Saturday, December 15, 2012

a week without dad

The other day my mom asked me, "So have you blogged about Daddy yet?" I knew I hadn't and it was something I was dreading. I'm always really good about writing about Lisa Frank and Saved By the Bell and decidedly less tactful at handling the serious. My family has always instilled in us that humor will ease the pain, but what do you do when something can't be funny? Despite my hesitation, I knew I probably needed to write something because my dad was my biggest champion of my writing [Tangent: My dad read maybe 2 of my blogs total, but he was my greatest hype man. The subject matter was never really his thing and sometimes he wished I presented myself more ladylike, but he knew I loved it....so so did he.] It is what he would have wanted.



On December 6, at around 6 AM, I saw my father die after a year long battle against Mesothelioma, a cancer he got in the Navy, one that is known mostly for being the subject of various lawsuit commercials on daytime TV and I know to be something that tore my father's vitality from him in a span of 15 months. [Tangent: My dad was a hardass. Until the last year, he hadn't spent the night in a hospital bed in over 40 years...when he got hit in the eye with a slingshot as a child. Most people who didn't see me regularly didn't even know my he was sick or know that it had gotten to the point of no return. He was stubborn and never wanted anyone to see him as weak.  I respect him and have inherited a good bit of that stubbornness, which can be a virtue and a curse.] He was thin and weak and ready to leave this world behind, but I know he didn't wanna leave us. He had so much more to do.

After getting the news on Thanksgiving that dad probably didn't have a whole lot of time left, we brought him home on hospice. We had already eaten turkey and green bean casserole from his ICU room and had my niece's first birthday party flanked my beeping monitors...it was time to be home. Once we got back to the house, where he has lived the last 30+ years, we set him up in the den with his hospital bed so he would still be in the mix so we could watch westerns and eat dinner and be together as a family. Everyday was hard and draining and every night I went to sleep afraid that I would be shaken awake by a family member with the inevitable news that daddy was gone.

Selfishly, I wanted him around for Christmas [Tangent: He was always the one to pick out our tree and pull the gifts out from under it.] , but I knew that was unlikely and that seeing him in pain was too hard.


 Last Thursday, I was finally shaken awake by my brother, who pulled me outta bed and hastily pushed me into the den so I could say bye to dad as he stopped breathing. This was hands down the most difficult yet somehow spiritual things I have ever witnessed. It happened so quickly and so peacefully, that I knew that if death had to happen (which I know that it does)- this was the way it should be.

My mom, a nurse for many years, walked over to the door after he passed to tearfully let his spirit out. [Tangent: She said this is something they always do in the hospital and it seemed appropriate.] When the people from the funeral home came to take him from our home, the lamp beside his bed flashed on and off and on and off again. This only happened when someone was standing on the cord, which no one was. Then on a very still morning, the wind chime outside our door, a souvenir from a family beach trip, began to go wild with clinking. We knew that was dad's spirit leaving us...he was not a quiet man and liked to make his pressence known...even in death.

It has been 9 days since he left us. The memorial is over. Friends and family have been called. The heaps of food from neighbors is slowly getting eaten and the bouquets of flowers are starting to wilt. [Tangent: I wish people could have memorials while they are still alive so they could see just how much they are loved. The swarms of people, some that I had not seen since I was wee, telling me how important my dad was to them...people from politicians to our family's mechanic telling me with tear-filled expressions how amazing he was was overwhelming. It was exactly the service he would have wanted, and partially was because in his final days, he gave us explicit directions on what he wanted. Even after death, daddy liked to have control of matters.] It's still weird here living in a home that I used to share with him. My mom keeps saying that she expects him to come home any minute. I expect him to come home and heckle my reality TV watching habits and turn on MSNBC. His voicemails are still on my phone and the shows he used to DVR are still set to record.

 I know I have always been a strayed catholic, but I know he's home. He's here, not only physically [Tangent: His urn is sitting on the shelf] but in the days since his passing, every time something has gone by without a hitch- we say dad is helping us out. [Tangent: Helping is something my dad did really well. He took care of people.]  Dad helped my niece take a couple steps. Dad got my brother a job yesterday. Dad helped me and mom pick out the perfect Christmas tree.  Dad's gonna watch over us and make sure we are all ok.  In times of such uncertainty, I am not sure of many things, but I am sure of that.

