Three years ago today, my daddy took his last breaths on earth after one week in the gentle care of Hospice and 51 weeks of knowing about and fighting a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. I was a lucky girl and had him in my life for 28 years and 10 months. My oldest son was 8 months and 2 weeks old, and I thank God most sincerely for every second my baby boy knew him and for the pictures I have of them together ~ oh, how I wish I had thousands… and I miss him. Every. Single. Day. I miss him.
Today was quite a perfect day of remembrance, though. I will go so far as to label it “the perfect summer day”. From the mild 70-degree temperature, to the constant gentle breeze that has lasted all day. I took the boys out this morning for a few errands and we met my mom for lunch. We dined on the patio at one of our favorite spots, which is rare for us (near-albino pale) folks who generally avoid the sun like we avoid any…..um…bad or yucky things that do not appeal to us in any way whatsoever. It was that nice. Our umbrella’d table provided shade for the kids, and we ladies sat with our backs in the sun just…basking. It was delightful. We discussed various factors for my little sister’s upcoming wedding, talked about travel plans for the next few months, brainstormed for her kitchen remodel and enjoyed a truly pleasant and calm lunch together with the kids (miraculously) on their best behavior.
It was a beautiful day on Friday, June 26, 2009 as well. I remember the 4am-ish phone call from my sister, who had been sleeping at Hospice with my mom so dad wouldn’t be by himself. I remember arriving barely 30 minutes later, to be together and share our tears. I remember waiting till the sun was up before I called my dearest friends to tell them the news and the beginning of our memorial plans. I remember mom and dad’s closest friends coming, also barely after sunrise – no makeup, eyes as red as ours were…one had a giant basket of her famous cinnamon sugar muffins that she usually reserves just for Christmas. And thus began the longest 5 days of my life. Knowing what was inevitable was a blessing in some ways because dad said from the beginning that he wanted a celebration after he was gone. He wanted all his friends, colleagues and loved ones to be able to come together to celebrate our lives and having had him in it. So, many many months before this day dad had asked me to help make preparations and asked if our house could be the location for the post-memorial gathering. Planning the catered menu, arranging for the whole backyard to be tented, and not being able to tell anyone precisely when you will need these services rendered is a bit weird, but those we worked with were extremely accommodating and helpful. All of the ahead of time preparations made our barely 5 day “head’s up” an adequate enough time frame to welcome all who loved him to our town and our home and to send daddy home properly. My brother’s eulogy…I will never forget it or how brave I think he is for being able to do it. But that is for another post.
I took another unusual liberty during the kids’ nap time today and instead of rushing to get laundry done/folded, dishes in or out of the dish washer, or some other task – phone calls, emails (right now mostly wedding related items), I just stopped. I fixed a big glass of ice water and a cold granny smith apple (my FAVE), grabbed my latest unfinished trashy romance novel and set up shop on our deck under our new giant umbrella. Oh man…I was in heaven! I set my phone alarm clock so I wouldn’t forget to get the kids up (I can read for hours and hours and feel like no time at all has gone by).
After naps I tossed the kids in the car and we went to our favorite playground. It was too nice to not go to the playground! I set another phone alarm so we could have an hour and a half at the park and leave in enough time to get home and make spaghetti for dinner before daddy got home (one of very few things we will ALL eat, though my oldest does not like the sauce….) And we wrapped up a good day ~ weatherwise/behaviorwise. Poi-fect!
I got dibs on my oldest at bedtime tonight. My husband and I do a divide and conquer technique that generally works pretty well for us. My son asked me if we could pick a different book off his shelf, one not in our current rotation. Of course, sure! Go grab one, kiddo. He runs over and looks, touching a few as his eyes wander their titled spines. Then pulls out a large hardback and I see the cover…and I almost lose it. It is a book called, “Everyday Angels”. He has had this book in his little collection for ages…I’d say it was a gift to him shortly after his birth. And what gets me, almost as much as the title, is that we have never read this book together. Not once. It’s just not one that we have gotten to yet, or maybe one I didn’t think he’d be into it yet. But, man. Out of alllllll the books in his room, probably more than 100 – on this day out of all days of the year for him to pick “Everyday Angels”, I am slightly astounded. Sure, it could just be a giant coincidence, but it makes me happy to think that someone guided his eyes and little fingers to that title. Someone knew it would give his mama a special message. I thought I would share with y’all.