Tag Archives: death

Missed It

I have a ridiculously weird memory. I can remember all sorts of things in very great detail and generally lacking even a nodding acquaintanceship with useful information.

You need names and dates and locations of people involved in something that happened 1 or 5 or 20 or 100 or 1000 years ago? Give me a couple context cues and a few minutes and I can pull it out of the vault.

I can remember every grant name, accounting number, title, and budget that’s come through my administrative hands over the last seven years.

I know what day that meeting was on and who was there, even if that meeting was three jobs (and 11 years) ago.

Things I am TERRIBLE at remembering are the things that are actually useful (unless we’re gauging useful by ‘winning pub trivia,’ then my ability to call up random facts is really helpful). Things like what face goes with what name. (I was in a meeting today with a woman who looked vaguely familiar. I watched her surreptitiously for a while, trying to place her. Even after I heard her name, I couldn’t figure it out. Finally, one hour in I realized that I’d actually interviewed her. On Monday of this very week.) And when people with whom I’m currently actively associated with have important dates. You want to know when all my college friends have birthdays? I’m your girl. You want to know when my (hypothetically speaking) nieces’ birthdays are? March *mumble* and May *mumble*.

Where am I going with this, you might ask?

Yesterday was the third anniversary of my father’s death and it didn’t even register until someone I know mentioned on facebook that today was the anniversary of her mother’s death.

I didn’t think of it once yesterday.

I’d thought of it several times in the last month. His death and Bean’s birth are inextricably tied up in my brain so this time of year triggers that memory. But yesterday? Nothing.

My first feeling on realizing this was one of relief. The pain has dulled enough that it’s not always in the forefront of my brain. The second feeling? Guilt. For forgetting and then being relieved that I’d forgotten.

He’s always present – just not as much as he used to be.

I still miss him, though, and always will. I’m just less angry/sad/bewildered by the hole he left behind.

And I guess that’s okay.

A rare winter trip back - dad's sixtieth birthday

A rare winter trip back – dad’s sixtieth birthday

 

Three Things Thursday – Sadface edition

1. We have entered that time of the year that is budget season. I was so sure I was ahead of the game this year. And then I opened one of the many source spreadsheets that I use and found that in fact, all the work I’d done earlier this week is missing. Did I not save? That seems unlikely. WHERE ARE YOU BUDGET NUMBERS?

This is how I feel about that.

This is how I feel about that.

 

2. As I was leaving for work, my phone notified me that my friend Cromer had shared a post from Terry Pratchett. This did not surprise me, as that has happened before. In fact, Cromer is the person who first introduced me to Pratchett and therefore is responsible for the sheer amount of money I have spent attempting to own various pieces of Discworld. When I got out of my car I went to see what new and exciting news there was from Sir Pratchett.

It was a death announcement.

It is not terribly unexpected. Sir Pratchett had Alzheimer’s and last year had to pull out of public appearances due to the progression of the disease. But still. (I read Still Alice last week and that made me ugly cry into my Friday night beer. I spent Saturday at a conference where many of the speakers talked about Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. And this is real life. Sadness.)

I love the worlds created by Sir Pratchett, but I will always have a top spot reserved for my first introduction to his (and to Neil Gaiman’s) writing.

I don’t know where this came from and I don’t care. Someone make this happen. But maybe Hiddleston and Tennant?

 

3. I feel a little drained today. A book I’m listening to said that (and I’m totally going to screw up this quote) “everyone has a graveyard inside them. For most people it’s filled with friends and family.” For some reason this really is kicking me in the feels today. (It went on to say that military people, especially special ops peeps, have friends and enemies, and occasionally innocent bystanders in theirs.  This is not my typical genre, but ummm…Luke Daniels is my favorite and I would listen to him read the phone book.) I am tired (Bean is STILL NOT SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT! Does anyone want a three-year-old?) and sore (had a personal training appt at my new gym last night and apparently my right hip is an asshat) and anxious (stress + lack o’ sleep + not picking up that refill for oh…three weeks….) and I am running out of emotional spoons.

alone-david-tennant-doctor-who-tardis-the-doctor-Favim.com-294609

I need a couple days to recharge. I’m sure there are other people out there who need nearly complete solitude to get back to themselves. So those of you with families (I love my architect and my Bean!) how do you make that work? Do you just keep on trucking and ignore the missing pieces? Or do you take that time and ignore the guilt because it’s what you need to be an effective partner and parent? (I have a week off in early May and am trying to decide what to do with myself.)

 

Cowboy boots and bow ties (’cause bow ties are cool)

One year ago today, the person who was definitely in the top 1% of important people in my life died. After an altogether too brief battle with brain cancer, my father passed away at the age of 62. Three weeks before my son was born. Three weeks before his grandson was born.

I didn’t get to see him between his diagnosis and his death. I was in my third trimester of pregnancy, and was having some complications. Complications that were compounded by stress. I could’ve gone, had I gone right away, but we were all so hopeful. The average life expectancy with this type of cancer is 14 months. Surely there would be plenty of time to make the trip after the baby was born.

Of course, with averages, that means that some people don’t live to that length of time, and some live for much, much longer. Unfortunately we ended up with the short end of the stick.

As this date has approached, and honestly, since the anniversary of the diagnosis date, I’ve been reliving everything. All the decisions I now second guess. The surgery. The rehab. The treatments. The cessation of treatment. The final hospital stay. That last conversation that I had with him, when I told him that we’d decided to switch Alvie Bean’s middle name to James. He said back, “That is so very special.” And I replied, “you and he are the most special things in my life.”

