Friday afternoon, I set off to pick my my 2 youngest kids from school. They go to a year round elementary so they started school about a week ago. We got home and I looked at the Friday newsletter, looked through the papers that came home in the folder and chatted with the kids about their day. We made plans for the weekend. Then I noticed my phone had a voice mail on it so I picked it up and dialed the numbers. As soon as I heard my mom’s voice I knew something wasn’t right. It was rare for my mom to call me. My dad called me all the time, but never my mom. She just recently put my number in her phone. The message she left said “Get here now, your dad was just found dead”. I still can’t type that without tearing up.

I screamed. I started saying No, no no…. I tried to dial my husband’s number and couldn’t figure out what buttons on the phone did what. When I finally got his number, he didn’t answer. I called again, he didn’t answer. I threw the phone across the room and grabbed my cell phone and called a third time. He answered and I couldn’t even speak, I was just sobbing so hard. He finally was able to calm me down enough for me to tell him to get home now, that my mom had just called and I needed him here. He was in the middle of a job, 4 hours away.  He said he woudl call hs mom to come watch the kids. Her adn I havent spoken in a year. While he called her I called my mom. I didn’t even know where “here” was, or what had happen. I needed to tell her I was on my way. After her, I called my best friend. She was my rock all weekend.

My husband called back and said that his mom was on the way. I left my 12 yr old in charge until she could get there and headed to my mom, about 45 mins away.

By the time I got there, I had put my game face on. I’m the oldest, it’s my job to hold the family together. I found out that my dad was at work when he died. He was the office manager for a place called The Stump Dump. It’s where they take stumps to be disposed of when they clear land. He would sit in the office and make notes of who came in when, etc. A driver had some in and dumped a load and came into the office to get a receipt. They said he was sitting in his chair with a book in his lap and looked like he was sleeping. The guy called his name a couple of times, then nudged him. When he got no response, he called 911.  The medical examiner is ruling it a heart attack and says that it was quick and he didn’t suffer. That he just went to sleep.

He had been sick all week. He was insulin dependent type 2 diabetic. He was having problems with infections and had lost toes on both feet. He had just gone in for another surgery a couple weeks ago. He had a follow up apt last Monday and was so tired from spending all day in the hospital that he lost a couple days from work. He got up Friday and told my mom he felt better than he had in months and he was going to go to work and finish reading his book. I’m so grateful that his last day was a good one.

My mom, my brother and I talked and decided to have my dad cremated. Because of that, we didn’t have a funeral. There was a viewing/visitation on Sunday, and this week, as soon as the paperwork is signed and filed, he’ll be cremated. My mom picked out a nice urn for herself and my brother and I will both get our own smaller memory urns.

Sunday morning we had a private family viewing and it was a major emotional overload for me. I handled it a lot better than I thought I could though. I was even able to take some pictures for my mom. Sunday night was like some sort of weird out of body experience. Like I was there, but I wasn’t. All these people I didn’t know came up and told me how much my dad talked about me and how much he loved me. One woman told me that he told her all the time that I was a great mom. That meant so much to me. My dad and I had had such a hard relationship, and I always believed that I was a disappointment to him. In the past year I let go of so much anger and resentment and accepted that he was who he was and would never change and I had to be the one to let go of the baggage and move forward. I’m at peace with that. I have nothing on my conscience. I let go, and loved my dad.

Sunday night when I was driving my mom home she made a gesture out my window and when I looked, the way the moon was shining through the clouds it looked like a giant eye. It was so realistic that at first it startled me, then I wondered if it was one of those projection things that some businesses use. Then I realized it was the way the clouds were formed. It was like that all the way home, and when we got to the house it was gone.  I wish I had thought to stop and try to get a picture. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.

I’m not ok. I’m ready to be ok. I’m ready to move through this and be able to regain normal life again, but I’m not sure how that is possible. I have to remind myself to just take one step at a time. It’s really hard because my brother is so unable to deal with anything so the responsibility of helping my mom through her grief has been dumped solely in my lap. I have to take care of everyone else, when what I would really like is for someone to take care of me.

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