A year ago at this time I spending the last week of my dad’s life at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida. I’m thinking a lot about that this week as I reflect on the year that has passed since then. The one thing that really has felt strange is in knowing that neither of my parents are alive anymore.
Before visiting my dad last year in the hospital, we had been estranged from each other for many years. A lot of it was my mom’s fault. She loved drama. She interfered with my relationship with him. When I saw many of the family at my dad’s funeral, they all confirmed that they knew she was a lot of the problem. I sure wish they had told me when I was going through hell with her dramatics. Nobody wanted to take sides but they sure as hell took the side against me. That’s okay. It’s over now and the funeral is the last “family reunion” I will be attending.
During the last week of his life, my dad and I reconciled and nothing was more important to me than that. I think he saw me for the person I truly am for the first time as I sat by his bedside non-stop taking care of him. For the first time, we talked. Yes, I’m a little mad that it took him being on his deathbed to get to that point. Unfortunately some stubborn folks won’t realize what’s really important until they are looking at death.
He turned to me at one point and said that he wanted to leave everything to me in his Will. He had left his house to me and nothing else and only because I was the last living part of my mother. I told him that none of that was important to me. That week with him was more important than any “stuff” he could leave me.
Unfortunately, not everything was a perfect ending. Dad still had some beliefs and feelings at the end which I did not agree with. If, after death, people do go to heaven or paradise, I think he understands things a whole lot better now and realizes he was much to narrowed in his views of decisions I have made about my life. He and I never agreed on spiritual things. I often wonder what does he think now?
If it had been my decision, I would have chosen not to have a funeral for him. That was the most agonizing hour of my life to sit there and listen to the old Southern Gospel songs and the eulogies of preachers on that day. The last preacher, in my opinion, has no business calling himself a preacher. He was awful. I’m also not a fan of the “family reunion” at funerals. I sure hope people honor my wishes and give me a “Green” burial without a funeral service. I don’t want to put my family through that tradition.
I have had moments of grief since Dad passed away. Many times it sneaks up on me like in a dream or something that reminds me of him. It isn’t often but when it does it really punches me in the emotional gut. We should never criticize someone about their grief. Everyone deals with it differently. We are all wired differently.
I’m still going to need more time. I’m still sorting things out in my mind about how things happened. It isn’t so much of what I could have or should have done but just frustration on how things were. We are all trying to manage this journey of life the best we can. It’s not always easy and people aren’t always going to understand.