What he missed…

Dad died in April, 2002.  Or maybe it was 2001?  No, definitely 2002 because i remember talking with him about the attacks on September 11th.   It does require thought now to pin down the dates because i have started to lose lock on those sorts of details.  i don’t think it means i’ve stopped missing him, just that it was a pretty long time ago – and maybe my memory is starting to go.

The latest family scuffle got me thinking about all of the things that Dad didn’t get to see because he was the first one to check out of the Trailer Park.

– LC, my niece DQ’s first husband disappearing with half his gun collection after leaving a rather threatening note.  Dad also missed the arrest, trial and four years of jail time that LC served for the crime that triggered his sudden departure.  That was a good bit of trailer park drama.  At the time of Dad’s death, he considered LC as his son, and greatly appreciated how hard he worked to take care of the house for him and Mom.

– My divorce in 2006.  At the time of Dad’s death, EJR (my ex) had moved to our vacation place, had started his own consulting business, and only came home when i was scheduled to travel – but we were still married.  Dad liked EJR from the first time i brought him home.  i was 19, EJR was 26.  We were visiting so i could tell my parents that i was moving in with EJR, and that i would no longer need (or accept) financial support from them for my schooling.  When Dad died, he and i were the only two members of our family who had not been divorced*.  Ooops.

– Mom’s bypass surgery.  Other than a brief hospitalization for pneumonia (while Dad was going through chemo), Mom had generally had no health problems until after he died.  Which is pretty amazing considering her diet of processed food, gravy, salt, potato chips and ice cream.

– Grandchildren graduating from high school.  My daughter graduated in 2004.  Despite the fact that there are four older grandchildren (DQ, her step-sister JS, and the two oldest daughters of my brother), none of them had actually managed to attend a high school commencement ceremony.  All of them eventually completed high school, through either correspondence or equivalency degree.  Mom went to The Girl’s ceremony, though.  And when The Boy graduated in 2007?  The only reason he participated in the ceremony was for Mom. 

– The least-athletic child he had completing a half-marathon.  That’d be me.  My feet are still pissed off about that…

– My sister, T’s, selection as Dean of the Graduate School at her university.  As much as Dad valued education?  i think he’d have been proud.  Mom and the rest of the family don’t know enough about academia to appreciate the achievement.

– The Girl (aka “Danger Monkey) and her world travels.  She started with her ‘sailing around the world’ adventure in 2007, followed by a stint in Morocco in 2008 and her semester in Beirut, Lebanon last year.  He’d have enjoyed her travel tales.

– DQ’s “wild phase” and subsequent marriage to an 18 year old, BJ.  DQ was in her early 30’s at the time.  Before BJ, she dated a 300 pound high school senior who only stopped beating DQ up when Mom intervened.  But the marriage to BJ has been ok.  So far.  He’s a good human being, just has bad taste in women**.

– My sister, S, dealing with a pesky breast cancer nugget.  Oh, yeah.  Me, too a few years later. 

– After 3 packs a day for over 60 years, Mom quit smoking a month before bypass surgery in 2008.  Dad quit cold-turkey shortly after the U.S. Surgeon General changed the warning on cigarette packages from “Smoking may be hazardous to your health” to “Smoking is hazardous to your health” – some time in the 1970’s.  He never complained about Mom’s smoking, though.  He’d have been happy that she quit. 

There’s more.  More than i can cough up while sitting at my gate at the airport, waiting to catch another flight.  Sure.  There were some good things.  Things he’d have enjoyed.  Moments of fun.  i certainly would have appreciated his counsel over the last few years.  

But i don’t know…  The more i think about it, maybe he checked out at a pretty good time…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Even my lesbitarian sister had a short ‘starter-marriage’.  She married a Palestinian taxi driver she met in San Francisco after knowing him about 3 months.  Somewhere around the height of the first Gulf War.

** i say the same thing about my ex-husband.

24 thoughts on “What he missed…

  1. I can relate. My Dad died in 1998 and missed out on the births of three out of four great-grandkids. Although, I’m pretty sure he’s been around in spirit form for a lot of family gatherings. At my grandson’s first birthday, I “got” the notion that there would be a message from him. Sure enough, at the party that day one of the birthday toys started playing (by itself) “You Are My Sunshine”, which was the song my Dad used to sing when I was little. Also, my digital camera had some weird stuff on some of the frames of my grandson. Never did it before or since. He also leaves feathers around at my Mom’s house to let me know he appreciates what we do for her. He never was big on communicating, so even though this doesn’t seem like much….it works for me.

  2. I miss my dad too. He died in September 1995. My dad always laughingly and never in a mean way called me his “old maid”. I never was hurt by that and when I did marry at the ripe old age of 41, my uncle, his brother escorted me to my groom.
    It’s at times like this when I think about my dad that I wished I believed in heaven, because then someday he would meet my husband, whom I am positive would meet with his great approval. I truly wish my dad and my husband could have met, they would have hit it off quite nicely.
    I’m sorry for your loss, even though it’s been a few years.

