Thursday, April 3, 2014

Reflection's on the Past

Originally Posted 3/29/13.  

              This morning I woke up feeling a little sorry for myself.  I was wishing that we were at our cabin, enjoying this last weekend of snowmobiling. Yes, there is snow still in northern Wisconsin despite these beautiful temperatures.   For the last four or five years we have forgone going to Easter dinner with our family, and instead spent Good Friday through the Monday after Easter prepping our sleds for summer.  This year, schedules changed with our oldest in college, our youngest in track, and vacation days that are light due to my husband's recent illness and our various trips over winter.
                While at work this morning keeping myself busy with preparing contracts, working on spreadsheets and reaching out to various promoters, I got to thinking about family.  Not just my immediate family, but my extended family, in-laws, nieces and nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles and friends.  That lead me to thinking about my Uncle D who passed this week, which in turn led me to thinking about my grandma that passed this past December and my Aunt L who passed last year.  That led to me thinking about my dad.  Dad’s been gone almost 10 years.  May 16th to be precise.
                Dad was stubborn.  He hadn’t gone to the doctor in years.  He stopped taking his blood pressure medicine, and I truly believe he thought the doctor was the devil.  I saw my dad on the Saturday before he died.  It was May 10th. My husband and I took the boys over to my parents’ house for our weekly visit.  Dad seemed fine.  He was sitting in the family room when we arrived and he smiled when we walked in.  He was good to the boys, giving them pennies or just sitting in the room watching Brewer games with them.  After our visit, I gave him a hug, told him I loved him and he said the same.  The next day, I called my mom for Mothers Day.  She wasn’t home; she had gone to brunch with my sister and brother-in-law.  I talked my dad briefly and asked that he have mom call me when she got home.  Before hanging up, he told me he loved me.  That was the last time I talked to him.
                That week, my husband and I were going on a trip to Charlotte to see the All-star race.  Our flight left Wednesday as planned.   Thursday I called my mom to let her know we were safe and sound and she told me that she and dad were going to their place in Wisconsin Dells to cut the grass, but they would be home Saturday.  We chatted briefly, I told her I loved her and that I would call when I could.  My husband and I had a great time on vacation. We visited race shops, had long lunches and dinners and had a stress free and child free vacation.  (The kids were with my in-laws).  Saturday, while at the track, I called my mom.  My husband had forgotten to set the VCR to tape the race and he wanted to make sure that he had it taped.  I asked what she and dad were doing and she said nothing, just watching the race.  We were flying home the next day, so I told her I would call when we got home.
                Sunday, our flight was late and we didn’t get home until around 6pm.  While unpacking, my sister, brother-in-law and mom showed up at my house.  I didn’t think twice about my dad not being with them; he wasn’t one to go out for dinner or to go for rides to see us.  My neighbor walked in with my mom, and I didn’t think anything of it.  She and I were pretty good friends; she was a Nurse at St. Luke’s.   The boys were playing upstairs in their rooms with my in-laws.  After a few minutes, my mom walked over to me and told me that she needed to talk to me.  I brushed her off and continued to unpack gifts we had gotten for the boys, my in-laws and my parents.  After a few more minutes, she grabbed me by the shoulder and told me ‘daddy is dead’.  I nearly crumpled to the floor and passed out (which is why my neighbor was there).
                Dad passed away on Friday.  This was Sunday.  Before they had gone to the Dells to cut the grass, mom had gone to the grocery store.  When she got home, she told my dad that they both needed to get haircuts, and said he couldn’t, he needed to the doctor.  Remember, the devil?  Dad was begging to go.  Mom drove him there and during his exam, our family doctor had found a cantaloupe sized mass in his colon.  Doctor told mom to get him over to the Hospital; he needed to be admitted right away.  They were scheduling surgery for the next morning.  Fast forward to Friday and dad was to have the mass removed.  He never made it to surgery.  He had a heart attack and died before they even cut him open.  I like to think that he didn’t want to put mom, or the rest of our family, through chemo and the sickness.  That’s assuming it was cancerous.
                After many angry conversations, countless tears and pretty much twisting her arm to tell me, mom finally confessed that when I called on Saturday all my siblings were at the house.  Of course they were, dad was gone and they were prepping for the funeral.  She panicked and wasn’t sure what to tell me.  My siblings convinced her not to tell me he was dead.  They wanted me to enjoy our vacation.  They thought for sure I would have jumped the next plane home.   Damn right I would have.  I wasn’t given that option.  She swore my siblings to secrecy and for lack of a better term threatened my in-laws into not telling my husband or I that dad was gone.  (Later on, after conversations with his brother, he said that he did know, and had picked up the phone no less than a half dozen times to tell me).
                I struggled with this for years.  Anger directed at my mom, anger directed at my siblings, anger at my dad for dying.  I’ve come to terms with all of it.  I was happy that I was able to talk to dad the weekend before he died.  I’m glad I am able to remember him with a smile on his face and not, what I’m convinced would be, a terrified man who was dying.   I’m happy that my husband and the boys were able to see him happy as well.  Hugs, kisses and handshakes are what we all remember.
                Unfortunately, I don’t see my siblings much, but I do talk to my sister a few times a month.  My oldest brother is estranged from the family; my youngest brother is struggling with his own life.  My middle brother and I talk to a few times a year.   Thanks to Facebook, I know what’s going on in my nieces and nephews lives, and they know what’s going on in mine.  I have yet to meet my great niece and two great nephews, but I hope someday I get that chance.  I follow what is going on in my cousins’ lives and my aunts that post.
                Thankfully, I am close with my husband's family.  We get together when time permits.  They attend the boys’ games and we see each other at dinners and birthdays and holidays, or even when we just stop by. 
                I don’t know when I stopped being close with my family.  I assume it was when I grew up. Holidays used to be fun; we would all get together and sit around for hours playing games and ate wonderful meals that my mother prepared.   Now holidays are taxing at best.  We all bicker at each other and complain about what so and so is doing.
                This Sunday we will be with my husband's family.  Twenty two of us joking and laughing and enjoying each others’ company (mostly).  Will we bicker? Probably.  Will we complain? Maybe.  Will our youngest get questioned about his accomplishments in track?  Possibly.  Will our oldest get grilled about how college is going and what was up with ex-girlfriend? Most definitely.  That’s what families do.
                I’m still feeling a little sorry for myself that we won’t be up at the cabin, enjoying this last weekend before the trails close.  It is our last weekend before the baseball season goes into the Sunday double headers.  The last free weekend our oldest would have before papers and essays are due and impending finals.  The last free weekend before our youngest has outdoor track meets.  All I know is that although we aren’t at the cabin, we will be home.  All four of us will be under one roof.  I’m ok with that.
                Happy Easter to you and yours.  Enjoy your day however you choose to spend it.

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