Monday, June 20, 2011


Officially Father's day is almost over but well I'm late for everything else, so why not this too. I spent most of the day installing new flooring in the hallway. Yesterday morning I had planned to steam clean the carpet but by the afternoon I changed my mind and instead ripped out carpet and picked up new flooring at Home Depot. Anyway since it was a one person job and A was keeping busy and out of my way, I had a lot of time to think as I worked. I figured today was as good as any to write about my latest visit with dad.
I think this picture was taken of my dad and I on my second birthday. I'm pretty sure that was the year I received that fabulous tricycle. I'm surprised I still remember that bike. 

When A and I arrived in Ohio, I admit I didn't go to see dad right away. He didn't know I was coming and I was concerned that he would worry/obsess about our visit. Plus every conversation I've had with him the last 6 months has been about him returning to Minnesota so I honestly was dragging my feet to have that conversation face-to-face. When my aunt (my mom's sister) offered to go along with us to visit, I sighed with relief at having that extra support. She goes to visit him every couple weeks.

Thursday morning we drove the care facility where he is living. I was relieved to see how nice it was. A and I were inspecting everything. :) He was still in bed and my aunt walked in first. He looked up and gave her a little wave. She leaned over and told him she brought a surprise, that A and I were there. He looked at me, said "hi" and just launched into bitching and complaining. He wasn't really complaining about anything in the present, he was still complaining about things that happened a year or more ago. I wasn't really able to have much of a conversation with him. We just sat back and listened to him talk and I realized that he is living in the past. He told us the same stories he's told us for years. He thinks he still has a job here in MN and wonders when he will be able to get back to work. He knows he needs to live somewhere where he can be taken care of but also thinks he can drive, return to MN and move back into his apartment. He goes back and forth between knowing his grandchildren live in South Dakota to thinking they are still living across the street from me. 

It was a beautiful day so we took him outside to sit for awhile. I was relieved to see that Dad still very much looks the same. He was thinner but not overly so and he is eating well. 
As for the person my dad was, well that person is very much gone. I didn't realize how much that has effected me until I typed it right now. I've been hiding (or suffocating) that fact; pushing it down and forcing myself to look at this from a medical perspective.
The most obvious thing to me was when I arrived and gave dad a hug, he showed no emotion. He didn't hug me back or hold my hand or do any of the things he normally would have. He didn't even call me "Mac", the nickname he gave me before I can remember. When I left the hospital last August, he was weak but he kept rubbing my hand with his good one and telling me "I love ya Mac". When my brothers and I left he cried. This time there was emotion just talk about nothing that really matters anymore. 

I didn't show any emotion either.
A was on stand-by. Nothing happened. I think she's still waiting.

I don't think dad even remembers my visit and maybe that's for the best. While I was there, I called one of my brothers so they could talk to him and then I forgot my phone in his room when I left. By the time I realized it, one of the employees had found it and taken it to the office. When they asked dad if he knew whose phone it was, he didn't know and didn't know who had been there to visit. 

Not all my thoughts on this Father's Day were sad though. I also remembered my grandpa this day.
This is the first and only topless picture you will find of me on the internet. I must have been a little over a year old when this picture was taken which would have made my grandpa around 75. I'm eating a grape popsicle. My mom tells me it was the only flavor I would eat at that time.

In many ways, my grandpa was more of a father figure to me than dad. He was kind and stable and peaceful. He told great stories and drew pictures and carved airplanes out of wood. He was always humming a song and after a few drinks, he might sing. After a few more drinks he might dance too. I would sit on his lap and eat cookies, doughnuts or crackers dipped in coffee. He would fry eggs and make us sandwiches. Mom tells the story of returning home to find my diaper secured with black electrical tape (in the days before re-positionable fasteners). He sat in a chair in the corner of our huge kitchen reading large print westerns. He had a nickname for everyone and gave me the name "little fuzz" when I was 3 days old; 35 years later some still call me by that name. He was the one who would tell me that my dad's obsessive behavior and fighting with my mom "wasn't right". 

He was already 52 years old when my mom was born and raising his second family. When my parents divorced, we moved back with him. By that time he was around 80 years old. He should have been enjoying his time but took us in, supported us financially when dad wouldn't and never seemed to regret it one bit. He always took me with him as he worked around the house. I would sit as he fixed things and he showed me how things worked. To this day I swear that if I'm stuck on some project around the house, I will set it aside and that night I will find the solution in my dreams...usually suggested by grandpa. He was the one who would tell me that it didn't matter I was a girl, I could do anything I wanted. That's pretty forward thinking for a man born in 1902.
Of all the people who have come and gone from my life, he is the one person I miss the most.


Sarcastic Bastard said...

Grandpa sounded like a real sweetheart. Glad you had him in your life.

Loved the photos.

Love you and A, too!


Ms. Moon said...

Oh baby. I know. Thanks for giving us this.

Queen of Ruckus said...

Hey, Mel. Thanks for posting this. Father's Day was difficult for me because I still miss my dad, even though he passed away ten years ago. I was very much a "daddy's little girl" and growing up, I was worse than a little puppy chasing him around everywhere. He was accepting of me (even cried when I came out to him) and I loved him dearly. He died of a heart-attack and it took me a very long time to cope with that loss. :)

By the way: how's the new floor?

Mel's Way or No Way said...

SB-I can't even express how thankful I am for his influence in my life. Love to you from both of us.

Ms. Moon-Thanks for reading this. It was like therapy to sit here and write it down. I cried and cried.

Queen- I'm so sorry for your loss. It's amazing to me to realize that my grandpa has been gone for almost 20 years already.
The floor looks great...but there's still 2 rooms left to do.