Friday, February 8, 2013

My Dad

I know I mentioned a bit about my dad in a previous blog.  I was seven when he died.  It was not easy for my family.
At seven, in 1973, my opinions and thoughts were not of importance.  I'm not knocking it, that's just the way it was.  What was important was that I was taken care of along with my brothers and sisters.  Being sure we were all accounted for and safe was what was paramount.

I didn't spend much time back then, or for many years afterwards, thinking about what my mother was going thru.  Selfishly as a pre-teen my world was what was important.  I think that's fairly normal.  I worried about me, my needs and wants.  
It wasn’t until waaayyyyyy later that I was able to put myself in my mother’s place and see what her world of circumstances were when I was her youngest of eleven kids and her spouse, and love of her life, died.
I have dwelled on it for years now.  I'm 46 with two kids, she was 47 with eleven and newly widowed.  OUCH, now there's pain and shock hitting like a freight train.
I spent many years mad at my dad.  I used to talk to him and tell him I thought he was a coward.  That he chose cigarettes over his family and that I detested him for it.  I told him he wasn't good enough for my mother and that she was better off without him.  I said mean things to him because I was mad he left her all alone and overwhelmed.  I was mad she was always working and exhausted.
When I look back now I think... how terrible!  How awful to carry around so much anger and rage at one of the nicest men ever.  I barely knew my dad.  I learned about his personality from my older siblings as they shared stories.  There's a seventeen year span between my oldest sister Ann and me.  Add nine in between.  They talked about how kind my dad was and how he wanted a whole team of children and adored each one so much.  I learned to forgive and love him but it took some time.
I felt awful about spending so much time being angry at him.  He died a slow, dreadful death.  He used a big oxygen tank at night and had a little portable one during the day.  Of course he knew he was going to die.  I never spent any time in all my selfish years looking at it from his perspective.  Yes, he knew his body was failing him and he was going to pass leaving his beloved wife and eleven children behind.  I can't imagine the pain it caused him daily as he grew weaker and knew his time was limited.
Why am I bringing this up?  I'm trying to learn from carrying the anger way back when I was a kid.  I don't want to repeat it again now that my son is gone.  I'm really trying to be cognizant of it and diffuse it.  I don't want to spend wasted years of such a heavy load.  I'm working on it every day.  I want so desperately for my son to walk thru the door.  He's not going to.  It fills me with so much anger sometimes I don't know what I'm going to do. Sometimes I want to run out the door screaming because I'm not sure what to do with my feelings.  Other times I feel paralyzed and I literally can't move my feet.  Everything stiffens up and I have to linger there until it releases.
I'm working on finding the good in the day, in the hour, in the minute.  Sometimes it’s easier than others but I know I need to learn from my past experiences with my mom and my dad and our circumstances and I know I can do better than I did when I was a kid.  I've got better coping skills now and a clearer head.  I can do this.  I will do this.  My dad is with my son and they are helping me thru this.  Christopher has met his grandfather.  How can I be mad about that?  They're together with God and I will be just fine for now.  

Thank you for reading.

17 comments:

  1. Regina,

    Forgive yourself too about being angry at your dad, don't just forgive him. It is ok to get angry at our loved ones when they die. It is ok to get angry with God too.(many a famous men were angry with God in the bible, He understands that we don't understand)

    Eventually this anger will pass too and it will become less...but for now, don't beat yourself up about being angry...who could blame you...and don't worry about the guilt of pass anger, Pull those that love you close, and lean on them,just remember that you are not alone, you have your family and friends who love you and understand and want nothing more than the hurt and pain of this whole nightmare to go away. You have us too your blogreaders praying for you too we have become a different family to you, supporting you and behind you 100%. We are here for you in a different capacity...we too want to see you burden lightened.

    you are in my thoughts and prayers more than ever today!

