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    JOHNTJ1   73,493
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The Life That Remains

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Watching someone die is not romantic. Paint all the portraits of angels and Jesus welcoming you home with outstretched arms and a glowing smile you want, I've never met anyone who raised their hand and said "I'll give up my seat here on good old planet earth, no problem." No matter how prepared we are, no matter what our notion of an after life is when the moment presents itself we are hard wired to survive. I watched my father go through that process for three days as he struggled to stay alive. The day before he died he reached up, removed his oxygen mask and pulled me towards him.

We were never close. Some of it had to do with geography and the rest of it with the notion that I was the antithesis of everything he believed in. I never fell into line with his other three children. He wasnt around when I was growing up. He was working three jobs. I was led to believe we were barley surviving. When he died he left my mother slightly over seven figures to live on. He told my youngest sister that he had to work so hard so he'd have money to retire with. He was 87 at the time. My dad never hugged me. My dad never told me he loved me. I cant tell you I loved my dad. I respected him. I never knew him or why he was so distant. A number of people told me its because he grew up during the Depression. I dont buy it. I had friends whose parents came from the same genreration and were warm and affectionate. Mostly, I was told what I didnt do right.

He reached up and pulled me close to him. Its the first time he touched me that I could remember. "I've led a good life, but God it's went by so fast." In his eyes I saw fear and regret and believe it or not I was at a loss for words.

The next few days saw me standing in a corner watching him die and trying somewhere inside of me to find something to latch on to. I couldnt. I just stared.
My brother Joe looked up and said. "He's not breathing." It was over, just like that. They'd sedated him a few hours earlier. He slipped away and left me with so many unanswered questions. They are all holding hands and praying and I'm just staring. I didnt know the man.

Where the happy ending?

I have lived my life believing that something good and positive can come out of anything if you look long enough and hard enough. I'm not sure how much time remains for me in. I do know that it wont be wasted. I call my kids at least once a week just to chat. Periodically they get emails simply saying its been awhile since I told you I loved you. They grin and ask Joan if I'm terminally ill. We've gone to see Rogewr Waters, baseball games and plays together. In February we get to see The Who.

Life is a lot of "Monkey see monkey do." I'm my dad in many ways. I'm not real comfortable sharing my feelings with the kids all the time. I'll find myself tearing up. My youngest calls me "Emo Boy." There is stuff I wish I'd done different. So when I get a chance, I share part of me. I accept them for where they are in their lives and as much as possible encourage them. I want them to know they are loved In many ways I'm haunted by that look of sadness in my dads eyes and for that I am most grateful and thankful for this day and all the others that remain for me.

This blog didnt start out this way, LOL. It just sorta went there.


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
SILLYHP1953 1/30/2013 3:31PM

    At least I had the excuse it being a step-father who acted that way, not sure how my biological father was since I never met him till I was in my 20's. I think your father was telling you he was sorry.

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ANNE-ELIZ 11/29/2012 11:31PM

    I'm so sorry to hear of your loss! I didn't see this until today; I've been offline for a couple of days.

We are never ready for this, and even less so when our relationship with the person departing has been unsatisfying in some realm. We always hope there will be some reconciliation or at least, understanding that will take place before the end and if it doesn't happen, it seems futile.

Others have made good observations here, but your own observations and reflections are the most important and they will continue over time.

As others have pointed out, you have already made decisions based on what you learned from your relationship (or lack thereof) with your father. They seem to be working well for you and giving you a more satisfying life. You have figured out a good many things that seem to have eluded him.

...a work in progress... emoticon emoticon

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REGILIEH 11/23/2012 10:11PM

    Dear John, my story isn't exactly like yours but similar. I remember the day that I realized that even though my mother wasn't what I would envision it was because of her I was a better person. Just think if your dad had been all you wanted maybe your kids wouldn't have gotten the wonderful father they have or Joan wouldn't have gotten her wonderful husband or all of us that get such joy and insight reading your blogs wouldn't have that pleasure. I would have hated missing that pleasure!!! emoticon

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MARITIMER3 11/22/2012 4:10PM

    Your children will never have to wonder if you loved them, John. Congratulations on taking the steps to be sure that they know your love. It will help them be better people, and better partners and parents. Thank you for sharing your story.

