The last two weeks have been simply awful. Yesterday, I had to say goodbye to my father-in-law. He's been in my life for 27 years; nearly as long as my father before he passed away. For all intents-and-purposes...he was my dad.
What we thought was a stomach issue, turned into something so much more. Over the course of two weeks and too many procedures to count, the man that I've watched eat pizza until he'd bust, walk around eight miles at a car show, and build furniture just because we asked, couldn't fight any longer. There is something very surreal in watching someone you love be taken from you right in front of your eyes.
When my father died, I wasn't there. I was on vacation with my husband. We saw my dad five days before he passed away, and then I saw him when he was laid out for his wake.
This time, we were there by his side and my mother-in-laws side 14 of 15 days. The only day we weren't there we called. My husbands (and now my) family is very close. There were times when I thought the hospital door was a revolving door. Everyone wanted to see dad. He's been a rock in this family. He's the one that ensured my husband make it to hockey practice at 5 am. He's the one that made sure my husband and his brother knew how to work on cars. He's the one that showed them both how to treat their wives. He's the one that told stories, sometimes over and over again, to our boys...often things that they just didn't want to hear. He's the one that got picked on at car shows by his son's, only because that's what they did. He's the one that had a phrase for just about everything.... "down the road a piece", "you're about as useless as two tits on a board" and the every popular "were you born in a barn?"
Dad was preceded in death by 11 of 12 brothers, 1 of 2 sisters, his mother and his father, mother-in-law and father-in-law. Leaving behind a sister that lives in the same city, and a brother that lives in the South, there family was closer than many. I married into a family that was and is very close. Cousins are treated as siblings. Aunts and uncles were treated as additional parents. Extended family is treated as family.
Dad rescued a chihuahua a few years ago from near our family cottage in northern Wisconsin. He brought him home and gave him all the love he needed. Brownie quickly became part of the family and proceeded to bite (nip) just about everyone in the family except dad and mom. The last two weeks has been hard on Brownie and Roscoe (their other dog). No one really thinks about leaving pets behind. We had anticipated bringing Brownie to the hospital and had it approved, but quickly realized that it wasn't a good idea. The first few days dad was in the hospital, Brownie didn't eat. After a few more days, he warmed up to the rest of us and started eating. I don't doubt it's going to be very hard in the coming weeks for him as well.
I'd like to believe there is life after death. Until that happens, I know that dad will live on through his boys and our boys. If there is, I hope that dad and my dad are both the angels on our shoulders, or voice of reason, when we need a little guidance, or a swift boot in the ass.
Hug your loved ones a little tighter tonight. You never know when your world will turn upside down and be faced with tragedy. See you later dad.