Sunday, October 31, 2010

Memories of Dad that make me smile & cry

I do a lot of thinking & remembering Dad when I'm driving by myself. Little random memories about him that make me smile and cry.
  • The time Dad bought an outrageously expensive "perfect" Christmas tree that I had my heart set on at the Christmas tree lot.
  • All the times Dad went with me to get my car serviced and tires changed. He didn't mind paying that $500 bill b/c he knew I would be safe on the street.
  • Dad telling me to relax and take a "snooze". (I tell my daughter to do the same. Just saying the word "snooze" reminds me of Dad.)
  • Falling asleep while watching the game with my dad. (Football, Baseball, Basketball, and yes even Bowling.)
  • Dad "the tooth fairy" kept all my baby teeth in his bathroom medicine cabinet.
  • Halloween's past when my dad would take us trick or treating and walk behind us kids, so we could be with our friends and have fun, yet he'd be there if any older kids tried to start trouble.
  • Dad always kept a room in his house for me, even years after I moved out and he purchased a different home that I had never lived in, so I could always have a room to come home to.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Following my dad's death, I realized he was the piece that held my family together. It's strange how you can go your whole life consciously unaware of the obvious. It's only since my dad's death that this empty void remains, where once his presence was that connecting fibre.

Not only that, but my dad was the family historian. He always talked about the past and tried to tell me about our family, my ancestors. It's a shame I never wrote anything down. I went to visit my Uncle (my dad's younger brother) a month after the funeral and asked him some questions about our lineage and who was related to who and about sibling order, etc. I had a pen and pad in hand to jot everything down. Unfortunately I found out that part died with my dad. My Uncle said my dad was the one who knew and remembered all that stuff.

If there's any good to come out of all this, it's that I had an epiphany. I had been looking to other people in the family to be that connecting fibre, including my own mother. I was sorely disappointed. It was only in the process of my healing that I realized I didn't have to look anymore, because I had stepped up into that role in my own family, connecting the 3 of us - myself, my husband and my daughter.

And as for history, once my daughter is old enough to appreciate & take part, I would like to trace back and document a family tree/lineage for her on both sides of her family, so she will know where she came from.

Being prepared for my dad's death

I had thought I was prepared for my dad's death. What I realized only recently was:

My head was prepared. My heart wasn't.

My child's deduction about getting old & death

A couple months after my dad died, my 5 year old daughter told me she didn't want to grow up to be an adult; that she wanted to be a kid forever. When I asked her why, I was floored when she said, "Because if I grow up, you're going to get old and die just like Grandpa." She burst into tears. She told me she always wants to be with me.

We've had many discussions about how death is a natural part of the cycle of life. All living things die. Yet I also reassured her that I exercise and eat healthy and live healthy and do all the things I can to live as long as I can. That I want to see her grow up to become a woman, and to have my grandchildren and to see my great grandchildren grow up. I want to be around for as long I can be with her. And when I say that - I really want to be there for her.

My kid and I have a special bond. I hope that we will always be close. I try to be as honest as I can with her, about my beliefs, about life, and all the while letting her know I love her unconditionally and want the best for her. Of course I hope to be a really old woman when my end comes, yet even then there will be pain caused by my death.

I don't have all the answers. I'm just trying my best. When my time comes I can only hope that she'll know her mother loved her very much.

A found momento from my dad

I was recently cleaning out the garage and in a bin with my records, I found a manila envelope addressed to me from my father, in his handwriting and return address printed on it. He must have sent me some auto insurance information years back to a former L.A. home address of mine.

My heart leapt when I saw his handwriting. Big printed letters, in all capital letters, in my dad's distinct handwriting. Tears swelled up in my eyes. I don't know why I kept the empty envelope, but it was like receiving a gift. Previous to this I had been searching for a past e-mail from my dad with no luck. I'd been so quick to delete or toss things out after reading them. This envelope I'd held onto for years. Just looking at his handwriting brought back so many memories of my dad.

I put the envelope aside, in a silver bowl for safe keeping while I continued to clean out the garage.

Later the envelope was gone. My housekeeper must have seen the empty envelope and thought it was trash, tossing it out with the garbage. For a split second I was sad, yet I realized such is life. It was tragic and comical. Life happens. Stuff gets tossed out by mistake. She couldn't have known what that envelope meant to me. And life does go on regardless if we're ready or not.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

My dad appeared in a dream

My dad finally appeared in a dream of mine, nearly 3 months after his death. I've heard from others that when a loved one appears in your dream it can be comforting. Then again, my mom dreamt of my dad constantly after he died and she was afraid. In her dreams he was laughing and joking and she thought somehow he was going to pull her to the other side.

Luckily in my dream it was a positive one. My dad appeared to me in my dream as a ghost. I knew that he had died. I cried. We held hands.

I woke up and immediately told my husband I dreamt of my dad. When he asked me what happened in the dream, I was still groggy and answered, "It's complicated."

I was so happy to see him, even if he was just a ghost. The loss of my father has been devastating. Life must go on and I have a husband and small child to take care of, as well as a new job. Yet, I still cry everyday. The pain is still very much present. So in a strange way, the dream gave me some comfort.

Glimpses of my Dad

Photographs are all I have left of my dad. So when I find glimpses of my dad in photos, my heart swells with happiness at the discovery, yet I find tears streaming down my face and I'm so grief-stricken that he's gone and the way he went out. Sick, confused, and bedridden in a hospital.
Some of those finds include this photo above taken at Astrid's 1st birthday party at my home, where my dad is standing with us, happy & laughing. It wasn't a keeper since one of the paintings in the background is hanging askew. But crooked painting be damned; when I discovered the photo today my heart leapt...."look it's my dad! And he's so happy!", followed by endless tears.

The last time I saw my dad alive there was no joy, there was no laughter, he wasn't even able to speak to me. Then the very next time I saw him he was dead. So the last images I have of my dad are those last days in the hospital hooked up to tubes. I'm haunted by those memories and of the memory of him in the morgue when I rushed to the hospital to see him.

So when I see photos of him alive in his 70's...looking like my is such a find. We didn't take lots of photos of my dad. Only now can I see that we didn't take that many photos of him, because he was overweight. Towards the end he had lost a lot of weight, but then he looked sick. So there's a dearth of photos of him.

Going through my photos I've found my dad captured in photos unintentionally. He appears in one that I took of Astrid riding her scooter on the sidewalk in front of my parents' house and my dad is standing in the distance holding his cane in one hand and his pants in the other. This was when he was getting treatments for his bladder cancer and was losing a lot of weight. He had to constantly hold up his pants. In another one, my mom is playing with Astrid in front of a mirror and my dad is captured sitting in a chair to the side. My heart hurts so bad & yet I am so happy to see my dad alive.

There was a vitality to him even when he was overweight and sick. I try to hold onto those memories and block out the painful ones of him dying. The overwhelming urge that comes over me when I see my dad in photos, is that I need to hug him. I wish I had given him more hugs when he was alive. He was a good hugger, and I loved him so much.