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Today would have been my Dads 74th birthday. Hard to believe another year gone by. We will go up to the cematery and remove the Christmas wreath we placed there. I don’t know what we’ll replace it with yet.
We used Dad’s pickup to go to the wrestling meet yesterday and that was a bit strange.
We are doing okay. All of us.
Life goes on and sometimes that feels like a betrayal.
Life goes on and we must live while we can.
Dad’s birthday is coming up. January 18th. I can’t believe it going to be his second birthday gone. Time is passing so quickly.
Mark drove Dad’s pick up around a few days and it seemed weird to see it parked in our driveway. I caught myself glancing up at it and remembering Dad sitting out there, cigarette in hand, waiting for the boys to come out, waiting for us to see him and come outside and visit with him, all the while smoking one of his “little friends“.
In reality when I think of Dad, I think of cigarettes. The two go hand in hand. The smell, the sight, I can’t think of him without those damn cancer sticks.
I’ve been thinking about Dad lately. I guess, around Thanksgiving was the time we found out he was carrying cancer cells. Lung cancer. Abnormal, freakish, squamous cells, non small cell in fact. Death cells.
I keep remembering the last day, the last hour, the last minute, the last time I saw Dad. It kills me. Makes me tear up and cry, clench the calves of my legs until they cramp up and hurt and twist my leg into a pretzel.
I usually crowd these thoughts out and try not to think.
when it comes down to it.
I think often about my own mutating cancer cells. I’m not diagnosed. I just think it is invietable. I will get cancer and I will die. when? I don’t know. Probably sonner than later. If not that then death by heart attack.
That’s my body type, my destiny, my history, my future… me
Went up to Dad’s grave site like I usually do on Tuesdays. I go right after I deliver a carafe of coffee and a “goodie” of the day, to a lady in the assisted living facility here in town. The cematary is just up the hill and around the corner. Dad’s grave site is in the “new” part. His grave just about looks down into the valley where Mom and Dad’s house is. Not far away from the headstone is a pasture fence with wild yucca growing in herds. Pretty view really. Mom bought a yellow lab dog with a solar light lantern in it’s mouth and it sits guard in front of the headstone. Lights up the dark night.
I suppose you could call it a milestone. A marker of time going by. Another summer. The grass still needs mowing, the mosquitoes still biting madly as if they know their time is limited. Dad never got bit by mosquitoes…his skin probably tasted of pure Marlboro. I sometimes miss that scent. How odd, I often think, that I don’t smoke. Growing up in a cloud must have given me enough to last a lifetime. Don’t get me wrong – I tried it. I just didn’t like it. Sometimes I wish I did. Maybe my ass wouldn’t be so big. Lately I find myself wanting to smoke again. Maybe it’s because I’m preaching to the boys so much about NOT smoking. Too late for my daughter…she is smoking like her grandparents used to. It kills me, it really does. She doesn’t realize what she is doing to herself. She used to be such an athlete. I bet she couldn’t run a block now. When she was a baby she had terrible croup. Her lungs are already vulnerable and yet she seems to want to further damage herself. She is 19, an “adult” and in college. I have little influence over what she is doing day to day. I only hope she comes to the realization that smoking is a killer in our family.
So hard to believe. The year is up. Tomorrow. I find myself moved to tears lately. Especially when gathering up and putting out to display the Fathers Day cards, the Fathers Day plaques and other knick knacks at the shop.
How ironic that Fathers Day is one day after the 1 year Anniversary of my Fathers death. Flag day, June 14th will be one year. In some ways it seems longer, in others it seems just a few months ago. There is no “blunting” of the pain, just a gradual acceptance. No one can describe in full how it is to lose a parent. I liken it to seeing a beautiful view of the mountains, getting your camera, and being unable to capture the moment. There is no way to tell anyone else the full blood and guts truth of how you are doing, or how you are feeling. But, the support of those around, is appreciated AND so very necessary. Without a hug, or word of encouragement, one would simply dry up, shrivel into a shell, a husk of nerves.
I carry on…sigh…
Just got done visiting Dad’s gravesite…again. Mark and the kids and I went up yesterday too. We’ve had such a lot of rain (excess of 6 inches this past few days) that I worried the dirt would be swept away or sunken in. Everything was as should be though. A little yucca plant is growing behing Dad’s stone. I think we’ll let it go there. See if it grows. I remember sticking a little green seed pod there quite some time ago. I wonder if he would be mad. Anyway, Mom and I got everything decorated and we went to Arapahoe and Holbrook and decorated graves there too. The weather was hot but nice. I can’t believe it’s been almost a year. I know I keep saying that but it’s true. The whole last year Dad was sick seems like a dream…another world entirely. I think I’ve changed a lot since then. I’m someone new…someone I don’t really know. I can’t explain it and I don’t know if it’s even relative to what happened when Dad was sick. I just know it’s true.
Last year at this time we were all waiting.
For the shoe to drop. The final shoe. Dad was so sick. He was in the final throes. Everyday another slipping away of something. The body betrays you, the mind. The importance of “things” becomes ridiculous in proportion to the importance of moments.
snapshot: Dad, in a wheelchair in the cool early morning air, a coffee cup beside him, a cigarette in his mouth. He liked to listen to the birds, enjoy a coffee and smoke in the morning.
snapshot: Dad sitting in my little orange bug as we went for a ride through town, to our house, where he gazed at the gaily decorated driveway where we were holding my daughters graduation party. He would spend the night at home, with my Uncle “babysitting” so my Mom could attend the graduation and a few minutes of the reception.
snapshot: Mark carrying Dad and placing him into our vehicle so we could take him to the hospital for a “treatment”.
snapshot: Dad, gone, quiet, still in the hospital bed, my mothers face, stricken, Dad is gone
I had a dream the other night that Dad was alive and very sick with his lung cancer. It was very sad when I woke up. It felt so real. Last year at this time I remember I was starting to get ready for Katie’s graduation and wondering if Dad would be alive for it. I remember thinking how I was going to have a funeral and a graduation close together. It was such a difficult time. I can’t believe it’s almost been a whole year. In someways it feels like a few weeks ago. I have to try and not remember the last 12 hours of his life because it is very painful to me. The disbelief of his final breath. The casual visiting of our family in his room that morning. too many too many sad things…