Friday, August 3, 2012

My Dad's Journey: Making Arrangements

As I do every weekday morning, I walk the dog and pick up the newspaper on my way. The owner of the store and his brother who fills in for him, have the three papers ready for me. I open the door, put my money on the counter, grab them and walk out. Getting the morning papers was something for years my dad would do. We are a newspaper reading family. He would read them and when finished, pass them to me. Dad would normally read four. I would skim three, but lately there hasn't been time or enthusiasm for me to read them at all.

This morning the owner's brother was there, and asked how my dad was, as he hadn't seen him in a while. I kept it together as I told him of his illness, but as I turned the corner for home, the tears came rolling down my face. Of all the days to ask me about my had to be today.

For days, I have known what I would be doing this morning. Something no one ever wants to do, but something that most of us will do in our lifetime.  Plan the funeral of one of your parents.

The simple fact is my father, while still failing. Rather than wait until he passes and make decisions clouded with the cloak of grief, my mother and I met today with the funeral director who has buried all my relatives ever since I can remember.

Although we thought we knew what we wanted...what he wanted, there were still so many decisions to be made. And, although we have the groundwork complete, some things are still undecided. My mother's strength amazes  me. At 82 and a cancer survivor herself, her composure, grace and never ending devotion to my father is an inspiration. It is however, taking a toll.

Later, after a much needed stress free few hours with my partner-in-crime the drum mamma, it was back to the hospital for the dinner visit. Mentally, tonight's visit was much better than the one I had yesterday, but physically he is breaking down...quickly.

The stronger pain meds seem to have calmed his anxiety a bit. They have also taken him to a place a little farther away mentally. And that is fine. While he can still speak and occasionally get complete sentences across, the truth is it has been painful to watch him struggle between what his mind is trying to say and what his body allows him to speak. While still coherent, he is now becoming more peaceful, as if he is aware the coming transition is something he can no longer fight.

The time has passed for recalling old memories with him or for telling him the things you had put off saying. Although I may no longer get a smile anymore when he sees me, when I kiss him goodnight and tell him I love him, I still hear the four words which get me through another day..."I love you too."

Love you Pops.



  1. My heart is breaking as I read this. Can't quite come up with the right words to say. I pray for God's comfort for you and your dad. Love ya pal.

  2. in writing about dad's journey, it makes me feel better and leaves all my friends in tears. for that i am sorry. i am also very thankful for the prayers, support and hugs sent over. right back at you A, muah.

  3. there are no words to describe what i am seeing.The bright eyes are gone.Would love to hear(hey freddie how about my byrds)that twinkle in eyes.A good friend&great father is fading nothing we can do.It ya Gipp

  4. I feel the same way as Alicia. It's hard to come up with something to say. Especially when you consider that I have never met your father and I have only met you twice.

    Just know that somewhere North of Philly, someone is thinking about you and your family today.


  5. within this community we call twitter, lies a level of caring and human decency, deep enough to get you through some of life's hardest moments. thank you jim