. as a little girl.. i thought he really did know everything... as an adult... i saw just how much he made up... yup.. made up... my brother didn't believe me... we were trying to remember who sings the theme song for Toy Story (randy newman, the laziest song writer alive).... but dad said john sebastian... he answered with so much conviction..we laughed and said he'd made it up... he never admitted to making up that name... he said Google was wrong....
  3. he watched ANYONE who performed on Austin City Limits: on the last list i wrote about how much he loved music.. well this included horrible bands like Cold Play.. simply because they played Austin City Limits... i had a bit of a crush on Paolo Nutini... before i knew his name i called him the hot Scottish guy... from the other side of the house i heard "the hot Scottish guy is on!!!!"... when i got there he was laughing... "just kidding, it's willie nelson again"
  4. he hated The Simpsons: few things really got his goat... i will never know if he actually ever watched an episode...i think he would have thought it was funny.. but his heels were dug in and he stuck to it....i was grown.. an adult... visiting from Michigan... i was up late watching the simpsons... he walked in and started yelling at me (me....an adult.. married.. living a half a country away)..... i giggled it off.. until he woke up my mom to tell on me.....
  5. he personified IRON WILL: he woke up at 4am to go to work... some mornings i would be awake to and watched him drive away from my bedroom window.. i felt so sorry for him... to have to go to work in the dark....some days he came home with burned holes in his shirt or skin! (welding).... he worked really hard for us for so many years.... i think it had to be the will to work... when he was in his wheelchair... he did everything he could to still walk to the bathroom.. he would lock his legs... even if was just a few steps... when he pulled himself on and off the wheel chair.... it was will.. sheer will...
some of these things we can lightly joke about... but it made him endearing... even the trivial things.. like not liking the Simpsons made him who he was.... even these small things i hope i take from.. learn from....oh and i am sorry dad... i watch Family Guy... if only you knew how much worse it was.... you might have actually liked the Simpsons


Sunday, May 16, 2010

the moment...

before my dad was diagnosed.. i never once considered loosing him... after he was diagnosed... there was still very little consideration... there was always hope.. if not for a cure.. then at least for more time....
in the midst of his treatments and my countless visits home during the summer.. he took eric and i to wickenburg to take the quads out for a ride... we rode for hours.. stopping to look at rattle snakes.. gorgeous vistas... old abandoned mines...
we stopped to refuel... at this point.. eric and i marveled at his energy.. we were tired... sore from riding... hungry.. but he was trying to squeeze as much out of this trip as he could... when i think back on it..when i think back on many moments.. i can see more clearly how much he wanted to live as much as he could... this was one of those moments... he was getting the most out of teaching us about reading winds... following tracks... basic desert survival....
we went off for another ride.. we ended up at this huge red rock... it looked like a sunset etched into the side of a boulder... eric and i stopped to take a picture of it and dad pushed on... we saw he had gotten stuck in some sand up ahead... he jumped off his quad (at this time my dad was in a leg brace for some painful fluid buildup in his heel, he was walking with crutches)... he was trying to pull his quad loose when suddenly it slipped and started to roll toward a cliff.. my dad put all his weight into steading the quad and then.. fell and started to be dragged by the quad...
i don't remember what i screamed.. only that i screamed... i jumped off the back of mine and eric's quad so that eric could get to him.... he got down to him... and by the time i got there we were able to pull the quad free of the sand trap and safe from the cliff... my dad hobbled to a safe area and i walked the quad to him...
he assured me he was ok.. in no time we were back on the quads heading back to the truck and trailer...the tears falling down my cheeks where hotter than the desert... i was sobbing.. i told eric to slow down.. i didn't want my dad to see me panic like that...
this was the moment... the moment i considered loosing my dad... his near fall from that cliff made me realize just how scared i was of not having him in my life... i was terrified... still am.. every day...

Friday, May 14, 2010

99.9%

i was chatting with a fantastic woman last night... we were discussing how when someone you rely upon, you love, you need...passes...it is like a part of you is missing... like you are half a person... because they take that part of you with them... you are lost... without purpose... not sure what your next move is.... second guessing yourself... afraid to rely upon yourself... there really is a part of you missing...
i suddenly decided.. that i do not want to be half a person... my dad took a huge part of me with him.. he in fact did leave me feeling lost... but i have decided that i have the ability to fill up that missing part of me... i can not effectively celebrate him while i mourn him... i can not be me.. all of me... if i don't allow myself to find purpose...
i am resolved to the fact that i will never "get over" loosing my dad... i will always miss him.. will always need him.. will always love him...
however... as i heal... i have decided that i can be perfectly content being 99.9% me.... i'm no where near there yet.... but i know.. with time.. i will be

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Papa...

today.. i will NOT be sad... i will always miss my papa.. but i have to allow myself to celebrate him as well... i tend to focus on his cancer.. and the loss of him.. but then there is my papa before the cancer... and sometimes my memories can't go back that far because the pain of loosing him is too raw....but today... on his birthday i want to focus on his life... in doing that... i thought.. how would my dad have liked to spend his birthday? if he were here and healthy.. he would surely be outdoors... maybe camping... he would invite whomever.. we would be at Woods Canyon Lake... right about now we would be fishing... we would come back to camp... tired... with or without fish... but later there would surely be a fire... and scary stories....
my dad was known for his campfire stories... and for trying to scare us kids (many nieces and nephews too) by making animal noises and shaking the tent while we slept.. or tried to...
one of my favorite stories was about a mystery creature in the woods.. it went like this:

