August... It signifies many things - the end of summer vacations, suffocating heat, days that are getting shorter, cooler mornings, the first signs of fall and, this year... death.
It seems as though people are dropping off from this earth everywhere I look this month - first my dear Father at only 68 years old, John Hughes (80's teen movie director), The Decon at the church where Mr. Pink Lemonade and I were married and Ted Kennedy, just to name a few.
The effects of losing someone you love so suddenly are long lasting - I haven't slept a full night in almost a month and when I do finally drift off, I have horrible dreams of losing others that I love, my stress level is off the scales. My Mother is slowly sorting through the pieces of a shattered life - after 45 years of marriage and finally retiring, she should be traveling with Dad instead of trying to sort out finances or worrying about getting certified copies of death certificates. My Grandmother (my Dad's Mother), calls me every day to tell me how much she misses Dad and to ask why God did not take her at 87 years old, instead.
I watched Senator Kennedy's funeral mass today - exactly two weeks after my father's funeral and thought about what a wonderful memorial both men received, each in their different ways. One received a statesman's funeral, that any dignitary would be honored with - the other received an ordinary goodbye, put on by his fraternal brothers of the Masonic Lodge. All though this man was not a statesman or dignitary, he was no less honored by those who loved him. I was honored to give the eulogy at my Father's memorial and, in remembrance of him and his life - and with the hopes that it will be quite a while before we lose anyone else we love - I would like to honor him, once again, this time in a more public way - one worthy of any person who has touched others lives for the better.
For you, Dad...
An Anonymous Author once wrote:
I little knew that morning. God was going to call your name, In life I loved you dearly, in death I do the same. It broke my heart to loose you, you did not go alone, for part of me went with you, the day God called you home. You left me beautiful memories, your love is still my guide, and though we cannot see you, you're always at my side. Our family chain is broken and nothing seems the same, but as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again.
When this poem was written, little did the author know how true this would be to our family at this very difficult time.
Dad left us at a time in his life when he was yet too young to worry about chronic and debilitating illnesses, but still old enough to have the “rat race” behind him - a time when the most important things in his life should have been how many rounds of golf he could get in during any given week and spending time with his grandkids. A time when the last thing we all thought we would have to worry about was losing him.
Instead, God chose to call him home - without prior warning - without giving us a chance to say goodbye. Although we no longer have Dad here with us, we have memories… good ones that will have to suffice until our turn comes to join him.
I’ve been thinking about all the things Dad was to me -
Dad was my helper - Even as I grew up and moved away, Dad was always there when I needed him. He would come over to watch my girls at a moments notice, drive into the city to pick us up at the airport or fix a seam in the carpet.
Dad was a loving Grandfather - He was known as the "tickle-guy" at our house and the girls always looked forward to a visit from Grandpa Ken. They knew that time spent with him was bound to be full of laughs and silliness. He and Mom came on many trips with us and the girls have wonderful memories and pictures of Disneyland with Grandpa. He attended Grandparent’s days at my youngest daughters school, Christmas Eve church services to watch the girls portray angels in the nativity and applauded Lauren’s wonderful beam routine at her latest gymnastics show.
Dad was a sportsman - As a kid we spent many summers in our motor home parked near a river or creek while Dad fished for the elusive Salmon or Steelhead. But his real love was golf - he played whenever he could and I remember him trying (unfortunately, without success) to teach me to play as a child. I have a picture of myself in diapers standing in my Grandmother’s backyard with a golf club in my hands. He taught my youngest daughter how to hold a club properly and although she always wanted to go to the big golf course with him, only managed to bring him along for mini-golf a couple of times. She’s a pretty decent mini-golfer and always tells everyone that Grandpa Ken taught her to play.
Dad was a great Father - I remember the little things like him chasing down the ice cream man just to buy me a cherry popsicle (even though there were already some in the freezer), I remember shopping with dad at Heidi’s the little children’s store downtown when I was small - I always left with something pretty. I remember him putting me on his shoulders when I was small so I could see the birds nest in the backyard tree. Dad brought home my first car for me long before I had a license in my hand. He walked me down the aisle at my wedding and we danced at the reception. He was there the days my girls were both born, and cried with me when we lost our twins. He’s always been there no matter what. He took an interest in my work and was always there when I needed to get an opinion on something I was working on.
Dad was a good person - He was kind and fair. He was a good friend to many and respected by all. He loved his family.
Dad was my teacher - I remember Dad always giving advice - although at the time his views may have seemed unreasonable or arbitrary - they almost always turned out to be the right thing to do. He repeatedly told me that time, patience and perseverance could accomplish anything. And even though he is gone from this earth, he is still teaching me important life lessons.
The lesson Dad left me with is probably one of the most important I will ever learn…
He taught me that Today I am the architect of my life - that I should not wait until tomorrow to tell some one that I love them or how much they mean to me. I should not count on the fact that I can always spend time with those who are important to me later.
I have learned that while today is the first day of the rest of my life, it very well may be mine or someone I love’s last - you never know if you will have tomorrow - you only have right now.
So although he is in heaven, I know he can hear me when I say Dad, I love you, I am proud to be your daughter, to be able to say that you are my father, and that I miss you terribly.
So, for everyone who hasn't told the important people in your lives how much you care and appreciate them, call them up, or go over and give them a hug - because you. just. never. know...