Today is my first Father’s Day without my dad.
I know I never wrote about Dad’s passing. Probably because my Mom had a very serious hospitalization right after the funeral, and by the time we got past that crisis (she’s fine) I think I was still so mentally numb I couldn’t write about it. The set of family pictures we took the morning of the day dad went into the hospital – I still can’t display in the house. Too much grief and sadness fills my heart when I look at them. The last time Dad was Dad before the surgery to put a stent in his heart and dementia ravaged him and took him from this world in less than a month. Yes, his dementia was bad before – but the type of dementia (Lewy Body) he had is greatly affected by any cardiovascular surgery and it really accelerated his decline.
Last year on Father’s Day, I drove to see him in the nursing home. He was so frail and not responsive; I’m not even sure he knew I was there. After that, I went with my sister and Mom out for lunch and I just remember saying that Dad was already gone. His body was still alive, but who he was as a person was already lost. The gruff softie. The man who would tell you a hundred times how to do something, and when you’d say “you’ve told me this already, Dad.” he’d respond with a “well I’m just sayin’.”
I remember a conversation we had at a local pizza place – probably 15-20 years ago because I was living in Iowa at the time (I moved back to MN in 2001). And we were talking about my brother’s death and my accident.
When I was 10 years old, my brother died in a terrible tractor accident down by the river that divided our farmland. He was only 20 years old. A year later, I was in a tractor accident approximately 20 yards from my brother’s – I should have died, but came out of it with a broken arm. What happened there, I have no recollection because I blacked out when the accident started and came to 50 feet away from the wreck walking up the field drive towards the house holding my wrist.
Back to the pizza place. Talking about that, Dad got choked up and with tears in his eyes said “if anything more than that broken arm would have happened to you, I would have sold the farm and moved to town immediately. I couldn’t do it anymore.” Outside of my brother’s funeral, it was the only time I’ve ever seen Dad cry.
It’s weird, but I wasn’t super-close to my dad; I was and always have been a mama’s girl – but he was always there. Always yelling things in the background when I talked to Mom on the phone (like “ASK HER ABOUT MY EMAIL…”). Having to go fix his computer every time I visited the farm. Asking me questions about his ancient cell phone and why it does a certain thing and having to explain that every cell phone is different. Telling me to not unpack the clothes in dressers – to just remove the drawers, move the dresser, then put the drawers back in. Telling me pickled herring would put hair on my chest. Watching him and Mom polka dance. Having me do certain things on the farm because my legs were younger than his. Sharing the same astrological sign (Aquarius – to which he called “Asparagus”). Hearing his stories from the Army. Telling dirty jokes. Talking the ear off of anyone who would come to the farm.
All of that is now just a memory and I still miss him so much.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. <3