It's The Ides of March Again

On this day in 1998 at about 1:10 in the afternoon, I, along with my three siblings, joined the Dead Dad's Club. After sitting on the couch with my VERY young nephew in my lap and my niece sitting next to me and crying three tears (yep, just three, I remember this very specifically), I decided not to cry again. No use for crying when there was crap to do.

The body bag was hauled out of the house on a stretcher and those wheel tracks were there for days. Three years of Hell and only three tears were shed.

I remember my dad's oncologist pretty well. She was my muse of creativity - her wardrobe inspired me to do photography. She wore black leather boots with an awesome herringbone skirt and a bright red shirt and her hair was jet black. She had awesome reading glasses (and I wanted to wear glasses after that) and spoke with poise, straightforward and not really all that comforting. There were only a few weeks left in my dad's life, maybe.

Visits in the hospital were really weird, we had to be in isolation, going through the weird isolation doors, washing hands and if you were sick, well, there was no option - you could not pass through the doors. Awful, right? Well, for me, that was normal life.

I went to school the day after my dad died. Was I in shock? Meh, probably. But mostly what I needed was normalcy. I told my friends about it like it was a routine weekend thing to do, you know, having your father die. I think they were in more shock than I was. However, my family had been through Hell and back trying unsuccessfully to defeat cancer. So death was more of a comfort.

The day before he died we had the whole family over. It was nice. It was peaceful. It was to say goodbye. Tears were shed, my dad promising to help in the garden in the summer even though we both knew that wasn't going to happen.

The summer before he died I couldn't keep up with the garden. The weeds had grown 3 or 4 feet tall between all the rows of vegetables that my father had planted in the Spring. I was heartbroken, mostly because I knew this was the last summer that I would have my dad. He couldn't go outside in his garden anymore. He had carefully planted the rows, evenly spaced them out, evenly spaced out the tomato plants and I said that I would weed and take care of everything. Ever so faithful me, I couldn't do it all without him. I didn't want him to look out the windows and see the overgrown garden. I thought he would be disappointed in me.

That was the last summer that we had a full garden.

But the year that he died, we had the most beautiful sunflowers. They were over 10 feet tall, flowering until late in the season. I always liked to think that he helped them grow that tall, like he was watching over me and helping me with my green thumb.

Thirteen years later I still miss my father when it's time to plant the garden. I always hope that he's with me when I make sure that my veggies are evenly spaced (though he sure wasn't helping keep them safe from Rusty!).

This is the first time I've openly written about my father's death. Frankly, when you lose a parent at a young age, it's really hard to put words to how you feel. Not only have I missed out on opportunities to have my dad at big events in my life, but he's not there when I need to know how to do day-to-day things either. That's the hard part. You don't know what you're missing.

So this post is for my family, get your martini with olives and pound your fist on the table like you're really pissed off, then make piles of crap all over the house and act like a tightwad today. And don't forget to watch the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour and maybe bet on a horse race. Happy Ides of March.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Patty.....

Steve said...

Well said Patty... I remember clearly two days before your dad died that your grandpa and I were there and having to say the last goodbye.. knowing it would be the last goodbye.. but also knowing we at least had the chance to say goodbye.. I would have felt so much worse if I wouldnt have had that chance.. Take care.. your dads little brother..