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Friday, August 22, 2014

Dear Dad

My dad is dying.  His health has been failing for some time, but his time seems to be getting closer and closer to letting go.   My family has been preparing me for it, since I don’t see him in person.  He’s only 45 minutes away but I can’t get there on my own steam and although my brother helped me get there once, he called and explained why we just can’t do it this time.  I get it.  It’s too overwhelming and they have too much on their plates.  My brother told me dad goes in and out of consciousness.  I don’t care what state of mind he is in, I want to say goodbye.  My sister put him on the phone for a few precious seconds and we did just that, though not in so many words.  Just love.  But I can get that connection with my dad without being there in person.  It’s just something I can do.  I would like to be there, but that’s life.  So I wrote a letter to him and hopefully, someone will read it to him.  There are parts I don’t want him to hear….I want to save some for after he passes….a goodbye that others can hear.

Dad and I weren’t always close.  He never really understood the challenges of NF with regard to schoolwork and physical activity.   I was diagnosed in 1958 and little was known about it then.  As for learning disabilities…my folks didn’t want to face it and back then, it was “Lazy/Stupid” if you did poorly.   And you were stuck in the “stupid” classes. There just wasn’t the support there is today (thank heaven).  He got mad a lot, especially when I did poorly in math.  So those of you dealing with a child who has NF, be aware of the non-verbal learning disabilities and be patient.  Get them the support they need.

Something changed when I was in my twenties; he had mellowed a bit (though when my mom was struggling with Alzheimer’s, he was having a very hard time with it) and we grew closer.  Up until a day ago, we spoke every day.   He wanted to Skype with me a few days ago and we were unable to connect.  I had this sense to try it again but I still couldn’t get him to understand how to get it working (although we had done it in the past).  I knew he wanted it because he wanted to say goodbye.  I could just feel it.  So many things break my heart….and I know this was tearing at him.  Hopefully, he is in a better place around that now and doesn’t think about it.  I keep praying that he gets whatever it is he needs and wants. And deserves.  I want him to pass knowing I loved him with all my heart.

Dear Dad:

It has been such a gift to have you in Seattle this past year.  I only wish I had been well enough to spend more time with you in person.  Father’s Day was a blessing and I’m thrilled we had that.

Things weren’t always so rosy between us when I was younger.   But maturing changed things.  (Yours, not mine LOL) So did my health challenges.  I am just so sorry you lived the last few years of your life in pain.  Managing it is difficult, time consuming, soul eroding and often heart breaking.  I feel like you and I went through the dark together, trying mightily to stay away from the abyss which always calls when one is ill.

You were my rock.  “Sherri”, you used to say “You’ve got to keep fighting” You gave me a lot of strength, dad.  Our conversations on everything from baseball to politics were always a joy, even when we disagreed.  When I told friends about our conversations regarding “Brokeback Mountain” and how much we loved it, they’d look at me and say “How old is your dad?”  They couldn’t believe how open minded you were.  Of course, you always were in some ways.  Involved in Civil Rights and other civic causes, you taught with actions, not words only.  That I do, and always will, cherish.  And of course, you made me howl with laughter.  Whatever else presented itself, there was always laughter.  It truly is the best medicine.  I love you.  I will miss you.  And I’ll see you when I see you.

This one's for you!




1 comment:

  1. Dearest Sherri, I am so very sorry. I do not know if your father is still on earth, but I do know through my own faith, where he is going, there will be no more pain and much more love. My heart grieves for you and for your family, and may you all experience God's peace, grace and mercy now and beyond. 'Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glint on snow. I am the sunlight on a ripened grain. I am the autumn rain. When you awake in the morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush of birds circling in flight. I am the stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there. I do not sleep.' - author unknown- All my love, Becky

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