Tuesday, June 2, 2009

my father 1927-2005

my dad would have been 82 today.

i vacillate between a continuing sorrow over his death and a sigh of relief about the same event. i know he wasn't happy the way he was... he knew he was suffering from alzheimers, he'd not reached the point where he didn't have the realisation, he lived with it daily... railing against his continued health problems--his macular degeneration, that didn't allow him to see his beloved books or choose his music by name...having to rely on the grab and play method... the need to call myself or the kids to come fix his remote control or find his cd player or plug in a lamp. his hearing had faded and he suddenly had to use a cane, when only a few years before, he'd walked up and down the mountains of southern utah without stopping to catch his breath.

he shaved his beard, i'm not sure why... that action added to the age of his face. his eyes, that used to sparkle on a regular basis, only caught that light when we went out to eat, or, when he saw hrh... he adored her.

he was proud of jarhead, shushing my concerns about him joining the marines, telling me to suck it up, i was the daughter and the mother of a marine. the investment made him laugh...and he would say, "he'll be like you, and come into his own later in life. don't worry." he regretted his outbursts of anger set off by life, and his lack of control over that anger--control taken away by that shitty, shitty disease.

he loved me.

i loved him.

we didn't always have a good relationship, he was a harsh father. we learned to be friends, then, chose each other for family... the best of both worlds.

he was proud of the brother and thought my sister in law was gods gift to the world. she, in turn, with her laughter and kind ways, always enjoyed his time with them, and loved him for him.

in a way, i'm glad to leave my little utah town because there are so many one on one memories that remind me of him. restaurants, shopping...even wal mart, a place he loved to shop. we'd push the cart, i'd grab, he'd talk, and he always called me on the 1st of each month, when his retirement check hit, and say, "hey, we have new money!!" i can't even go to the dump without thinking of him, and how we'd laugh on our way to remove boxes from the house when we first moved here. "well, what fun, lets go to the dump!!" every morning, i'd open the little town newspaper, and he'd say, "well, who are we at war with?". he'd just said that phrase, on 11 september 2001...when i turned on the tv and we saw the second plane hit. he never said it again.

my father always promised me that we would go to tuscany. we talked about the trip, planned it, drooled over it... and one day, i'll go, and spread the last of his ashes that i keep here at home.

i'll cry, as i am now... and miss his hand on my shoulder, his encouraging voice in my ear, his dear face in my vision. when i wrote his obituary, i did it to honour him... not the man he was when i was a child.. but, the friend i'd lost. it's not a traditional one...but, it fit him. it bespoke his time in korea, his love of so many things, his abilities to accomplish many things in his life.

the last trip he took, he and my mother drove an rv for weeks and thousands of miles.. and from that came the photo the brother and hrh and i all cherish... dad, at a campground with the brother and his wife, in a tshirt and shorts, full beard, reading elmore leonard, and flashing a smile and the peace sign. it bespeaks the essence of the man he'd become. although my mother and i don't really get along, i am forever grateful she took that trip with him... giving him one last long enjoyable time before he was slapped down, before we knew, when there were questions and no answers. she took care of him, and pampered him and drove him crazy. but, she drove that rv like a champ, and he always spoke of the trip with fondness.

i have never been able to listen to the song below, and not think of my dad. he loved judy collins and, when we were on car trips, he'd ask me to sing it in my alto, so different from the larkvoice of judy...it was something i always did, the words causing me to cry at the end. he'd thank me, and then, we'd sing together all the songs we knew, crossing our fingers my tone deaf mother wouldn't join in...

in his honour, i'll ask all of you to do what i suggested in his obituary... take some time, your favourite spot, your favourite book, and read. if someone should come up and disturb you, say what he would have said (in fact, he proudly wore the tshirt that had this very saying on it)

"shut the hell up, i'm reading."

happy birthday, daddy.


austere said...

You made me cry.


Jeeves said...

This is a brilliant post. Moved me.

harrietv said...

Nicely written. I'm glad your memories are good.

Just an aside: I cannot believe I am married to a man old enough to be your father!

Lynne (aka Gel) said...

Sniffles...This evokes memories of my own. Poignant and effective writing style that I have missed reading. (I've been out of blogland for several months.)

I read everyday, but to honour him, I shall read more today (and wish I owned that terrifically blunt t-shirt!)

molly said...

Wow, really nice. Moving. Thanks for sharing this, from the inside out.

Dee Martin said...

This hit me on so many levels. Good thing there are no kids in the lab as I sit here and try to type while I cry, listening to Judy sing. Go to Tuscany! Go soon!

liontigerelephantbear said...

The perfect tribute to a loved father.

My close friend's father had a heart attack last week, dead instantly. I remembered that I don't see my parents often enough.

My grandfather had alzheimers. He died almost three years ago from a massive failure of Everything. He was not a man who had allowed anyone to really know him at all, and at the time it seemed to make little difference that his mind was deteriorating. He was always in a good mood, perfectly contented to wander absently around the house, humming to himself, industriously doing nothing. But when his body abandoned him the absence of mind - of meaningful recollection - became unbearable to observe. He didn't know anybody, didn't know who he was or where he was, let alone where he was going. He lay trapped in a hospital bed for a week, unwashed, unmedicated - because he was merely dying, you see. And besides, without awareness, without memory, he was hardly really a person, hardly worth the medical attention we foolishly thought might relieve his pain if not his suffering.

Beyond the arbitrary softness of flesh and bone, memory is all we are made of.

This post is a wonderful memory.

coastrat said...

What a beautiful tribute to your father, Quin, so glad you were able to connect with him. Your words are amazing! You got me teared-up, too...

Love the song by Judy Collins. Do go to Tuscany!

Take care!

Kelli Wedemeyer said...

Crying. Thinking of my own Dad. I am finally old enough to not have a panic attack when I think of my parents dying, but I will fear that day until it arrives. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories.

vinny said...

Did you often think of your dad while he was still around?

I can't really pinpoint why that question came to me... but it was the first thing that popped into my mind as I read the post.

Mellie said...

This struck me on each and every level. You brought tears to the eyes and great gulping sobs to my chest. My dad's birthday is in july and it will be our first without him. I don't go a day without thinking about him, without smiling or even a teary eye. I pray that it will stop being this bad and I also pray that it never stops.

Love you x

quin browne said...

austie~hug thefather for me, please.

jeeves~thank you for your words.

sortamom~he married a child bride.

gel~i hope you enjoyed the book!

molly~i plan on it

dee~it has always made me cry

lions~i cannot express my anger and sorrow over how he was treated. it is why the ill need us to stand up for them.

cr~he'd have taken you on for choosing the wrong 'side' in your re-enactments

kelly~i remember when he told me it was an odd day for him on his birthday, because at that moment..he was older than his father.

vinny~yes, i thought of him quite a bit when he was alive, too. my dad was a big influence in my life.

mellie~i know, dear heart. i know.

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

Very nice. I had to skim though, a bit too close to home.