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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Here is my story as my tribute to a dearly beloved father on Father’s Day.

When my father died, I was overcome with guilt that I hadn't been with him. Then he came to me in a dream...

After he stopped working as a consultant in a company, my dad tried to stay healthy and active. Each morning, until the weather turned too cold, he would wake up ahead of every one to prepare our breakfast and water the plants in the garden.

By his late eighties, he accidentally tripped on an electrical cord in his bedroom which fractured his left femur. He had to undergo orthopedic surgery and everything went well. But because of his age, my dad had noticeably dwindled in strength and energy.

By age ninety one, he was unable to move around anymore even with his walker or cane. All he could do by then was to sit in a chair beside his bed. He depended a lot on my mom, who is eighteen years his junior, for his personal needs and this made him feel depressed. Every time I would visit him I pretended not to notice. His mind was clear, but his disabling arthritis had worn him down. One day he said to my mom, "In case of an emergency I do not wish to be kept alive by any extraordinary means and I want to be cremated." " He smiled his wonderful, broad grin and said, "I've been blessed to have had reached this age and to have you as my wife for 57 years and see my three children all doing well so I'm ready to go."

In less than a week later, my mom called to say that daddy was coughing so I asked the maid to come over to the hospital to get the medicines prescribed by the doctor. I was in a meeting with my staff when suddenly, a jolt shook me and I felt my heart stop beating. It was at this instance when my secretary peeped at the door of my office to tell me the maid was on the phone. "Oh, my God," I said. "Something terrible happened to Daddy. I felt it!" I jumped up, then called the Emergency Room for an ambulance.

When I got to his bedroom, I saw him still sitting on the bed with my mom beside him. I hugged my mom tightly and asked her what happened and she said that he was trying to cough out a sticky phlegm when he suddenly choked and stopped breathing. I then hugged and kissed my dad and laid him down in bed.

While waiting for the funeral parlor car, I started to think that it had seemed to me that this beloved man could never die. He had been such a solid, loving presence in my life. In spite of his age, my heart refused to believe he died so suddenly. I raged inside, believing I had let my dad down by not being at his side. I could have gone to see him when mommy called and personally check on him but I didn’t. I could have held his hand and told him of my love as he had passed on. That's the way it should have been, my inner critic scolded. You should have told him how much you loved him, as he had always told you. You should have been there for him. It would have meant a lot to him. That's what you should have done! And I felt the relentless heaviness of guilt mingled with grief.

Knowing I'd been an attentive and loving daughter wasn't enough as the months and years wore on. Nothing made a dent in my stubborn conviction that I hadn't been there when he'd needed me the most.

Now a dream has set me free.

After 4 years, my father came to visit me in a dream and tell me his side of the story:

You know I worked long past retirement age, and when my knees just couldn't carry me anymore, I felt disgraced by being so weak. Most of all, I never wanted you to see me as a helpless old man dying in a hospital bed. It would have hurt too much to have you there. So I'm telling you the truth, my darling daughter: I know you loved me as I loved you. And I did not want you there at my death, and I did not want you holding my hand when I died. That was what you wanted, not what I wanted. My death was perfect, just the way it was. There are two sides to everything - even death.

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  • At 6/18/2006 11:47 PM, Blogger no_average_girl

    it's great that you've finally found peace and realized it was alright. I don't completely understand it all, but I was holding my Pawpaw's hand as he died last March. We had just talked my grandmother, who had been by his side night and day for a week solid, to get some rest in a room right down the hall. I stayed by his side while my Dad, aunt, and uncle went for a walk to get some air. I couldn't leave his side, for some reason. I sat there and talked and told him of our love.

    I don't understand why things happen, but I've got to trust in a Higher Power, and All-knowing God, who has my paths mapped perfectly. For some reason, He chose for me to be there. Why not someone else - my Dad, my aunt, my uncle?

    Just realize there's a reason, a purpose. Not that you're any less, but as you felt in your dream, he didn't want you to remember him as weak. And you don't - you remember him as a strong father you loved, always giving you a hand!

    May you rest in that peace!

  • At 6/19/2006 8:43 AM, Blogger Reverberate58

    Wonderful story so nice you found peace.

    When my dad got sick with cancer I visted every week several times. I found it harder and harder to do. As we got very close to the end I told my dad I loved him and thanked him for everything. I knew in my heart I could not go back again. Two weeks later he died and went on to heaven. I will see him again and that is all that matters to me!

  • At 6/19/2006 2:03 PM, Blogger Chrixean

    Your post is leaving me sobbing... glad that you now feel peace in your heart...

  • At 6/19/2006 5:44 PM, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills

    That's a wonderful story and how touching that he came to you in a dream and released you from this terrible burden of guilt---over nothing really. It really makes you feel that these connections in life realy do jot end but go on through eternity.

  • At 6/19/2006 6:51 PM, Blogger The Mistress of the Dark



  • At 6/19/2006 8:31 PM, Blogger Chi

    What a beautiful, touching tribute to your dad and I am so glad that he gave you peace of mind...truly an act of love.

  • At 6/19/2006 9:13 PM, Blogger Wystful1

    Oh my goodness....I eyes welled up with tears! What a beautiful, yet sad way to say goodbye. Don't you wish at any given time we could live forever?!! I do a lot.

    As in my blog, I have a quote "God gave us memories so we can have roses in December"....and you certainly have a rose in your father!!

  • At 6/19/2006 9:25 PM, Blogger mar

    I have a constant worry. I keep thinking once I am going to have to catch a plane because one of my parents is gone. Forever. Hate the feeling because I cannot imagine this to happen but it is a sad reality... I am so glad they are healthy and happy, I truly want to keep them forever...Father's Day is on March 19th (St Joseph's) in Spain.

  • At 6/19/2006 10:37 PM, Blogger FRIDAY'S CHILD

    What else can I say but this....
    What counted was not the number of hours or days you have given your dad, the number of hours or days you had been with him... but it is how much you had put in when you were with him.

  • At 6/20/2006 10:39 AM, Blogger Expat Traveler

    ah such a great tribute. Peace is a great feeling especially since I had found that where the photo was taken from my post too. And thanks for stopping by :)

  • At 6/20/2006 12:56 PM, Anonymous chelle

    wow...that is an amazing experience. I am glad you came to terms with all of it!

  • At 6/20/2006 10:58 PM, Blogger Reverberate58


    I have added you to the blogroll for Monday Memories. Please check out my blog for an update on this meme!

    Hope you are having a good week!

  • At 6/21/2006 12:46 AM, Blogger J. Andrew Lockhart

    This is a wonderful post!

  • At 6/22/2006 1:46 AM, Anonymous ~ Stacy ~

    Wow. I read this post to my husband and had a difficult time holding back the tears. I, too, had grief guilt, but mine was about my grandfather. Thank you, and thank your father, for putting things into perspective. I am so happy for you that your father spoke to you in a dream. His love for you is apparent... what an amazing gift. :)