The basics are, though, that it's OK in some ways, and awful in others.
There is nothing I could have wished for, or that I prayed harder for, than that my dad be spared a long disability or loss of his splendid mind. I threw all those "Thy will be done" prayer rules to the wind.
I know that the suffering people have to go through has absolutely jackshit to do with whether they deserve it. And for all the good my father did, all the true caring for the hurting people in this world, all he taught us about giving, and his strong, amazing faith, I said to God, "Dad deserves to enjoy life right up to the end, he deserves an easy passage, and so, GIVE IT TO HIM, do You hear me?"
God did. Dad ran his life and made his choices up to the end, which was after only 9 days of illness. I could have wished him a last Christmas, and all of us a last Christmas with him, but the Hands that were in charge did good enough. I guess.
Dad loved Christmas. He was prepping, as he did every year. The Christmas CD's started to play at his house on Nov 1., and he started his Christmas cards. This wasn't a premonition that he should get it done early. His hands were stiffening badly and writing was time consuming, so he did a couple a day. (I've had to mail them with notes about his passing enclosed - these are old and dear friends, and needed personal letters.)
We had the annual Christmas planning conference: who will cook what, how we will collaborate on the adopt-a-family shopping and wrapping, sharing the funding but Larry and me doing the leg -- and wrapping -- work.
He also ordered presents early, since he wanted nothing to do with computers or credits cards, and instead snail-mailed checks with order blanks.
A week ago, a package notice appeared in his mailbox. The box contained this.
There is no one else in his life he would have bought this for, but me, and yes, I cried all the way home. And will cherish it. It's more than just a book he thought I'd like. Cat mysteries abound in that catalog, but he'd never bought me one.
This is a "Black Cat Bookshop Mystery" and it tells me that he (who didn't like cats) knew I was secretly (a secret from him. I thought.) feeding a black cat that was hanging around his house.
We joked about the cat.
"That damn black cat keeps hanging around."
"Hmm. Well. There are stray cats all over the neighborhood, but I guess it has too much competition up the street and decided to move into the woods down here."
"I'll just shoot it." (Phony scowl. Clearly trying to get me to react.)
(And I complied): Don't you DARE!" (Knowing he really wouldn't.)
His driver license expired in August and he didn't try to renew it. We set up errand mornings for me to take him around. I found out later that, afterward, he would wait for Larry and me to drive off somewhere, and then take the car out for some illicit driving.
I have to explain why being told this made me so very happy.
He loved going out doing his morning errands, and, though he relinquished the license voluntarily, he hated the dependency.
He couldn't run errands illegally, because hey, when I came over to drive him, he needed to need the groceries, dry cleaning, haircut, etc. So he must have just driven around because he could, and undoubtedly partly for the same reason he was so dedicated to his errands before - the awful emptiness of the house without my mom.
But it seems to me that one of the worst things about getting old would be that you can't really have a private life anymore. Even if someone you love and like to be with drives you, and you make all the decisions as to what and where....still, that person is all There, In Your Business. You've given up a lot of your private life.
When I found out that he had a secret, and that he demanded, and by damn had, a personal life that didn't involve me, I cannot tell you how happy I was.
But there is a rightness about his passing that none of us felt about my mom's passing. Hers seemed unnecessary, too soon. And I have real guilt about ways I treated her, ways I failed to appreciate her, guilt that I don't have over my dad.
He and I were a lot alike, and we both had strong opinions, and we disagreed a WHOLE lot about some serious issues. But we were fine with each other voicing those opinions, and we knew when and how (with a joke) to close a conversation. He had the rare gift of disliking some of my beliefs, while making it clear not only that he loved me anyway, but that he found me genuinely admirable.
But I still can't deal with being in my parents' house. The people who made it matter are gone, and the thought of Christmas anywhere near this place and these memories is unbearable.
We have a good, soul-soothing place to go. And when things calm down, I will tell you about that. But understand, I did not want to do Christmas at all. I'm enduring it partly as an homage to his love for it, and partly because flying to Las Vegas (Seriously, I want to do that.) would hurt feelings and be impractical.
But when I told my brother about that idea, that I want to because it is the total opposite of anything resembling my real life, he understood.
|(Photo from a couple years ago)|