It began in late March. My father walked into the hospital for what was promised to be a simple procedure, which later took his life. It was 4.5 months of watching him waste away, unable to recover as his 80 year old body fought for life. It was late into the night of August 13, around 11pm, that my sister called. "We are headed to the ER. Don't come. I'll let you know." At 2am the next call came. "Come now." The news was grim. 48 hours. Maybe a little more. Maybe a little less. Then, we took him home, my 2 sisters and I. For the next two and half days, the three of us, and my eldest niece, cared for him around the clock. We were joined by hospice, which was a tremendous help.
Death is so interesting and horrible and beautiful and I wish that each person would have, if they desire, the ability to pass away at home, surrounded by the things and the people they love and who love them. Both of my parents had this experience. We, those they left behind, were blessed by being able to support their transition in this way.
Honestly, there are moments when that time, those moments etched in my mind, are unreal. A bad dream. How could he be gone? So fast. Too soon. Is 80 years too soon? A Leo who lived a BIG LIFE. I mean BIG. The stories, his accomplishments. I could write a book about this man. He was the stuff of legends. Honestly, I have always thought that and then my mother-in-law, hearing some of the stories said it as well.
There is a part of me that thinks, "does everyone feel like this, take death so hard?" Actually, I am doing better with my father's death than I did with my mom's. As I have wept in the quiet, still moments of my day the last two weeks (which I can tell you has not been enough), I have considered this grief and how each of my parent's deaths was different. My mother lived a very blessed (after meeting my father and beginning her family) yet very horrible life. Her childhood was filled with abuse of various kinds, followed by men who mistreated her (not my father, the ones that came before), alcoholism and who knows what else that I have not been privy to. When she passed I grieved for her life, the pain, who she was and who she could have been had she been able to move beyond her suffering. I grieved the relationship that we never truly had, though I believe we both longed for.
With my father, this grief is different. It is a hole. A man who championed his children, always stood behind us, taught us everything. A hero to the grandchildren and friend to all he met. The son of a sharecropper, with an 8th grade education, he went on to run the entire manufacturing arm of the 3rd largest die-casting company in the United States. He traveled and met CEO's in the US and Europe working out contracts and specs on car parts and more. No small feat in a global economy for man who quit school to work in the fields so that there was food on the table! And avid reader, armchair political commentator, gardener and amateur engineer, there was nothing he could not do.
Growing up, we had our share of problems. Alcoholism with my mom, issues with my siblings, we had it all. We also had big Sunday dinners where friends and family would gather to swim in our pool, great family vacations, family businesses that brought us together in the best and worst ways possible. We are a close family and there are times that I marvel in our relationships and ability to get along and give thanks for the emphasis put on family that we had.
At this point I know I am beginning to become close to rambling, please forgive me. My husband's grandparents, in their late 80's, blessed us with joining us for the funeral and then lunch at my parent's home. Mammaw hugged me and told me that it will get better but that I will always hurt. This from a woman who loved her daddy more than life and lost him probably 25 or 30 years ago. It will get easier, but it will always hurt. There will be a day when I don't cry in the stillness of the day, when that hole will not burn through my chest. I know there will be a day when I will have stillness then remember and recognize that it has gotten easier.
This grief is layered with not just my loss or the loss of a grandparent for my children or the loss of a brother for those siblings my dad left behind. There is another grief that I am sure sits in my heart around my daughter. I cannot talk about it now as it deserves it's own place, but I will write about it later.
I'll leave you with my fave pic of my dad in the last few years. He is with Noah at his 8th grade graduation in 2016. I am so glad my children had the chance to know him.
Thank you everyone who has been understanding during this time.
"After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." - Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
I’m Dana Croy and I am a modern day mama. Balancing family and work is not always easy (not to mention a little self-care). Though being Mama to two fantastic kiddos is a huge part of my life, that was not always the case. I wear many other hats and invite to sit down and find harmony with me.