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One year ago today...(long!)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A year ago today, early on a Friday morning, my father died one month after suffering a debilitating stroke. Although his speech was severely impaired, and he had difficulty swallowing and walking without assistance, we had hopes that he would recover. But he contracted pneumonia while in the hospital. This weakened him even more but he continued to struggle to regain some mobility. Even the efforts of the staff of the rehab facility where he spent his last few days were not enough to turn things around. Mercifully, he died peacefully. The attending nurse had gone to his room at around 5AM to give him his meds and wasn’t able to wake him.

I say mercifully, because I believe that Dad would not have wanted to continue in the state he was in. He was fiercely independent and would have fought any efforts that he perceived to take away that independence. I sometimes wonder if, in those last few days, he realized that he would no longer be able to paint, and stopped fighting against the approach of death. In an interview with the local newspaper the year before he died, he had said, “when I quit painting, I’ll quit being here.” A long-time – over 40 years – resident, he was widely known and respected for his dedication and artistic talent.

Although he was 87, he still went to his studio almost every day. With the passing years, the hours spent standing at the easel had shortened and the coffee breaks had gotten longer. It was evident that he missed my mother intensely. He spoke of her often. Keeping busy helped keep him going. There were plans for future paintings, trips and other projects. He talked of closing the gallery and working at home, but hadn’t quite made the break yet. In fact, there was a large commissioned land- and seascape in progress when he suffered the stroke.

After he died, I decided to keep his gallery open for the winter season while I spent the months clearing out the condo, handling other estate business, and working part-time at a local retail store. It was a difficult time but also very gratifying. Sometimes I had to be the one to break the news of his death to a long-time customer or friend. Other times, people would come by to pay their respects and tell their favorite stories of time spent with him, with my mother. Many talked about how much they treasured the prints or paintings that they had bought over the years. “Grief shared is grief diminished” as the saying goes (Rabbi Grollman). I consider it a blessing to have experienced this first hand, especially during those months in Florida.

I’ve been back in Germany now for about three months. Like my father, I’ve found that keeping busy is a good way to keep the sadness at bay. Being too busy, however, just masks the pain, so I also make efforts to write about it, to talk about it, and to let the tears flow when they come. Losing both parents within such a short time – and saying goodbye to the home they loved and shared – has been very hard.

I find comfort in knowing that my emotions will heal. This has been a detour in the road of my life, but the road goes on. God hasn’t abandoned me and his purpose and plan for me are not at an end. There are times when I wish he would turn up the lights so that I could see down the road a little further. But that’s what faith is about and I need to exercise that faith, trust in him, and keep doing the next thing until his direction becomes clear.

Thanks for reading!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Beautiful blog, Michelle! So hard it has been a year (my father died two days before yours).
    1735 days ago
    Amazing post, what a tribute to your family. emoticon
    1739 days ago
    I can't believe it has been a year, I am sorry for your loss. I lost mom so recently that I am just getting over the numbness that I felt. I do miss her and my dad, I know how you feel! Know that your father and mother are with you and will live in your heart forever. I often said when my dad passed that he left a huge hole in my heart that I filled with loving memories.
    1740 days ago
    1740 days ago
    What a beautiful blog and tribute to your great family. God great favor is yours this day and every day. I'm so incredibly blessed to have some of your father's talented work. Hug, hug -- Evelyn
    1740 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/16/2013 1:09:27 AM

    Thank you so much for your wonderful moving memory of your father. My mom passed 10 years ago in March and I still go thru all my memories each time I think of my mom, which is daily because of a recipe or a croqueting project I am working on. I still feel her presence. May you find peace and remember he will always be in hearing distance with God by his side.

    1740 days ago
    I am sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. I loved hearing about your father's love for painting and I can read your love for your father. It has been 12 years since my own father passed away. I still miss him. My prayers are with you that you find comfort when you need it, sweet memories when you are missing him, and peace always.
    1741 days ago
    Oddly, my father died two years ago today on Sept. 15. I've been thinking of my dad a lot today and it makes a lot of sense to me that you chose to blog about your father today.

    He sounded like a very interesting and hugely talented man. I think we were both fortunate to have such wonderful fathers.

    1741 days ago
    Blessings to you Michele! DH and I have just spent seven years taking care of our elders. We will be married eight years in December. Three months after we were married, Dave's dad passed unexpected. Six months later my Dad had a stroke and passed in another six months. We found out how severe Mom's alzheimers was at that point and she lived on with us for almost six years. Then Aunt Vera suffered a stroke and the miracle was she was able to come to us and live on 5 1/2 more years. I am just coming thru all of this myself, and I tell you my story to heal and share that you are not alone in your grief. Everyone around us is so happy we are "finally free" and yet I am just trying to rest and take care of DH and I in our grief. We are all strong. I am able now to appreciate what we have been thru as God's flow and not a detour. That will be my hope for you. Thanks so much for writing about your Dad and Mom. They must have been very fascinating folks. What we have been thru is transforming what will surely be the best days of our lives! Peace, JDawg emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1741 days ago
  • CAROLYN0107
    Thanks for sharing your story. I've lost both parents, my Mom when I was 21 and my Dad when I was almost 55. It does help to talk about them and your loss. You have the Lord to comfort you during your times of grief.
    1741 days ago
    emoticon for sharing your heart so beautifully, Michelle. I hope writing about your dad brings peace. emoticon
    1741 days ago
    1741 days ago
    Michele - that was beautiful and poignant.

    My Mom passed away over 5-years ago at age 70. It was really rough. And since my Dad is six years older, I was "waiting for the other shoe to drop" for those first few years after. I am truly blessed to still have this man, at age 82, in my life -- I don't take that for granted for even one day.

    With your permission, I would like to share your blog with my sister-in-law, who recently suffered the loss of her husband, age 51, after a brief illness. I think that your words will resonate with her, and help in her grieving process.

    Michele, I wish you peace as you continue to heal and navigate life without your parents physical presence. When my father-in-law greeted me after my Mom's death, he told me that now I have an "in" with the man upstairs. I feel my Mom's love and presence continually in all that I do. I hope you feel that same loving embrace.

    1741 days ago
  • ALICEART2010
    Love you! I am so sorry about the loss of your parents. I too am dealing with the loss of my mom & cry often because I miss her so.
    1741 days ago
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