Some days I sit at the computer at the end of the day and I’m at a loss of what to write, which reminds me that I haven’t been paying enough attention to things throughout the day. I know that’s pretty normal…get on a routine and life sometimes becomes a habit that requires little concentration. But that’s exactly why I started this blog to begin with; I didn’t want to blithely go through my life and then wonder what happened to all my time. So, I guess today is one of those days where when I look back over the last… I’m counting on my fingers…16 or so hours, I need to pick out the small stuff. So here goes.
I actually enjoyed my coffee this morning. Not that I don’t normally, since I’m a coffee addict, but I noticed it this morning, I didn’t just gulp it down. I had lunch with a girlfriend I don’t normally get to go to lunch with. We went to a place called Dandy Donuts where they make bite-sized donuts that come with every meal. And I smelled like donuts for the rest of the day. I interviewed a student for a tutoring position who seems to be a great candidate. That was a good start to my Fall planning. I figured out a name for my new puppy. More on that tomorrow. I also had fun shopping with my boyfriend for the items I need to bring said puppy home in the morning. I heard from a girlfriend I haven’t talked to in a while. We’re planning a catch-up night soon. And tonight I chatted with my mom, which is always a blessing. Unless she’s crabby or giving me advice I don’t want to hear, but probably need. But that wasn’t the case tonight. Thankfully.
So I was texting with my mom today about house projects and tv shows and how there isn’t enough time for everything. Here’s how our exchange went:
Mom Clone yourself.
Me Ha! There’s an idea.
Mom I think the world could use a few more of you.
Me I’m not sure the world could handle it.
Mom We could send out a memo preparing everyone for it.
Mom No, no…wrong train of thought. More like a multiple blessing.
Me Aw, thanks!
Mom I only speak the truth. Unless I’m texting your sister Jenny. Haha!
I love my mom. I really thought she was being sarcastic, which would not surprise me in the least. After all she’s not the type of mom who’s blind to my faults, some of which had come up in a prior phone conversation. Instead, she was being sweet and I was thankful for that today. I needed it. Of course, I love that she ended our exchange with a sense of humor. I’m guessing my sister, who reads this blog, knows what my mom was referring to. My mom isn’t really a liar. But she does like a good joke.
I’m back home from my mom’s and looking forward to sleeping in my bed, without the train whistles rumbling the windows during the night. I forgot how close her house is to the train tracks. I know it’s easy to eventually get used to anything, but a couple of nights is not long enough to get used to trains passing by every few hours. I’m tired. I’m glad we got done as much as we did, though. My mom was very happy with what we accomplished and I’m glad I was able to help her out. I’m only disappointed that I wasn’t able to get her new kitchen faucet installed; that will be next visit. Mom also let me go through dad’s tools and take whatever I could use since she was planning to get rid of things over the summer. I took several items, including the table saw and miter saw, two things I’d been wanting to get anyway. She also gave me the soldering torch that was my grandfather’s. It’s still in the old painted wooden box with his initials carved in it. I love the history of items like that. I’m thankful to have it and the other tools, not just because I can actually use them, but because I remember watching my dad use them, and that’s pretty cool. Now once I’m done painting my house, I’ll be looking for a few new projects…
My mom finally got a smartphone. It’s amusing to me because she fights technology. She doesn’t know how to use her computer and sees no use for wireless internet at her home. (Which drives those of us visiting crazy.) However, when she needed to change phone plans after my dad died, my sister talked her into upgrading her phone–to an iPhone. And it’s taken her less than a week to text like a pro. Tonight I called her in response to a text she sent today, knowing that my answer would be too cumbersome to type out on my phone. After I explained that to her, she replied Yes, I’m finding it sometimes easier to call than text. As if she’s been texting for ages. It made me smile. Partly because it’s funny how quickly she’s adapted to the technology that just a month ago she would have denied needing or wanting or being able to understand. But mostly, I’m proud of my mom for branching out in even this small way. There’s a sort of independence I see in the fact that she’s embracing the new. I think that’s important now that my dad is gone. We talked a little tonight about how she’s struggling with the moments she’s too keenly aware of his absence. How she’s trying to stay busy. It’s not an easy task to learn to be alone after living with someone for 40 years. Not only does she need to navigate the practical aspects of that (she wishes she had paid attention to how to run the lawn mower, but she thought she’d have more time to learn) but she also needs to figure out how to maneuver through the loneliness. I’m grateful for the fact that she’s not shrinking from the independence that’s been thrust upon her, but rising to the challenge. She’ll make it. I know that. It’s these baby steps that are helping. Well, that and the fact that she’s a strong, intelligent woman. More so than she sometimes gives herself credit.
My dad died today. My sisters and mom and I sat by his bedside all night last night, listening to his labored breathing, holding our own breath every time he stopped too long between gasps. He never woke up. So we chatted amongst ourselves and cried intermittently and finally, around 2 am, requested pillows and blankets and tried to sleep on wooden folding chairs. There’s something exhausting and guilty-feeling about waiting for death. The constant wondering if the next moment is going to be the last one together. Just after 5 am, when it was just my mom awake by his side, my dad simply stopped breathing. My mom said she had just told him he didn’t have to hold on any longer. He could go, and so he did.
I have to admit that when I first got the call yesterday that my dad had taken a turn for the worse and maybe wouldn’t survive the day, I didn’t want to go back to the hospital. It wasn’t that I had just made the three-hour drive back home, it was that I didn’t really want to face it. I wasn’t sure I had the energy or the strength to watch my dad die. But then I knew that whatever I felt didn’t matter. What was real was that the man who spent his life taking care of me and my sisters and my mom would be gone within hours, and I had the privilege to be there by his side. No matter how much it would hurt to see, this was a gift, to say a final goodbye.
I’m thankful my dad was a Christian. He believed that he was headed to a better place and had absolutely no fear of death. I know that made his final days easier for him. And I’m sure he was looking forward to seeing the many people he had lost in his almost 67 years: his own dad who died too early in his 30’s, his mom who suffered from Alzheimer’s, his brothers, his son, his best friend. It must have comforted my mom also, allowing her the strength to tell him to go to the others she believed were waiting for him.
The world lost a wonderful man today. A man with a hearty laugh and a deep love for people and animals and the Lord. A man of strength and honor and commitment. A man who loved my mother and her children as his own. He was my stepfather, but I never thought of him that way. To me he was always my dad. I’m thankful he entered my life so long ago. And I’m thankful I was there when he left so peacefully this morning.
It’s been a difficult day. But I’m thankful for the friends who have checked in with me and offered support one way or another. Life is so unpredictable; that’s why living, truly living is so important.
My dad is back in the hospital, only this time they found that it is cancer again. It’s spread throughout his body. It’s hard to talk about or even think about right now. As with anyone in this situation, it seems so unfair. But I’m going to travel there tomorrow to be a support for my mom if nothing else. I’m grateful I live close enough to do that.