"The Last Family Gathering"
You would think at 53 years old, I'd be able to handle the passing of a parent better...epic fail on my part. It's been a long, long good-bye. In reality, I began the grieving process a little over a year ago as dad started to fade away. But there would always be a glimpse of him that would manage to shine thru. The glimpses became less and less. But he was still here, he was still my pops. And when the glimpses ceased, I could always see thru the shell and visualize my dad because, well... I knew him for 53 years afterall.
There is probably no "good" way to die. You can't compare cancer with heart disease. Or a car accident with a stroke. But what I CAN tell you is that I wouldn't wish Alzheimer's on my worst enemy. It is the cruelest of diseases. It isn't swift. It isn't merciful. It takes away everything you've spent your life building, one memory at a time. And when it is done with your memories, it turns it's attention to your body. It is downright vicious. So while my head tells me it is a blessing that my dad is free, and no longer in it's evil clutches...the hole in my heart tells me my head is a moron. I'm TRYING to be a good role model for my kids, to show strength under duress. But the facade gets really hard to maintain at times. And I crack. I'm not feeling very strong. Sometimes, I only feel duress. I just lost the first love of my life. I just lost the longest love of my life. It cuts deep.
I have been blessed to have my dad for 53 wonderful years of love, wisdom, humor, and a guiding hand to help lead me towards a good life in both thought, word and deed. I will always have those memories and lessons regardless of his physical presence, because they live within me. So many are not as fortunate as I am, and have lost parents much sooner in their lives. Or, they have had parents longer....but learned so little from them. But if I am totally honest with you...I'm extremely selfish and feel cheated. I am pissed, pissed, PISSED at Alzheimer's. It took my dad from us way before he should have been called home. And it stole from us the remaining time and experiences we should have been able to have with him. As much as he gave us, there was still so much we could have given to HIM. To show him all his hard work and his love paid off in dividends. That we were all so much richer for having him in our lives, and in his grand kids lives.
So yes, I feel both blessed and pissed at the same time. Such a conundrum. And can I tell ya how much my dad would hate that I used the word "pissed" publicly. Sorry Pops...but I am. How could I not be? I wish you were here to admonish me for my choice of vocabulary (but I KNOW you would have been impressed with "conundrum"). I guess that is my first lesson. He might be absent physically...but his lessons and beliefs live on within me.
We will all be fine...eventually. Pop raised a family of strong girls. A family of strong girls filled with life lessons and wisdom, thanks to him. So altho there SHOULD have been much more to come, we will pick up the reins because the most important lesson was the value of family. Be there for each other, and never let the family down. And that is what we will do. Because Dad would want it that way. WE want it that way. After all...we are Dad's girls. Alzheimer's will NEVER take THAT away from us.
I have disabled the comment link for this post. I want to let my thoughts stand, on their own. I will be taking a short hiatus from blogging. This past week has been tough. And I can only imagine the next few weeks will be also. I want to spend this holiday season with my family, and put the focus where it should be. But who knows? If the spirit hits and calls to me...you might see a post in the meantime. But if not...happy holidays my friends. If you would like to honor my dad in anyway, then I have an easy request of you. Please take the time to tell those you love...how you feel. It's a powerful gift. The gift of words. You can thank my dad for that lesson.