The last time I saw him, already in hospice and not responsive. I told him then that it was okay to let go if he needed to. That I would miss him, and that I loved him, but he didn’t have to wait. He didn’t have to hold on.

That night, the architect and I drove out to Sauvie Island. I was enormously pregnant; due in just two weeks, and I needed to get out of the house. We drove through sunset and dusk. And when I got home, I felt a little better.

Monday morning, March 19, 2012, I was sleeping on the sofa. I was so uncomfortable in the last weeks of my pregnancy, that I often found myself on the sofa. My phone rang. I fought my way out of a haze, and didn’t answer it before it stopped. Then the architect’s phone started ringing. Again, I couldn’t find it before it stopped. But I saw who it was. And I saw what time it was. And I knew.

I called my mother back, and she told me. And we cried. I cried so much in the next months. I was so sad and angry and regretful.

And I know I’ll cry from time to time in the future. My father and I were very close. He was my hero.

But now – now, I am trying to remember the good things. The things that are just so amazing.

He was so funny. His wit was dry, and sly, and if you weren’t paying attention, you might even miss it. He cared so deeply. For his family, his friends, and for everyone.

I remember so many wonderful things.

  • Playing tennis with him in Bismarck. He wore his ubiquitous cowboy boots. He still beat me. It wasn’t even close.
  • The time he rode the bus from Bismarck to Brookings so he could help me drive my car back to Bismarck at the end of my Freshman year of college
  • Bringing me a tiny kitten when I was home, so sick, in first grade. J.W. (stands for John Wesley) was with us for so long!
  • Getting a letter and crossword puzzle in the mail almost every week in college and for years in LA (until I could no longer handle the crossword puzzles, due to my weird allergy to newsprint)
  • The letters. I didn’t save all of them, but I have a few. The letter he sent after the architect and I told my parents we were having a baby will be one of my most treasured.
  • Our mutual love for genealogy. I started an ancestry.com account this year, so that I could fill in all the information he’d gathered and go even further.
  • The bow ties. Man loved his bow ties. I bought him SEVERAL. I am a bow tie enabler. At his memorial service, lots and lots of people were in bow ties. The minister wore one that I’d gifted to my dad. It was amazing. I took a couple home with me, and they will be the Bean’s.
  • His love for Buffy, and all the great discussions about plot points.
  • Because I’ve always been the kind of girl who likes unicorns and pegasii, he once made me a sweatshirt that he cross-stitched a pegasus on. The sweatshirt was a hideous color, and a wee bit small, but I kept it – and that is now a square on a different quilt.
  • Once, on a road-trip vacation, likely to the Black Hills, we saw a car with personalized plates reading “PANACHE”. My father said, “oooh! puh-NATCH-ee!” And I laughed at him. (I was maybe 12 or 13?) I told him, the word was pronounced “puh-nash.” He asked if I could back that up. Turns out, yes I could, as I had a dictionary with me. (Every vacation, my side of the back seat was crammed full of books, including a dictionary. Thanks be to anything holy for smart phones, right?)
  • His unwavering support. He often lived in the metaphorical dark. My father suffered from major depressive disorder, and it could be pretty bad. But even in the darkest of times, he was always there for me in my dark times. When I was in the midst of a very, very dark time in my life, he sent me a letter. In that letter were two things. The first was a key to his old car that he no longer had. I don’t know the year, make or model, although I think it was a Plymouth. He said that I would always have the key to figure things out. The second was a poem that I know I’ve referenced more than once on this site. By AA Milne: And sometimes when the fights begin/I think I’ll let the dragons win/And then I think perhaps I won’t/Because they’re dragons/And I don’t. On my wedding quilt, he made a square that he embroidered that poem and a Welsh dragon on. (If you know my real last name, you might suspect from the extraneous “l” that it might have Welsh roots. There were extra “y’s” in the original spelling, too!)

There are so many things – so many memories. Long discussions about right and wrong. Endless games of cribbage. Camping trips. Hiking. Biking. All the emails that start out with “greetings, eldest daughter.” So much love. Not enough time. I miss him so very much, and it kills me that he never met the Bean. I know that time heals all, and that this will get less raw every year. That the edges will fade. The good will be easier to remember, and the regrets will fade to the background.

I’m glad I flew in to surprise him for his 60th birthday party.

60th Birthday Surprise! (The biggest surprise was that I voluntarily flew to South Dakota in December!)

I’m so pleased I got to see him the August before he died.

August 2011, just before I left.

I’m glad he knew the Bean was coming, even if they never met.

This is, more or less, what the grandparents got as an announcement...

This is, more or less, what the grandparents got as an announcement…

It’s awesome that he was able to attend my wedding to the architect.

Bow tie AND cowboy boots! (10/31/06, wedding day!)

I’m happy that I told him I loved him often.

For once, he’s not wearing cowboy boots! (1995 I think, Glacier)

I’m so grateful that I had him for 35 years and that there is so little bad to tarnish the good.

Check out those late 70’s styles!

In his honor, I will never let those dragons win.

My dad’s handiwork.

He leaves some unique and wonderful shoes to fill, and I just hope that some day I can make as big a difference in someone’s life as the difference my father made in hundreds of people’s lives.

The boots.