15 comments:

  1. I love you. I'm thankful I got to meet him and feed him a few times before you all had to say goodbye to him. I know this was hard to write, but for someone so accustomed to joking and being silly about most everything, you wrote this beautifully. Rest in blissful peace, Mr. Jones.

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  2. This definitely brought my to tears. You expressed exactly what I felt, and still feel everday. Yesterday would have been my mom's 53rd birthday. And tens years ago she spent that last birthday in the hospital. Looking back, she knew. She knew that Thanksgiving that it would be her last. And she was ready. I wasn't, was never going to be, but she was. And that's what matters. In the last 10 years I've lost my faith. I don't even think I believe in God. But she did. She did with all her heart, and body, and soul. And that's enough for me. She was ready to go home, and I know she did, and I know in the end, she got the better end of that deal.

    I don't know what it is, and it doesn't seem fair (to us), but it's the best who go first. Maybe to show us how it should be. Maybe to help us not be afraid (though I still fear nothing more in life.. than death). But I was speechless at your daddy's visitation. The crowd that gathered around and watched the video. The smiles and laughs that mixed in with the tears. It is so clear that he left a very loved man. He left a strong mark on al he touched I am sure.

    It's only been a week, and he has already made his never ending presence know to you. And I promise.. this will never go away. The second you think that too much time has passed, and too much has happened. That is when he will he will sneak up on you.

    I can't say it will get easier.. it will get different. It will be hard, for sure, but there will be just as many smiles as there will be tears.

    It always seems like, just when I need it. Just when all the emotions of 10 years without her flush back into my head. Something ridiculous happens and I am reminded of one of her many hysterical quirks. And just when I thought I was about to burst into tears.. I can't help but laugh. Remember those times. They will get you through it all.

    I love you, Kimmie. And I'm here.

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  3. Well said Jonesie! Papa Jones was an incredible man! Love you!

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  4. i'm so sorry for your loss. your dad sounds awesome and the world's lesser for losing him. <3

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  5. i'm so sorry for your loss! your dad sounds awesome and the world's lesser for losing him <3

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  6. Beautiful post girlie. You do the serious well and your dad would be proud. Sorry for your loss. Love from across the pond.

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  7. I'm so sorry to hear that you had to lose him so soon. Though, I'm glad that he could be at home surrounded by family and the things that he loved when he passed. You bet he's still helping you guys. He'll always be around you. Lots of love to you and your family and your Dad on his journey. You guys will see him again one day and when you do, it will feel like just the blinking of an eye has passed.

    I love that tradition of opening the door. Really beautiful.

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  8. this is such a great tribute to him kimmie! i like the tradition of opening the door too. i'm glad that even though you lost him too soon, he was able to be home and you all got to tell him goodbye.

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  9. I know I don't really know you, but I just wanted to say I'm so very sorry for your loss. Your blog post brought me to tears, and is a reminder amongst all the many things that go on in our world to treasure our loved ones because we do not know the time when we may be called home. May the Lord wrap his arms around your family and give you peace.

    -Em

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  10. Kimmie, you've brought tears to my eyes hearing your words express how much you love your father. I wish I could offer some sort of comfort or make you laugh the way your posts make me laugh, alas I have no comfort. It sucks. Your tribute is so sweet and I hope you forever hold those memories.

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  11. This was a beautiful post Kimmie. A real tribute to your Dad. I'm sure he would be so proud of the bravery and honesty that it took to write that post.

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  12. kimmie that was great and i kmow exactly how you feel we in the carolinas will greatly miss uncle jimmy as well he was a well loved man by family and friends a like. we love you guys as well can t wait to see you.
    bobby jones

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  13. wonderful post, Kimmie. Your Dad will always be with you. Before my Mom died I asked her how would I know if it was her trying to help or talk to me and she said, "it will be me if it sounds like something I would say or what you think I what do or think". It sounds really silly but it is true. You'll just feel your Dad's presence and he will be there to help you and watch over you and your family.

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  14. Kimmie.
    You are a joy to everyone around you. You are kind and thoughtful and care about people (and are a bleeding-heart liberal). So, from what I know, your dad has always been a big part of you, your life, and who you are. As long as you are loving people the way he did (which is all the time, anyway), he will be right there with you. Not to mention every time you see a leftist bumper sticker. I am always here, anytime. I love your family and you.

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