It was a bit astonishing three weeks after Jeff passed away to receive a phone call from my dad’s doctor. She told me not to worry, but she felt he needed to be admitted into the hospital for observation. She also felt he’d be out and back home within a week. “If you put my dad in the hospital,” I said quite defiantly, “he won’t go back home.” Again, she made an effort to curb my concerns, reiterating it was my recent hospital experience and loss of Jeff which was founding my fears. She then put my dad on the phone.
“Julie,” he said straight forwardly then cleared his throat, “I want to do this, I think it will be okay.”
A long silent pause lingered over the connection before I responded, “Okay, if this is what you want, I’ll see you at the hospital.”
“It’s alright, I understand if you don’t want to go there,” my dad said with concern.
“No, I’m okay, I’ll be there, I love you.”
Within two weeks of being admitted into the hospital for ‘observation’ of a cold, (he had a blood disease which affected the formation of white blood cells), he was sent to hospice where, within a week, he passed away. I don’t know the words to express what it was like to bury my husband and within six weeks bury my dad. It’s not so much about me and what I felt but what I felt along with what my family felt as well. I don’t know the words, maybe it’s enough, well it is enough, to say, “We felt.”
It’s been five years ago today that my dad crossed over. While I have many stories about Dad and his passing to share along this my 49th year journey, I feel more compelled to just keep it so simple. As I was contemplating Dad, it dawned on me I don’t know his favorites. You know, his favorite meal, he loved good food; his favorite vacation; his favorite color, I think it’s camel tan, yes I’m certain of this. I even think he created the color’s name, camel tan.
What was his favorite ice cream? I think peach. Why peach I wondered; because he liked peaches or because he had a puppy named Peaches? One of my favorite photographs of my dad is an old black and white taken when he was a boy. He was all dressed up standing next the kitchen table. Sitting in the chair at the head of the table was his dog Peaches. It was her birthday, and even though they were poor, Dad’s mom made sure Peaches had a birthday party and there, in the photo with Dad, Peaches, and the kitchen table, there was a plate. On the plate, placed before Peaches, was a raw hamburger patty complete with a birthday candle proudly standing a top. This sweet photo reminds me, my dad was a boy, a boy who had a dog named Peaches.
What about Dad’s favorite song? Gosh, I don’t know. Is this terrible? I began to recall as a child knowing there was music playing on our turn table. I used to like to look at the album covers my parents had. As I was thinking of this, one album cover, Marty Robbins’ Gunfighters Ballad, stuck out in my mind, but the Marty Robbins’ song I recall hearing wasn’t on this album, the song is ‘A White Sport Coat’. Oh yes, I had to down load it. I’m sure I’ll be playing it over and over again today.
As I just listened to it once more, I reflected on Thursday evenings with my dad. Thursday was Dad’s payday. He’d come home from work and he and I would climb into our white, 2 door, 1966 Oldsmobile F-85, 3-speed on the floor, V-8, did I even know at the time what the hell all that was beyond just knowing Dad and now I thought it was the coolest car ever, especially when he told me I would get this car when I turned 16. He cashed his pay check at Wonder World and he’d let me buy a 45 record. Oh, how big I felt as a pre-teen who just got a little suitcase style record player. One Thursday while at Wonder World he let me scan the make-up isle, by myself. I found a perfume I really needed to have, Confetti and a Pet Rock. Dad, firmly said, “No” to the Pet Rock but allowed me to get the Confetti perfume; whoo hoo.
An image of my dad which is forever impressed in my mind is one day, while I was in the hospital, I woke to see him sitting next to my bed. He was weeping. I don’t recall having seen him weep before this moment. I managed to smile at him, grateful he was there, and the thought occurred to me that if my daddy here, on this earth, loves me so very much to weep this way for his daughter, how much more does my heavenly daddy love me.
Also impressed in my mind is the sound of my dad’s laugh. He had the cutest darn little laugh; it wasn’t a giggle it was more like a snicker, but a fun one. And the times my dad would just start to laugh uncontrollably, well you didn’t need to know what he was laughing at to start laughing too. His laugh, this fun little snicker he had, was just infectious.
Oh yeah, stories, lots and lots of stories; but today I will keep it so simple. Maybe you can too; think of your dad, what is or was his favorite ice cream, his favorite song. Take a moment to give thanks and send out a little love heart beat to your dad, maybe, if your dad is here in this realm, give him a call, say, “Hey, Dad, I love you.” Just do it! And remember to keep it so simple.