Last Thursday morning, Mr. MLACS woke me up around 4am to tell me my sister had tried to call me five times since 3am. I knew it was going to be bad news. Both my maternal Grandma and my Father had been in the hospital–but both were supposed to be recovering.
My Father died.
It was surreal. I sat on the floor of my bedroom closet so as not to wake up BG, who was sleeping in our bed. I didn’t cry, I just listened to my sister talk. He had prostate cancer (I knew this) but it was not very serious so they had not been treating it. However, they did a biopsy on it a few weeks ago and punctured his urethra in the process, which caused an infection. Once they realized their mistake, they then gave him the *wrong antibiotics*. As it turns out he had an E. Coli infection, and so the wrong antibiotics made it much worse. When they finally realized they had f*cked up royally, they admitted him to the VA hospital. He was so sick he didn’t even tell anyone he was going. My sister tracked him down, and visited him. He seemed ok. Nurses checked him at 2am–he was fine–they returned at 2:38am and found him dead on the floor…asphyxiated…
While it looks like gross negligence, I feel in my heart that he chose his moment and it was his time. His quality of life was not good. He was 69, morbidly obese with limited mobility, living alone, on the rocks with his girlfriend, and spent a lot of time watching tv and eating junk food. He was social on occassion, but far less than usual. He couldn’t see or hear well, and he couldn’t walk up or down stairs. A lot of his friends said they were surprised he was gone, that they had just seen him. But anyone with any common sense could see that he was declining and had a host of health issues/risk factors.
It would have been 4 years this month, since I had spoken to him. Except…
When Mr. MLACS collapsed and nearly died and I was having my colectomy in October, he sent my sister to my side, offering to pay her expenses, telling her to go and help me. An act of love and compassion.
I has sworn I’d never speak to him again. He was dead to me. He had caused me So. Much. Pain. during my Mom’s illness (which I forgave him) and then again years later during my battle with infertillity and loss. He was a crap father when I was young and proved incapable of having a healthy adult relationship. So I was done. The final straw was my child was born and we lived 15 minutes from him and he never even tried to contact me or see her. We moved to the South when she was 18 months old–by then I was so angry and hurt I vowed he’d never lay eyes on her. I threatened to cut off my sister if she so much as mentioned him.
But she had let me know he wanted to make peace with me, and then he financed her trip to help me this past October. So, I decided to call him and thank him in November. That was the last time I spoke to him. We communicated through my sister and I gave her permission to show him pictures of BG and keep him up to date on my little family. I was still very hesitant to reach out to him. I didn’t have the energy to forge a new relationship with him–I was struggling to heal from my surgery and Mr. MLACS’s cardiac arrest and moving into our house and being a wife and mother, etc. My sister did warn me that she didn’t think he’d be around much longer, but I was not going to be guilted or rushed.
And while yes, I wish things had been different, I don’t regret being distant from him. It wasn’t my job to make him happy at my own expense. It wasn’t my obligation to serve my daughter up so he could have his “grandpa experience” before he died. And I’m glad my kid was spared grief and loss.
As you know, I lost my dear departed Mother to breast/lung cancer in 2009. So I am an “adult orphan”. I miss her every day. She was amazing. She had a home daycare and LOVED kids…
I loaded up Mr. MLACS, BG, and our labrador retriever and drove all day Thursday, stopped for a few hours of sleep, and arrived just in time to meet my sister at the cemetary to pay for the portion of his burial not covered. In the process, I purchased the 2 cemetery plots next to my mother, where Mr. MLACS and I can be buried someday (hopefully many years from now, but God only knows).
We are staying at my family home and it’s both comforting and sorrowful. So many good memories of when we were a happy family before my Mom’s diagnosis in 2006 (albeit dysfunctional in our own way). When I see my daughter coloring at the same table where the daycare kids used to sit, and opening the gate to the downstairs where the daycare kids used to play…it’s just so unfair that she never got to be a grandma to BG. It breaks my heart. And she was the glue that held our family together, so if she was here I wouldn’t have fallen out with my father. We could have been one big happy family…
**I had to break down and cry here**
I grieve what might have been, but will never be.
