Ok so here I go. I've known for a long time that I would write this blog. Just wondered if I'd be able to get up the nerve to sit down and do it. I thought that today, of course, would be the ideal time to do it. Today marks one day since my father's passing. This song was one of his favorites, which my siblings and I sang at his funeral. I have attached the video of us singing it together for the first time in my mom's kitchen, practicing for the ceremony. Thus the sense of awkwardness. Dad would have enjoyed it I'm sure, all of us singing together. He instilled the love of music into all four of us.
Losing a parent is one of those things that no one can really ever prepare you for. Especially when they are taken from you at such a young age. I thought my dad would be around to take Hannah (and any other future children) fishing. I thought she would grow up learning about his sarcasm and gag Christmas gifts. I thought he would be here for me to call whenever the Cincinnati Bengals score a touchdown "WhoDey!", or when the UK Wildcats win a big championship... I wanted him to be able to see me grow as a mom and be proud of me. I had hoped he would be here last week to sing me Happy Birthday again. Last year he somehow managed to sit up on the edge of the bed and sing the whole thing, in tune, not missing a word, even though it had been weeks since he had been able to complete a coherent sentence. Within a couple of days he was bedridden, within a couple more in a morphine induced coma, in a couple more, he was gone.
I've never had to deal with death. All my grandparents died either before I was born or when I was an infant. My closest relative to pass (an aunt) had moved away the year before and since she never had a burial site to go to it was like she just never came back from a trip. All my pets either mysteriously disappeared or ran away before I ever had to see them die or bury them. I've always had a small fear of death...of how I would respond when I had to look it in the face either myself or through someone else. I never could have imagined that the first funeral I attended would be my dad's.
So it's been a year. A busy one, adjusting to life as a mom, as a working mom...being away from my own mom has been so hard. Knowing how hard it has been for her to lose her lifemate at the young age of 57. How do people learn to move on without feeling fearful of forgetting something about the one they've lost? I get scared sometimes that I'll forget what his laugh sounded like, or how his clothes smelled when I hugged him goodnite every night. Or that I'll lose sight of some of the things he taught me about thinking for myself, never letting someone else tell me what to believe but instead to search out truth on my own.
Every time I hear "Amarillo By Morning" I obviously think of Dad. He grew up in Texas and had so many stories from all the places he'd been. I wish I had those memorized, too, so that I could recall every detail to tell Hannah someday. Dad was a simple man, simple but with a huge heart. "I ain't got a dime, but what I got is mine. I ain't rich, but Lord I'm free..." This was Dad. He worked hard to put food on the table and to provide us with all he could. He helped us appreciate what we did have, and taught us the value of work.
So tonight I sit and wonder about what Dad would say if he could hear my thoughts, see what I'm up to, the silly things I worry about, the struggles I face...what advice would he give me? Again, he was so simple...he'd probably say "Well, baby, whatever makes you happy." And then he'd follow it up by a comment like "but I still think Pete should take back that %#$ ring (my wedding ring) and buy him a bass boat!!!" LOL
I hope that somehow I will have learned from this great loss that we should never take our loved ones for granted. Even as I knew Dad was growing weak I never had the courage to really face it. I wanted to hope for the best, that God would heal him and make him whole again. Dad fought hard and we were so proud of how he never gave up. But I still feel like I should have said more, told him I loved him more, laughed and cried with him more. But would anything have ever been enough?
"The first man a little girl loves is her daddy." This is the quote I opened with when I spoke at his funeral. It is so very true. And I will always love him.