Friday, December 9, 2011

A Letter To My Father

Dear Daddy,
I flew home because they said you were dying. I didn't want to come because I couldn't bear to see you like this. The traveling part looked like such a burden to me because I feared the worst- 9 hours on a plane with an extremely active and sometimes Attila the Hun-like toddler. She has been such a healing blessing to us since Mom passed away 2 1/2 years ago. I knew I had to get over my fears so that you could see her, mom's namesake, so we packed up, prayed up and hopped on 2 planes and a long car ride to see you and say "Hello and goodbye". My fears were unmerited and this proved to be one of the best plane trips ever! We were so blessed and out of thousands of people, we ran into a dear friend, Barbara Yoder from Ireland, in the Chicago airport! Just her presence was a comfort to us and after we parted, we ran into each other again!
So Daddy, I came home and I knew you weren't going to be the same person that I knew when I last talked to you. They said you were unresponsive and that the final stages of dementia had set in. You had gone home from the hospital and were fine, eating and drinking and talking as usual, then all of a sudden you just fell ill and your sugar level wouldn't come down. Nothing worked and they took you back to the hospital. From there, I was told that your condition worsened and you slipped into a partially vegetative state, the condition that you are in now. It's been over 10 days since you last ate and a feeding tube would only prolong the inevitable and make you more uncomfortable. So Daddy, I made the big trip and came to see you and introduce the new generation to you.
It took 24 hours and a lot of coffee,(you know I don't like that stuff), to stay awake during the drive from Oklahoma City to you, but I did it. When I finally came to see you, my heart sank- you were just lying there, half asleep. I held your hand and spoke to you, then all of a sudden, you opened your eyes and started looking at me. You knew it was me and as I spoke to you, you squeezed my hand and a tear rolled down your face! Since mom died, every time I spoke to you on the phone, I cried. I knew you missed her and weren't being cared for as nearly as well as she cared for you. I'm sorry I couldn't be here Daddy, but was coming home in a few months to live anyway. Then you'd have us to help care for you.
I want to tell you about yourself-the things I thank you for the most. Daddy, you are such a strong man and your personality is a "take it or leave it" type. You weren't going to drag anyone to do something they didn't want to do. You'd willingly teach the person who wanted to learn- that's how I learned so many neat things from you. You took me everywhere with you. I can remember going with you to one of your friends store. They were a bunch of old crusty men, but they were kind and always had a soft spot for me. Whilst they were drinking, smoking and playing cards, someone would always produce some candy and teach me how to play what you were playing. Gin rummy, spades, bones- I learned to master them all. You taught me how to fish and clean those fish (yuck!), but you did most of the cleaning for me. I love eating fish and you did too. I learned a bit of patience from fishing, Daddy. Thanks. You taught me how to fix toilets because I thought it was interesting to see you digging in the tank.(And because my brother, Steve, didn't care to learn.) You made sure I could fix a leaky faucet because there would always be one that dripped and drive mom crazy! We worked on cars and got oily and grimy together Daddy. I remember looking under the hood and wondering what this and that were for- you told me and I couldn't remember it all, but I knew if the car got sick, we'd be together, getting parts and working on it.
I learned a lot of DIY from you. You fixed whatever you could and if you couldn't, one of your "Old Crusty" friends could and they'd have me helping out or observing, explaining the whole process along the way. You taught me how to cut the grass in a neat and orderly fashion. To this day, I actually like cutting grass and vacuuming because you can see results instantly and you can see if you were doing it wrong too! I was learning organization from that. You taught me how to love and treat animals. We always had a cat or dog and when I left home, you and my kitty, Deveraux became the best of friends. I remember you telling me that he was your alarm clock, waking you up every morning so the two of you could eat breakfast together. I knew he was in good hands with you, Daddy. When he disappeared, you kept looking for him, every day. Finally you gave up- he was old and you knew he went away to die. You called me and let me know. Compassion- you showed me some of that too, Daddy. When we drove to New Orleans because your mother had passed away suddenly, we drove through the night to get there and at one point, a rabbit hopped out on the road in front of the car. You hit him, but I heard you say, "Sorry, Mr Bunny". I'll never forget that. There was compassion in what you said.
Tall and slender, you always had a neat and cared for appearance. I remember you ironing your clothes every few days. Since you worked at Neiman Marcus for over 20 years, you introduced me to fine perfumes, quality clothes and exotic foods. You brought home what you could to show us children that there was more to life than meat loaf and mashed potatoes! You provided for us well, Daddy. Thank you. You showed me that the best things for lunch was a sandwich,(always on fresh bread),and a power nap. I heard old songs and watched you and mom dance to them. What a delight! You two were so happy to have each other. Such love! For years i begged you to stop smoking, but you didn't. Not until you nearly passed out after chasing the dog back into the fence did you realize how bad cigarettes were for your health. You quit cold turkey-I was so proud of you! You drove the nieces to and from school each day and helped my Grandmother when she needed anything. We played baseball and football together. I ran track and you were so proud of me when I went to the nationals in Hershey, Pennsylvania. You took me to school on the first day. I remember watching you leave. I cried and watched you walk away. I think you cried too- you did't turn around and wave to me. That's okay because you made it up to me with the biggest hug and kisses! Oh we missed each other!! You aren't an emotional person- except for getting angry at crazy stuff And wow, you have a temper there! I know because I picked that up from you too. That's alright since I've learned how to deal with it. When I was older, I diagnosed you with Peter Pan Syndrome. You were angry so I rediagnosed you with Last Child Syndrome. You thought that was more like you!
Oh Daddy, I'm sorry you have to go, but Jesus is calling you soon. He has an appointment with you and I think you are ready. You know him well. Mom is there and waiting to see you too as well as many of your loved ones who went before you. We will miss you and do our best to pick up the pieces when you are gone. Steve hasn't become fully responsible yet, and he most likely won't, so we will have to make sure Karlin is taken care of. It'll be alright and at least you were able to see the littlest children before you go. I love you and don't for you to have to spend the rest of your life in bed with machines helping you to live. You wouldn't want that so we won't put you through it. Just remember that I will be with you till the end and when I cannot be there you will be comforted by Jesus himself. Look ahead for glory, Daddy! You'll be there soon.

I love you forever,
Your Baby Girl

3 comments:

Sister Lori said...

Sister Misty that is the most lovely, and inspiring letter I have ever read. Thank you for sharing your heart and history with us. May God bless and keep you through this difficult season. Praying for you all. Your loss is heaven's gain. God be with thee!

Sister Lori

Queen Nairobi said...

That was really beautiful Misty. So sorry to hear about what is happening but I am definitely keeping you and your family in my prayers.

Shaina

Mrs. I said...

Thanks for sharing this lovely letter. God bless you in this hard time.

Miriam Iwashige