Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Man, The Myth, The Legend...my Daddy

This is not my normal post and may take you by surprise, so first let me warn you, this is my heart, my feelings, my deepest thoughts and emotions. It is sad, funny and long so if you stick around until the end, thank you, if you don't I understand.

Today marks 2 years since my Daddy left, passed, deceased, died, stopped breathing. My hearts aches more today than it did that day. Why? Because that day I had too much to do, too many details to take care of, too many people to care for and I had to shut down in order to make it all happen. I honestly have not mourned my Daddy and it's been 2 years. I'm afraid that if I start to cry I won't ever stop, that I will scare the hell out of anyone near me because it's going to be ugly. I will scream, cry, bawl, snot will run, it will not be pretty.

Let's go back. Why? Because it's my blog and I can. LOL yes when I get stressed I get sarcastic, have dry humor and can be down right mean. So here we go. My Daddy was the youngest of  9. His mother died when he was young and his father was a heavy drinker and beat the crap out of him. I honestly never heard a good thing about my grandfather my entire life until after my Dad passed. All our neighbors and family have horrible stories about the man so the fact that my Daddy drank and would beat the hell out of people was no surprise, honestly I used to be surprised that he was as good as he was all things considered.

I was an only child. I loved my Daddy, still do. I was accused of worshiping him and it made my maternal grandmother furious that I thought so much of him. She thought it was horrible that I wanted to be with him, be like him, stick up for him and hang out with him whenever I could. I look like him and his sisters. His friends used to call me "Little Jeff" My daddy wanted a boy but got me. He loved me, there was never any doubt about that. I never questioned it, not once, not even if he was drunk and beating my ass did I question it. Crazy? Maybe, it's a Southern thing. The whole "daddy's girl" thing must have started in the South. We girls are devoted to our Daddy's no matter what type of man he is. We believe in family, dedication and loyalty.

I worked in his garage with him, rebuilt transmissions, sanded cars, did bondo, you name it, I did it. I had my first drink with my dad. Smoked with him. Could be whoever I wanted when I was with him. Sorry mom if you're reading this but as you've found out the last 2 years, Daddy and I had a lot of secrets together.

He was a cut up. When he was in a good mood he was hilarious, when he was mad it was Katie bar the door and run like hell cause he's going to tear someone a new ... well you get the picture. You either loved him or hated him. He was loyal, loving, funny, faithful, hard working, dedicated and a nut (in a good way). He loved sweets, chocolate especially, fried chicken, collards, fish, bacon, runny eggs, cheese, sweet tea, Coke and chocolate. Yes I know I said the last one twice but so would he. He loved the color red, almost every vehicle we ever had was red and if not, he painted it. He loved country music and not the new type but the old country western music, Willie, Waylon and the boys. He loved to go fishing, hunting and watch wrestling. He was not into sports but loved old western movies especially Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. He loved cartoons, the old kind, Foghorn leghorn was his favorite, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Roadrunner and even Scooby Doo.

Remembering these things makes me smile and will help me through today because 2 years ago the reality that my Daddy would not be here anymore was just too much. I remember every detail of that day. My youngest son had just gotten married the day before, it had been a whirl wind 3 days. We had my aunt (my mother's sister) memorial and during that I got the phone call. I was needed at the nursing home NOW. The doctor and I talked, it was time. I had to sign him over to hospice. The next morning I had to leave and go home, I was so broken but my son was getting married and I had to leave, I knew I'd never see my Daddy alive again but I prayed that I would. We had the wedding, it was lovely until late that night when we realized my mother had had a heat stroke while there. I spent the night tending to her and the next morning called to see if Daddy was still alive, it was a minute by minute time. He was and I was even able to speak with him on the phone. The calm before the storm. He knew me and I told him what was going on and that I'd be there as soon as I could. I told him I loved him and he said "I love you too girl" and then started screaming, the pain had returned and he did not know anyone or anything. I got my mother ready and checked out of the hotel. My (ex) carried her to the truck, we took her to our house and I cared for her for 4 hours. Then I loaded her up and we drove toward home. I was 8 miles outside of town when my phone rang and I knew...my aunt said he's gone. DAMN I was so close, I missed him. I was mad, upset and wanted to scream. Instead I said I'm on my way.

