Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Blogger: My Brother

my dad and brother would take these road trips.. they drove route 66 into new mexico one weekend.. just on a whim.. they went to disneyland (just the two of them).. they camped and visited friends.. and went on a trip to tombstone.. i don't know whose idea this photo was.. i am sure it was my dads (see like watching nature for the solo photo taken years earlier) but it is one of my favorites... anyone can see the camaraderie and friendship between the two

if you have read my blog for any amount of time then you know that my brother plays a big part in it... because as much as this is my blog.. my dad was OUR dad.. so i could never leave his views or experiences out of it.. for past blog posts featuring my brother see:

brother bear, mine, his, ours and we are

i woke up this morning to an amazing surprise.. a guest blog email from none other... it was so hard to read because we don't really talk about this.. we try to think about the good times.. and i think we worry about protecting each other's feelings.. but it made me think about something i learned over the weekend..i am in training to volunteer for hospice... and in our first training we talked a little about the dying process.. we were told to listen to the patients in their process of passing.. we should take it seriously if they are talking to people that have passed before or if they are reaching out.. our dad waved into the corner.. my mom asked if he was waving to the angels.. he nodded yes... we were also told that hearing is the last sense to go.. so they can hear us even if they do not respond.. my brother and i took turns telling our dad that we would be okay, that he can rest.. it was not permission to die.. never that.. it was the understanding that this cancer had taken his body and my God we would miss him and hurt for him but we didn't want him to struggle... or worry about us in his last hours.. he waited till my brother and i left the room to pass.. and in my brother's writing of his last words to our dad i fully believe he heard him.. and was proud of his strength.. and as much as he didn't want to leave us.. knew.. we would be okay...

and i am so proud of him for doing this.. for putting his feelings into words.. into taking such a cathartic step.. so without further ado.. my brother's words

I always think back to his sick days and I feel like it’s healthy to write a little about it. The first time I found out my dad was sick was a week after we went to go see Gran Torino and my dad was shaving and told me, “hey don’t I look like Clint Eastwood?” The day before he told me I had went with him to a doctor’s appointment, he said to come with him inside where the doctor was going to talk to him, then he told me “maybe you should just wait outside”, I began to worry. Let’s skip through to the part where they told me. It was a Saturday after the doctor’s appointment and I felt something was weird, as my mom and dad and I sat down to eat breakfast my mom said “your dad has cancer.” I looked at my dad and cried and ran outside then called my sister right away, she explained to me he will be having surgery and everything will be okay.

The night of my dad’s surgery I remember doing the most stupid thing ever. I smoked pot. I guess I felt like this was the thing to do at a time like this, I was wrong and I told my sister and she was very upset and I trashed the weed that night. The surgery, as we were waiting in the waiting room I was just anxious I wanted it to be over already. We got to see my dad before he went into surgery and I cried, he told me “I will be alright and I’ll see you when I get out.” I left my dad and went outside, I needed fresh air. Just then my cousins Mike and Gj and Jr came to get me and we went to eat. When my dad got out of surgery I felt so much better, happy and thanking God. Thinking to myself that everything’s over now, but I was wrong. The doctors tested my dad again and found that there was more cancer and it spread. I couldn't believe it and started blaming God. After the doctors tried treatment a couple different times, my dad became very weak and I hated it but as long as the cancer would go away he needed to keep doing it. I was let down those times the treatments failed I had hoped something would work. It didn't.

My dad gave his life to Christ, September of 2009. He was so full of hope and we had an angel with us, Gilbert Castillo (Gj). He did so much for my dad, he loved him so much and my dad loved him, Gj was at our house everyday praying and keeping my dad full of hope. When my dad was coming to his last days Gj was suppose to go on a trip with his soon to be wife, my dad told Gj “Go have a good time.” My dad didn't care about himself; he wanted Gj to have a good time.

Another angel sent to us was Natalie Zaragoza, she would take my dad to all the appointments and treated my dad as if he were hers. It seemed like she always knew what to do. (I’m not trying to leave people out, the others I didn't mention you know who you are).

The last day, I remember everyone coming over. My Tia Kinney played the guitar, I guess to make his final breath peaceful. As everyone was in the room my mom begged my dad to get up and drink coffee begged and cried, and just told him to get up. I finally did the hardest thing ever, I stood up and gave my dad a hug and told him “dad, you can go now, you can go dad, we will be okay, mom will be okay, you don’t have to fight anymore. dad you fought hard enough dad now you just rest”(11:00pm). My dad did not pass away until 3:35am he waited and still fought to his last breath.

