Yesterday, I finally got to bed around 11:15. We had gone out for dinner and then made a generous contribution at the local casino. Around 2ish I started to feel like someone had turned the furnace up to about 400 degrees. Why is that sensation never around at 2 PM when my feet and hands are so cold that I fear frostbite developing?
Long and slightly depressing post starts now.
Yesterday was Tuesday, January 25th. Cindy O's birthday if I remember correctly and also Jennifer D's birthday. It was also the 14th anniversary of my father's death. I never forget. It's written on the calendar. I think of that day often and I wish I had the gift to write some really beautiful words to preserve my memories. But my memories are sketchy.
My parents moved to Florida in 1987. We visited when we could, never often enough. I think I last spoke to my dad on the phone the Tuesday or Wednesday before he passed. He'd had a stroke a month before, on December 22nd. My mother's birthday. Looking back, I find that very fitting. He'd spent some time in a nursing home, again sketchy memories. We spoke and his speech was slow and slurred. My mom said he wasn't really eating. By Thursday of that same week my mother called and said if I wanted to see him I should come quickly.
Stoopid airlines. Even a bereavement flight was way more than I could afford for myself and my two kids. We had no choice but to drive. I prayed I would make it to Melbourne in time. Whynot came home from work early, he shoved a wad of cash in my hands and said go. I think he'd cashed a check, or borrowed the money or robbed some panhandler on his way home.
I threw some things together, picked the kids up from school early and the three of us were on our way about 1ish. I think this was the Florida trip that about an hour from home I realized that Glitter Gurl had boots on and I didn't pack any other shoes. Yippee, quick detour to some Walmart in the back hills of Tennessee later that evening.
I drove to somewhere south of Atlanta, maybe Valdosta and we stopped for the night. I couldn't sleep. I woke the kids up after only a couple of hours and we were back on the road. There was nothing eventful about the trip, except the bridge in Jacksonville looked extremely high this time. I hate bridges!
I remember stopping at Dairy Queen for ice cream, but little else.
It was about 3, or maybe 4:30 or 6:30 when we finally arrived in Melbourne. My dad barely held on, he was in a sort of semi coma and no longer speaking. I can't even remember if his eyes were open. We all watched Wheel of Fortune in his bed. I held his hand and told him it was OK to go. That I'd miss him, but that he could go now. I often wonder what would have happened had I asked him to hang on.
Around 3ish my mom quietly came into the room I was sharing with Glitter Gurl and whispered, he's gone. I jumped out of bed and the long agonizing day began. Hospice had left instructions on what to do when the time came. The sheriff had to be called, paramedics and finally the funeral director. The house was abuzz, people asking questions, collecting prescription bottles ( I guess it's protocol when there is a death in a home) The funeral director was doing his thing in my parent's bedroom and I remember hearing the sound of a very loud staple gun, I dared not ask. Still have no idea, it's probably better that way. All this noise and my kids, then 9 and 12 never woke up. Thank goodness.
I was in a fog and there were no tears. There wouldn't be any for me until I came home over a week later. Crazy, no?
So yesterday when I woke up, I thought of my dad. I still talk to him too. And I said some prayers. Should you even pray for dead people? I mean they're dead, is it going to help? I have no doubt my dad is in Heaven, he lived with my mother for nearly forty years. Besides, he always sends me pennies from heaven.
But yesterday, there were no pennies. Not one single penny on the ground to make me smile. Yesterday, there was no secret message from daddy...until we were walking back to our car in the parking lot of the casino. There on the car parked directly next to mine was my message. The license plates... MZ U DAD. I swear to God!
Miss you daddy, RIP.