Yesterday was very difficult. I went to bed about 9 PM on Thursady and woke up very early Friday morning. I believe I was dreaming about my Dad right before I woke up. Suddenly I was wide awake. I sometimes refer to this as waking up with a ‘bang’. It happens from time to time, generally on the weekend when I have quite a bit of work I want to get done.
However, this was slightly different, a little scary, yet comforting.
I sat up sharply in the bed for no good reason. Sometimes one of the dogs wakes me up to go outside, but this wasn’t the case.
I instantly looked at my watch. Still groggy, I started trying to remember which day of the week it was.
Then it hit me. I was 2:15 AM on Friday morning. I started to cry. Dad died 2:15 AM on Friday morning, exactly four weeks ago.
How do you explain that? Over the past month I’ve woken up exactly at 2:15 AM on several days; however, I was able to get back to sleep. Not yesterday.
The Maryland Veteran’s Cemetery in Crownsville requested we not return until about a month after burial. They bury everyone in a row and generally there is machinery and loose soil in the immediate area. It takes about a month before they move far enough away, that everything isn’t muddy.
I picked up my Mom and went down to the cemetery this morning. It was very easy to find Dad’s grave as the cemetery is very well laid out and clearly labeled. The more recent headstones even have the section, row, and grave number carved on the headstone.
It was a very difficult couple of minutes for both of us. I know how difficult it has been for me over the past month; I can’t comprehend what it has been like for my Mother. On some days, I seem to be doing very well, then something happens and I start remembering and thinking about my Dad, then I get upset. Right now, it is difficult to remember the good times and him in good health. I imagine that is par for the course. In time, that will change; but right now I only think about his last few months and what he went through.
When I walk in my Mom’s living room, I immediately look over to the spot where his hospital bed was. I do it without even thinking about it.
My Mom said the other day she was in bed and heard noises coming from the kitchen. She got up and checked, but nothing was there. This repeated itself several times. Then she fell back to sleep and woke when she felt someone tugging on her leg. Naturally, no one was there.
I believe the moment you die, your soul goes forth, but that your spirit stays behind. Perhaps that is what we are both feeling.
Also, the last few weeks my Dad had a slight odor about him. You could only smell it if you were right up against him. I thought it might be from the chemo treatment, medicine, or disease. Also, he was sweating and clammy, at times. It wasn’t really a foul smell, but it wasn’t a good smell either. It was something different. In fact, I didn’t even notice the smell at the time. However, after he died, for days, I smelt it on my hands and about my face. I would only smell it if I was leaning in very close and whispering in his ear.
That smells comes and goes, several times a day. Last night, Nora went into the Giant to do a little shopping. I stayed in the car. From out of no where I got the smell in my nostrils. Where did it come from?
I have now come to enjoy that smell. To me, it’s like my father is with me – either right beside me or actually within me. It’s not scary – it’s reassuring. I feel comforted when it happens and hope it always remains. It’s like Dad is right here with me, checking up on me to see if I am OK.
Well, Dad; I’m doing the best I can. I’m trying to become a better person – more like you in every way. I’m making changes in my life for the better. I find myself now thinking, “What would Dad do?” in various situations. Most often, it’s a different and better decision that what I would rush to do in the past.
He’ll be gone a month, this coming Monday. My mother said today that she’s lost her best friend. I can’t imagine how difficult it has been on her. She is dealing with everything that needs to be done financially, etc. She is dealing with all of the household issues and is starting to clean out some of his items. Today she gave me a few a his hats. One was his ‘Bonnie Blink Cornhusking’ baseball hat. She also gave me his Masonic hankerchiefs and a few other items. She’s also going to give me all of his ties.
I got up early again today (5 AM). I’m going to try and get a few hours sleep, then drive to Windsor, Pennsylvania to pick up my son. From there we are going to Hershey to watch the Hershey Bears (hockey team) play.
Life goes on. I intend to buy my soon-to-be-born grandson a Hershey’s Bears ‘teddy’ bear and a toy Zamboni. A Zamboni is the machine that cleans the ice during the hockey games.
I need to remember to tell my son that the funeral home is sending a small tree to his house, in the spring. He can plant it in remembrance of his grandfather.
On Tuesday, I’ll pick up my Mom in the early afternoon and head to West Virginia. Nora will come up after work on Tuesday and we’ll spend the Thanksgiving holiday up there. This will probably be a little easier on my Mom. I’m going to take a few days and do some bible study and perhaps a little genealogy. Sometimes I can almost hear my Dad telling me, “Don’t sit there doing nothing – get something accomplished.” I was never one to sit idle; although I’ve done my share of that this past month.
Actually, I’ve enjoyed it, once I realized that I really needed some quiet, reflective, down time. It’s almost like prayer. I sit and think about things, including my father, and look at everything that is going on in my life. I’ve learned a lot more about myself and my father, during the past few months. I’m trying to capture some of that grace and dignity he had his entire life. While it came naturally to him; I have to work at it – but I am making the best effort I can. So far, I’m pleased with my changes. I think he would be pleased also.