And despite our differences, my dad was a pretty cool guy. He was a lame dad, but a pretty awesome person. My sister and I were under a tremendous amount of pressure to memorialize him and bury him with proper ceremony. He had literally been preparing us for his death since we were 12 years old. He was a successful business man and local bluegrass musician who lived and died in his hometown, so people were watching–most especially, the man himself, I was sure.
He thought it was best for person to be buried within 3 days of their death, so visitation was Sunday. I had a sitter for BG because 1. This was no place for a toddler, and 2. My Dad never met her so it felt wrong for any of his friends and family to meet her. Yet everyone asked me where she was, wtf?! Everyone knew we were estranged and it made the visitation uncomfortable for me, but I hung in there. I looked and acted dignified, as did my sister. It was sad and bittersweet to watch the memorial slideshow of all our happy moments as a family. They played one of his bluegrass cd’s he made of him singing and playing guitar…
Then finally the funeral was yesterday (Monday). Of course we have not had much sleep and not slept well, and poor BG woke up at 3am coughing so hard she vomited and burning up with fever. I had to send Mr. MLACS to get tylenol for her. I somehow managed to pull myself together and look nice for the funeral. I hated to leave BG with a sitter when she was not feeling well.
The service opened with his bluegrass buddies playing “Amazing Grace”–of course I cried. The pastor spoke and then I stood up and tearfully read what I had written at 3am when I was up with BG:
“My Dad was a passionate man. Passionate about life, and love. He was a man of leisure, and he had many pleasures. He enjoyed good company, and he was excellent company.
He was lighthearted, but soulful. He had a lot of corny jokes and anecdotes, but he would also wax poetic for hours, sharing his philosophies on life–he was deep. His definition of success, was happiness. And he was a happy, jovial man. If you asked him how he was, one of his standard replies was “I’m effervescing, my bubbles are all the way to the top!” He had a generous nature, and enjoyed treating people. He was always there for a friend in need, without expecting anything in return. He was diplomatic, and underneath his airy fascade, he was a very intelligent man. He appreciated his mentors and was himself, a mentor to a great many people. He liked to say “Those who can DO, can’t teach”, and he considered himself a “do’er”, but ironically, he was also a very good teacher. He would be proud to be remembered as a renaissance man–a man of many talents. Most prominently, a musician. The best time of his life was when he was living out of his car, playing music on the road with my mom by his side. He spoke wistfully of this part of his life where he had his passion–music–his freedom, and his soul mate. There are pitifully few people in this world that can say their dreams were realized, but my father was one of the lucky ones. He ticked every box on his “bucket list”, and more.
And that’s how he wants to be remembered. As a man of substance, who had an abundance of joy and shared it with the people around him. He is gone, but could never be forgotten.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. May he rest in peace.”
My sister said it was perfect and I’d said everything she’d wanted to say. Others agreed it was a good homage to him. My sister spoke, as did his best friend. The service closed with the bluegrass band playing “I’ll Fly Away” and we all sang along. It was just as he would have wanted.
And now we have the monumental task of dealing with the estate. My father was a smart business man and he left us a lot of properties. He was well organized, but it’s still a lot to deal with. I don’t feel like dealing with it, but I must. To his credit, Mr. MLACS has been invaluable in this process. I simply couldn’t do it without him.
Now I’m more terrified than ever that I’ll lose Mr. MLACS. He’s doing well but I’ve nearly lost him twice in the last 3 years, so it’s not just me being paranoid.
I love my hometown and want to be here to sort through the estate with my sister, but I long for my house in the South. Being here at my family’s home was precious for a couple of days but it is physically unconfortable (the guest beds suck) and emotionally draining–now it feels cumbersome. I’m completely exhausted. I’m overwhelmed. And both myself and BG are out of sorts and miss our “routine”. We have to interview and hire an estate lawyer tomorrow, and a few other things, but then I intend to leave on Thursday. I have been planning BG’s 3rd birthday party on her actual bday next Sunday, complete with a bouncy housw and goodie bags, etc. And I want to take a break from grieving and celebrate my greatest gift, my baby girl ❤