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SNOWANGELDIVA 11/22/2012 11:41AM

    I'm glad it 'went there'. Reminding one another that our breaths are borrowed, help us to stay strong and keep perspective.

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NASFKAB 11/22/2012 5:46AM

  very thoughtful thanks

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CARTOONB 11/21/2012 11:40PM

    Sometimes, we lead our thoughts. Sometimes our thoughts lead us.

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HLPRATT 11/21/2012 10:35PM

    Wow. I think you have a common story. Time does go by too fast. Im sure your dad had much in his heart he just couldn't share. I bet your kids won't think that about you though. I think it's respectable to just let it all hang out sometimes. Life is too short.

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CELLISTA1 11/21/2012 9:03PM

    So many men find it impossible to access their feelings or have true empathy. But you do. Bravo.

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MORTICIAADDAMS 11/21/2012 8:52PM

    The good that came out of your dad, John, was YOU! You are the father that he couldn't be.Your children don't have to wonder if they are loved.

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SLIMLEAF 11/21/2012 7:32PM


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DOODIE59 11/21/2012 4:16PM

    Lovely words and thought on many levels, John. Your learning moment has become one for your readers when we realize that your response to your father's relationship with you was to make SURE your children know they are loved. Way to Go! And Happy Thanksgiving:)

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LYNMEINDERS 11/21/2012 4:15PM

    Its awesome where it went John....
I agree with you in the fact that people that grew up in the depression weren't all like that....
I don't ever remember my Mother telling me I did good or had done well at something.....
It is what we chose to do with what we have that counts and like you I certainly haven't done things right or well at times however have made changes and ahve a good relationship with my kids.....

In a sense I was quite please that mother dies quickly...even though she was on her own when it happened and I sometimes wonder whether she took an overdose...

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LOVINGKATE 11/21/2012 2:59PM

  I love where this went. Thanksgiving is tomorrow and one of those special thanks is going to my children and their father. I feel so blessed to have had a father who was so full of life and laughter. He grew up with out a father, also the oldest of 3 other siblings. Life was hard but he did all he could to be their for his children. God bless him. He is gone now but I feel I am much like him in so many ways. My children will talk about that often. My husband grew up much like you John. When his dad pass away this year he really had no feelings for him only for his mother. My husband is a great man and father. For that, I am truely bless.
So John, being the best dad you can be will leave special memories for your children. I know in my heart that you are. Happy Thanksgiving to you and to your beauitiful family.

Comment edited on: 11/21/2012 3:01:52 PM

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CRYSTALJEM 11/21/2012 1:25PM

    Fantastic blog. I like where it went.

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HDHAWK 11/21/2012 12:32PM

    You learned many lessons from your day, one of which is to be a good father. My kids' dad is alive, but had never been much of a father to them. I can't imagine missing that. I had a very rocky relationship with my dad (which I don't discuss with family or anyone else, although I probably should). He died when I was 19 and I've never had to grieve because it was a relief not to have to deal with him any more (terrible to say, but it's how I feel). emoticon

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ANATASHIKI 11/21/2012 12:18PM

    your dad sounds like my mom. I told her once that she never told me she loved me and she replied -how could I say it so directly ? emoticon . don't say nothing good came out of it. you learned how you didn't want to live and die. it's normal not to feel very good about sharing your feelings. it's part of the " male" archetype and probably a part of your inner child that respected your father and can't accept he was wrong.or even more complicated mixed feelings : ) .I say you make a pretty good job in sharing your feelings emoticon
emoticon don't cerebralize so much , your heart knows better emoticon

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SUNNYSIDEUPMARY 11/21/2012 11:43AM

    Thank you for sharing - seriously.

When my father died it was a relief - the fruitless, anxious hope for reconciliation was over. I was surprised by the relief.

But letting go was so freeing. He was who he was. And there were some good things about him - I got my packing and organizational skills from him.

This comment started to read more like a blog or journal entry, so I shortened it - guess I need to do some more writing in those places. :) Spark really is a marvelous place to work on ourselves!

Thank you, John!

Comment edited on: 11/21/2012 11:47:50 AM

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DEBRITA01 11/21/2012 10:38AM

    Your dad was a product of his upbringing, I'm sure...just as we all are. We usually do what we know. That's not to say that one cannot change. There was a lot that your dad taught you indirectly and one important thing was what not to do with your own children. Most definitely you are a better dad because of it...

