The things I realize as I write this story…
~It makes my dad’s death realer than it ever had been before. The pictures, the memories, the realization that I am so lucky and honored to have had the father I did, these all resurface and it socks me in the stomach sometimes and makes my throat tighten and clench with pain. I really, really miss him and that doesn’t go away with years or age.
~Pictures are priceless. Any piece of him that I have held onto is like precious jewels to me. I wish I had more, there are so many moments and personal belongings that I would appreciate being able to hold, and to show people as a symbol of who he was and what he did. Running t-shirts, sunglasses, tools, vintage car toys from his machine shop that I used to play with while I spent time with him, shaving cup, after shave bottle, pen, check register with signatures, umpire gear, machine shop blade that he sharpened, safety glasses, metal shavings, one of his work jumpsuits, robe, pair of dress shoes (he always kept them neatly tucked under the bed in their original boxes), things he wrote on, picture of his hands, and photos of moments in time I never captured of his presence throughout the years. Instances that could have been documented on film of his every day endeavors like fixing the car, yard work, talking to people, and the countless things we did together.
~I would do anything to have some of his stories documented on tape; vocal recordings. Today our children will most likely never wonder when they get older or if we pass away prematurely, what we sounded like. It is very likely, somewhere, they will have a recorded video of us. It is still important, I think, to get on tape/video things you will want to hear them tell you, your children, and your grandchildren when narrating this amazing person for others. A part of yourself; those stories are intimately part of you!
Even the stories I heard time and time again, I still question how accurately I remember them. I just wish I or someone had written them down. The thought of having a tape with my father talking about something he went through in his life and being able to play this for my children and husband would be inestimable for me! I hope I can prevent someone else from having to live through the same regrets.
~There are still missing pieces and questions to ask. I talk to my mom when I have something come up that I am unsure about. An example of those stories that it seems like there is no way you could forget the details to, but for me, I still need help filling in the missing pieces. We actually, again, just talked about the crash that killed my father, a few nights ago.
It has started to haunt me a bit. The idea of my father dying alone, suddenly, and not knowing anything about the last moments of his life. It hurts and being the person I am, soft-hearted, sensitive, and compassionate, I wish I could have been there so he would have had company in those last moments of his life. I also know I wouldn’t have wanted to die with him and me being there would not have made it easier for him. I picture it more like getting to be a guardian angle for those minutes before his death came.
I guess there were two semis on the road and he missed the first one. People nearby in a shop said the weather was treacherous and they could tell his vision was highly impaired by the storm, maybe his control of the vehicle as well. He was wearing his seat-belt, so we know he felt he was in imminent danger. My dad only wore one when he felt anxious due to road conditions, or when going through weigh stations.
When he was hit by the tanker truck his chair went through the reinforced plywood behind his seat and was pushed through the dividing wall between the front and bed of the truck. They found him in his seat, still seat-belted in, all the way in the back of the white box truck. His heart exploded on impact which was known because the cuts on his face from the shards of glass had not one drop of blood in them. He did not have blood on the outside of his body at all. “Crazy,” I said when my mom was retelling this to me the other night, as I was fighting back tears. Tears that still resurface time and time again, sometimes when least expected.
My father had heart issues that he had been taking medication for, along with making efforts to improve his diet and eat healthier. Unfortunately, he could not stop putting gobs of margarine on things nor could he stop hiding and eating Pearson’s Salted Nut Rolls, when he was off on his own without anyone knowing. I still wonder if he was suffering from a heart attack when he was driving that morning. No one will ever know. There will forever be unknowns and these are still troublesome to deal with.
~I am much more sympathetic to what my mother must have gone through dealing with this sudden shock to her life! She truly believes the reason she felt such a serious, nagging urge to have another child when her two eldest were as old as they were, was because she would have not made it through this and be where she is today if I had not been there. I am so grateful to know I could be the reason she was able to move on from such a devastating tragedy. She has fought depression for many years of her life and said I was the only reason on many days that she was able to get out of bed. My mother believes, in her heart, this is the reason the dreams and compulsions to have another child were so immense before she had me. She honestly felt it was imperative to have another child.
She recalls instances of deep grief and frustration soon after my dad died. Recounting to me recently two illustrations of challenging, arduous moments right after my dad’s death. One time was right after she dropped me off at a friend’s house. She was just beside herself and as she drove home she was beating the steering wheel so hard with her fists it was surprising to her that she did not hurt her hands worse than she did. Pounding over and over again in a fit of rage and disgust at what was happening to her.
Then there was the time she found out, shortly after his death, that there was no insurance policy for our money pit of a house that my father had bought on a whim a few years prior. She recalls screaming and hitting the walls as she was showering. Then getting dressed and proceeding to go outside to the empty slab of concrete at the end of our driveway. An unfinished project of my father’s that was meant to be a new garage and small apartment for my maternal grandmother to move into, with the intention to allow us a more suitable way to assist and care for her as she aged. My mother recalls walking this slab, “It had to have been 50 times,” while she screamed to herself in utter frustration. “Luckily,” she says, “We were living far enough away from neighbors, on the edge of town, or someone would have called the authorities on me. I must have looked crazy.” Well, I can imagine myself doing the same thing. Our minds and bodies deal with these life altering circumstances in ways we cannot imagine until we are engulfed in it.
~Life goes on but there is forever something missing that cannot be replaced or forgotten. Time does create distance from the sudden blow that tragedy throws at people. The immediate burdens are worked through and as the years go by, this separation from the occurrence allows for the shock to disappear. The numbness is replaced by life and the continuation of new events and experiences. Yet, the piece of you that leaves that day, the day someone is removed from your life who is truly a part of your soul, takes with them a part of your foundation when they disappear. Something you can’t truly miss until there is no way of getting it back.
~My children emanate traits of my father that give me pure and utter joy and comfort. They will never meet him so it is evident to me that there are mannerisms, characteristics, and habits that are intrinsic and get passed on inherently. It is my son’s eyes, his sense of humor, his athletic abilities, his tenacity. It is my daughter’s disdain to heat, her tenacity, her sense of humor, and her love for the outdoors and nature. These are the eternal parts of those we love whom we are deeply rooted to, that endure in us and our offspring. Watching these essences blossom in the grandchildren he never met allows me the reassurance that he never truly died, as does no one, because their vital force lives on in those they have created!
∼Here’s to our universe and its ability to connect our souls miraculously through its profoundly perplexing methods! Through traits, words, unspoken actions, and our expressions of creativity.∼
With these words I extend my heart to you, and Thank You for your support, love, and encouragement as the story continues,