This is a hard post, but I finally feel like it is time
to share this with my blog friends.
I started this post awhile ago, but I kept feeling like something was missing. I have been scrummaging through letters from my dad, photographs and trying to find anything in my journal entries about him. It seems like I am trying to hold on to every piece of him that I can, so it feel less like he is gone and also so I don't forget the memories I have left of him. But still as I filled this post with memories I felt something was missing. And after watching General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints a month ago, I realized what this post was missing: Hope.
My dad passed away on July 29th, 2008. We found out at the beginning of June that he had Pancreatic cancer, so it all happened pretty fast. I went home when I first found out about it for about a week, and then once again the week before he died. That was a hard week. There is a line in a Death Cab for Cutie song that says "Love is watching someone die." I couldn't have said it better.
I find myself thinking about my dad a lot. I miss him terribly. I often wish I had had more time with him, or that I would have taken more advantage of his great wisdom. But instead of using this post to discuss how much I wish I could still see him and hug him again or how much my heart aches daily as I miss him, I just want to share a few of my favorite memories of my dad. And pay tribute to him. As my brother-in-law stated at the funeral, one word to describe my dad was: selfless. All that he did through out our lives for my siblings, my mom and I was with out a single thought for himself. Often he worked long hours just to make sure we had food on our table. Even towards the end of his life, when he was not feeling well he would still get up at the crack of dawn to work through the pain, because he loved us. In the book The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography by Sydney Poitier it says:"Of all my father's teachings, the most enduring was the one about the true measure of a man. That true measure was how well he provided for his children." (pg. 100)My dad measured up.
In the early hours of the morning on that dreadful Tuesday my mom, my siblings and I gathered around my father's hospital bed (which was in the living room). We sobbed and hugged each other. We sat in silence for quite sometime. There is almost a reverence to this time of death. It is somewhat similar to birth in that we feel a bit closer to the veil.
I kept looking at my dad's chest thinking it was going to rise and that he was just sleeping. Finally after a time of silence my oldest sister Sunnie suggested we all share favorite memories of our dad. So the stories rolled off our tongues and soon our tears were turned to laughter. My dad wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I am sure he was there with us laughing through the tears.
We all expressed how we all knew that dad loved us and always wanted us around. There was never a doubt that he loved us. As little kids my dad was the best dad a little kid could have. He was always playing with us. When he would get home from work each night, we would all excitedly drop everything we were doing and run to greet him. I remember jumping off the sides of the couch to jump into his arms. Our dad would tickle us, turn us upside down to walk on the ceiling, play outside with us, teach us, sleep under the stars with us and so much more. He was our best friend. All this time he spent with us as little kids will be something we will all cherish forever.
Some of my favorite moments with my dad in the past few years have been when my whole family was together and we would all get talking and laughing. Usually these moments would happen on Sundays when my dad would make the best meal we had ever tasted. He was an amazing cook. We would all be talking and my dad would tell funny stories from his childhood or other moments in his life along with the rest of us and we would all just laugh together. I remember when he was telling a story about some kids spilling sacrament cups all over the place when he was little and he started laughing hysterically. I loved it when my dad would laugh so hard that his laugh would get high pitched. I miss his laugh.
My dad was wise.Not only was he a walking encyclopedia. He also had the wisdom to know what to say when things were hard. He was great at giving advice. In fact I am pretty sure he thrived on opportunities to share his wisdom with his children. At a moment when I was feeling homesick after moving to Vegas a couple years ago he comforted me over the phone by reminding me that he loved me and that everyone missed me. I felt left out as my family all had their Sunday dinners together with out me, so that is just what I needed to hear at the time. He would always say "It isn't the same with out you here" and try to convince me to move back. He was good at making me feel loved.
One of my last conversations with my dad, when he was still coherent enough to form full sentences that made sense, he said a few things that have stuck with me. He let me know he was so proud of all of us kids. And he said " I know in whom I have trusted. He has never let me down before. If it is His will for me to die, then subsequently it is mine too." This statement gives me the courage to keep going in the midst of all the heartache of missing him. I love my dad. The last thing he said to me was "I love you buggy" and I knew he meant it.
I am not going to pretend this hasn't been the hardest months of my life, but I will say there has always been hope. Even if it was just a small glimmer of hope, there was hope. There have been moments when I wondered if the darkness would ever end, but in the midst of winter I have found an invincible summer.Christ is that hope. He is that light when everything seems dark. No matter how lonely I have felt the Savior, Heavenly Father and the Holy ghost have not abandoned me. I have hope. I have hope that we will see each other again. I have hope that my dad is still taking care of me and my family. He is a ministering angel still in our lives. He told my little brother Vinnie just before he died "A cowboys job is never done." He is still loving us and protecting us just as he did when he was on this earth. I think of that excitement we felt when my dad would come home from work when we were little and we would all run to greet him. And how much more excited we will be in the future when we run to greet him. I hope that I can learn to be as selfless as he was. I hope that in times things will get easier. I hope for good things to come. Against all hope I believe in hope.
*Note: I am a little nervous because this post is a little more personal then the ones I normally write, but I hope it may be encouraging to anyone who might be struggling in any way.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
You know those little hand clapping games you did in elementary school, they still do them. I had the little girls repeat to me the words to the one they were doing today at recess and I had to laugh:
Here comes the woman
with the African Booty.
She does the Pom Pom (with a nice action).
She does the twist (another action)
But mostly she goes
Kiss-Kiss (while placing to fingers on lips and kissing)
K-I-S-S (while spreading their legs farther and farther apart on each letter to do the splits).
This seemed a little scandalous, but then I remembered some of the ones we used to sing. Do you remember When Pebbles was a School Girl (also sung as Suzy or Lucy). At the end we would sing "Mrs. Pebbles had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bell. The steamboat went to heaven, and Mrs. Pebbles went to hell-o operator give me number nine and if you disconnect me I will kick you in the behind the refrigerator there was a piece of glass and miss pebbles sat upon it an broke her fat as-k me no more questions I will tell you no more lies. The boys are in the bathroom zipping up their flies." What are some of your favorite childhood hand clapping games you played?