My dad left me with his personality as I’m told by some people. He left and touched so many people’s hearts and left spaces in their hearts as well. To this day I always have my dad with me. I know God is preparing a place for me in heaven so I can be with my dad. I wish I could just hug him and tell him I love him and tell him thank you one last time, but I know the next time we meet it will be forever.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

adventures of a fishing vest

my dad decided to give fly fishing a try.. my husband lent him some waders and he caught a few bass..when he returned home (back to AZ) he apparently purchased a fly fishing vest..i didn't know about it until i was home with him for his last few months of life... some nights i would get into his closet and smell his shirts... when he was sick he didn't quite smell like himself.. and i longed for the dust mixed with stetson and leather smell that seemed to cling to him all the time... while in his closet one night while everyone slept i found the vest.. it was in the very back and the tags were still on it... i don't know when he bought it or why he never used it.. but there it hung...
when he passed i took a few things home with me... i have his rusty spurs, the belt buckle he would have been burred with..and the vest...
it hung in my closet for this year and some months until my husband and i decided to take this impromptu fishing trip... i packed sandwich fixings, threw an extra pair of underwear and a toothbrush in a bag..then at the last moment packed the vest.. when i took the tags off i was overcome with the sense that my dad had touched them... they were just price tags.. but no one else had touched them.. just him.. and me... i put the tags into a little box and we were off...
we got there and i set up camp, alone, in under 30 mins.. annoyed with mosquitoes and a lazy bones hubby... but proud too... i set off to look for dry wood and find the river..
when we decided to hike out to the river and do some fishing i loaded up the vest... i don't fly fish so the vest held my eye drops, chapstick, bug spray, dean koontz book and inhaler.. i deemed it my "swiss army vest"... no fish were caught.. we had ramen noodles for dinner
all went well until the second day when we got up and made coffee and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches... i missed my dad's camp breakfasts.. eggs, potatoes, sausage, tortillas (he or my mom would make that for at least one morning)... we fished and fished.. and still nothing.. but it was too quiet... and even with the hubs right next to me i felt.. alone... we target shot the pistol.. and i did well.. i called my mom to check in.. but realized after i hung up that i really wanted to talk to my dad.. i was just missing him so much..
i love to be out in nature.. i feel closer to him there.. but this trip seemed to put him farther away... doing the things he loved.. without him.. with so many reminders around us (the vest, the camp chair, the coffee percolator, the fillet knife, and countless other supplies he'd given us though the years) it just seemed wrong to do it without him...
on our fishless way home i thought about the bugs and the many mosquito bites i would be scratching after a shower washed the grime away, i thought of the way i took down camp in under 20 mins!.. and i realized this trip was without complaint (a miracle in and of itself.. because i am the queen of whine).. i was sore and achy.. tired and dirty.. and as much as i missed my papa...i was also proud of myself.. and i know he would have been too

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy birthday Papa!

this is the birthday boy.. may 10th 2009..we only had a handful of months left with him and in the back of our minds we wondered if this would be his last..
those, however, were not his balloons.. they were the one's he got my mom 4 days before, for her birthday... he thought holding them was a cute idea.. i remember this day like it was yesterday.. i wish it was... he is missed every day of my life.. but even more so on special days..

today would have been my dad's 63rd birthday.. it is the second time we are marking this day without him.. tonight my husband and i are going to go fishing and then we are going to share memories over pie... birthday's are strange when the person you are celebrating is gone... that need to mark the day is still there... we are all just so scared that he will be forgotten.. but.. that can never happen.. my dad touched so many people's lives and huge spaces are left in so many people that he won't ever be forgotten.. his was a life that was lived so fully and with so much heart that the mark he left on this world is truly a stain.. haha

