Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Veteran

This time, however, it's "Daddy, the war veteran."
Dad was in the engine room of a destroyer during the Korean conflict, a civil service instructor at Pearl Harbor in the '60's, and then retired a machinist at Camp Pendleton in the 70's.
Being Veteran's Day, there are so many men and women that I am so thankful for, so many that deserve our respect and gratitude, but one veteran is central in my heart and in my thoughts.

I never heard him tell somebody

"I do not know how..."
"You'll have to take this somewhere else..."
"I cannot do this now..."

I'd sit for hours listening to

how he fixed something...
I'd stand beside him in the shop-
machinery can sing!

I learned respect for veterans watching
daddy through the years;
that carries through to each and every
one who volunteers!

"Thank you!" cries my heart to each

and every one that's served!
Thanks to my dad, much gratitude,
in my heart is reserved!

Five years ago, I called daddy on Veteran's Day and told him "thank you" for serving.  There was silence on the other end.

"Daddy, are you there?" 
I could barely hear him.  With a shaky voice, he said "Jimmy, I'm here.  It's just that no one's ever told me that before."
Then there was silence at my end.  I have been thanking Veterans for years for their service.  It never occurred to me that I never thanked my own dad.
Have you thanked yours?

Friday, November 7, 2014

At last

As I said, we got into the car and got to California as fast as we could.  After a couple of days, after a lot of emotion, I sat in daddy's room and wrote

At last, I'm present with my friend.
He is much closer to the end
than ever I could realize-
you can see it in his eyes.

For the first time, once again,
whether I lose, whether I win,
what I possess or do not own,
in THIS place, it is unknown!

At last and, likely, for the last,
I'm with my friend.  Soon, he'll be passed.
Until I, too, am at the end--
only then to comprehend?

I'm with a friend I love the most.
The years we've had--of such I boast
because he so enriched each one!
He is my dad.  I am his son.

I'm with a friend I'll never lose.
Thus, painful words, I now must choose:
"Take him, Lord, for I release."

"I love you, daddy.  Rest in peace."

It hurts!  I thought I was ready for this! 
I've consoled many folks in this same place.  I've spoken at funerals for friends, loved ones, and folks I barely knew...but this is new!  Thank God for the hope he gives us and the assurance I have that I will see daddy again!  And he won't be suffering!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Two weeks later

(Several of these posts may sound jumbled, but those of you who know what my brain does will understand.  All of these words were written either during the trip or just afterwards, so the timeline may not jive.  Just read them from the heart.  This was written last week at our kids' house.)

"From death to life?"
"From dying to living?"
Some would say so.  But I would say "From living to living!"
Last week, we were enjoying the lives of four dear loved ones, while life was slipping away from one of them.  This week, I am participating in the lives of four others.  There are only three others there.
God bless daddy and rest his soul.

God bless daddy for touching so many lives.
God bless daddy for having so many answers.
God bless daddy for knowing or figuring out how to fix whatever was brought to him...even if he had to invent it!  Repairman...mechanic...machinist...wood smith...whatever the job called for, somehow daddy always had the tools AND the skills.
Daddy's gone now.  Now what do we do?  Now what do we do?  We savor the wonderful memories of him and press on.  Press on using the wonderful skills that we learned from him and mom.  Successful have we been so far.
From dying to living: sitting on the floor helping Theo put the track together...while Annabelle goes behind us taking it apart!  Thomas and his friends need new places to go, and Theo and I must create them!
"Here, Annabelle, you play with this while papa and I play trains," he says.
My bones are aching from three straight days of riding in a car, but I forget about the pain as he shows me how to properly put Thomas and his friends on the track.
The hardwood floor doesn't seem to affect my joints as I listen to them laugh!
The miles of road behind us are forgotten in the presence of four more wonderful people making room in their home for us.
From living to living!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Day 3

Well, that was a quick trip, and we did get there in time! 
I was not, however, expecting to see what I saw.  Debby has worked with the aged for most of her life.  I worked with her very briefly when we first got married.  (A looooong time ago!)  All the way out, she attempted to prepare me for what we might see.  It was either worse than what I decided, or I did not listen to her...or both!
I sat next to daddy's bed the next day.  My sister asked if I wanted to feed him.  I didn't know someone had to until I got there.  (Those of you who know how my hands shake are probably smiling right now!)  Yes, I fed him, but he made it known that I was going too slow!  As he fell back to sleep, I wrote

Sitting beside a hero.  Not believing we made it across the country in time!
We got a call the other night.  We made arrangements and then drove for two days.  I can't believe we made it here that fast.  Looking at daddy, I can't believe he made it this long!

Sitting beside a hero.  That tough, indestructible man.
He gets out one or two words, three at the most, in between coughs.
Turns out he IS fragile, after all.
As I sit at his bedside, he talks to who isn't there...then he says something completely logical to me in full sentence.  I hate this!

Sitting beside a hero.  The rough, tough man that helped raise me.  He is in all but a fetal position struggling to breathe.  I try to hold my hand still enough to feed him...but can't.  I wipe the tears and try to use my left hand.  I love this!

Sitting next to a hero as he fades in and out.  He smiles and opens his eyes when I say certain things, like telling him about the grandkids.  His voice gets strong and you can hear his pride.  The hero is fighting his last battle.  I hate this!  No one deserves to die this way, but the hero's wife tells me that she would rather take care of him than anything else.  Usually she is holding the bowl.  One spoonful at a time...tending to all of the inconveniences that dying brings about...yet doing all she can to preserve the hero's dignity.  God bless her!

Standing beside a hero--the one who stood beside me all my life.  God bless him!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Next Day...

If you remember, the last "Words" I sent out was around 10/10.  The next day, I received a call from mom saying that daddy was under hospice care.  Debby & I dropped everything and drove out there as fast as we could...with a world of uncertainties swirling around in our heads.
I was way too emotional to speak, so I let my pen do it.  Here are the first words on the road:

On my way to see someone
that I may never see;
though a blessing wonderful,
emotional I be.

On my way to see a hero
in his final days.
So many verses to exude
and ALL be words of praise!

On my way to see a friend, last!
Embarrassed, disappointed that
too many years have passed
since I've been with him to listen,
to learn and to enjoy.
Cell phone, Skype and internet,
this time, I can't employ.

On my way to see my daddy,
battling the tears.
No amount of preparation
softens what appears!
Only Jesus in my heart
stays me on this route.
I cling to Him, not knowing what
tomorrow is about!

On my way...time alone
to hinder being there.
Desiring severely, one last time
with him to share.

We made it!  We got to spend over a week with dad, mom, my brother and sister.
I'll tell you more about that next time.