Showing posts with label Dad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dad. Show all posts

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Embracing Grief at the Holidays

I think most of us can remember a time we loved the holidays.  Santa Claus. Our grandparents giving us huge hugs -- and even bigger gifts.  The smells of the once a year treats from the oven, and laughter of cousins.  I think for many of us somewhere along the way the magic of Christmas has turned into dread or endurance.

My husband and I didn't put up a Christmas tree this year.  It has always been my favorite part of Christmas.  I love looking through the ornaments and remembered so many good times.  The doll my 2nd grade teacher made out of a pack of lifesavers and a styrofoam ball head.  Yes, I have a roll of 33 year old candy in my Christmas decorations.  I loved my teacher, and the fact she made something for me was so special.  (She made one for each of us in our class.)But then there are the other ornaments.  Childhood creations from people who won't speak to me any longer.  Ornaments bought on years the holidays wouldn't be considered "good".  The year a family member threw out all the gifts I gave him.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Some Wounds Time Never Heals

FTC disclosure:   This post may contain affiliate links.

Photo courtesy Kelley Bittner Photography
October 7th.   Just another day in the life for most people, but on this day in 2006, I will never forget seeing my dad alive for the last time.  I held his hand, told him I loved him, and sang "Found a Peanut" to him.  (He used to sing that incessantly when I was little, and it was my turn!)  It was before I had a cell phone, most people didn't at that time, and my mother was talking to her sister.   I knew the moment my dad passed away.  I recount the story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages From Heaven so I won't go into the story here, but when Mom got off the phone, there was a message for me to call Dad's nursing home.

Time doesn't heal all wounds.  It's a nice cliche.  I think this last year has been the worst with missing my dad since he passed away.  I have cried many an evening and have said, "I wish I could talk to Dad."   I got married -- a lifelong dream of mine -- and I had to settle for a photo of my father being walked down the aisle.  No matter how close the friend is who gave me away "on behalf of her parents", it's not the same as having Dad there.   Dad was big as life and twice as loud.  I can only imagine how loud he would have laughed at the master illusionist we had as our wedding entertainment instead of dancing.

Earlier this year I entered a contest where I won a $500 jewelry gift card.  I had to take a photo of a piece of jewelry that is special and tell the story behind it.  My dad's class ring which he lost when he was fighting a fire in the early 1960s which was returned to him in the mid 2000s was the subject of my entry.  I bought my husband's and my wedding rings with that gift card.  It was like Dad gave us a wedding gift.  But I still wish he would have been at my wedding.

Although, as I mentioned in the post I wrote entitled Our Slice of Eternity, it felt like we were in the midst of a great cloud of witnesses.  Some who went before us, some who will come after we are gone.  I could see my parents' grave from where we got married, and it felt as if their love was present that day.   But I still wish I could have had Dad walk me down the aisle.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Honoring Your Parents at Your Wedding When Both are Deceased

Photo Courtesy of KBittner Photography
FTC disclaimer:  I received the photo frames from Reed & Barton in exchange for this post.  All ideas and opinions are my own.

When I was planning my wedding, I spent hours online trying to find ideas to honor both of my parents at my wedding.  I found ideas to honor a parent who is deceased, but no ideas when you are trying to honor both parents.   I spent almost more time on this part of wedding planning than any other.   I wanted to do something  touching, have them a part of the ceremony, but didn’t want to turn the celebration into a memorial.

We started by having a page each in our wedding bulletins in memory of them.  We included biographical information, a fun story, a photo individually and their wedding photo which my husband and I recreated at the cake cutting.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy Day, Sad emotions

I just wanted to write.  To someone.  To no one.  Blogging is a way of writing publicly, yet sometimes feels as if I write to no one.

Yesterday was hard.  I had another day of thinking about how there will be only two family members of mine at the wedding.  I have eight more months to ponder this.

I'm hoping there will be a lot of friends there.  We are doing an open church wedding.  Right now, eight months away, it looks like we'll have nearly 50 guests, and I'm sure more will confirm closer to the time.  I want to celebrate with those who love me, those who like me somewhat, and those who are coming just to eat fried chicken.  I want to celebrate life.  I want to laugh, enjoy, and smile with those who have stuck by me the last year.

I want those who are there to know that I'm still grieving the loss of my parents.  I'm not sure I'll ever get over that.  But I want something there to remember my parents.  Instead of a bouquet, I'll carry the Bible my mother carried at her wedding.  Aside from her engagement ring (which is now mine) and her wedding rings, that is the only item I have from my parents' wedding.  I may pin Dad's high school class ring inside my dress.

It seems like since my dad is no longer here, I will have to have someone else walk me down the aisle.  The more I think about it, the more it may be two someones.  Why?   Because it feels like if just one man walks me down the aisle, he is a replacement for my dad.  Having two close friends walk me down the aisle seems to say that no ONE can ever replace my dad.  I know it means different things to different people, but it feels that way to me, and all that matters at my wedding is the symbolism I want to give things.   I haven't decided for certain, but both men I have considered asking to walk me down the aisle will be there.

It's amazing to me how such a happy day can also bring up sad emotions.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

When the Dash is Too Short

I have heard the saying that all that matters in a cemetery is the dash between the birth and death dates.  Then it is explained that how you live is more important than how long you live.  While there is a grain of truth in that, it was obviously said by someone who wasn't grieving.

Yesterday, I stopped at the cemetery for the first time since Mom died.  I needed to find the way the date was written on the stone so I could get it cut.  The stone is hard to miss.  Mom and Dad sold tombstones until 1986 and before they sold the business, they purchased one for themselves.  It's a bit like Dad -- over the top -- at least in my opinion.  Or it was in 1986. Some of today's stones are a bit fancier.

