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A Bittersweet Anniversary

It was one year ago today that I got the call that my Dad died.

A death of someone so close to you, whether a parent or a child or a friend or a spouse is one of the most heart wrenching loss a person on earth can live through. In my grief though, I must try to look at the positive side of living a full life without someone I loved so very much.

It’s hard. Extremely hard. 

There are 7 stages of grief:

Shock & Denial

Pain & Guilt

Anger & Bargaining

Reflection &  Loneliness

Upward Turn

Reconstruction

Acceptance & Hope

I don’t know if  have gone through each stage. Grief is a tricky feeling.

I do know that I am able to talk about my Dad with a laugh, a fun memory, a smile on my face. It’s taken awhile.

I have learned moreso this year than any other that life is so precious. My Dad didn’t have to die. His prognosis for a full recovery was good, but his wife chose to withdraw oxygen and food. Because she appointed herself as his agent and he did not have an Advanced Directive, legally she was able to stop his life. Much too soon.

God says CHOOSE LIFE.

There will be a day that she will have to answer to God when asked why she took a man’s life by denying him oxygen and food. I know that my Dad is looking down at me from up above and is giving me the strength to CHOOSE LIFE while going through Breast Cancer. No better way do I have to honor my Dad who has passed than to live my best life here on earth. I will forever be an advocate for Advance Care Directives. I will forever spread the word to Choose Life by sharing the story of my Dad’s death.

His death though, is not a reflection of his life. His life was so important. He loved his three children, He loved his grandchildren. He loved french fries, classic cars, old time rock and roll, laughing, movies, bacon wrapped steak, his truck. He disliked his receding hairline, laziness, loud people, cold weather. This was his life and it mattered.

I love you Dad. I promise to make you proud.

Your daughter always,

A Proper Goodbye

Today is a memorial service for my Dad who passed away on August 10, 2016. I won’t be attending. How he died comes with questions not answered. Danette, my stepmother, has not called me since the day after my Dad died.  She did not call when I had my surgery. She did not call when we were evacuated. She did not ask my opinion or suggestions or wishes for my Dad’s memorial service. Danette only called the day after my Dad died in response to a text my Aunt sent to me and my brothers letting us know of the date of the memorial service and to let me know of the arrangements already made. She DID tell me there would be time at the end of the service for people to stand up and speak. She  said would open up the floor to anyone who may want to share a story or memory of my Dad. I assume that would be my time to speak. My brothers and I have chosen NOT to go to the memorial service (which is being held at their house no less). My Dad always said “funerals are for the living. I don’t want my kids and grand-kids standing around crying that I’m gone”. We have chosen to honor him in the way he wanted.

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His obituary was written and published by his wife, Danette. She included me and my brothers and another woman who claims to be his daughter. Although this woman does bear a resemblance to my Dad, she only sought to know him in her adult years beginning in February of this year. They never met and no DNA test was ever done. However, she along with my stepsister and stepbrother were included in the obituary. You can read his obituary here. My Aunt rewrote the obituary to have published in the local paper in Lafayette, IN in the town where he grew up. You can read the revised obituary here.

Dad’s obituary is not reflective of his life. I choose to honor him by telling you a few things about the man he is / was:

  • He always ate all his fries before his cheeseburger.
  • His favorite color is green.  He hated the color blue.
  • He loved Ford trucks. He drove is red Ford F150 for 15 years before buying a new, shiny charcoal Ford F150. He gave his old red truck to my daughter. It means more to her than ever now.
  • Chinese food and Mexican food were his favorites. He loved ceviche with a little Tapitio and lime.
  • He didn’t drink but a couple of times a year and didn’t like to see people drink or smoke. He felt they were ruining their health
  • His grandchildren melted his heart. He loved each one of his grandchildren. He also “adopted” a ton of his children’s and grandchildren’s friends and neighbor’s children.
  • He loved to watch movies. All. The. Time I couldn’t tell you his favorite movie because he had so many he loved. Benny and Joon. Christmas Vacation. The Ghost and the Darkness. A Walk In The Woods.So many….
  • He loved old time rock and roll. The Eagles. Bob Seger. Michael McDonald.
  • He thought Celine Dion was the best female voice to ever sing. He also loved true, clear voices like Karen Carpenter and Barbra Streisand.
  • His tools were his greatest treasure. He knew where every tool went in his toolbox. He always cleaned his tools after each use. Many of his tools he had for as long as 40 years.
  • He always had calloused hands. Even when I held his hand in the hospital his hands were calloused. He was the hardest working man I know.
  • He had a sarcastic sense of humor and loved to laugh.
  • He loved motorcycles.
  • He thought a man should always carry a pocketknife. he carried one my whole life.
  • Most of all, he loved life! He cried the day before he went into surgery because the man in the room next to his had died the night before. I let Dad know that all the man’s family was surrounding him and loving him. He seemed comforted to know this. Unfortunately, my Dad was not given the opportunity to have his family surrounding him when he died. Danette chose to unplug life support from him without telling his children. Her wishes were not his wishes. However, I am CERTAIN that Dad knows his children and grandchildren are with him in thought and prayer every single day.