  3. so you banged out this gem while sitting at the airport? damn i hate you over achievers! you just make a great post seem so effortless!~

  4. I’m with Lynn. WTF? It’s all I can do to get through a few pages of a crappy novel at the airport.

    I guess we will always miss them. I’m starting to think that maybe the last one standing doesn’t necessarily get the price. The old bottle of brandy is the consolation prize.

  5. unbearable banishment – what say i? not much about spiritual matters… others in my family ‘saw signs’, and believed dad was sending them signals from time to time. would never deny that those, in fact, happened. i just don’t feel it. ever. dead is dead. perhaps tis part of the reason i push myself to ‘do’…

    texastrailerparktrash – it doesn’t matter how old we are when parents leave, it’s still a shock to the system… “it works for me” is exactly my point – my family members felt something. something that was too far out of the ordinary to be coincidence… i especially like the feathers. sometimes i wish i could see or feel something…

    carlae – that’s a tough one – and i understand the ‘wish i believed in heaven’ sentiment. my saddest nugget is that dad never got to see how my children turned out (not that they’re done ‘turning out’ yet). he enjoyed them as mid-schoolers, and would have enjoyed them even more now…

    lynn – something about me and airports. it’s almost become a ‘writing zone’. yet another way to avoid connecting with the nameless, faceless traveling public that i generally seek to avoid on the road. after re-reading the post from the hotel tonight? it could have used another good edit. or two. but thanks…

    chris – i was slamming a bad dinner of double bourbon and french fries while bashing the laptop… it’s become a bit of a habit. the laptop, not the bourbon and french fries. yeah, the missing doesn’t go away. being the first one gone has advantages… but dad buried both of his parents while in his mid-20’s. he was an only child. he’d already paid his dues…

    • Daisyfae, even if you don’t know for sure your Dad is there to hear it, you can still talk to him in your head. Sometimes, when my Mom gets carried away with observing and judging family members (or the neighbors!) I ask Dad to step in and tell her to mind her own business like he used to do. (He probably isn’t any crazier about doing that from the beyond than he was in life, but it sure makes me feel better!) I’ve had so many experiences with the spirit world (including ghost dogs) that I’m convinced dead isn’t really dead…

      • texastrailerparktrash – i do talk to him, but it’s a one way conversation. it helps. i play a game of “what would dad say about this?”, and i usually know. so in a way? his counsel resides in my head already – it’s a good exercise for me to ask…

  6. I love this post, thank you. I used to feel guilty for not remembering the exact year (it’s already been 5 yrs since the triple tragedy) and I was startled by how many death dates suddenly found their way onto the calendar. Time heals and all that but I still miss them like crazy …

  7. I don’t suppose there’s ever a really “good” time to die, because whichever way you slice it, there will always be more. However, life is lived in the moments, not in the years, and since you and your dad were cut from similar cloth, he would probably have appreciated the same moments that you did.

  8. FJ – this is why i blog. the act of organizing my thoughts and feelings about the extended family issues is why i’m here – what i write in between is for fun, for practice, and to keep the habit… i have become more detached during the past two years that i’ve done this. i think it helps…

    tNb – for the first few years, it was important to remember the dates – but for Mom. she’d get darker and darker starting in january, and as april approached i tried to track things to better read her moods. five years? you’ve gone through many changes during that five years…. sending a hug, or two.

    kyknoord – dying before the asteroid hits would probably be good, as would dying before the mad axe murderer decides that you’re going to be next… but i tend to agree. it’s all ‘for now’. sadly, even if he had lived a few more years? i’d still be stuck as ‘trailer park referee’, because he’d gotten tired of the job a few years earlier…

  9. It’s been nearly two years since my grandmother and my cat companion died. I don’t think these wounds do completely heal. The pain grows duller and reaches consciousness less often is all. At least that’s how I feel.

  10. The only way I can remember when my mom died is that it was the same year I got a divorce. That was a long time ago, 1994. Soon I will be divorced for as long as I was married.

    Last year was hard with my Dad’s death. There were so many occasions when we would usually call each other, and he wasn’t there to call. He was the glue that held the family together, and now I feel my family is much smaller.

  11. i think your dad would be most amused at his fiercely independent, push-up doing daughter, his rather fiercely independent, world travelling grand-daughter and i do believe he would get a chuckle or two from the boy you have roaming the house.

  12. syncopated eyeball – he ws 79, and knew he couldn’t live forever. like to remind myself that i was lucky he was around that long…

    nursemyra – with parents, grandparents? those who live long lives? i think it’s easier… when it’s a young person? much harder…

    silverstar – like everything, families evolve. my family will be smaller after mom dies…. much, much smaller for me, i think.

    kono – there’s the bits that bring the sighs… i know he’d have enjoyed them. accepted them. been proud of them. and probably understood them better than any other grandparent…

  13. renalfailure – definitely a case of ‘better off dead’. although i’ve managed to avoid seeing episodes I-III. and am thankful…

    manuel – the remembrance triggers are sneaky… and there are still moments where i’m knocked back when they hit. but the effect is damped with time.

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