This is the third year in a row now that I’m not able to be home to visit the cemetery and it still isn’t getting any easier. It’s so hard to believe he’s been gone for over twenty years… because it seems like just yesterday I got the call.
There are certain things I’ll never forget about the day he died.
~ I remember it was a warm day for the March 27th. We were all supposed to go to a home show at the Connecticut College Arena. I postponed the plans until the next day… I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather. I planted bulbs in the yard.
~ I remember getting the call from my brother saying that I better get to the hospital quick because Dad had just had a heart attack. I did the speed limit the whole way there because I kept telling myself he would be all right; they could fix him. But they could not.
~ I remember being lead into the emergency room cubicle and seeing him on the gurney, the tube from the ambu bag they had used in the ambulance to try to save him still sticking out of his mouth, the bag itself nowhere in sight. His eyes were taped shut. He was gray. His lips were blue. When I kissed his forehead it was cold.
~ I remember my aunt saying that the pastor from our church would be there shortly. I remember thinking who cares?
~I remember seeing my mother crying. I had no way of knowing what the pain and sorrow of losing two husbands in one lifetime could do to a woman. Thankfully I still don’t.
~ I remember wondering on the way home from the hospital how I would tell my oldest son Robert, who was named after my Dad, that his Pepère was gone… and wondering if Nicholas, my youngest, would remember him at all.
Yes, I remember like it was just yesterday and not more than two decades.
But as the time passes I remember so many more things about him – the great things, the happy times, the life lessons. I remember the things, that to me, made him the most amazing Dad… that he didn’t have to be. You see, my biological father passed away when I was less than a year old, leaving my mother with my pre-teen brother and sister and me.
~ I remember the day he and my Mom got married. I was only three and half years old but I remember bits and pieces. It was July 19, 1969, the day before Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Everyone said after the wedding my Mom was going on her honeymoon. I thought they were going to the real moon. I wanted to go! I threw rocks instead of rice.
~ I remember the family vacation to New Hampshire when my older sister lost the “pre-engagement” ring she had just gotten. It had fallen off in the lake by the dock. Dad got up before dawn to look for the ring with the morning sunlight, hoping to catch a glimmer on the stones near the shore. He spent hours looking – he found it.
~ I remember he always made the holidays special. There was always an Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, and a tooth fairy. He would dress up for Halloween and have as much fun as we did.
~ I remember he always went to every single school function and parent teacher conference and was always the one who showed up when I did something to get myself into trouble. He never yelled. That was my mother’s MO, which unfortunately for my boys, I inherited. 😉 He always took the time to talk about what happened and why it was wrong.
~ I remember he always told me to treat others as I expected to be treated myself and to be respectful of the rules. But he also taught me that there is right and wrong and not too much gray area in between. And that sometimes it’s not only okay but necessary to question authority.
~ I remember him telling me after my little sister was born that now he had three girls and a son. I never once felt like I wasn’t his “real daughter”.
~ I remember him reading the first story I ever wrote. I think I was about ten. It was a scary story about a girl getting lost in a haunted house. He didn’t just say it was good and stick it on the refrigerator like some Dads might have. He talked with me about it. He commented on the descriptive words I had used saying he could picture exactly what the house looked like because I had described it so well. He said I should keep a journal and write every day. I remember wishing when I got my first front-page, above the fold byline for the newspaper that he was there to see it. I still wonder what he would say about my writing.
~ I remember him always telling me I was special and I could be anything I wanted to be. Every once in a while I still believe him. I wish he was still here to convince me.
Miss you Dad