This has been a big weekend for anniversaries. The country and the world are remembering the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11/01 attacks and those we lost.
My dad died a year ago on 09/09/10. I have been struggling with it in my own way.
I keep counting down the days...a year ago I got a call from the ICU. A year ago today I called my grandmother and told her her eldest child would never wake up. A year ago I got on a plane to New Mexico, etc.
I am not sleeping very well.
Here is the obituary I wrote for my dad when he died.
"My dad died today. He was 67. He is survived by me, his two brothers and his mother.
I can’t think of anything my dad would hate more than being eulogized on a blog. Well, maybe milk. He really hated milk. But I try to avoid the whole, “She/He would love/hate this” thing that people do when someone dies. Because you don’t really know. They are gone, and you can’t ask them if they would mind being blogged about. All I know is what his past behavior was. And he distrusted all social media and thought blogs were stupid. Those are things I can say with certainty. I know he did like attention and supporting me when he could so maybe he would have surprised me and said, “Sure, you can write about me on your blog, if it helps you out.” Sometimes he did things like that. Surprised me. Regardless, I am going to do it anyway, because that is exactly who we were.
I have these three tables, two teak and one a lovely cherry. The cherry is actually Big A’s but that’s not important. All of these tables used to belong to my dad but have been mine for some time. They need to be refinished, badly. And one of Dad’s favorite things was giving detailed instructions about things like refinishing tables, or changing a flat, or how to deal with a break-out of hives. He would give you these instructions even if you didn’t need them and hadn’t asked. But I do need help refinishing these tables. I mean, I could probably figure it out. I’m handy. Go to Home Depot. Ask an orange-vested clerk. But I was saving it up to ask my dad about it when he got out of the hospital. Because it would make him happy and feel useful to me to be able to give me these directions; directions I really do need. Sadly, I think it will be a while before I refinish the tables. And that is a shame. Dad told me I should have done it last year. He was right.
I also didn’t tell him about how Big A’s toilet fills up with scalding water. I was saving that too, for when he was home and feeling better, and not in so much pain, like he was when we spoke last. I would have embellished the story, saying Big A burned his tuckus or something about a perfect place for a facial and he would have laughed. Then he would have given me instructions about how to handle the hot water toilet which I probably would have ignored.
My dad traveled the world. He shook President Kennedy’s hand when he was Senator Kennedy and booked Peter, Paul and Mary for his college Homecoming. His name is on the walk-way at that same college, a celebration of his academic achievement, which was great. He had his Rorschach read by Zigmund Petrofsky (I had to look it up too). He used to feed our dog, Heather, radishes to cleanse her palette. When we went to father/daughter dances in high school, he made me polka.
I’m experiencing about three of the stages of grief at the moment, so take all this with a grain of salt. The only thing that made this experience bearable for me was knowing exactly what my Dad’s wishes were prior to his illness. We had multiple conversations about it. And when I was 19 he made gave me durable power of attorney and made me co-signer on his accounts. Let me assure you that even knowing exactly what he wanted, having it in writing even, and signed by a notary public and a lawyer, I was barely able to think a coherent thought and act. If there is any doubt in your mind about what your spouse or parent wants to happen in the event of their not being able to make the decision for themselves, I strongly urge you to have that conversation at least once, and get some paperwork in order. Now. Not later. Today. I was able to give the rest of my family the gift of knowing exactly what to do even if it was hard to do it, in the end. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I had been forced to guess about his burial wishes or his end of life instructions. I sit here, overwhelmed with guilt as it is, and I followed his instructions to the letter. Guessing and choosing something to fit my needs instead of his wishes might have killed me.
So, good-bye Dad. I love you. I miss you. I’m glad you don’t hurt anymore."
Last year I didn't have a job, so this year, instead of falling apart in private, I am sitting in a cube weeping quietly and trying to edit copy. Such is the life of a freelancer...I don't want to miss a day of work and pay because I am sad. That would make me sadder. So I will go on with my life, work, go to the gym tonight, and try to get a better night's sleep.