I have been blog-absent for several reasons. Life got very insane here about a month ago, and I didn't have a whole lot of time to catch up.
Then school let out.
Then we left for vacation—a week in sunny Florida with my parents—two days after that.
We had a wonderful time. We stayed at my folks' place about an hour outside of Tampa, squeezing all of us into their cozy little mobile home in a Wesleyan retirement community. We went to the beach. We went to Downtown Disney. We rode the monorail all the way around the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. We monopolized the pool in my folks' community. We celebrated Dad's birthday (his 71st). We celebrated Father's Day three days early, on Thursday.
And on Friday, June 19th, we got up ugly early to drive home.
With four kids, two adults, and a thousand-mile trip ahead of us, we hugged and said our goodbyes. Mom and Dad were staying another five days or so to close up their place and have it renter-ready for the folks who had just arranged to rent it for this coming November and December.
We got home late Friday night, after 1 a.m. I suppose that makes it technically Saturday, but I'm always of the mind that it's not the next day until I get a night's sleep in between.
Saturday afternoon, we returned the minivan we'd rented for our trip, and then Hubby and I stopped at Walmart on our way home to get some essential groceries to last us until, well, I got up the oomph to get to a grocery store. I had awakened with a headache and wanted nothing more than to go back to bed as soon as we got home. By the time we got back and I headed upstairs to my jammies and my bed, it was quarter to 4.
I don't think I was up there much more than half an hour when Hubby came up. I could tell by his face that something was wrong.
"Mom just called," he said, in that kind of hushed, I-can't-believe-this tone. "She said we left too soon. Dad's heart stopped. She called the squad. They're working on him and taking him to the hospital."
My entire world rocked. "Is he gone?"
Hubby looked uncertain. "I don't know."
A few minutes later, he called Mom back. She was at the hospital. Dad was hooked up to machines, she reported, but he was unresponsive.
I have read far too many of Ambulance Driver's blog posts to ignore what that meant...but I ignored it for awhile longer anyway. I didn't want to recognize the most likely reality until I absolutely had to. I know that the writers of ER have always gotten it wrong, because to recover a patient from complete asystole is very unlikely (less than 2% success rate).
While I desperately wanted to be alone while I waited for further news, Hubby stayed with me. The absolute horror of what could be happening in Florida hovered heavily over the bedroom. I begged God to save my daddy. I wasn't ready to lose him. Wasn't ready to navigate life without him. I needed him. Please, God, intervene. Heal Dad.
Hubby logged into Skype on his phone to see if he had Sis and BIL's contact information on his account, since I couldn't remember my password for Skype. He called my sister to let her know what was going on, what little we knew. They determined it would be best if she got in touch with Bro to let him know what was going on.
Thirty (give or take) of the longest minutes of my life later, the Top Gear theme blasted from Hubby's phone. He answered immediately. "Hello... Yes... Okay... Thank you for letting us know."
I couldn't tell from his side of the conversation what the news was.
And as I watched, Hubby's head dropped.
So did my heart.
He turned to look at me...and shook his head.
Grief flooded me. "My daddy's gone?"
"Yes." He could only whisper the word.
And I fell apart.
I screamed and cried and screamed and cried, and then I screamed and cried some more.
I begged Hubby to tell me it wasn't true.
It probably took me at least half an hour to pull myself together enough. I had posted on Facebook, requesting prayer, and now I had to start telling my friends that Dad was beyond prayers.
And we had to tell the kids their beloved Poppa was gone.
It was horribly unfair.
It was horrible. Period.
We sat down with the kids, turning the TV off, breaking the news as gently as we could. They took it hard.
With not knowing where Bro was even living, and Sis being overseas, someone needed to be with Mom.
Hubby started working the family network and found out that two of my cousins were flying down that night. Their daughter was willing to drive me down the next day.
I had not even been home 24 hours before I left again, meeting up with my cousin at my aunt and uncle's (her grandparents) about an hour away.
Hubby said, as we piled in the car for the drive to my aunt and uncle's, that their son was asking how I was doing.
I had a fit.
"My dad is dead! His 88-year-old father is still alive and kicking, but my 71-year-old dad isn't! How does he think I'm doing?!"
As it turned out, we all ended up driving down on Father's Day, because Former Hurricane Bill was having a rainy field day and flights were canceled.
We spent the next few days helping Mom deal with details regarding Dad and what he wanted and what that would mean, and getting everything she didn't want to leave in Florida packed and loaded into my cousins' minivan. Mom didn't want to have to come back, in case she later decided to sell. The extent of my help was just being there; I was too overwhelmed to be much practical good. And it was very hard to be back in the house, where Dad had been so vibrantly alive just a few days ago.
Dad wanted to be cremated, so Mom honored his wishes. I did get to see him one last time; he sure looked like he was asleep (or faking it), waiting for his grandies to come in and wake him up with a zillion kisses. But he felt so wrong. Dad was full of life, warm and caring, soft and squishy (sorry, Dad; you know it's true). This looked like Dad, but it was painfully obvious that Dad was no longer there. The Crystal Bald should not feel like an ice pack, and yet it did. There was no give when I touched his chest. Hard and stiff...this was just a house.
I am still struggling to understand a world without Dad. I miss him so much. Both Oldest and I hit big birthdays next month, and the thought of Dad not being there is heart-wrenching.
Sis, BIL, and their kids are wrapping up their work overseas in Romania, preparing to come home to the States for at least the next year. They arrive back in the States on Tuesday.
Because of the complexities of overseas travel and wanting Sis and her family to not have to jump from jetlag to a memorial service, Dad's service won't be until July 6. That's going to be a very tough day, for more reasons that just that it will be chock-full of remembering Dad and lots and lots and lots of tears. However, I can say this: Mom is planning the kind of service I know Dad would have wanted. It won't be short, but it will be a fitting tribute to the best man I've ever know.
|Best. Dad. Ever.|