Last Friday, I had the feeling to call my Dad. It was on my mind all morning and I called the rehab center where he was staying and got the answering machine. I went about my day, but later in the afternoon I again had the feeling to call him.
I called again and this time I got through. “Hello! How are you?” were the words I understood my Dad say. He answered many of my questions with a “Yeah” and then said a lot more, none of which I understood. He was trying so hard to talk to me, which was so exciting, but it was also so frustrating for both of us that I couldn’t understand his words. I hung up the phone with the clear impression that I was never going to have a normal conversation with my Dad again.
On Saturday I was out of sorts. As often happens with me when I’m emotional, I don’t always understand what is bothering me. I thought I was tired but by late afternoon when I was grumbling at Noah for something, he finally said, “Mom. What is the matter with you today?” Instantly I knew what was upsetting me.
I told him, “I talked to Grandpa yesterday and I’m upset because I realized that I’m never going to have a normal conversation with him. He is not going to recover from this stroke and be my Dad again and it’s upsetting to me.”
Noah was very sweet and tried to comfort me, which helped me so much. Of all my kids, Noah is the most like my dad.
They both fell off the same side of the family tree. It often startles me when Noah will say something exactly how my Dad would say it. Same words, same expression, same attitude. It’s truly startling since Noah has hardly been able to spend much time with my Dad.
Noah’s words of comfort were much like what my Dad would say to me and it helped. On Sunday morning we were at church. The first Sunday of the month in our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka The Mormon Church) is dedicated to the bearing of testimonies. Members of the congregation are encouraged to share their testimonies of one another.
Hubs whispered to me that one of us should get up and do it and let people know how Baby Girl is doing on her mission. Ryley is currently serving a Spanish-speaking mission for our church in Sacramento, California.
I told Hubs I would get up since I had wanted to share my thoughts about fathers as well. I bore my testimony of God’s love for us and how grateful I am for The Book of Mormon and the beautiful words that have provided so much comfort, knowledge, peace and direction in my life. I then talked about fathers. I pretty much just summed up my thoughts from my last post about my Dad.
Unbeknownst to me, at about this same time at the rehab center in Idaho, they were getting my dad up to take him to the bathroom. Dad collapsed on the way and they were unable to revive him. My sister called me about an hour and a half later with the news that my beloved Daddy had died.
There are seven siblings in my family. We divided them up and each contacted the other siblings to give them the news. None of us was prepared for this reality. Dad was physically getting better. Despite not being able to swallow or communicate, his body had seemingly recovered from the stroke. At the time of the stroke, we had all mentally prepared ourselves for the fact that he might not survive.
As the days went on after the stroke, we believed that Dad would recover, but it would be a long road for him to learn to talk again. Each of my siblings was able to go to Idaho to see my Dad and spend time with him in the past month. I was planning to go in July when I have to fly out to Utah to pick up Katie. Part of me is very sad that I did not get the chance to hug on my dad one last time.
A larger part of me is glad that my memories of Dad are not as a sick and frustrated person who couldn’t speak. Naturally, I will miss not getting that hug. Who wouldn’t want just one more hug?
But I am okay. Nothing was left unsaid between my Dad and I. He knew I loved and adored him. He knew he was my hero and my friend. I knew that he loved me deeply and was so very proud of me. There is nothing I could have said to him or he to me that we both didn’t already know and I can live peacefully knowing that to be true.
In 1965 when I was one year old, my dad worked as a bartender. At that time there was a show on TV called, The King Family Show. There were thirty-seven members of the King family that performed on this musical variety show, the most popular being the King Sisters. At the close of each show, they would sing a song called, Love at Home. Each time this song came on in the bar, Dad would shush the rowdy bar patrons so he could listen to this song.
His love of this song and it’s message of the joy of families led my Dad to investigate and learn about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was about three when my parents joined the church so I have been raised with the teachings of it nearly my whole life.
I will be forever grateful to my dad for the curiosity that lead him to our church. I can’t imagine my life without a knowledge of eternal families. In the Mormon religion, we believe that we lived before we came to earth and our spirits continue to live after we leave this earth. While saying goodbye to loved ones is never easy, it helps so much to have an understanding of my Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness.
Because of my religious beliefs, I was married in the temple. People who are married, or sealed, in the temple are united as a family not just for time, but for all eternity. When I was about 12, my family traveled from Seattle, WA to Oakland, CA so my parents and our family could be sealed together. This blessing gives me the knowledge that though my time on earth with my dad has come to an end, I will see him again. I will get to be with him in the next life.
As equally sad as we are on this side of the veil between life and death, I know there is an equal joy on the other side as my Dad is reunited with his parents, and with my nephew, Kale, who passed away three years ago. There is a party in heaven right now and my dad always loved a good party. I am so grateful for my belief in eternal families. It gives me such peace and comfort and joy at a time of such deep sorrow.
I’m leaving for Idaho on Friday. It’s bittersweet. While I am sad I am going to say goodbye to my Poppa, I’m also looking forward to being with my family. I’m hoping the seven hours I cried on Sunday will have exhausted most of my tears, but I’m guessing there’s still more in me. I’m a crier and I have discovered that crying headaches are the very worst headaches in the world.
I know many of you have lost loved ones, parents, siblings, even children and friends. Death is never an easy thing. Saying goodbye is hard and breaks your heart. I will always miss not being able to talk to my Dad and hear his jokes and songs and philosophies of life. I will always miss his hugs. But I am so very blessed for the good life I had with him. I have a lifetime of wonderful memories of him.
When I get back next week I will catch you up on the progress we’ve made in the kitchen. We’ve knocked some things off our list, including the floor and the counters. It’s starting to look like a real kitchen again.
I will be finishing the back side of the peninsula before I leave. It’s on my list of things to do today. Being busy with projects keeps my mind off my grief and as I’ve always said, being creative is my therapy.
Thank you so much for your friendship, support and the sweet words of comfort that I have already received from so many of you. Your sweet thoughts and prayers help ease my heart.