Hindsight: Memories from a Grateful Daughter

I’m struggling here. If you’ve been following my blog, you may have noticed that since the beginning of this year, the frequency of my posts has decreased. There’s valid reasons for that. Life. And death.

You see, my Dad passed away on 2/18/18. It actually happened. There’s no ‘how to’ book on how to prepare for this inevitability-that your parents will one day die. But there’s also no way around it. As “they” say, no one gets out of here alive.

My Dad was the best. I paid tribute to him on my my Father’s Day post last year, knowing that it very well may be his last Father’s Day here on this earth. Now that it’s been a few days since the funeral, and Hubs and I are safe and sound back home in Colorado, I see that there are things that went unsaid, on my part, during the chaos that was this past week and a couple of days. Chaos including traveling by car for several days in inclement winter weather to reach my hometown. Chaos including making travel arrangements for our youngest spawn to be there. Chaos including helping our oldest spawn keep her 4 year old entertained. Chaos including helping my sister with picking the “right” pictures to display on the boards she bought at the hardware store.

But we got through it. As my sister whispered in my Dad’s ear during his final hours and I tearfully conveyed to him on the phone the day before he passed, “We will all be okay. Mom will be okay too”. I hope that he took that in, internalized it. I hope it gave him the piece of mind he needed to allow himself to peacefully surrender to the next dimension.

The beautiful thing is that the memories of my Dad will remain. And there are so many precious ones. We will hang on to those memories for the rest of our lifetimes. These memories are blessings.

So while driving through boring old Nebraska, on our way home this weekend, I gave some thought to the things that, to me, made my Dad the special man and father he was. The things that went unsaid, by me, while among my family during this sad and chaotic time.

Let me share just a few….

Dad loved to “bullshit”. As in, telling jokes and stories in his booming voice to elicit wonder and laughter to those fortunate enough to be there. Anyone who ever knew him would certainly agree he was an excellent person to “shoot the shit” with.

Dad had a great talent for sleeping. I am grateful that I inherited this trait. He could literally fall asleep anywhere. No matter how much noise was going on around him. And he was such a deep sleeper that it would take at least 6 separate tries for me to wake him up in the afternoons to go to work (his second full time job).

Dad was a great American citizen. He served proudly in the Korean war. When I was a kid, my teacher gave us a lesson on nationalities. I went home and asked Dad what my nationality and and his reply was “You’re 100% American, Rhoda Joda”. Of course, Mom gave me the real answer, which was French/German. It was just that important to my Dad that I took pride in and appreciated being an American.

Dad had great affection for small creatures. He routinely referred to our Lhasa Apso, Max, as “your brother”. After Max become older and his health failed, Dad had him put down. It broke his heart in a million pieces. He kept a framed photo of Max on his bedside table from that point on.

Dad was the best dining partner. He appreciated his food. Except when he didn’t. Then he would remark that it was “horseshit”, and we would all snicker.  He wasn’t a man to mince words, that’s for sure. He certainly was not a cook; but sometimes in the evenings, I would find him in our little kitchen, mixing a package of dried onion soup mix in with a carton of sour cream, which we would dip our “Old Dutch” potato chips in while watching t.v. He would be the keeper of the chip dip, and sometimes when I’d reach over for more, he’d tease me by covering it over with his hands and giving me this look, conveying “It’s all mine!”

Dad had great posture. He wasn’t a big guy by any means; he was more in the category of “stout”. But he had broad, strong shoulders. And he always had a confident stride, with his shoulders up and back, looking straight ahead. He often reminded me to “stand up straight”.

At my elementary school, which was almost literally a hop, skip, and jump from our house, every spring, dandelions would dot the lawn outside. Most people consider these weeds (which I realize they technically are) and would mow them down. Dad would always comment how pretty they were, and how he didn’t understand why anyone would want to get rid of them (of course he mowed them down when they appeared in our yard as I recall, to appease my mother).

I am looking forward to visiting my family in Minnesota with Hubs this summer, when I can go through his belongings and reminisce. When we can gather with extended family and share our stories about my very special Dad and truly celebrate his great life and the positive impact he left on ours.


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