dad’s death

The phone call from my brother came out of no where.

My dad died.

When I think back to the nights I spent as a child, probably quite abnormally, awake and fearing that one of my parents would die, I am surprised that, not a week, later I am carrying on so well.

I smile and laugh.  Find joy in my children.  And I look to the future.

My immediate family, especially Dad, have always had unconventional feelings about death rituals.

Difficult to explain to others.  The bottom line is that, while we respect the way other people process their grief, we don’t do them.

People have asked how I am going to get closure without the traditional laying remains to rest.

For me what remains of my father is the love he put into the world.  The memories I am so blessed to have of him.  The people he loved.  I don’t need to put any of those things to rest.

I don’t need to see his body to know that his soul has been released from it.  I believe that his body has died and I prefer all of my memories of him to be of the vibrant and fun-loving man I loved.

I made the arrangements for the disposal of his body.  If that sounds cold, please remember that his body, to me, is nothing more than the packaging of his essence.

He was in FL so I spoke on the phone to the funeral home.  The gentleman I spoke to told me that he didn’t recommend my father’s ashes being put into a wooden box as the box would not last.

I think he was shocked when I responded that a wooden box would be perfect as it is biodegradable and my dad was an, albeit unlikely, environmentalist…and that he didn’t want to take up space.   In fact, he has always said that his remains should be thrown in a dumpster.  In more recent years, he may have changed that to the composter–given his obsession with recycling organic material.

Anyhow, I was, unfortunately, denied immediately as remains can’t be mailed in wood.

As terribly morbid as the conversation was, I couldn’t help but get a little inside my head chuckle about how the funeral home dude and I were coming from such different places about how to best honor my dad.  I have pictured retelling my dad the story and about the little lift I got that I thought he could have an organic box and know that he would laugh.

Told you our thoughts are unconventional.

But it is by these little things by which my dad would be terribly amused.  I wish I could laugh with him about it.

I take full credit for the shiny bald dome my dad sported.  I absolutely tormented both of my parents…but especially my dad… as a teenager and young adult.  I was the wild child and definitely got myself into some tangles.  And I know I surprised, even him, at the lengths I was willing to go to have a good time.  As mad as I could make the old goat, and I could make him damn mad, I never for one moment doubted how much he loved me.

And circle the wagons he did when I needed him.

As I got older and settled into my skin (thank you Paxil and having children), things got easier between us.  We learned to avoid having political discussions…for the most part.

I spoke to my dad almost every day and I will miss those calls.  Sometimes brief.  Sometimes long.

I will miss being able to call him to ask what the squeaking sound in my car might be…really just to say hi.

I will miss listening to Maxine talk to him on the phone.  My little mini me was stepping right in and giving him shit over just about everything.  Actually, two days before he died, Max finally broke the silent treatment she was giving to him over not coming for Thanksgiving as he agreed to come for Christmas.  I’m grateful they got a chance to talk one last time.

I have a lot to be grateful for when it comes to my dad.  As different as we were about just about everything, I learned so much from him.

One roll of paper towels is a “lifetime supply.”  I used that up in my youth and don’t use paper towels anymore.

One tube of super glue is also a “lifetime supply.”  Less is more sometimes.

Be meticulous about sorting trash from recycles.

Protect and help the people you love.

It is just money.  You can always make more.

You don’t have to like everything that someone does to love him/her.

Don’t say “hate.”

You don’t even know what you don’t know.

Having an untidy room, leaving the shower curtain open, and not putting the dishes on the dish dryer away can lead to a visit and subsequent shutdown from “the board of health.”  Actually, I’m going to have to call bullshit on that one, Dad.  Because I put that theory to the test many times over.

Don’t leave doors open.

Milk can cure almost anything.  He meant cow’s milk.  But I adapted that to human milk.

Not drinking enough milk is the cause of all ailments including: stomach upset, headaches, foot cramps, and broken bones.

Checks and balances.

Fixing things yourself is often more costly than calling a professional.  Ignore this rule and do it anyway.

If you work hard enough, you can do anything.

Try to be kind.

Drink beer.

Worship your mother.

Love your children unconditionally.

Give.

Love life.

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