    God Bless, XO

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  2. Good Morning Regina ~ :
    It's striking how much Jeremy looks like your Dad! Love the picture of Chris and just his little eye showing. I reply to you every day after each blog and then .... delete. What can I say that everyone before me hasn't said and much more eloquently? BUT I do want to tell you that what I personally gain from your blogs as you asked yesterday is a connection. You're right in saying that Chris is everyone's son or brother and I think that's it. If you really open yourself up to that thought as a Mom & Sister you get it and want to reach out to let you know that someone, somewhere is thinking of you and praying for you and smiling at all of your stories and pictures of Chris and his friends and family. And most importantly, that Chris will not be forgotten.... even by people who have just met him! Shen is now on my radar ~ the hockey team, the basketball team, the school & kids and every time I read a story or see a news clip I think of you and of course send up a smile to Chris and maybe that's what it's all about.

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  3. I enjoyed your interview with Benita and Gina last night. I marvel at your strength, pragmatism and wisdom. While I can only know snippets of what it's like to lose a parent as a youngster (I still vividly recall attending the funerals of my four Catholic grammar school classmates whose fathers died in the late 1960s and early 1970s) An only child, both of my parents died within six months of one another -- nearly 27 years ago (my mother died on Valentine's Day) when I was 26. Anger was never really the dominant emotion -- I guess because I always felt that there was nothing I could do to change God's plan. Seeing sort out your feelings about your father's death -- now coupled with the unspeakable tragedy of losing a child -- I can honestly say that grief is a lifelong process. I know it has been for me. While it is not something I would have wished for, my loss helped spark so much good in my life, through charitable and volunteer work and a perspective that has deepened with time. I wish the same for you -- I know you are well on your way there.

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  4. You did then what you knew how to do and when you knew better... you did better! (Maya Angelou)

    Thank you for sharing.

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  5. Hi Regina.

    Thank you again for sharing and baring your soul to the world. I wrote these two posts regarding forgiveness on my book's Facebook fan page a while ago and your post reminded me of them. I hope they give you and others some comfort.

    "Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate a hurtful past. It creates a hope-filled future."

    "As people we all are prone to make regrettable mistakes, but we also possess the incredible power attain forgiveness through love."

    Keep love in your heart & be at peace,
    Robert

    Guide to the Soul

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  6. Regina – Anger is such a big part of grieving. You being angry at your father for changing the only world you knew, at the young age of 7, seems pretty realistic and even more so when you were a teenager! Selfish is not a word I would relate to the emotions you were feeling. You were living the only life you knew, and processing it the only way you could. “The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt.” – Max Lerner

    I can say I truly understand what you are talking about, but on a public forum cannot share out of respect for the person who caused me to experience the same feelings you wrote about (almost identical thoughts) and as a result of the actions and illness that took over this person’s life.

    All of the experiences you went through changed you and gave you the ability to change the way you thought. You even admitted you barely knew your dad. As young children our focus isn’t on the big picture. We are wired to live in the moment. I think that is a luxury God gives children! Life’s burdens are too big for us to absorb at such young ages... Be kind to yourself and know your parents understood that. You were just being a normal kid! Look how you turned out! Your parents instilled so much good in you from an early age and then your mom as you continued to mature. The strength the past gave you, is truly empowering you now.

    Anger is so necessary to assist in moving forward. Be kind to yourself during those times when the anger surfaces and maybe, at those times, when you want to run for the door, embrace the anger and burn it as fuel for your journey. For me, a day alone can be a journey. I’ve learned not to look past today, because that’s all we know for sure we have once our eyes are first opened each morning when we wake.

    I have learned over the years, taking one day at a time is do-able, and other times it’s just minutes at a time. I start in the morning with the first positive thing that I can come up with, and build on that. You said you were working on finding the good in the day, in the hour, in the minute, and obviously each day is different, but at the end you can look back and be proud of what you accomplished! Starting your day with the blog is the first HUGE positive thing. I hope it continues to be a source of strength and comfort for you.

    I will leave you with this quote in reply to your last sentences “My dad is with my son and they are helping me thru this. Christopher has met his grandfather.” What you wrote, made me think of this quote: While we are mourning the loss of our loved one, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil. – John Taylor Have faith they are together and Chris is getting to know him, since he was never blessed with that opportunity before.

    God bless…

    P.S. Thank you to your Dad for his service (I sent him a greeting when I saw his picture) and God Bless your Mom for raising such an amazing woman.

