It has been exactly two weeks and three hours since my dad died.
It feels like a lifetime ago and I wonder how this can be when it was only days ago I was holding his hand and speaking with him. I do not feel the same overwhelming sense of sadness that I felt when I said good-bye to Sebastian. That is, that terrible ache in my heart is not there. I am not sure if it is because his illness was a long, drawn-out process or if I am just numb. Yet I know this to be true – there are things I miss about him already. I could phone him almost any time of the day and he would always pick up. This usually happened when I was emotionally struggling with something, whether it was loneliness or the daily stressors of life. He seemed to understood our family dynamics and, while not always the best at giving advice, he listened. Mostly I miss the fact that he was the only one, within our family, who appreciated spending time with me and I feel as though I took this for granted.
The last few months have been very difficult. My dad suffered so much physically and emotionally; he was lonely and struggled with his lack of independence. I feel guilty for all of the things I should have done. I should have decorated his room better. I should have visited earlier in the day when he wanted me to. Perhaps I should have taken him to my home to care for him in his final days. During the last two weeks of his life he asked to come home with me. I hope he can forgive me for leaving him at the continuing care centre…I hope I can forgive myself. The other day I came across Coco Chanel’s quote, “Guilt is perhaps the most painful companion of death.” and I stopped to reflect on it. Why do you suppose we put ourselves through this unnecessary torture?
I want everyone to know that I feel incredibly blessed that this man was my dad. He wasn’t perfect and, true enough none of us are, but at the end of the day he was always there for me. No matter what. I am so proud of my dad and I would like to share some of those reasons with you:
♥ He was raised during WWII in England and, as a result, he achieved a grade four education. This did not hold him back from taking night classes and becoming very successful in the stock market. Despite losing all of his money when the market crashed, I still admire his achievement in this area and how brilliant he was with numbers (I still count with my fingers!).
♥ He was the kind of Dad that could fix or do almost anything – they don’t make them like that anymore.
♥ He taught me how to cook his favourite dinners when I was young. Today, I enjoy cooking and I attribute this to him.
♥ He had a thing about women being ‘ladies’ and I like this about him.
♥ One of my favorite memories is doing his hair when I was about 9 years old. He fell asleep and shortly after the doorbell rang. He got up to pay the newspaper delivery boy – imagine his surprise when my dad greeted him with curlers in his hair! *he hee*
♥ He called most women ‘Sweetie’, most often because he couldn’t remember their names, but it made them all feel special!
♥ He is the only man I know who really enjoyed watching chick flicks and he had a mad crush on Julia Roberts! Two weeks before he passed I had to watch the movie, Pretty Woman, three times in one week.
♥ He often relayed how they fed corn to the chickens when he was growing up and “here they expect us to eat that and Kraft dinner?” It cracks me up when I think of him telling me that story.
Something very special to me was witnessing my dad’s vulnerable side being exposed this past year and I feel that it was a privilege to have met this part of him. Even the saddest events in our lives can bring out something positive. As an adult, I now realize that much of his advice doled out to me as a young person is true. These stories and his history will remain in my heart forever.
I cannot end this post without mentioning my little Dolly. She was there with me throughout all of this. Thankfully, the continuing care centre allowed pets, so Dolly was with me during most of my visits. It still makes me smile to think of her entering the building, no leash required, ignoring the other seniors’ who reached out to pet her, so she could make her way to Grandpaw’s room. My dad would call her ‘his little Dolly’ and she knew it. Even while the nurses administered medications into his belly, she would lie next to him, never barking and never flinching. It is amazing how our furry family members guide us through life’s journeys. I think about Sebastian and how he led me through my most important life challenges. And now, Dolly is here with me guiding me through the loss of Sebastian and my dad.
I am grateful. And, I love you Daddy~
Crystal Shawanda – You Can Let Go