It’s been an extraordinary week.
The trip to see my grandchildren started out as an adventure since I don’t travel much by myself these days. The first night I stayed with my friend in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at her cozy house in the woods. Her sweet cat, Feather, slept with me. The next day was Saturday. I drove to the mountains to stay with my son in Boone. While my son was at work, I got the phone call from the pastor at my father’s church. He told me my father had passed away. They found him in bed, so I’m hoping he died peacefully.
My father served in the US Marine Corps for 20 years, and I knew he would want me to complete this mission to visit his great grandchildren. (He didn’t believe in calling children kids, because kids are baby goats.) So, I’ve been in Indiana making funeral arrangements by phone with help from my wonderful husband who’s back home holding down the fort. I’m so thankful to not have to go through this alone, though I could have. As my father taught me: “Nothing is Impossible.”
It was good to have some time alone in my son’s apartment Saturday when I got the news. I went from cleaning his kitchen window, to crying, to cleaning something else, to crying some more. I thought of calling my dad’s older sister, Ruth who is 94 and in assisted living. But first, I called her friend Judy, who takes care of her fiances. Judy told me that Aunt Ruth had been more confused than usual that morning when Judy visited her. She said Ruth asked her, “Is my mother gone?” Judy told her, yes, her mother was gone.
“Is my sister, Margaret gone?”
“Yes, Margaret’s gone,” Judy said.
“Then I’m the only one left.”
“No, You still have your brother Jimmy.” she told her.
Maybe Aunt Ruth already knew, on some level, that her brother was gone. I wonder if he visited her. Judy said she would go tell her in person the next morning.
Driving to Indiana with my son on Sunday, the clouds hung low in the Tennessee sky. The opening you see in the photo below made me think my dad was peeking through to tell me hello and that everything’s good.
On Sunday afternoon, I called Aunt Ruth. I told her who I was (she forgets things) and asked how she was. Then I told her my father had died. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said. A bit later she asked how Jimmy was. I told her Jimmy had passed away. I had to repeat myself and explain that her brother had died. She said how sorry she was like she was was trying to console me. His death wasn’t a big surprise to her; my father was not in good health. He had a lot of pain from his old war wounds and arthritis and being 85. Aunt Ruth asked me a few more times, “Jimmy’s gone?” “Yes, Jimmy’s gone,” I told her. “He’s with his wife, Betty. He’s with the Lord. That’s where he wanted to be.” I told her she still had me and her other niece who lives in Wisconsin closer to her, and her friend Judy. Aunt Ruth wants to go be with the Lord, too and can’t understand why she’s still here. Physically, she’s in great shape for 94. Mentally, she gets pretty confused.
My father was an extraordinary man. After serving in Korea and Vietnam and while living with with the horrible memories that haunted him from those wars, he and mom volunteered at their local soup kitchen and drove disabled veterans to the VA hospital two hours away. They led the church youth group on camp outs. Dad sang in the church choir until his voice started squeaking on the high notes. He taught an adult Sunday school class until just a couple weeks ago. And he taught me, “Nothing is Impossible.”
Dad missed mom terribly after she died. I’m glad they’re finally together again.
My visit with my grand kids, er… grand children, was a good one. I enjoyed the sweetness of holding little ones on my lap as we read picture books. My dad is glad I’m was with them.
Just Jot It January is brought to you by Linda Hill. I’ve been waiting for today’s prompt, “Extraordinary,” from Jetgirlcos to get back to blogging by telling you about my father. This post is longer than most of mine, but he’s worth it.