Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Live Every Day As It's Your Last ~ One Day It Will Be

One of my favorite pics of Dad ~ At the Highland Games years ago :)
We were sitting here talking about how tomorrow would have been Dad's birthday and marveling at how surreal it is that it's already been 3 months, and how it feels like just yesterday and ages ago all at the same time that I was talking to Dad on the phone and plotting to come out for a visit in a few weeks’ time.  How we got from there to here is mind-blowing.  None of anything went as planned, and there are still many days that it feels like I’m stuck in a bad dream and I can’t seem to wake up.

About that time a friend of mine messaged all excited about a new purse she just bought on sale for $700 -- it is important to note it was regularly over $900!!  And I just about laid an egg..    I've had CARS that I've paid less than that for, and drove them for multiple years!!  The image of my friend sitting on her purse expecting to get somewhere tickles my funny bone.. but I digress..

It's much more than that though - When I think of the good I could do with that kind of money ~ That's several month's groceries,  it's car payments for a couple of months.. it's so many things..  but just a purse.. that doesn't even make my list..  Now I should say here that I mean in no way to disrespect my happy shopping friend ~ honestly, she’s one of a number of ladies that have discovered the joys of pricey purses lately, and I’ve had the same conversation to my shoe-collecting friends as well.  We all have our habits and vices right?  Mine lives in my craft room.. <Grin> 

Given the timing of the conversation, I found myself laughing.  If I'd ever told my Dad I'd spent that kind of money on a purse I think he'd have had me committed.  He probably would have driven me there himself.. likely in a flurry of conversations surrounding the phrases “F’n dummy” and “Easy come easy go eh?”, two of his very favorite sayings. 

Even so, I just cannot wrap my brain around spending that much on something to throw my crap in.. LOL     Guess I'm not much of a girly girl..   it's all Dad's fault I suppose..  he always called my sister and I his sons..  It became somewhat of a family joke.  He always wanted a son.  He and Mom had a son before me, but he died as an infant and after that Mom gave him two girls.  He proudly told everyone that we were his sons, and we’d laugh and call him our Mom – Daddy-Mom, actually.  Since for most of our lives he filled both roles having taken over when our Mom ran away from home.

I was remembering how Dad had insisted that if I was going to drive a car that I had to know how to take care of it.  He bought me my first car at 16.  I had to learn to check the oil, and tire pressure and such before I was ever allowed to drive it.  Don’t even get me started on my learning to drive -  Dad had some pretty interesting methods of making sure his student kept their mind on the road while driving.  He always stuck a roll of toilet paper in the glove box “Just in case”; I think he just wanted to throw us off of our confidence and make sure we paid attention.  Crazy bugger.  I remember stopping at a red light and having him quietly pull on the hand brake or slipping the car into neutral and laughing himself silly while you panicked as the light went green.  I will never forget the day he reached over and cuffed me in the back of the head and when I asked what that was for, he said that one day I’d have my boyfriend in the car and he’d be talking to me, and feeling up my leg and I’d have to keep my mind on the road.  I quipped back Yeah right Dad, like you’re ever gonna let me have a boyfriend!  We both laughed all the way home..    

When other girls my age were out shopping with their moms or hanging out at the mall, I was learning how to change the oil in the car, piling wood for the wood stove,  helping Dad with the tow truck just to name a few. At 10..11..12.. , I was making business calls, and answering business calls and calls for the Union (Dad was a shop steward for a time) .  I learned to cook, and clean house, and helped out with my little sister.  We moved around quite a bit, and Dad always drove us to school and picked us up.  At times I felt robbed of what others were doing that I wasn’t allowed to.  It took me a long time to realize the gifts that he’d given me early in life that many don’t learn til much later – some never learn them.  

He was fond of saying that I was going to grow up strong like him. Ford Tough, he’d say..   whenever something bad would happen he’d say “Don’t worry kid, you’re a Wilson! You’re tough, like me!  Ford Tough” and we’d laugh..  