The dash is too short for both of my parents.   Yesterday morning, I was at a wellness checkup with a new health care provider.  I was asked history, and I realized that both with Mom and Dad, I said they were "only" and then the age when they died.  Mom was only 69.  Dad was only 62.  Only.  Only. Only.  I'm so sick of saying only.

I was listening to K-Love yesterday and hearing stories about how people were healed.   Not all people are healed.  I think it's the exception rather than the rule.  I was listening to this person on K-Love talking about how he was diagnosed with cancer and sent home to die -- and he gave a date that will forever be ingrained in my memory.  The same day the doctor said to me that in 48 hours I would have to make the decision to pull the plug on Mom.  I don't understand why some people are healed and then some aren't.  And some, like my mother, seem to be healed for a time, but then are so sick and go downhill until one day we find her gone -- when nothing seemed amiss that morning except she was in a health decline.

I stopped at the cemetery and saw the words at the top of the stone, "He Hideth My Soul".  That was played during her funeral.  Seeing the freshly dug grave, I was in tears.  My mother was in that cold ground.  I know this is when I "should" be saying that she is walking along the streets of gold or with Jesus, but right then, all I could think was Mom was right there.  And I am alone.  I know, I know, I have my boyfriend, and I love him dearly, but he's not my mother.  I love my "Nancy-in-law" (his step mother), but she's not my mother.  No one is my mother except my mother.  She is irreplacable.

From there, I decided to go out to her home place.  It's five miles out of town.  As I was driving to the church my great-grandfather built, I was wishing someone would be there so I could go inside.  I never remembered being in it, and I felt like it would make me feel a lot closer to Mom.  She had so many stories of the church, including one that was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Answered Prayers: 101 Stories of Hope, Miracles, Faith, Divine Intervention, and the Power of Prayer about how my great-grandmother prayed for her son during WWII in that church.  Family legend says that hair stood up on the back of people's heads as they heard my great-grandmother plead for her son's life.  After a few minutes of desperate pleading, she got up from her knees and said her son was okay.  Mom related this story so well, it was published in detail.  I've heard so many stories growing up that I feel like I was there for some of them.  But when I got to the church, it was locked and empty.  I figured as much for a Monday afternoon.





This is the church at Freeport near Terra Alta WV.  It once was the Nordeck Evangelical United Brethren Church, but is currently the Freeport King James Bible Church.  

I spent some time just walking around the church.  Remembering the picnic we had with my grandmother who passed away in 1995.  Remembering how a few times each summer Dad would announce, "Let's go for a drive" and many times we'd end up in Freeport, Mom telling me stories.  I am not sure if the tears were happy or sad -- or both.  The dash was well lived, but too short.  I never knew my mother's father, her beloved uncle, or her grandparents.  I was at "home" but also with strangers I've never met except for my mother and grandmother.

I decided to stop at the beaver dam.  When I was growing up, I loved skipping rocks across what is now swamp land.  I loved looking at the ripples and seeing how they resounded.


The farm she grew up on is now private property, but I have been granted permission by the current owners to visit.  It was the first time in years I had walked up to the house (which is now abandoned.)  I always loved the milkhouse, it always seemed like a clubhouse type building to me as a child.  Unfortunately it's beginning to fall in.  The barn is still standing, and the house collapsed years ago.  I walked around the foundations thinking of the generations of my family who lived there (my great-great-grandfather built that house!)  I saw a washtub in the rubble of the house and wondered how many hours my grandmother stood by that doing chores and belting out "Amazing Grace"  (She wasn't the most talented singer, but she made up for it in volume!) 

I sighed as I left and looked out at what my mother would have seen every time she looked off the front porch.  It's no wonder she always missed it.  The view, which I had never really noticed before, is beautiful.  Mom used to joke my grandfather said about the song "Lord Build Me A Cabin", he would state, "Why a cabin in the corner of Gloryland?  I want a mansion in the middle."  But I'm hoping they don't have a cabin -- instead I hope they have a two story farmhouse with a view like they did on earth.  It's beautiful.

There were some raindrops starting to fall as I left.  It felt so fitting.  

As I started back to town, I was still crying.  I felt like I reconnected with my past, with people who love me -- some I've never met.  As I rounded the corner to the church, there was a lady on the porch wiping down a stand, and the door was open.  I stopped, introduced myself and got a tour of the church.  Our church.  The Nordeck Church.   Only it's not ours anymore.  But part of us will always be there.   

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Dad, gone for 4 years

This week marks the 4th anniversary of my dad's death.  It's unreal to believe he's been gone for that long.   It seems like everyone who ever met him had a story about something he did.  When he was in the nursing home he once trapped an aide in the closet.  He caught the car on fire fixing it.  He was the best raffle ticket seller for the fire department because everyone knew if they didn't buy a ticket, Dad would embarass them over the P.A. system at the carnival grounds, so the best thing to do would be to buy a raffle ticket early on to keep him "quiet".  :)  (Of course, if you were buying only one and he thought you could afford more, he'd annouce you were cheap and buying only one!)

He was president of the resident's council at Heartland.  And before he went in the nursing home, he loved to cook for the men's prayer breakfasts at his church.  (I have a feeling that thanks to him, there might have been more breakfast than prayer going on!  I think he went hours before everyone else to start cooking for them!)  :)

Dad was a volunteer fireman for parts of five decades. 

Here are some photos of him:


Dad was about 16 when this photo was taken.


I was about five, and this is when Dad owned the monument business.  This is in front of the shop where he carved tombstones.


Dad showed an early interest in firefighing!  He was barely old enough to walk but was "toddling" about on the firetruck!


Dad always loved Christmas!