Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Miss You Dad

I fondly remember Father's Day from my childhood. I was an only child and my Dad meant the world to me...we were so close. Whenever I needed to talk about anything...Dad was always there.

My Dad saved EVERYTHING. And he was quite the softie. Every year, the week before Father's Day he would say to me...

"Now, Les you know I don't want those old store bought cards. Make me one instead. They mean more."

Sometimes I would buy his card. Sometimes I would make it. He kept them either way.

My Dad was diagnosed with Leukemia in 1986 when he was 49 years old. I was a Sophomore in college. I was devastated at the news. I remember the moment he told me. I got sick to my stomach. It was like I had just been slapped in the face.

I made sure I waited to cry later...in my room.

I was devastated.


Dad was so lucky, really. He took some kind of pill for years. My parents never told me what it was. All they would say is that it was like chemo...it was helping him live with the cancer. 

By the time I got married in 1992 I had forgotten Dad was sick. He didn't look sick or act sick. {at least not that I could see}.

Now that I think about it I think he was way sicker than I was led to believe. My parents were always trying to protect their only daughter.

My son was born in December of 1994. We named him David Jackson but decided to call him Jackson in honor of my Dad {jackson is my maiden name}. My Dad was THRILLED. 

He was also very sick during this time and was unable to make the 200 mile trip to see his first grandchild. I was so sad.

In February we loaded Jacks up and made a surprise visit to Fort Madison so Mom and Dad could see him. They were tickled pink!! I will never forget the first moment Dad saw Baby Jackson. He was so proud of his grandson!! We spent the afternoon taking photos of the two of them. 


I cherish those photos today.

The week after we left Dad got really sick. He ended up with shingles on one half of his face. He was in terrible pain. He told me later that the one thing that got him through was thinking about his new grandson.


Easter 1996. Mom and Dad come for the weekend. It was a typical Spring here in Northwest Missouri. A little bit warm, A little bit cold. I hadn't seen Dad since Christmas. At Christmas he looked terrible. So thin and frail. Easter wasn't much better. The cancer had spread and he was in pain. Dad was walking with a cane now. He was just 59 but looked and moved like an 80 year old.

They left for home Easter Day. Dad wasn't feeling so good. I wasn't either.

Memorial Day Weekend 1996. We drive to Fort Madison to see Dad. I can sense the end is near. He is so fragile. In just 2 months he has lost more weight and I notice he has lumps on his back.

We go out for ice cream. Dad loves ice cream. It was our thing. Whenever we were together we'd go get ice cream.I decide not to have any this time. I'm on yet another diet and I don't want to ruin my diet.

Next time, Dad. I'll have some next time.

That was

the last time

we ever

went out

for ice cream.

Ever.


Father's Day 1996.  Little Jackson is taking a nap and Dave is relaxing. I'm sitting on my knees...stenciling grape vines around the baseboards. The thought had just popped in my mind to give Dad a ring and wish him a Happy Father's Day.

The phone rings. I freeze. Dave answers "Hello".

I feel sick to my stomach. I hear Dave say "Awwww, no."

My Dad was dead. He was dead. And I knew it.

"Honnie, that was your Mom. We gotta go. Your Dad was taken by ambulance to Iowa City. We gotta go NOW."

He wasn't dead. But he was close.


We packed a bag, grabbed Jackson and left. It was a 6 hour trip to the hospital. I prayed the whole way there that he would still be alive when we arrived.

He was.

We walked in the dark room, lit only with a small light above his bed. Dad's eyes opened wide as soon as he saw Baby Jackson. He said...

"Jackson, you're my grandson."

And that was it.

The next day he was coherent but unable to speak. I swabbed his mouth with a wet sponge and told him how much I loved him. I caressed his hands. 


I cried {out in the hall}.

That evening Dave thought I should go back to the hotel, take a shower and rest a bit then come back. I reluctantly agreed. On my way out the door I stopped, turned around and went back to Dad's bedside. I felt the Spirit whispering to me...this is the last time you'll see your Dad alive.

I leaned down and put my cheek against his warm face. I just stayed there for awhile...feeling his warm, soft skin. I knew it would be the last time I ever felt my Dad's warmth.

And it was.

Back in our motel room the phone rang.

It was Mom.

Dad was gone.


I love and miss you, Dad but I know we will see each other again one day.

6 comments:

  1. How beautiful, Leslie! I lost my Dad suddenly. Heart attack on his way home from work. I don't know what's worse, a lingering illness that gives everyone a chance to say goodbye, or a quick departure leaving everyone wondering what their last moments with Dad would have been. Just reinforces the fact that every time you see them, tell them you love them in one way or another.

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  2. And when the kids suggest going for ice cream, just know that it might be angel Dad letting you know he's checking up on you. ;)

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  3. Oh, Les. . . . from one girl who lost her Dad to another - I am thinking of you, of your dad, and my own dad today. What a heart breaking post to write, but I imagine one that you had to do. I've written a few of those as well - such therapy. He lives on, dear, in you and in those beautiful children. And now, he story lives on with each of us. Thanks for sharing it. Thinking of you, as always.

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  4. Oh Les, Thank you for sharing that story with us. It brought tears to my eyes. I was abused by my father from a very young age. I've never been able to trust that bond others had. Until I met my husband and we became parents. I know that my daughter will have what you had, I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

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  5. Oh, what a beautiful story and post. Thank you for sharing, Kristin xo

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  6. Your post is very moving and makes me appreciate the time I have with my dad.

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I appreciate your thoughts and ideas...they inspire me!! I will be visiting you soon. Have a CREATIVE day!!

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