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My Dad died without a will. I begged him to set up a Will, a Trust and an Advanced Directive. He did not do it. I will be sharing more of the heart ache we have had to endure because of the choice he made not to have his “end of life” paperwork in order. We will need to open probate and deal with a stepmother who is not willing to speak with us or allow us to have any of his belongings. In the end, it isn’t about material items though is it? My brothers and I have hired a lawyer to explore the option of wrongful death. We also must deal with probate issues. This is unfortunately a part of the process. I will keep you updated periodically on our progress. I love you Dad!

 

A few life {and death} lessons

To say I have been through a lot the last month is a definite understatement. I had major surgery on August 5th, my Dad passed away on August 10th and we evacuated our home on August 16th because the Blue Cut Fire  was dangerously close to our house.

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My Dad went into the hospital on July 11, 2016. He passed away on August 10, 2016. He was only 66 years old. His life and death story needs to be told.  His life was worth living and he died much too soon! I will share his story this week. Although I’d rather share his life story, the reality is his death was preventable and the truth needs to be revealed regarding his death. One very real lesson I learned from his death is to have an

Advanced Directive  and A Last Will and Testament.  

 

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I am happy to report that my hysterectomy surgery and recovery from surgery has gone amazingly well. NO CANCER! I am well aware my outcome could be so much different than it is. I feel better each day. This week I will share with you my experience and tips to help you recover from surgery.

 

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You may have heard about the Blue Cut Fire?  It was dangerously close to our house and burned over 36,000 acres. In the midst of my hysterectomy recovery add my Dad’s passing, we had to evacuate. We were fortunate enough to have very generous friends who took us in. I’ll share with you what personal items we decided to take with us and why. I hope you are never in the situation to evacuate for a fire or flood, but preparation is key!

I hope you have a great week! Stay tuned in for upcoming posts!

When setting BOUNDARIES mean you’re out of the family

Do you fear getting the call telling you someone you love is in the hospital and in critical condition?

What if you never got the call?

This is what happened to me exactly two weeks ago today. Technically, I DID get a call, but it was from my brother in Arizona asking me “What’s up with Dad?”  “I am not sure. I haven’t talked with him in awhile” I responded. My brother goes on to tell me that our Dad has had a major heart attack and is in the hospital and will have open heart surgery.  He received a TEXT from our stepmom telling him and my youngest brother about my Dad’s condition. Hey, at least they got a TEXT.

Why did I not get a call from her when I live 2 miles away from them? BOUNDARIES.

  relationship boundaries

I had established personal relationship boundaries with my Dad and in exchange for not tolerating disrespect to me or my family, my time, my truths, my health and my home, I was (according to him and my stepmom) out of the family. At least that is what their actions revealed.

I love my Dad and our extended families very much. My Dad and I have always been very, very close. More so now that we live 2 miles away from each other. My heart aches that I wasn’t given a call that there was something wrong with my Dad that was life altering and critical. When I called my stepmom to find out what what was wrong with my Dad and I confronted her with why I wasn’t notified, her response was “You didn’t want anything to do with your Dad, so I didn’t let you know. I can give you updates if you want” she replied.

I don’t tell this story to “shame” my Dad or stepmom (although I feel she should apologize for being disrespectful), I tell this story to share the repercussions from setting boundaries with the relationships in your life. BUT YOU STILL NEED TO SET BOUNDARIES.  Sorry….I didn’t mean to to yell, but I really want to make my point. I have no regrets. I HAVE had conversations with my extended family about being disrespectful to me. I needed to do this for my happiness.

I want to add to the discussion that I am not innocent in overstepping boundaries with others. I have also participated in family “gossip” and said inappropriate things about other people in my family so I share blame. Sometimes we must set boundaries within one’s self too….about not gossiping, disrespecting others and holding yourself to a higher standard and having integrity when it comes to others boundaries as well.

Are you dealing with BOUNDARIES issues in your life? I highly recommend this book:

download

If I am being completely honest here….I have had to read it several times.  It provides great insight to why we must establish boundaries and be true to our own self for the betterment of relationships we have.

Some warning signs that you need to establish boundaries with others:

Time

  • Does the person expect you to drop what you are doing to help them at a moments notice?
  • Are you doing more for the person time wise than they would take doing it for themselves?
  • Do they drop by unannounced and stay for long periods of time with no attention to the time?

Personal

  • Does the person ask personal questions about your health or body?
  • Does the person give unsolicited advice regarding your finances or health or family?
  • Does the person “assume” the facts of your life without finding out if what they are saying is true?

Values & Morals

  • Does the person try to shame or coerce you into “their” way of thinking if you do not agree on an issue?
  • Does the person tell you who you are or what you are feeling?
  • Is the person loud and combative when talking about an issue?
  • Does the person insult you or your values?

Although, thankfully, I have not dealt with all of these issues  from others in relationships, even just one or two of these warning signs can lead to an unequal balance in a relationship.

An update on Dad: He had open heart surgery a week ago last Thursday. I was able to see and talk with him at the hospital before his surgery. His last words to me were “I Love You”. That was all my heart needed. I get regular updates now via a group text (with others I do not know), but nonetheless I am getting information about his condition. He is in an induced coma on a breathing ventilator.  His prognosis is good. We are hopeful. T I pray that me and Dad can establish a “new” relationship with set boundaries when he is able. Prayers are welcomed!

How about you? Do you have trouble setting boundaries with others?

Please share your story in the comments below….