I took my mother home and called her sister, I could not leave my mom alone and she could not even walk, she could not go with me. I dropped her off and took off for the nursing home. No real reason to rush, he was already gone, but I felt the overwhelming urge to be there.

Upon my arrival a nurse stopped me to say he was gone. I said I know and kept moving, she called me back to the desk to tell me all the "details" i have to take care of. I told her the only thing I "needed" to do was see my Daddy and I'd be back. 

I walked in the room to find my Dad's siblings sitting around with old photos talking. I saw him on the bed, gray, clean, with a sheet pulled up to his chin. It took my breath away. My Aunt Juliette and I talked, she told me about his last 24 hours, the last few hours and assured me that he did not struggled but took a final breath and was gone. She is a retired nurse so she was able to tell me in medical terms without being overly emotional.

A nurse came in and asked me where I wanted the body...REALLY??? I just got here, this is my DADDY not a body and you want to know what I want done with it????? OMG it took all I could do not to slap her silly. THEN she tells me that the funeral home guy will not be there for 3 hours and I have to stay with the body. I can't breath, I want to run away, I want to scream and I cry. Instead I looked at him lying there and said okay.

I looked through the room and gathered up the things that were important to me. His watch which I put on and didn't remove for over a month, his hat and coat. The other things were not important.

Several nurses came in as the shifts changed and they had not been informed, they'd walk in and say "how's my sunshine tonight?" and stop, frozen then apologize, cry and leave. This happened 5 different times.

I filled out paperwork, talked to employees, nurses, hospice, more paperwork, the funeral director, and on and on. Three hours final went by and they came for him.

I followed him out of the building and then went to my truck. I sat there for a moment and almost lost it. I took a deep breath and said out loud, you don't have time, mom needs me and there is too much to do. So I sucked it all in and drove to my parents/now moms house.

That was on Sunday...Monday was filled with funeral home visit, arrangements, photos, videos, phone calls and more phone calls, florist, hotel arrangements for out of state family members coming in, cemetery, head stone, and on and on. My mom remembers nothing. I took care of everything as she could not. She was totally out of it.

At the visitation we had over 200 people come to pay their respects, everyone was broken up and so many men came to tell me stories about my Daddy, some I knew and some I didn't. We laughed, we reminisced about working together in his shop, about fishing trips and beer drinking nights. All of my Dad's siblings were there and a lot of my cousins. My parents neighbors, my Dad's childhood friends and even people I went to high school with who remembered my dad.
I even gave my Daddy's eulogy. No one knew him like I did except my mom. My aunt asked me to do it and I said yes, my mother's sister was shocked and asked me if I was sure. Yes. No doubt. It was an honor to speak about my dad to his friends and family. He would have been proud. I was shaking like a leaf and had to focus on a spot on the back wall. Had I looked at the broken shell of a woman known as my mom or my sons I would have lost it. But I made it through.

Now here I am two years later and feeling heavy hearted. I never mourned my Daddy due to fear of falling apart and not being able to stop. Plus I had no support. No one who was there for me. Until now.

Today my honey called me, texted me and spent time with me talking about my Daddy, asking questions and letting me talk, vent and cry. I feel better and know I'll be okay. Do I still miss my Daddy? Of course I do and I always will but I'm okay now and he would be proud of me and how I've taken care of it all and honored him in ways that he would have appreciated. Will I struggle next year this time? Maybe but I'll make it through.

Thank you for reading and allowing me to share my heart today.

To my Daddy...I love you and always will <3

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  1. This was full of so many emotions. It was beautiful. My daddy died in 1981 and I missed being there as well. You will never forget him and your love will stay strong. Talk about him a lot, share the memories -- it is healing. From another Daddy's girl!

    1. Thank you Carol. It really did help to write it all out. I feel like I was holding back the flood waters and now it is a free flowing river.

  2. I have heard you speak of your Father and I remember when he passed. As I was reading this, I thought man times of my own Father. Funny, he was from the North, so perhaps it is not just a Southern thing. I am so glad you have someone in your life that can guide you through your pain.