Ten years ago today, June 6th, I said goodbye to my dad for the last time. It’s really hard to believe that ten full years have passed since I last held his hands and looked to him for advice and guidance. So much has happened without him here: the birth of my two daughters, a few career changes, a new house, a new car and even a stint on a game show.
I had wanted to have the Dead Dads Club book and website ready to launch today but the past few months have been so busy I simply ran out of time. I am still aiming for Father’s Day or the end of June, so stay tuned. Both projects are going extremely well, they are just taking a bit longer than anticipated. I am currently looking for submissions for the website so if you know anyone who has lost her father please feel free to send them my contact information (mary [at] mamamaryshow [dot] com).
I’m headed down to Ft. Rosecrans today, my dad’s final resting place. I will be listening to Ragtime music and fondly remembering the brilliant, one-of-a-kind, gentle-giant of a man that was my dad. Below is the post I wrote a few years ago about the day he died; my initiation day into “the club.”
On June 6th, 2001, around 10:00am, I walked into my parent’s dining room turned dying room to check my dad’s morphine drip. The hospice nurse had left just shortly prior, so he smelled nice and clean, and his four remaining hairs were slicked back with some sort of shiny, brilliantine hair gel. My sister Diana was with me as we had become quite a good team in changing out his pick lines and various tubings.
I’m not sure which one of us noticed first–I think maybe it was simultaneous–he was cold. lifeless. stiff.
Though he had been comatose for a few days, this was different. In place of our dad, was a body. An empty shell. We looked up at each other and knew. I ran to the kitchen to get my mom and family members and then upstairs to get my sister who thought she had enough time to take a shower.
We had been waiting for this moment for days, weeks. And then it was there.
We gathered around him, praying, hugging, weeping, and unknowingly, letting the tense muscles in our shoulders that had been living up at our ears for weeks finally fall, because it was over.
And then the second phase of my life began–the phase without my dad.
I don’t remember too much about the rest of the day except for sitting outside my house in my car, listening to one of his favorite songs, The Roberto Clemente Waltz, at the highest possible decibel, on repeat for at least an hour. I cried the ugly cry, banged my fists on the steering wheel, and cursed the gods that be, just like in the movies. Only it wasn’t a movie.
The rest of the day was filled with phone calls to friends, empty gazes at the city skyline he helped build, hugs, tears, and hiding in an upstairs room when the coroner arrived to avoid seeing “the bag.”
That night, I sat quietly alone in my own home, away from the family and the aftermath. Though I was beyond exhausted, I didn’t want to go to sleep. Every night for the preceding four months I had gone to bed wondering if my dad would be alive in the morning. I didn’t have to wonder anymore.
Oh, how I wanted to wonder.
Through my swollen, bloodstained eyes, I wrote the following letter:
I will miss you. I will miss:
- Your smile, your laugh, your presence
- Your cards of encouragement and the bouquets of flowers on opening night
- Hearing your laughter in the theatre before I have even said the punchline
- Watching BallyKissAngel with you in your den; catching your eye and laughing at Liam and Donal’s latest hijinx.
- Calling you for advice
- Hearing you yell “Vangie” as it echoes throughout the house
- Trying to pick out the perfect book for you that you haven’t already read
- Your strength
- Your blue eyes
- Your love of music and hearing you say “Oh, listen to this part.”
I love you, Dad–my hero, my guiding eagle, my lightpost.
Thank you. I will miss you.
June 6th, 2001