One year ago today my dad passed away.
With his consent, I had moved him from the hospital to an in-patient hospice unit which was just down the road from my house. It was a very nice, beautiful place with phenomenal and caring staff. It wasn’t home, but he did not seem to mind at that point. He just wanted to be comfortable, and I believe he was. He went very quickly – much more quickly than anyone there could believe (and they, in my opinion, are experts on the dying). But my dad knew he was on his last few days – he had even told me in the hospital. He was rarely wrong about anything.
And so I’ve had a year as an orphan now. It has had moments of incredible pain. But it has been a year of growth, exploration, hope, adventure, and rebuilding too. I visited with the hospice counselor a few weeks ago and she said that, in reality, his death gave me some new life. It’s hard to think of it that way, but there is truth to it too. Dad had congestive heart failure and he was just not going to get better – especially after entering what was most likely the end stage. Dad was a man that did not like to feel lousy and he got frustrated when his body would not let him do what he wanted to do. I know he didn’t want to live like that. His health declined very quickly and it was probably a blessing in his case. He would not have done well in a nursing facility – and that is about what we were faced with if he had been discharged from the hospital. It was pretty clear that he could not live on his own without more help with his health failing the way it was. He would have been depressed in any facility I think. I would have worried about him constantly and who knows how long he (or we) would have gone on like that. It’s hard to be “happy” when you feel like you aren’t doing enough for those you love. And, when sandwiched between your own children and your parents, it is hard to provide care for both long term.
So, I find myself at this one year anniversary taking a little inventory of what this year has brought:
- A strong commitment to cherish my health which includes maintaining my weight loss and fitness. It also means keeping up with my medical check-ups, routine exams, scans, etc.
- A desire to open myself up to new experiences and meet new people. I have found that one leads to another and that leads to another. My little circle is growing – while those from my past have come back into my life as well. The internet has helped that. There are some really cool people out there and I’ve been blessed to meet them this year. They have each been a part of my healing and the reason I have, in general, felt like this has been one of my best years, despite all that has happened.
- Accepting help in the form of grief counseling and seeking help from experts. This is not something I have ever been comfortable doing but I think it has helped me.
- (almost) finishing combing through almost 45 years of my family home. Packing up what is most cherished and sentimental, parting with items that made up our home but maybe don’t hold emotional attachment. I feel like I have thoughtfully dealt with the majority of the items and honored their place in my heart or mind. I can’t keep everything but I’ve re-purposed a few of my parents’ things or incorporated them into my home in different ways to remind me of their presence often.
- reconnecting with my cousins and family in Kentucky (the state both of my parents were from) in August
I’m glad the house is about ready to be put on the market. In the next week or so I will hopefully wrap up most of the details to get it ready. I am having a few new doors installed this weekend and all that is left is some touch up things inside, installing some light fixtures and ceiling fans, and quite a bit of work in the backyard. The garage is still pretty full but it is mostly larger furniture pieces that I need to have hauled away. As I was scraping glue off the back patio from where my dad has put down Astroturf on the back patio, I felt like all of the hard work on the house has probably helped make it easier to go ahead and let it be sold and move on. I have almost moved past the point of being sentimental and attached to just wanting to be done. It’s time. I’m ready to continue on with the next thing that waits for me….or, better yet, that I go discover.
PS- If you watch Parenthood, I cannot believe the show is ending tonight – the same day my dad died one year ago – with Zeke probably dying of heart failure as well. I am already an emotional wreck with that show, the timing is just crazy! Maybe it will serve as really good therapy.