Goodbye, Dad

My father passed away this morning. My sister called me to tell me the news. I knew when I saw her number on the callerID that he was gone.

Now I know what the expression “overwhelmed with grief” means. His death wasn’t a surprise. In fact, I welcomed the end to his suffering. There was nothing left unsaid between us. I’d told him goodbye and that I loved him two weeks ago. I thought I was prepared.

I’m in a daze. I keep thinking about him and moments we shared throughout my life. I’m dehydrated from crying so much.

Feels like he planned the whole thing. He had me come in two weekends ago. My sister came in to say her good-byes last weekend. This morning, with all his ducks in a row, he found out whether or not his beliefs in the hereafter were true.

My father was a simple man, really. He told me years and years ago that he didn’t believe in evolution because he’d never seen anything evolve. More recently, he dismissed claims of global climate change, citing temperature records set back in the early 1900s as evidence. These weren’t opinions he’d picked up elsewhere. That’s not how Dad rolled. He’d thought about it and come to his own conclusions. And right or wrong, he stuck to his guns.

He was fascinated with Native American culture and saw himself as a modern day Cherokee. His interest was based on a family myth that his mother’s mother was Cherokee.  I’ve never been able to verify this, and his older siblings don’t think it’s true. But Dad believed it and assembled an impressive collection of Native American artifacts, paintings and photographs featuring Native Americans, books about them, and statues of them.

Because of his alleged Native American heritage, he loved the outdoors and had a deep affection for the woods, mountains, and the ocean. Early in my life, he often went hunting and fishing. But later, he abandoned the pretense and just enjoyed being in the wilderness. He went on long, solitary hikes practically every Saturday morning for decades, stopping only after the marijuana growers made him afraid to be out in the deep woods by himself.

Dad also collected antique firefighting equipment; old Lexington books, paintings, and photographs; bits and pieces of historic Lexington buildings; and for a while in the 60s, Jim Beam bottles. If you’re interested in any of the artist series, still in boxes and full of bourbon, let me know. I have no idea what will happen to all the rest.

He hasn’t always been the father I wanted, but he’s the only one I’ve ever had.  And now he’s gone. Things will never be the same here in…

My Glass House

26 responses to “Goodbye, Dad”

  1. Michael, I’m so glad you made the trip up, and that you can focus on the happy memories. It is the those memories, and the sweet knowledge that a part of him lives forever with each beat of your heart, that will help you through the days ahead. We are not all afforded the chance to make things right, and say our goodbyes. What a treasure that you were granted that. Praying for you all. Safe travels.

  2. Michael so lovey put. I’m glad you have fond memories of your dad and not all bad. Your last statement is so true, we don’t always like what they did or didn’t do or even what they said but in the end we have one Dad. I know you will miss him greatly.

    • Thank you, Sue. We always have a choice. I choose to focus on the positive and it makes a difference–especially during times like the last few weeks.

  3. Michael…You have honored your Dad in the deepest possible ways….With an open heart you gave him your time & focused attention. You gave him the space to be himself and you listened. You let him feel Fatherly pride in seeing you as a wonderful, responsible, caring and loving man. You gave him the gifts money cannot ever buy. As time helps heal the pain–I’ll be thinking of you, and Andy, your Mom & Missy and wishing you peace and blessings.

  4. You have done what you can and feel is right . Grief is normal and now you have another heart felt experience you can use in your writing and make it real for your readers…Keep your memorys alive with your writing. Sorry for your loss.

  5. Michael, what a lovely tribute to your Dad! Yes, this is what overwhelming grief feel like. I know from experience as both of my parents have gone home to be with the Lord. It is funny, with both Mother and Daddy, I was prepared for them to die, but I found I was not prepared for their being gone. This will make sense to you as the days, weeks, and months pass. Be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to grieve. Grief is funny as sometimes I would be perfectly fine and the next minute grief had flooded over me. Roll with it. Lean on Andy, your family, and friends. Cherish your memories and know that your Dad was right about his belief in an afterlife. One where he is again whole and painfree. Love you, my friend. Call me if you want or need as I too have walked this path and lived in this glass house.

    • Thank you, Sherri. I’ve already thought of a million things I want to remember to ask Dad about or tell him about, so I already see what you mean. He will be missed.

  6. I’m so sorry Michael to hear of your Father’s death. It’s wonderful that you took the time out to have those last precious moments with him a couple of weeks ago. God bless and be kind to yourself. The pain will ease in time.

  7. I am so sorry to hear your sad news, but it is wonderful that you have such vivid memories of your dad to remember. I don’t believe that any parent is the parent that we need or want all the times, and sometimes they let us down quiet badly, but at the end of the day they are only human. I hope your pain lessons with time. May god bless you and comfort you in your time of need. Xxxx

  8. I am so happy you have no regrets and while you know the end is near it can never be easy. I am learning by your example and awaiting the endings in my life. Hugs to you my friend and prayers as you deal with this loss.

  9. Michael…you don’t know me–but I know Ray Glass. Time has softened &given perspective to my 14 weeks’ training & lessons learned by his training (& staff). My best two memories that come to mind first are of him offering a ride to me as I was walking (car broke down on Waller)—I completely didn’t expect it. Several years later when I was married with a 2-year-olddaughter he smiled and entertained her with “peek-a-boo” as he sat on the other side of the restaurant’s booth—a great evening. So many memories now and my ego I had then has faded thankfully. My condolences are just words I know but I hope you find comfort in knowing he’s done his duty well and has gone home. Seaton Holt–1977 Spring class.

    • Thank you, Seaton, for stopping in and sharing your memories of my father. No telling how many children he played peek-a-boo with in the way that you describe. I heard so many wonderful stories from men like you, no doubt from a few men you probably knew. Thanks again.

  10. Beautiful writing, Michael. I am so saddened by your grief and loss. When my mother died, it was as if a hole opened inside me, and I knew pieces of my childhood we shared were halved now. Bless you.

  11. What a lovely post about something so difficult. My thoughts are with you Michael. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

  12. My younger daughter who was 11 then was awake when I got my phone call about my dad at 11 pm. She heard me laughing in relief that his suffering and my waiting for the awful phone call was over. She thought I was happy he was dead. Well, no, but also yes, in a way.

    Dad and I had a long talk in Kerr Brothers during the visitation for my stepmother’s sister who had died shortly after his diagnosis. I don’t remember what we talked about, but it was probably the longest conversation we ever had. He was still waiting for the doctors to tell him when he was going to start treatment for this aggressive cancer that was going to kill him. If it was so agrressive and inoperable, why were they waiting so long to start treatment.

    Hope you had a big turnout for the visitation and funeral. He was well thought of during his career as a firefighter and officier in the fire department.