November 1, 2008

A Tribute to my Father

As the holiday seasons approach, my mind wanders to the time when my Father was alive, and here for the festivities. Halloween through Christmas; he loved it all. There are no words that can adequately describe the depth of my feelings. They sit deep inside me, and then will spring upward when I sometimes don't expect it. The following is my tribute to a great man, who loved people and life itself - my Father.

A Tribute to my Father
It seems like only yesterday my Father and I were discussing current events or the neighbor’s dog. Then it happened. He told us he was going into the hospital for a minor bladder procedure. He had seen blood in his urine, and the Urologist told him small tumors needed to be removed. He would be a few days in the hospital, and then home. I was filtering out the words I wanted to hear: small tumors and a few days. I think my Father wanted to believe that was all there was to it. Looking back, my entire family lived under this cloud of denial.

My Dad made it through the surgical procedure, and as the Urologist predicted, he came home within a week’s time. With some rest and my Mother’s loving care, he then brushed the dust from his boots, and continued living his retired lifestyle with my Mother. Everyday was another place for him to visit, whether it was the County Library where he so kindly brought the Librarians’ candy, or to the country club to hit a few rounds, and joke with his golf associates. It was obvious to us he was glad to have his family around him, and it was priceless to have him with us.

It wasn’t long before the tumors grew back, and this time with a vengeance. No one could deny the inevitable. My Father’s time was coming to a close. How do you deal with that ocean of truth staring at you?

In retrospect, I can vividly remember my Father raising the training wheels on my green bicycle, and pushing me to go forward. I was happily screaming, and could hear him laughing behind me. What seemed like the next minute, I was looking at a man who aged overnight, lost weight, and knew full well that when he looked in the mirror, he saw himself dying, and he felt very sad.

I do not know all the corners of my Father’s life. He was a young single man during the swing-time of the early 1940’s. He was handsome with a full head of dark wavy hair, and a winning smile. When he told stories of hearing the big bands of the day, his hazel eyes lit up, just like a kid on Christmas morning. And it was only when I was an adult, I found out that before he married my Mother, he owned a horse named “Peaches” and loved to horseback ride. I think about how much information we are not privy to about our parents. Take them out of the “parental role” and they are men and women, who had childhoods, teenage years and young adult years, long before they had children. Once, when I was reminiscing about being the best ping-pong player in the neighborhood as a kid, my Father told me he was a ping-pong champ in his younger days. It was only by coincidence that I found out we shared the same feather in our caps.

One day, when I was driving my Father home from one of his hospital visits, he said to me “I love the quote on that car’s bumper-sticker…when words fail, music speaks.” At that moment, he was reading poetry. He did not have many words to say thereafter. The cancer was draining his body, and he was slowly slipping away. I held his hand whenever possible, and thanked him for being such a great Father, and for giving us a wonderful home life. I never left his bedside without kissing his cheeks and forehead. I wanted him to feel my love.
Early one morning when he was ready, he stepped out of his body, and moved onto his new path. I believe the warm light he must have seen and felt was the love of God, and that of his Mother and other loved ones already on the other side.

Although I miss my Father with words I can’t accurately describe, I also understand it was his time to die. There are days when I am drained with grief so deeply that I wonder how and if I can go on. Other times, I hear his voice or see his smile while in a sleepy dream, and I can actually feel happy again, knowing he is “somewhere” around me. It soothes the ache in my heart.

Here I stand at the age of fifty, and have come to the realization that our lives consist of many chapters. The sun may shine in some of the chapters, and hide behind clouds in other chapters. All in all, it is part of life’s journey. It is the love for my Father to keep his legacy alive by sharing his stories with others, and letting the world know that a very kind and wonderful man once lived here.

1 comment:

Thanks for visiting.
~ Kathleen ~