"while on a hunting trip i was off scouting... i got separated from my hunting buddies... it got dark but i was on the trail of some moving game..at some point i lost the trail and figured it was time to head back to camp...only.. i had gotten turned around and i wasn't sure where i was....i started walking in the direction i thought camp might be... i was looking for anything familiar that would lead me there... i was hungry and tired.. and it was dark... the trees hid most of the starlight and i hadn't thought to bring my flashlight... suddenly i heard this whooping noise.. it sounded like a bird flapping it's wings... but this... had to have been a big bird... bigger than any bird i knew existed.... i shook it off and kept on walking... then i heard it again.. except this time the whooping was followed by a low growl... now.. i don't know any birds that growl neither... maybe they screech or squawk.. but never growl.. the next time i heard it.. it seemed closer.. much closer.. too close... so i squatted at he base of a tree and loaded my gun... i sat... and i listened.... i must have sat for ten minutes or so when i heard it... coming right for me... i took aim and the noise and shot off two rounds... i didn't hit it.. because i still heard it flying.. only... away from me... i hadn't been able to see it clearly when i aimed.. i only made out the silhouette of it's wings... they didn't look like bird's wings.. they looked more like bat wings... only very big... i wasn't able to see it's face but i saw it's eyes... looking right at me... they were red and glowing... i sat still.. listening... trying to to breathe.... i heard it circle...then come toward me again... the sound was right in line with me.. it wasn't just coming toward me.. it was coming at me... i took aim again... but waited.... waited till i couldn't stand it anymore.. and i shot... one round... in the echo of the bang i heard a thumb and the ground shook.... i had hit it.. it was down... it was close... at this point i was safe enough to try to head back to camp but i wanted to see this thing....i decided to stay right where i was until morning... i hunkered down and tried to sleep...finally the sun started to come up and i looked around me.. it was quiet and still... i walked a few yards ahead of me expecting to see the creature.. but i saw nothing... i thought maybe it was farther than i thought so i walked on... and still.. no creature... then.. in a pile of leaves and pine needles i saw blood.... no feathers.. and it looked as if something big had been laying there... i looked around.. for a blood trail.. maybe it had crawled off to die under a bush... but there was no trail... when i made it back to camp i told everyone about it and they came with me to look for it.. surely.. with all that blood i must have killed it.. but we never found it.. and we never knew what it was"

now.. many people have heard this story.. but it changes every time he tells it...one time he said he saw it and it looked like a naked very old man with wings.. another time it had teeth like razor blades... but one thing stayed the same.. everyone.. believed it... it was suspect in the way it always changed... in the way all of his stories changed.. the one about the ghost he drove home, the Indian statue that came to life and stalked campers, the flying Dutchman... so i asked him last year.. if ANY of his stories were true...now it's my secret to keep.. happy birthday papa!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

today is my momma's birthday...

ahh birthdays...they started off with a bang this year... my papa's wake was held on my birthday...it was either that or we would have had to wait till after the weekend... it was a non issue.. seeing as how there was going to be little happiness on that day weather we had the viewing on that day or another... it was still going to be a tough birthday...
so today's my mom's first birthday without him... last year my dad and i took balloons to her job.. and we went for lunch... my dad had never really done anything like that for her... she kept thinking it was all my idea... but it went unsaid... that it could possibly be the last he would have with her... i think we thought that of all events last year...


my mom and dad struggled with their marriage.. as most marriages do have struggles... i think there was always love there... but little affection... when i was little my dad would chase my mom into the bedroom and tickle her... she would scream for me to help her.. i would yell at him until he let her up... those are some of my most precious memories of my parents....
if there was any blessing to be found in the monster that took him.. it is that my parents fell in love again... it was amazing to witness... to have been married for so long.. there had to be love there.. but this was the kind of love books are written about.. devotion... caring... gratitude... they were allies in this fight.. and they found each other through it...
there came a time when my dad needed a wheelchair... he continued to be independent in self care but sometimes needed help stabilizing when he stood... my mom never said.. "let me help you up" instead she said "give me a hug" and as she held him up there were sweet little kisses... i don't think she ever saw the tears streaming down my face.... it was cruel to consider that this would be taken from her soon...
on my dad's last day my mom brought him coffee... as she did every morning... he wasn't going to get out of bed... it was the first time i watched them break down together.. she begged him to get up... he just said.. i'm sorry... i'm sorry.. i'm sorry.. i'm just sorry.. and i have to believe that it wasn't just because he couldn't get out of bed... it was his way of giving her closure to their entire marriage...i'm sorry we waited to long ... i'm sorry it took cancer... i'm just sorry... that time i made no attempt to hide my tears...

i only know what it feels like to loose a dad... even if he was the most important person in my life.. i will never know or be able to understand what she lost... i pray that the memory of last year's birthday carries her through this one...