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Monday, August 8, 2011

I Forget ...

This has been on my mind lately, so I decided to just write about it and get it out there.

My dad died on July 2, 1985.  26 years ago.  I was but a young, naive 15 year old.

I find that as the years pass by, I forget to remember him on the anniversary of his death and sometimes on his birthday, which is today, August 8.  He would have turned 82 this year.

And I wonder what that says about me.  Does that make me a bad person?  Does this mean that I don't care about him?  Or does it just mean that my life with my husband and children has taken the forefront and my attention is on them instead of on things past?

I read other's blogs whose parents passed away more recently.  They post wonderful, heartfelt messages about their parent(s) that are no longer with them.  Which just make me wonder this even more.

I was never close to my dad.  My brother, Paul, was Dad's favorite.  At least that's how I remember it.  I can remember doing a few things with my dad.  He took us fishing, and we used to go to animal auctions a lot from what I can remember.  (We grew up on a farm, so we were either buying or selling animals all the time).  I recall he wouldn't buy me a guinea pig one time.  I was probably pretty upset about that.

We were in a couple car accidents.  Neither of them were his fault.  We were hit by a drunk driver who didn't stop at an intersection.  My mouth bounced off the dash of his truck (before you had to wear seat belts) and my bottom teeth cut the inside of my mouth.  My granny (his mom who died when I was 7) lived right on the corner.  I remember going into her home and her feeding me lots of popsicles.  I can also vaguely remember seeing my dad sitting in the back of the police car giving his statement ... wondering if he was in trouble.  I was probably only 6 at the time.

The second accident happened on the way home from the local grocery store.  I had a fresh loaf of bread on my lap and was sitting in the middle of the front seat, my brother (I think) at my side.  Someone came around a bend on our side of the road and instead of hitting the other vehicle, my dad chose to run into an embankment.  I slid forward squishing the loaf of bread almost completely.  I don't think anyone was hurt that time.  Except for my dad's car.

My other memories of my dad aren't so pleasant.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer from smoking all his life.  He got deathly sick after his first chemo treatment and refused to have any more.  The cancer was inoperable because of the location - too close to his heart.  Now it probably wouldn't be an issue, but back then they just couldn't do anything.  He had radiation treatments instead.  They wrote on his chest and back with a black marker which left marks on his white t-shirts which he always wore.

He aged very quickly during that time.  The last time I saw him was a couple days before he died.  He was in a personal care home and the lady who ran the home called us to come see him.  (He had estranged himself from us and we didn't know where he was for a few months ... at least I didn't.)  He looked horrible.  I'm sure it pained him for us to see him like that.  

The day before he died my mom and brothers and sister were up early, getting ready to go visit him.  When I got up and heard the commotion, I decided I was going to, but I was told to stay put.  They didn't want me to see him like that.  In fact, I was told that my brother Tom walked into his room and immediately turned to walk out.  He couldn't look at him.  It hurt too much.

The next morning my mom woke me up and just hugged me and cried.  I knew he was gone without her ever saying a word.  They really hadn't been close in years, but he was still her husband.  And he was gone forever.

I am told that he accepted Christ on his death bed, so at least I have the hope of seeing him again some day.

I don't have any pictures of him since he hated to have his picture taken.  Well, except for his and my mom's wedding photo from 1959.  Which is one reason why I insist on my husband and kids having their pictures taken.  It is important.

Anyway, today on what would have been his 82nd birthday, I'm thinking about him.  And missing him.  A little sad about the fact that he never got to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day.  Never got to hold any of his grandchildren when they were babies.  Won't get to see any of them graduate from high school.  All because of a stupid addiction to cigarettes that literally took his life.  

You might think smoking is cool and won't hurt anyone, but it does.  It doesn't just make you stink like an ashtray (which is does by the way!), it affects many others.  In ways you can't even imagine.

So if you smoke, quit.  
I promise you won't regret it.
You will, however, regret it if you continue.


Laura said...

This was a great post Kim. So sorry for you that you lost your dad so young. Life can be cruel sometimes. And I don't think you are a bad person for not writing thoughtful posts about him all the time or forgetting his birthdays. Geez... I can't even remember my dad's bday and he's still alive. Everyone is different and there are plenty of others that are like you... they just aren't blogging it.

Melissa said...

Totally agree about smoking. It's so sad. My mom's friend chris (they used to sing in churches together) died of lung cancer when i was a kid. He never smoked a cigarette but was a musician playing in bars for 20-something years & that is what did it. So sad.

So sorry about your dad. And i definitely agree w/ Laura - everyone is different in how they remember. It is okay to not remember the anniversary date of his death or his bday each year.


Sara said...

What a wonderful post! I love your message about smoking and it sure does affect everyone around the person too.
My dad died of an aggressive prostate cancer over 5 year ago, aged 58. I still get really sad about it at times, mostly that he's not here for my son to get to know, he died 6 months before my son was born. He was a great dad, we always did lots of family stuff, camping and fishing.
I tend to remember him most at Father's day, not his birthday and I don't really want to remember the day he died, although we try to spend the day with my mum.
Don't feel guilty for the way you remember or feel about your dad, it just is, just concentrate on living your life with your family and making wonderful memories for your kids.

Tiffany said...

I think your post is thoughtful and honest and I am sorry you lost your dad at such a young age....you will certainly be in my prayers.


Julie said...

Beautiful sentiments about your father. I can relate, my father died 14 years ago with inoperable lung cancer, although he didn't smoke. I also forget for long periods of time. I think it's ok, otherwise it would be unbearable if it were always on our mind. I think it's God's healing, and time heals wounds also.

ELeeds said...

Everyone grieves and remembers and moves on in different ways. This is something I have learned as I have had to grieve and remember my own father, while continuing on in my own life. There is no right or wrong. There are no answers when we ask why.
But I am grateful for the HOPE that we have in Jesus. I'm glad you share this hope.