A few months before he fell ill we were talking on the phone and he said something I will never forget.  He told me he had no brains anymore that he’d given them all to me.  I thought that he was just being his jokester self, but he insisted he was serious that he’d taught me everything he knew so that he didn’t have to think anymore.  At the time I didn’t know it, but we’ve come to realize that Dad had been ill for a lot longer than he let on.  I think he wanted to make sure that he let me know that he loved me.  He didn’t often say it – he was the king of “me too”, when he actually said it, it was a very big deal.  Over the last year he’d become fond of saying “I miss you more than the world”, “I love you more than the world”.  I just hope he knew that to me, he was the world.  He was the one person in my life that was always there no matter what.  It didn’t matter what had happened, or what was needed; if he couldn’t fix it he did his very best to find us someone who could. 
He was never hung up on looks or age and didn’t care that having a teenage daughter would tell the world that was old.  He’d come to my band concerts in his jeans and vest, and afterwards he’d crack jokes and we’d all laugh about all the people who got all dressed up to put on airs at a kid’s concert. I can think of very few times when I called on Dad for help and didn’t get it.   In my teens and twenties friends were very jealous of my ability to make a phone call and say “Daddy it’s broken, come get it” and before too long a tow truck would be coming down the road to the rescue.  Everybody should have that kind of security in their lives. 

When he was in the hospital this past year,  he told me that I was the best thing he ever did and that he was proud of me.  Now to most that wouldn’t seem like a very big deal but my Dad was never a very touchy feely sappy kinda guy..   His way was more to tell me how screwed up I was or what I’d done wrong – perhaps some effort to make me work harder.  I could clean the whole house to surprise him, but then he’d come back and notice a sock under the couch, or some other trivial item – oh there were days I wanted a bugs bunny mallet!!  -  but then I’d heard from other people how he’d praised me or how proud he was of me.  So this direct statement was very unexpected, and a very precious gift.   I had no idea at the time that it would be one of the last times I’d hear his voice as he was intubated not long after, and though we were able to “talk” afterwards,  his words were no longer audible.  The nurses marvelled at the fact that we were carrying on complete conversations while many of them couldn’t be bothered to put in the effort to try to make out what he was trying to tell them. 

I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that he’s been gone 3 months already.  I keep expecting the phone to ring and hear that familiar voice telling me he’s got a job for me, wisecracking and joking around.  Someone will say something, or something will happen and I’ll think Oh wow.. I’ve gotta tell Dad – and then it hits me and I find myself feeling like an idiot – how could I “forget” something so important.  The other day I reconnected with a girl from our old neighborhood we haven’t talked since we were kids,  crazy that we live about an hour apart and both some 4000 miles from “home”.   My first thought was to call Dad and tell him who I’d “found”.  It still doesn’t feel real and I’m not entirely certain that it ever will.

When I think of all the times we put off the “What if” conversations as if we had all the time in the world.  Truly, we always take for granted what we have until we don’t have it anymore.  I never dreamed I’d be saying good-bye to Dad so early in life, I was pretty sure we had many many years to drive each other crazy left to explore..   I guess it’s true what they say.  You just never know..   

Live every day as though it may be your last.  One day, it will be.

Love you Daddy.  Miss you

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

It's a new year.. to new beginnings..

2012 was to be the start of a brand new year of hope, dreams and life..

Instead it was a year of medical struggles, a test of human spirit, and death.   Not in my wildest dreams or nightmares could I have planned the way the year played out.  It wasn't as depicted in the travel brochure, let me tell you!!

Seems so strange to condense all the happenings of the year into two short sentences, but looking at it, that's truly it in a nutshell.

It started in February with me being in hospital for a week - gall bladder -  came home with a drain tube while they contemplated their next move.  To be honest, it happened so fast that I didn't have time to plan for it, get upset about it or go to the usual crazy places that a mind goes when faced when yet another stop along the crazy path that I've come to call my life as a guinea pig.

In May my Dad got sick,, and there were several weeks via phone of coaxing him to go to the doctor.   As it was, he finally went and by then he was slurring his words intermittently, and for some reason didn't see a reason to tell the doctor covering for his that this was a new issue and not a regular item on the hit parade.  I called back and spoke to him and he came to speak to me on his lunch break.  Promised to see my Dad again the next day.   True to his word he did so..   and Dad was told he needed to go to hospital.. 

Dad was never a "Hospital" guy, and wasn't going to go willingly into that dark night..  I remember when he'd drive me to the cancer clinic for my chemo treatments years ago how he rarely came inside.  He'd drive me down there, with all my gear and packed amusements and tell everyone I was going on a 5 day vacation.  My ride down there was my visit.  You see, Dad always associated the hospital with death and dying.  He hated the smells and if given the choice he just wouldn't go.  I remember how shocked I was to come out of that initial surgery and have Dad and one of his older sisters come in to visit.  Several of the nurses thought Auntie Eileen was my Mom.  I laughed about that one for a really long time.  Or was it the funny face Dad made when I told him that they'd thought his sister was his wife?  Maybe a little bit of both..  he was always such a character. 

