November 9, 2012
November 11th, Veteran’s Day, would have been Dad’s 91st birthday. He was a veteran of WWII and the Korean War, a B-26 Martin Marauder pilot. In the latter years of his dementia, Dad talked of WWII frequently. The stories were comprised of confused details but the basics of the stories usually remained the same. I wish he were here today to tell those stories, confused or not.
It has been less than three weeks since he passed away. Dad’s wish was to be cremated and buried at the same time as Mom. We have both he and Mom in our bedroom… waiting. Next Saturday, we will lay their cremains to rest side-by-side for eternity. Maybe then it will all finally be real to me. I have felt as if I am under water, going through the motions of living while everything has been just a bit over my head. I do what needs doing but everything has a very surreal feeling.
I have spent most of the time since his departure at my mother’s. Caring for her is completely different than caring for Dad, Mom or Peggy. Mama is of sound mind and can do many things by herself. The treatments (radiation and chemotherapy) to fight the cancer are a big stumbling block but her attitude toward her disease is allowing her to sail over these hurtles. Being with Mama has provided me with a natural defense against grief.
Now that I am home, I find myself swamped with memories. Echoes of Dad’s voice asking, “Where’s Shari?” ring in my head. I have to push back the need to go check on him, with the reminder that he is no longer here. My heart hurts constantly with missing him. It’s as if I have suddenly lost an extremity. He and I became a part of one another that is unlike any other relationship on earth. The weight of the loss is staggering at times.
Over thirty-two years ago, I met this man. I remember thinking to myself, “I wish I had a Dad like that.” As my relationship with my own father deteriorated further over those years, I gradually realized I DID have a Dad like that. My father-in-law never once let me down in the “Dad” department so when it came time to care for him and Mom, I knew in my heart, it was the right thing to do.
He loved God and his country. He loved his wife, his family, and his job. And I have never doubted for a moment just how much he loved me. It was almost as much as I loved him.