Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Treasured Chest - Memories of Dad

This post is part of the "My Treasured Chest" series where I post about findings from my cedar chest. You can read about how it all began at the My Treasured Chest - The Beginning post.

Although she doesn't know it, today I cursed at my sister.  It's not her fault and it's not something she directly did, but she posted on Facebook that today was the 8th anniversary of my father's death.  It's not because she posted the fact; it's because she reminded me.

My father died of lung cancer eight years ago today.  It only took almost three months from the time he was diagnosed.  I literally watched him die in front of my eyes.  My children watched him take his last breath.  It was one of the most sorrowing experiences I've ever went through. 

I've even blamed myself for my children having to watch grandpa Forrester leave this earth.  The family was gathered in the home, waiting for the time to come.  Dad was in a comatose state, eyes closed and not speaking.  I called my ex and asked him to pick up the kids so they wouldn't have to go through the experience of such pain and sadness.  When they were ready to leave, they went up to their grandpa to say their final goodbyes.  He opened his eyes!  For whatever naive reason, I thought that was a good sign.  I thought it meant he was responding and waking up.  My heart flooded with joy, I prompted the kids to speak to him so he'd know they were there.  My mother, who noticed the commotion, asked what was going on.  I told her that daddy was awake.  She flipped a lid.  It was then that I realized it was not okay.  Daddy didn't open his eyes to acknowledge and recover; he opened his eyes to take his final breaths and leave us.  I'd never experienced a time before or a time since of going from complete joy to complete heartbreak in such a short period.  My daddy was gone. 

If there's one thing I'm thankful for, it's God's intervention of having my father in my life,  You see, he wasn't what you called a "picture perfect father".  An awesome man with a great personality, he definitely was.  However, he lacked in the fathering department.  He traveled the country and rarely made contact with me.  I cried so many times as a child and young adult wondering what I ever did that make my father not want to have that parental relationship with me.  I wanted that father, daughter bond so bad.  God felt my yearning and stepped in.

As a short back story, my mother and father divorced when I was real young.  My mother raised me and she did a fine job.  My dad was a good person in general, but wasn't there for me.  He was married to another lady and they travelled the country working at KOA campgrounds.  After being married to my step-mother for over 20 years, she passed away of cancer.

About a year after my step-mother passed away, my mother asked if I would call my dad and ask him to have coffee with her.  My jaw hit the floor!  The two had barely said ten words to each other in over twenty years and all of a sudden she wanted to go on an informal date with him.

I made the call and the rest is history.  My mother and father rekindled their relationship.  They fell back in love and moved in with each other.  The relationship I never had with my dad was now becoming a part of my life.  It was only a year and a half that they were together before dad passed away but I had more of a relationship with my father in that short of time than I ever did in the almost thirty years of my life.  He gave my children the love and affection that he didn't give me as a child.  He asked for forgiveness for not being there and I accepted his apology.  Our relationship had been mended and repaired.  We spent a lot of time together camping, listening to music, goofing off, and watching my children grow.  I learned a lot about my father and who he was.  He also learned about me.

I firmly believe God knew the ache in my heart and knew I needed my father in my life.  If even for a short time, I'm thankful for God's blessing and intervention.

I cursed my sister today because she reminded me of the grief and heartache of losing my daddy. I know he passed in March of 2005. I'd blocked the exact date out of my mind. The grief is too much. It's not that I want to forget; it's that I don't want to remember. I've cried tears of overwhelming sadness, missing him so much. I've also cried tears of happiness because I know he's in Heaven dancing next to God to the beat of bluegrass music. I love you, "my handsome daddy". Someday we'll meet again.

I wrote a poem for my father and it was copied and passed around at his funeral:

Harley Leon Forrester was a man we all knew and loved.
Now he resides in Heaven playing guitar to God above.

Leon was a man who touched hearts and changed lives.
That's why it's so hard to have to say goodbye.

Memories of Leon, we'll always hold dear.
Thoughts and treasured times of him we'll always keep near.

Leon was a man with genuine words to say.
He always took the beaten path and laughed along the way.

Leon and Nancy found each other again and were able to reunite.
They fell in love again - it was love at second sight.

Leon had all sorts of funny lines.  He liked to "pee in your pool".
He built and fixed all sorts of things with many a tool.

He had a love of camping, and of travelling too.
You could go to him for advice when you didn't know what to do.

Who can forget those stubbly whiskers and that white balding hair?
Who can forget that he could be counted on to care?

There's one thing that we could clearly see.
Leon had a genuine love for his family.

Leon was a unique man we'll all miss very much.
Not a person passed him whose heart he didn't touch.


Julie Jones said...

Awww! This gave me goosebumps! I lost my daddy 8 years ago too. It'll be 9 in July. It's still not easy is it. It's great that you parents fell back in love and that you got to have a relationship with him before he passed. That was a beautiful poem! I know the day has already passed but know I'll be thinking of you while I fall asleep. Goodnight hun!

Masshole Mommy said...

Oh wow, thank you for sharing this story. It's amazing how they rekindled their relationship like that and that you got to spend time with him before he passed.

Alexis AKA MOM said...

Beautiful post and poem my dear. What a story and memories. I'm so glad your mom and him had a second go around.

God's hand at work, just when you needed it.