Sunday, March 17, 2019

Life and loss....

It’s been such a long time since I have felt moved to write .So much has happened, it’s hard to put it in print. Being the daughter of a printer, I thought I should try.

Let me catch you up.

Since last we spoke, we bought a home, moved into it. I am still caregiver to Dad. Keith underwent some medical issues. Collapsed lung, had surgery, and a pinched nerve in his back that gives him unbearable nerve pain. He can’t really walk and we are still dealing with it.

Our longtime friend Robert Jones, has lived with us since 2012. I still work at the hotel. Mom is sewing and dreaming of her future gardens. Dad is ok, very happy to be with us, but having some aging problems- he is 88 years old.

Back in December of 2018 Dad got a UTI, and had a hospital stay. His blood pressure was bottoming out too. We got him through it, got rehabilitation therapists to come to the house, and he was doing pretty well. In January , Keith started feeling the back pain, and we began the pursuit of Doctor visits to find a solution.  In February, or towards the end of January rather, we decided to put Dad under hospice care, in order to have a daily aide come to help with bathing, and the relentless diaper changes. At this stage, Dad had started having a few dementia days, where he was fighting me caring for him. And frankly, I needed the help.
Meanwhile, Bob is coughing for months on end. And due to a transition at the hotel of a new valet company, he lost his job.  Bob wound up being the extra eyes I needed on my parents after the aides left, and Keith was hospitalized for a collapsed lung or leg pain.

Clearly, I have a ton going on at this stage, but surprisingly, it was all working well with time and attention , and everyone was getting the care they needed- except Bob. I pleaded with Bob daily to go to a doctor and there was always an excuse.

Then March 12 came, and my world was changed forever.

I was at work, when I received a text message that Bob had fallen, and the paramedics were called and it did not look good. I went to drive home, and when I arrived , Bob had died. Then within minutes of Bob passing, Dad left us peacefully in his sleep.

I had been preparing to lose Dad, he was 88 years old, but never would I have guessed that he would go that day. I can only think that he had to lead Bob up to heaven. Bob was 55.

This week has been surreal, shattering and heartbreaking in every sense of the word. I’m bereft, and emotional and trying to come to acceptance of my circumstances. We just buried Dad yesterday, and I am moved by the outpouring of love from our friends . I feel broken, cursed , grateful and honored to have had the best Dad in the world. 

I don’t want to forget the signs he sent me this week. So I thought I would write them and perhaps this may help me remember.

So I will list them while they are fresh in my mind and tell you about them, one by one.
1. The baby
2. The jacket
3. The flag
4. The hawk

The baby-

Dad always blew me a kiss as I was heading out to work, or up to bed. On Thursday, following our meeting with the funeral director, and writing Dads obituary, I had to run a few errands. The medical equipment folks came and picked up Dads things, and I went into his room and frankly, balled my eyes out. I felt I had to keep moving, so I set out to get myself together. 

Our neighbor has a 1 1/2 year old baby named Olivia. As I went to my car, for some reason, I was pulled across the street to see the baby as her Mother was putting her in the car. I was feeling so low, and just wanted to feel something good. As I visited with the Baby, she reached for me, and I got to hold her. Then she blew me a kiss. And I learned this was something she was just learning. I thanked her mother for the visit, and felt like I might be able to breathe for a little while.
I went out to the uniform store and bought gloves and a tie for Dad for his uniform, and then I drove to work in Atlantic City. As I had to retrieve the picture from above my desk. As I was driving, I started talking to Dad through tears, telling him I was in his town, and I needed him to send me a sign that he was ok. 
I realized it later that night as I was telling Mother about the time I had spent with Baby Olivia. The kiss was the sign.

2. The jacket—
Dad always wore a double breasted Burberry navy blue jacket with gold buttons to every big event. I was trying to figure out what to wear to his funeral, as I was certain whatever I chose I might never wear again. For some strange reason, Dads jacket popped into my mind. I went to his closet, found it, and put it on . And it fit . As I was going through the pockets, I found a program from a prior funeral Dad had attended for a dear friend. The funeral home was the same as I had chosen for Dad. I also found his Navy zippo and a chocolate bar from another friends wedding. My Dad had the worlds largest sweet tooth , so I felt like he was saving it for later.

3. The flag—
As I said earlier, we moved into a new home back in October.  On Thursday the landscaper contacted me wanting to do something to assist me or tribute to my Dad. There wasn’t enough time for plants, and all of a sudden the thought of a flag popped into my head. I shared it with the landscaper- and he agreed. As I was driving to go purchase it- a huge American flag came into view.

4. The hawk--

After my Dads military services concluded yesterday, we returned to the house, and I was outside with a friend visiting from New York. I look above the house and a hawk with a three foot wingspan at least is floating on a breeze and circling the house, and circling the the house. I thought- if it were an eagle it would be perfect. My friend said, as I was thinking it, " You know who that is, right?" I said yep. I have never seen that hawk before or since, as I write this it is now Sunday.

 I was worried about today, in the quiet spaces,  I spent some time alone to reflect, and we heard from Many old friends. It showed me how short life is, how rare my relationship with Dad is, and I am learning so much about families and people in general.  I will write a separate blog about the services for Dad, because it was quite a send off.

Now, Keith, Mom and I are patiently awaiting the coroners report on dear Bob, and waiting to see if he will be released to his family soon.  As we progress through this horrible week, with our broken hearts, we are trying to take comfort in each other, and our friends. 

I am currently left with a gaping whole in my heart, never to be filled, and a flood of uncontrollable tears that consume me out of nowhere about every hour or so. 

There are many Thank you's to say, and cards to send. I am certain to attempt to get to them this week, but I am going easy on myself, and allowing myself the time I need. I took this week off from work, and I hope to be able to at least get a little sleep.

Dad is still sending me signs- I see them everywhere. We spoke the same language, and a lot of people have recently told me how much I favor Dad in personality, and that is the ultimate compliment. 

Look for the signs, tell your friends, and family you love them, send the text, pick up the phone, and stay in contact. I know if Bob had not tried to escape from the world, I would be writing a much different story.

Thanks for reading.