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  7. I connect so so strongly with your feelings of anger. I still have my moments when I'm angry at God for my mother's cancer, angry at my friend for "choosing" to give up her fight, and angry at doctors for not doing more to help my sweet, beloved Nana. I know what you mean, wanting to run outside screaming, but also being paralyzed with anger, and sometimes being somewhere in between.
    You mentioned that you're trying to find some good in each day, and I think I have something that can help. After seeing this on the blogging website Tumblr (maybe you know it, maybe you don't...) I decided it could be helpful. You find a mason jar and decorate it with the year (so 2013) and each day, put a little slip of paper in the jar with something good that happened. Some days, I'll admit, it's ridiculously hard to find something to write on that little slip, but I haven't missed a day yet. Then, on New Year's Eve of next year, you open up the jar and read all the good little things that happened. You could even choose to open it up on the anniversary of the accident next year... Just whenever you need a little reminder that good things are still happening.
    I've found it helps me to avoid becoming so lost in anger and grief that I can't find my toes anymore.

    Try it.

    Love,
    Hannah

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    Replies
    1. Hannah,

      I sense you are a young girl who is wise beyond your years...God Bless you! I enjoy reading your responses and I love the little jar idea!!! It work so well for me, because I often refer to when I am in a quandary and I am feeling down or suffering I refer my feelings to being in a glass jar and I can't find a grip to get out, because the walls of a jar offer no way out...The thought of putting these little notes of good in my jar could give me the stepping stones that can help me get out of this otherwise slick jar.

      Thank you... :) XO

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    2. Annie,
      Thank you so much. God bless you as well as well as everybody who reads this blog. The jar idea is really fantastic. It is so helpful! I hope I see you at the pancake breakfast tomorrow. It will be great and I will be volunteering there!

      Let me know how the jar idea goes!

      XO

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  8. Regina-
    You amaze me. Such a strong, beautiful woman. Thoughts are always with you!

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  9. Thank you for sharing this Regina. My dad is in the end stages of lung cancer. I have to fly out to CA next weekend to say good-bye. I am not ready for this. He is only 61. He was so full of life. I know it must be difficult for you to share every day, but I sure do appreciate it. You have been such a blessing and inspiration to me. This particular post made me focus on what I need to do next weekend when I see him.
    Thank you,
    Rachael

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  10. Wow... speechless. Your honesty.... you humble me and make me a better person. Thank you Regina. This is raw and powerful ...and your blog has a spacial place in my life.

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  11. Regina - once again your honesty is refreshing. This is all so hard but your perspective is truly amazing and admirable. I hope you continue to find peace and comfort in your writing. We all miss Chris. Peace to you and your family.

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  12. Reading this entry made me think of a book I recently finished called The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman. (If you like reading and are looking for a good book, I recommend this one) Its central themes dealt with love, loss, anger and forgiveness...all the things you spoke of in this blog. One of my favorite passages was one where the characters discussed resentment versus forgiveness. A man in the book who had suffered through tremendous ordeals said (I'm paraphrasing) that, although forgiveness isn't always easy, it's so much less exhausting than resentment - you only have to forgive once. To resent something or someone means that you have to remind yourself daily of the things that anger or bother you.
    I think you should know that you're an amazing person.. I marvel at your strength and your positive attitude. Thank you for inspiring me everyday. Take care.

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  13. Regina,

    I can only imagine how sad and confusing it must have been for a seven year old to lose their dad. I was twenty-four when my dad died of a heart attack, 16 days before my wedding. Talk about being angry and mad at your dad and God! How could they do this to me? I remember having a conversation with my dad while he was in the hospital recovering from his second heart attack in August a few weeks prior to his death. He said to me, not to worry nothing would keep him from being at my wedding. A few weeks later he suffered his fatal heart attack at home. As an adult it was difficult enough to come to terms with the loss of my father so I cannot even begin to comprehend how a child starts to heal from that loss. Or I wonder how did your mom handle such a loss with eleven kids to take care of! My mom had five kids who were grown at the time. I was the oldest at 24 and the youngest was 19.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure your dad and Chris are enjoying getting to know one another.

    Hugs and peace.

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  14. thoughts and prayers.

    hugs and peace.

    comfort and strength.

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