i didn't expect it when i started blogging, but more and more of you are getting to know him as well..for my newer readers.. i had posted a series of "5 things" .. they were lists of 5 things you should know about my daddy... and to celebrate his life today i am reposting them and creating a list entitled:
15 things you should know about my dad- plus a few more
  1. my dad was not afraid of the tighty whiteys... he would open the door in them.. unashamed.. and more focused on the reason you are at the door to begin with... when he was getting very thin and his shorts fell down in the front lawn (can you call rocks a lawn?) he just grinned.. and said the breeze felt nice....
  2. my dad loved to dance (let me quantify this a bit more.. not so much actual dancing.. more like silly movements to music)... it was not surprising to catch him doing a little jig to whatever music was in his head.. and if there was actual music.. watch out!
  3. my dad loved music- our lives were filled with music.. many times he would start singing and after a while we would all join in... sometimes he would sit and strum his guitar and my brother would get out his keyboard and it would sound just horrible! when his mp3 player was full of battery power, he was in his own little world of cindy lauper and old country
  4. my dad was strong... not in the way that most girls except their dads to be.. i mean STRONG... naturally strong.. he definitely had a steel working bull riding grip.. holding his hand when he prayed, even in his last days, felt like holding an anvil...
  5. my dad was happiest outdoors.. hunting.. fishing... camping... even simply sitting on the porch... he was like an ocean mammal.. he had to get out for air in order to live..what i think he got out of it... is what i am ever in search of.. freedom...
  6. 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 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 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 told me the history of fractions!!!! the history!!!!!
  7. 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....
  8. 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"
  9. 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 ( adult.. married.. living a half a country away)..... i giggled and blew it off.. until he woke up my mom to tell on me.....
  10. 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...
  11. my dad was never bored: he could easily amuse himself... usually by making some kind of animal call with his mouth.. his favorite was a javelina call.. one particularly uneventful fishing trip comes to mind... on one side of the lake sat my dad, myself, my brother and my husband.. on the other was a pair of men... then after an entire day of nibbles my dad begins to call in these phantom javelina... the men across the lake didn't realize that the horrible sound was coming from my dad.. they looked left and right for the large hairy pig.. when they realized it was my dad they laughed in relief and we all called it a day...
  12. he liked trying new things: on one trip to San Fransisco he talked us all into trying "authentic" Chinese food... lets just say it involved a few live things.. and some tepid octopus... not to mention the time he decided to take up skate boarding and went out and bought himself a skate board complete with vicious looking cobra on the deck
  13. he loved kids: before i came along he doted on his nieces and nephews.. each of us, it seems, had our own song... most didn't have words.. just a cute little tune.. either way.. we were all very special to him
  14. he didn't drink: he sipped... he nursed.. possibly before i was born and in his younger years he did.. but what i like about this is that he didn't need to.. he was fun and laid back all on his own... he was real.. all the time
  15. he was slow: he drove slow, ate slow, walked slow.. and it drove people nuts... i am sure it drove me nuts a time or two... but now when i think about it, i can appreciate it... that he didn't rush through life... he was always stopping to smell the roses...
  16. he had tiny teeth... i don't know why or how but his teeth were little.. but.. he made up for it with a huge warm smile
  17. he had little hands (i have little hands) short stubby fingers... but i miss them the most.. i miss the roughness of them and the strength within them.. those seemingly small stout hands could have and sometimes did carry the world
  18. he could sneeze you out of a car... his truck(s) were always dusty.. and it never failed.. anytime you got into the cab with him he would sneeze.. a sneeze that would literally fog you out.. no matter how close you leaned to the window...
  19. he was a man of few words... he didn't say a whole lot... he was quiet and patient and just sat there and took things in.. but when he had something to say.. i don't think anyone could NOT listen..
happy birthday papa!

Monday, May 2, 2011

journal part 5

here we are nearing the end of this journal series and finally a break! (next and last entry of this series will be memorial day) i was telling my cousin the other day that i kind of regret starting this is bad enough dealing with the way i feel now.. but here i am torturing myself with reliving the way i was feeling then...
this entry was written a couple of days before i went home for a few weeks...i was blessed to be able to spend his last birthday with him... i also got to spend a mother's say with my mom and her birthday too... this hadn't happened in too long
rereading this entry makes me think of the anticipation of his birthday..some of us wanted to have a big party.. invite everyone.. but my brother vetoed that idea... in the same way that he wasn't ready for me to come home.. he also wasn't ready to consider the possibility of it being his last birthday... i was constantly walking this fine line of staying logical and trying not to hide from what God had put in front of us... but also being positive for my brother who wiped all possibility of death from his mind.. he was stubborn in the way he chose to look in the opposite direction... this was the way he chose to cope till our papa's last day of life... what i tried to tell him in order to prepare him yet not burst the protective bubble he'd put around himself was that we were given a gift of sorts.. God was saying "hey look, it may be 30 days or 30 years, but one day i am taking him"... and we were so lucky to at least have that knowledge and cherish our 30 days or 30 years... this logic comforted me.. but would send my brother in a fit of furry... i changed my tactic after this trip home.. i adopted his positivity and hope.. for all of them..


i am trying to sort my feelings out today. i will be with you in 2 days. shouldn't i be excited? i want to feel excited, instead of scared or this nervousness that takes over. i am not sure why i feel this way but i think it could be that i am afraid that when i see you this inevitability will seem all too real. i won't be able to hide from it if i am standing face to face with you and what you have inside of you. i also think that i will have to face my control issues. here i feel helpless and frustrated that there is nothing that i can do, but i can rationalize by telling myself "if i was only there..." but once i get there i will have to deal with the reality that there really is nothing that i can do.
funny, i was talking to mom and she said (my brother) is not excited for me to come. that he is acting apprehensive. i know he is feeling the same way. i know that me coming home makes this too real for him. he also wants nothing but positivity and hope and he knows how my mind works. i am coming home armed to take him on! here we are feeling the same exact way but pretending not to be.
you sure did make some interesting kids dad. what we lack in quantity we make up in quality. we are strong, bull headed, overly opinionated and hot tempered. i wonder if you see that and although most of those traits are not great things, i hope you are proud of us anyway.