It's a year to the day since my father died. I thought I'd tell you about how this year has been, not that you care or anything.
I don't want to get into too many of the details of how he died. It will remain in the family. He was a very sick man. His death came as a relief to us, and probably to him, too.
I was at work when I got the call from his assisted living facility that he had passed. The nurse saw my name and phone number before she saw anyone else's. I happened to be the first one in the family. No conspiracy there. It was a bit ironic for me to be the first one to find out about it, and the last one to see Dad in his death bed, a few hours later. Everyone else lived so much closer to him.
I saw Dad, his non-breathing husk in his bed, and kissed him goodbye. I thanked him for having been a good father to me and for having put up with so much of my bullshit and drama. I called him my buddy, as he had called me his so many times. I sucked it up and listened to the minister pray over his body, along with the other family members who had joined Patricia and me.
The rest of the week leading up to the funeral? The days all ran together and formed a kind of mosaic of my life and his. I worked on his eulogy. I watched the women in the family, minus my mother, drink wine and put together a series of pictures of him and us to be displayed during the funeral and the wakes. I practiced the eulogy. I attended the wakes. I worked on the eulogy a bit more.
The funeral drew nigh on May 7th. Just before I stood up to deliver the eulogy, I looked across the room and saw a man looking at me. For a moment, I could have sworn that it was my father. I shook my head, and it was someone else. Your mind can play tricks on you sometimes. I got up and delivered the eulogy and sat back down. After the funeral, it took me 20 minutes to get a cup of coffee as people approached me and complimented me on what I had just said about my dad. You could find a copy of the eulogy on this blog if you want to read it.
The last 51 weeks have been about dealing with his estate and other issues. We have had to make some awkward and difficult decisions that will have far-reaching consequences for those affected. We always asked ourselves what Dad would have done. We think that we have respected his wishes and his will as best we could.
I have been a year now without being able to pick up the phone and say hi to my old man. But I still feel his presence in a way that is more intimate than a phone call, more friendly than a face-to-face visit, and more paternal than closing my eyes and thinking of him. I felt him next to me as I put this computer desk together a few months ago. I think he's been proud of me for helping out my mother around the house as best as I have been able to. He's seen me curse as I have tried to install light fixtures at Mom's or in his garage, fiddled unsuccessfully her programmable thermostat, and been with her as she got her new oil tank installed. I have tried, Dad. I have tried. If I did not always succeed, I was able to get my brother-in-law to help, and I tried to learn from him.
Dad, I think of you all the time. I hope that you are in a better place, where you are free of the pain you wouldn't tell us about, even though I could see it in your face and hear it in your voice. I am ok. We are ok. Please take comfort in that. We do.
John at work asked me why I wasn't wearing a blue shirt to work today, in honour of the big Conservative win in our federal elections on Monday. I just smiled. I will tell him now, because he reads this blog, that I chose to wear one of my father's shirts to work today. It made me feel closer to him.
(Oh, by "him", I mean my father. Not John. Not that there's anything wrong with that.)