My daddy …isn’t he handsome?
I usually blog about my home decor, love of themes, entertaining, creating or trips to Disneyland, but today, I want to talk about my daddy. I wanted my blog to be about doing what matters most to me and inspiring others to do the same. At the top of my list of what matters is my tribe, the people I love, my family and friends. My daddy was the head of that tribe. He still is.
My brothers, mom and I spent last week having a memorial for my dad’s earthly passing. He left us here 8 months ago. He gave his body to research. He was giving in life and in death. His remaining ashes were then spread at sea late this last summer. He wanted us to have a lunch at a favorite place of his in Coronado. It was a restaurant we went to many times as a family.
My dad was not big on funerals. They were just a painful event for him. He lost his original family fairly young. His mom passed away when he was 25. He lost his best friend, his only sibling, his brother, when he was in his 40s. My dad was a deep feeling guy. Funerals brought so much up in him and he didn’t want to put us through that. That was so my dad. He was always thinking about others, and us in particular, You can read more about my wonderful dad in these two blogs I did shortly after his passing:
My dad was such an important person to me. He was always in my corner. He was always there to count on. He loved each of us all out and well. I miss him in a zillion ways. The first months, after he passed, I was numb from it all. I had walked through his declining with him and my mom the last several years. He was hospitalized over 150 days and of those days I missed very few…I think I figured out I was there about 135 of the days. We were close before that, but these years truly entwined us together. Anyone who has helped to caretake understands the paradox of loving someone you know has limited time. I was all in. Completely all in. Yet I could feel that as much as I needed to be there for him and me, I was also aware that it was the way God was going to help me let go, too. There is something very sacred about being there when someone is leaving this world. We/I was blessed with a long home going. I had time to give back to my dad. I was able to tell him all I wanted to, well, mostly. I’ve always been expressive, but that just became so front and center all the time.
I was keenly aware of time ebbing away. I wish we could always be so keenly aware of that. It puts things in perspective. It makes one not take for granted anything or anyone. It strips away all that doesn’t matter. One realizes how important it is to be there and to be present. Even with this awareness, I feel like I wish I had been more in tune. I was with my dad so much those last years that when he passed a bit of that lingered for a while. It was a mercy.
The further I get from his passing, the more I feel the loss of him permanently here and all he was to me. This last week having his memorial made it more real. I’m thankful I was able to face it with my family, my brothers who share that same deep love for our dad. God gave us the gift of the week before and an unexpected time of meet up at Downtown Disney. My one brother was there with his kids. My husband, Bob and I joined him. The surprise was my other brother, who hasn’t gone to Disneyland in over 20 years (hard for me to fathom as it’s my 2nd home…lol) was up at a conference in town. He came over and met us for dinner. We had a lovely evening reminiscing about Disneyland trips of our childhood, talking of our dad and how we missed him. One of my favorites of that night was when my young nephew raised his soda glass and said, “To Papa!” ( he called my dad, his grandpa that.)
My brothers and I at Downtown Disney
Words fail to capture what this week gave to me and my family. If you have lost someone as dear as our dad was to us, you can understand what it is to have someone who shares the same deep bond and history with that person. It has just made the connection between us dearer and more precious. All that our dad was and is lives on in our memories and hearts. We were able to talk, laugh, cry and reflect on the great gift our dad was to us. It had its moments of deep pain and missing, but also sweetness, hope and joy that one day we would see him again.
The ferry cruised by while we were eating lunch
The day of the memorial lunch, we arrived to see a ferry cruising by the view from our table. This was so special to us all as we have fond memories of riding across it when we were little. It use to be that it carried cars across before the bridge to Coronado was built. We loved watching our dad drive our car onto the ferry. Sometimes we were able to get out of the car and walk around, We’d smell the sea air and hold our dad’s hand as we watched the other ships in the bay. Seeing the ferry cruise by brought it all back. At the end of the lunch the ferry came by again, it felt like it was the perfect opening and closing to the time we shared.
My brothers looking at the memory book I made of our dad… Brian is in the first photo and Deron is in the second one, Deron is wearing a shirt that I gave my dad…it was a favorite of his. It has San Diego landmarks on it
I made a memory book of our dad for each of my brothers and my mom. I put in it photos of our dad at various ages. Family photos of us when younger to older. I wanted to capture a bit of who he was and who we were and are as a family. We shared at the lunch what dad meant to us and what he taught us. We were open with our feelings and emotions. Losing our dad brought that out in each of us. It was so nice just to be who we were and share what we were feeling. There was a presence of tender love for our gentle and loving daddy. We all felt him with us. We all know he is loving us from heaven.
I think we all didn’t want to leave. We know we have to move forward and want to make our dad proud of how we carry ourselves through life. We want to leave a legacy to our loved ones like he did with us. He gave us so much that gives us strength to do so….faith that we will be together one day, love that we can tangibly feel despite his presence here being gone ( how we miss his voice, his warm hugs, his watchful eye over us), courage to keep living. He modeled so much to us in how to meet challenges and loss. He taught us what is a priority and what isn’t. He had a buoyancy no matter what life threw at him. He would find that place to laugh and be happy even in the darkest times and days. Those gifts sustain us now. He always made sure we were taken care of and continues to do so.
After lunch, we went to a beach near where his ashes were spread. We sat quietly reflecting on the gift of our dad and his life. My brother and his kids wrote a memorial in the sand to my dad. We scooped up sand from the beach to keep as a memory of this. It was peaceful there. Not long after my dad passed, I had a dream about him. He was sitting in a big soft chair, the kind he liked when he was here. He didn’t say a lot, but what was needed. Just like he was in life, a man of few words, but great heart. He said, ” I’m fine. It’s nice here.” I felt such peace in that dream. I felt that same peace at the beach.
Then I felt the same torn feeling that I felt the night he died and we had to leave him, I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to go on without him. I knew my life was forever changed at his passing. I wanted to freeze time and go back when he was with us, but I knew I couldn’t. I felt that at the beach. I didn’t want to leave. It felt like I was leaving him behind all over again. I knew though that as I walked away that was the farthest I’d have to be from seeing my dad again. Each day brings me closer to seeing him and being in his dear presence once again. Mingled in the sadness is hope and joy at the thought.
A bracelet that my brother got me in memory of dad. These footballs are caramel …I brought them to the lunch …dad loved football and caramels.
I will see my dad again. I will hear his voice and hold his hand. We will laugh and be silly. When I see him again he will be whole and well. No more separations. We are apart for now in presence, but not in spirit. Love never dies and this isn’t goodbye.
Top row (left to right): dad with his Scottie, dad in his youth, dad in his naval uniform.
Middle Row: our family when I was in high school, dad and me when he was inducted into his college hall of fame for football, dad with us as kids.
Bottom row: dad and mom a few years ago, dad and I holding hands when he was in hospital, dad and mom at the Hotel Del for their 50 th anniversary