12 February 2009

My Daddy

My daddy died a year ago tomorrow of a massive heart attack. He was a lifetime smoker and although his lungs were clear, every vein and artery was blocked to some degree. His body even developed collaterals to keep blood going to his brain because his carotid arteries were 100% blocked. So he had surgery to replace the arteries from the aorta down to the femoral and although the surgery was a success (blood flow to his feet for the first time in a long time) he had a heart attack either during the surgery or immediately following. His heart was already damaged from an attack he'd had 25 years prior, and the surgeon knew it but felt the blocked arteries needed to be dealt with despite the risks.

I saw my daddy in the hospital after the surgery several times and he tried to communicate but it was difficult with the pesky breathing tube in place. I remembered from his first heart attack that he didn't like the indignity of being held to a bed with IVs and tubes and he demonstrated that to me nicely after his surgery last year. He seemed to want to be up and about, left to heal in privacy, but that's not really possible in a hospital. He wasn't conscious much after that. He had become violent once his body realized the insult of the surgery so he had to be sedated and re
strained. He didn't regain consciousness after the sedation. His heart was running out of muscle and was dying, as well his other organs were failing. There really wasn't much else the medical world could do for my daddy, so my mom made the very difficult decision to have him removed from life support and to let him go as he wanted - in peace, with my mom beside him, and no tubes.

My sisters, my brother in law, and my mom stayed with him until he died, but I didn't. I saw him after the tubes were removed and noticed his briefly peach feet were turning purple-y again. I instantly thought he was cold and flipped the blanket back over his foot, but the knowledge slammed into my head that his feet were purple-ing because his heart wasn't able to pump blood to his feet. Because of who my dad was I knew he would forgive me if I left, and so I did. I just decided without thinking that I didn't want
a memory in storage of my dad not breathing. It took over two hours for him to let go completely after the life support was removed.

Do I wish I had told him how much I loved him more often? Oh yes. Do I wish I'd spent a bit more time learning about his life? Definitely. Do I wish I had spent more time with him, even if it was doing nothing? Absolutely. I was fortunate though. Shortly before his surgery I responded to one of his emails and told him what gifts I believed I inherited from him. I told him how he'd impacted my life in a positive way and how I would forever be grateful he was my daddy. I was also fortunate that I spoke to him right before he left his house to go to the hospital. It was a normal conversation, but I got to tell him that I loved him and that he was my favorite daddy (he used to tell me that I was his fav
orite middle daughter. I would tell him that I was his only middle daughter. He would respond by saying that didn't make me any less his favorite middle daughter). I also had the good fortune to lighten his burden a bit. He and I were standing outside the crowd at a Christmas gathering one year, watching the people. He told me he knew he was a bad father and wished he could have done better. I told him that I had forgiven him for that long ago, and that when you know better you do better. I told him that I knew he had a poor model to work from and he did his very best with what he had. He said nothing, but stood a little straighter.

Everyone believes something different about what happens when someone dies. I have always said "whatever you believe is correct" and to me that's true. There are no right or wrong beliefs, just different ones.
What I believe is that our bodies are merely vessels to enable our souls to experience Earth. After the body dies I believe the soul moves on to what is next. I don't know what that is, but I do believe there is something different for our souls to experience. Like chapters in a book - Earth is a chapter, what was before Earth may have been one or several chapters, and what is after Earth may be one or many chapters. The book is our soul's journey in our universe. Or maybe even several universes.

One image I carry with me daily is a dream I had shortly after my daddy died. We were in a car together, I was driving, it was his white car. We were on a gray bridge over gray water with gray sky and gray fog. I looked over at him and saw a gentle breeze ruffle his hair. He was wearing his usual blue jean shirt with his pocket protector, a pen, a screwdriver and a notebook. My dad turned and looked at me. He looked apprehensive but not unhappy. He smiled his little smile and looked back at the road ahead. I felt absolutely elated and at peace. I knew everything was going to be ok and that he was safe. When I told S my dream, he said maybe I escorted my dad over the river Styx. I'll accept that explanation :)

One feeling I keep with me every day was what it was like to receive a hug from my daddy. I can still feel how he would squeeze me around my shoulders. My arms can still feel the weight of him around his middle. I was always impressed at the strength in his hugs.

One thing I did ask my dadd
y was why he liked ducks so much. He said it was because they look calm on the surface, but under the water they are paddling fiercely. He said it reminded him of Life.

Lovesya Daddy


Michelle said...

Wow. Loved reading what you wrote on your blog today.
I really believe that everyone grieves different and responds to DEALING with heart breaking pain different. There is no right or wrong. You leaving your dads room reflects NOTHING on your love for your dad. And you should never ever feel thst you have to explain it to anyone!
It's so grea you had such good talks with your dad before he passed and tht you both were able to say things you wanted and needed to.
I have a strong believe that dreams mean something. And when someone comes to you in a dream I think it's b/c you are open to that person coming to "visit" you. I've had some pretty neat "visits" and they always make me feel calm. It's usually at a time when I've really needed it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Robin for the eloquence of your words. Your Dad was a very kind and gentle person and I know he loved all his daughters very much. As he aged, he hated the person he had been when you were little and often wished he could go back and change it. But he knew he couldn't - the only thing he could do was to make sure you knew he loved you. And from your words, I think he succeeded :)

Love, Mom

Chantelle said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes.. it captured him and your relationship with him perfectly. I know I loved him very much and wish he was still here.

Love and hugs,