It took two weeks of coaxing to get him to actually go -- he was so sure they'd keep him..     but he finally went in June 3rd..  he was so sure he wasn't staying that he parked in the loading zone at emerg.   As we suspected, he was wrong -  and was admitted immediately.
Thanks to a really awesome friend back home, we were able to get Dad's trucked moved from the loading zone at the hospital from 3500 miles away.

I was on a flight home 2 days later and stayed until August.  At that point Dad was still in ICU but stable and progressing -- my Father in-law was going for an expected quadruple bypass. It was to be his second, and things weren't looking good.  We were faced with the possibility of losing a valued pillar of our lives and family. 

Much to our delight, my FIL's surgery went well - a triple rather than a quad and he was well on his way to being home by the time I went for surgery 2 days later.   I like to think of it as all the good karma in the universe that he's thrown out over the years coming back to repay him.  He truly is a wonderful man.

 I was almost 3 months before my incision healed enough that I could drive, or fly..  so I was forced to do the daily check in's by phone.  Dad had a trach tube in so we couldn't speak directly, but we did pass messages through nurses and family friend.  The hospital also had what they refer to as a "You've got mail" program so I was able to send e-mails and pictures as well.  I wish I could have seen the look on Dad's face when the box arrived with the Halloween decorations for his room..   some of my crafting friends and colleagues sent cards that nurses papered the wall in his room.  I like to think that even if he was thinking I'd gone bonkers that it made him smile.  I know he particularly liked the blue fuzzy blanket that we sent him.  I figured it might make him feel a little more like home, and a little less like hospital (Jail as he called it). 

We were about 2 months into our "wait" when my FIL finally got in for the surgery we'd initially been waiting for.   After the scare of the first surgery,  this one didn't seem as scary but it was clear it was also very risky.  We were and are so very grateful that his surgeries went well.  He is definitely part energizer bunny that one..  and every bit as loved. 

Honestly, I think my brain had gone pretty numb by that point; I was really starting to feel like I was running around in zombie land and not in a hyped up trendy fun way either.   Spent an awful lot of time going through the list of have-to-do and need-to-do without a whole lot of concern about everything that was flying at me. 

We finally got the go-ahead to go back at the end of November.  We were going to fly out for Christmas and spend it with Dad.  Then Dad took a turn for the worst, and we arrived November 28th.  Dad passed December 1st.  This added a whole new set of circumstances and family drama -- way more than I expected..

I am grateful I was there to hold Dad's hand when his time came but I am so truly disgusted at how people Dad called friends behaved and how disrespectful people can be..

Hard to believe it's been 2 months already.. it still doesn't feel real..   not that I don't know my Dad's gone..   but I still catch myself picking up the phone to call every so often, or wondering what he's doing or something and then it hits me..  and I always feel like such an idiot..

They tell me it gets easier with time..   I can only hope..

Oh Eastlink.. what am I gonna do with you.. ?

Dear Eastlink ~ When we hooked up your telephone service it was clearly on a trial basis ~ a secondary phone line because our VOIP was being flakey and ticking us off on a regular basis.   
Anybody worth his salt at anything knows that it's not a great idea to take a telephone away from a girl..  

We'd asked for the phone to be non-posted, because we already *have* a regular phone line.  we weren't even sure we were going to keep this secondary line.  Up until last week everything was peachy-keen. 

Then suddenly we seem to be on every telemarketing list, and random I'd like your opinion messages.  I feel bad for the lady I gave a hard time to who later told me that the township had given her my number.  Thought that was so very strange, til I called and confirmed that they'd gotten it from the directory. 

Today two more such calls came, and while I'm thankful that they were both people that had our home number but chose to exercise their tech muscles and look it up, it did beg the question of what might happen.. what *could* happen.. 

The smile of the day goes to Julia at Eastlink who not only re-assigned the number but issued a credit for the unlisted feature for a year.  Gotta leave it to us girls to appreciate the value of having a phone for meetings and such that doesn't have call alert honking in your ear constantly..    ah..  Bliss...  <3  

Just don't get me started on the telemarketers and crap calls that have monopolized our phone lately... You've been warned.. ;)