Kind of quiet on the home front tonight... 

Gary, my husband, is soundly sleeping in our bedroom while Laura, 

our child, 

is intensely concentrating on her latest Sims creation.

Restless, I revisit Searchwarp after a long absence and scan through the many articles I’ve written throughout the years under the guise of my many moods. 

Noticing the variety, it is interesting that each article deeply reflects the woman I am.

I stop short when I see the title, “If They Only Knew". Although written over three years ago, it remains fresh in my memory. It was during that time I was juggling being a fulltime caregiver for my elderly dad while raising a family and meeting the demands of my own business. 

I am not a writer nor have I ever professed to be. Whatever pieces I’ve contributed to this community, whether comedic, sad or serious, were penned through life experiences and my heart. Some of the articles have had endings 

and, some not 

but,

“If They Only Knew" wrote it’s final chapter this past August when my father died at our home in the arms of my eleven year-old daughter…
 
***

Gently, Anita, my dad’s hospice nurse, grabs my hand and says, “Judi, you’ve got to free your dad and give him permission to die."

In deep denial, I push Anita aside and run to my father’s bedside. “She doesn’t know," I stubbornly think to myself. “I’ve nursed him back to life before and I’ll do it again. I’m not ready to let him go yet…"

Exhausted, I sit beside my father and stroke his sleeping, sweaty head. “Dad, dad, I love you so much… Please, dad, let me know you can hear me somehow, plee-e-ease? I don’t know what more I can do… da…"

My tears finally let loose and I begin to cry with sobs thrusting from the depths of my soul. I soon fall asleep with my head on his chest and dream of my life from the time I was a little girl to present. I see my young father eagerly walking toward me open armed with his wide smile and deep dimples. Daddy… my daddy… I love you so much… 

I awake abruptly only to see I’ve dozed for a mere ten minutes. Ten minutes? I’ve dreamt my entire life in only ten minutes? 

Suddenly the stillness in my father’s room becomes so loud and I finally understand. I call out to God to help me let go of my dad. I whisper to my father that it’s okay to go home… I will be fine. I let him know that I know he’s dying and that the Lord is ready for him… God, God help me… God, I can’t let go of my dad alone… Go-od….

Suddenly, in panic, I think of my daughter. I swiftly run from my father’s room to search for my daughter and find my husband speaking with Anita and the EMT team.

“Gary, where’s Laura? Dad’s dying and we need to keep Laura out of his room!"

“I thought she was next door."

“No! She’s here  - where is she?"

Anita kindly checks upstairs while I search the rest of the house. Within minutes I find myself back in my father’s room and see my father’s limp body tightly cradled in my daughter’s arms. With tears streaming down her face, my daughter turns towards me and says “God has taken Pop-Pop back to heaven…"

The coroner arrives a few hours later to transport my father to the funeral home. Gently, they ask me if he was a veteran. Numbly, I nod yes and confirm that he was in the Navy. Once on the gurney, they respectfully cover his body with the American flag for his last trip down our driveway. I softly shift the flag off his face and grab his cold, limp hand while we make our final journey together. I somberly watch them carefully lift my father’s lifeless body into the hearse and stand erect saluting the man who I’ve proudly loved my entire life.

***

Witnessing my father’s death has been the holiest event I have experienced in my life and I am deeply humbled and grateful that I was able to care for him during the last fourteen years of his life. 

Through my father’s death, I have learned to embrace life joyfully despite its setbacks. Although ‘cliché-ish’, I’ve also learned to savor each moment since the future is not ours to own. 

I conclude as I did over three years ago: 

"…My dad is still my hero. While others may see him as an old, silly man, I know who my dad was…. He is my father whose now withering body was once strong and vibrant and full of dreams…. I am reminded of a poem by Joanna Fuchs:

Everything Dad

A little girl needs her daddy

To love her with manly charm,

To soothe her when she’s hurt,

And keep her safe from harm.

A girl needs her dad

To show her a man who’s good,

To help her make right choices,

As only a father could.

A woman needs her father

Just to be aware,

He’ll always be there for her

To sustain her and to care.

You’ve been all these things, Dad.

I hope that you can see

How much I treasure you;

You mean everything to me...."

***

Dad, you’ve been all of the above and more. This one’s for you and may God bless you!
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