We all have this day to show love to those we hold dear...let's not live with any regrets or have any words unsaid. God bless you, John... emoticon

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LANEYPUDDLESMOM 11/21/2012 10:10AM

    Well John..I guess you can say you know someone who would give their seat up on planet earth. I have been in intensive care and had nurses and my doctor and best girlfriend at the bedside when I died on September 16, 1996. I got to be with Jesus and my little brother. I eagerly wait for my special day to be reunited with them.

Until then, I will do my very best to live each day as best I can. I enjoy all the small moments. I try to soak up every moment that I have with the people that I love. In Spring and Summer I take time to enjoy all the beauty around me that God has given us. The budding trees and flowers. He put all these beautiful things here for us to enjoy. In the fall, I listen to the rustling of leaves and watch as they playfully fall to the ground...knowing that they have to be raked but Thanking God for the shelter they have given our furry and feathers friends all through the heat of the summer and the heavy winds and rain of the season. God has given us so many things we just need to open our eyes and embrace each moment.

A few months after my husband died I was at the church for a meeting with the priest. I wanted to join the Catholic Church. It was a rainy day and I sat in the office facing the priest and just past his head was a window. As I sat listening to him talk I kept looking past his head to a branch on the tree. There was a male and female Cardinal sitting on the branch just outside the window not 4 feet away. With it raining the Male bird had his arm tucked over the female bird to shelter her from the rain..they were huddled under large fig leaves. I asked the priest to move slowly around so that he might get to see this incredible sign of God. HE moved ever so slightly and was able to see what I had been watching out his window. What an incredible experience. To see such a sight and to know that God gave me that moment. I know that he has his arms around me each day of my life. There are some days I might easily forget but I hear the birds chirp and they help to keep that memory a live. Some things need to be remembered. We learn from bad experiences. If we choose to embrace the good and the bad we are able to cherish the good memories and make our life different because of the bad.

Your dad said some very profound words to you. In those words I think he was trying to tell you that he has tried to do his best. He wanted you to know that time passes so live in the moment. Yes, there are some moments we don't want to experience ie..deaths, sickness but for the most part we have a lot of moments that we can make good. IF we choose to stay in the moment and not focus too much on our shortcomings as a person. We are all human and we make our own mistakes. We make choices we regret and we have to live with them..some of us are willing to aplogize and make amends to people we may have hurt. I think this might have been his way. Remember his words as a legacy to you. IF you think about it this person influenced your life in a very positive way. You are aware of his inability to be close to you. You are a very kind person and have a loving family that you want to be close to and are. You are not going to repeat his legacy. You express your love for your family. Girls are super easy..Just reach out and grab them and hug them and the tears..well, I'll just bet they will wipe them away with a kiss. It is quite an honor to see a man cry. If a man starts blubbering..well..then it is tough to watch.. just FYI .. lol.

You are a good person. I am proud to know you. and YES, I will take and give my seat up anyday!!!

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.... Imogene

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BOOKAPHILE 11/21/2012 9:31AM

    John, I'm sorry for your loss - and for your Dad's loss at not knowing you better. Your response, to be a better Dad yourself, is a good one. I hope you are able to forgive him for his shortcomings.
Have a good Thanksgiving.

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MIATIA1 11/21/2012 9:09AM

    A great blog for this time of the year when we should always get up and have something to be thnkful for. We all take so many things for granted an yet are so blessed if we just stop and appreciate... Have a wonder ful Thanksgiving !

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UPENDA 11/21/2012 9:02AM

    This is just what I needed to hear today. Going through a rough time. Feeling so much better now. Thank you.

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DOTTIEJANE1 11/21/2012 8:54AM

    I can identify with your feelings ,with my mom ,never really new her .Dad left when my brothers and i were young . You are doing GREAT with your children . emoticon

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NEWMOM20121 11/21/2012 8:35AM

    Thank you for sharing

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SHERIO5 11/21/2012 8:32AM


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ORODEO73 11/21/2012 8:21AM

    This was wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to share such an intimate story. It seems our parents teach even when they are not around.

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