I often procrastinate, usually justify it or rationalize why I have no time to blog since my Dad died unexpectedly. He collapsed on January 3, 2017 around noon and that’s actually when his soul left us for a better place than here. His body died on January 7, 2017. His broken body remained behind here on Earth, but it wasn’t the Dad I knew and loved. His soul was housed in a shell that was his human body. His soul didn’t die, but his shell was too broken to continue life as we knew it to be.
My grief is unbearably private, lonely and cannot be said out loud for fear of choking on my screams or the inability to stop them. My life completely changed in less than three minutes, but it took four days for my Dad to have his final peace. We had a priest come and read the sacrament of the sick and dying, also known as The Last Rites, which comforted my Grandma with her religion. I might have bungled the name of the prayer, but I know his sisters also said their rosaries. These timeless acts of religion done in devotion in the name of love were from their lips to God’s ears.
The only way I deal with everyday decisions is by doing things the way my Dad always told me about “how to get things done.”
Here’s a few of my Dad’s life lessons:
1) To be a better person today than I was yesterday, and pray to be even better tomorrow.
2) To always help someone in need because there may not be anyone else who will or can do a good deed just because it needs to be done.
3) Be understanding and thoughtful with your words, not all scars are visible.
4) Always be kind to others since you haven’t walked in any shoes but your own.
My Dad was a junior high school science teacher, head coach of the varsity football team and coached various other sports over his years before he retired for a rural county school corporation on the south end of Henry County, Indiana. He was a valued mentor for students and football players who were considered “his kids”. One was a girl he called Jethro. They didn’t always want to hear what had to say to them, but they still listened to his words of wisdom from years of life experience. Those pearls of wisdom to those he called his own, will be remembered for the rest of their lives.
He helped and encouraged students, sports players and young adults both on or off the football field or in and out of his classroom. My Dad was a rock solid man and he was my hero. Sometimes a hero to people only Dad knew about. Often times he took kids under his wing whether they knew it or not at the time is unclear except for the love and respect that has been shown to him in life as well as in death. I didn’t realize just how many lives my Dad touched till after the stories we heard at the funeral home, and the private memories shared with my Mom, Grandma and I.
My Dad was a respected, honorable and was a dignified man in a plethora of ways. He also a hoot and trickster. He loved a good prank and funny jokes. On rare occasion, or Crown Royal, he could be an offensive ass with a wicked sense of humor. He was extremely funny without trying and usually didn’t realize it until after the fact.
I can almost hear him in my mind, but sadly I’m forgetting how his voice sounded. Knowing he’s in a better place now and waiting for us where it’s not hard to be his old self makes it somewhat easier on my heart. Like he was before his stroke with no struggles or worries and no more constant pain. He’s got a cooler full of ice cold Bud Light on his golf cart on an exotic course somewhere warm with all those that passed on before he did. He’s in good company with his crooked little smile on his face and laughing about how life isn’t fair. Life had taken my Dad to exotic, far away places he thoroughly enjoyed visiting while on his travels while he served in the US Navy on the USS Bainbridge as a navigator during the Veitnom conflict. I’ll never get to venture to any of them, but I remember how happy he was when spoke of the places he visited during that time of his life. He continued his travels with my Mom. They went from Indiana to Florida, Washington down through California back through the Colorado Rockies and a Mexican cruise. Even with all the advancements made in medical sciences and the new technologies developed daily they couldn’t help my Dad so he could fight the good fight one more time. You see, his broken body had suffered previously from too much trauma. He’d had multiple heart attacks, an arterial stroke in his brain and he cheated death three times. It just wasn’t in his destiny to stay here any longer with us and he didn’t want to leave us. If it was his choice, then he’d have stayed with us.