“I’m not ready to give up.”
My Dad said those words six weeks ago.
One month ago today we lost him.
It seems like it’s been forever ago and at the same time it seems like hours ago.
It hits me really hard sometimes, usually when I least expect it. The other day I was in The Home Depot and saw a mini air compressor. I instantly thought of Dad. He loved gadgets. It was next to a whole slew of cheap tools. He couldn’t pass on bargain tools. Next thing I know a wave of grief began to seize control and I had to fight to control my emotions.
It hits hard when I’m cleaning up the workshop. I found a brand new still wrapped tool that I had absolutely no idea what its function is. I instinctively made a mental note to ask him when a hard dose of reality hit me: I can’t ask him anything ever again.
I often slide into Stormtrooper mode. The protectors of the Empire could hide behind an expressionless hard armor shell and not show any emotion. That suits me fine.
I’ll go by and visit his gravesite today. I’ve been by a couple of times. I want to reassure him that we are taking care of Mom. She’s handling things pretty well. Although she admits that sometimes she thinks that he’s just away and will be home soon.
Dad keeps surprising me though. We are slowly going through things, trying to figure out what to do with it. I went through nearly a thousand film slides he took between 1958 and 1972. There are plenty of shots of me and my siblings and you can tell by looking who was the trouble maker. We also found house blueprints he drew for a college course. He got an A+.
I miss him terribly.
It hits me the hardest while I am by myself, sometimes while driving in the car, or sitting watching television, or reading a book… and I think about how he struggled and how hard he fought the last six months. And I remember the helplessness I felt every time he hit an obstacle that hampered his recovery.
But I force my thoughts away from the bad times, instead I think about his fighting spirit. Like how he came out of his first surgery. There was a chance they would have to take his vocal chords. They rolled him down the hallway to ICU he was alert and when he saw us he wisecracked, “They haven’t silenced me yet.” Or how he mocked being in pain when he was having his fingernails clipped.
I think of all the things he wanted to do in his life but couldn’t because of his fight with muscular dystrophy. Projects he didn’t complete, places he didn’t get to go, family he couldn’t visit. I realize that it’s my legacy to do those things for him while I’m still walking this earth.
I’m not ready to give up either.