remembering

Its 8 years since the incredibly crisp, fall sun filled day of Dad's funeral.

After my parents retired to Florida my sister and I spent a long weekend with them every fall … we would celebrate Dad’s birthday, the fun culminating in a dinner with my parents’ oldest friends George & Hazel because Hazel and Dad shared October 20 as a birthday.

Dad was in his early 80s when he suffered a heart attack. Thankfully it was mild. Unfortunately his lungs were weak so surgery to repair his heart was not an option. He had two other small cardiac infarctions before the meds he was on put things ‘right’.

Over the next 10 years his health declined slowly; their trips to NY to spend the month of June ended when he could no longer fly due to heart issues and Mom couldn’t spend 2 days on the train – she insisted the first-class stateroom my sister reserved for them was like a coffin - they actually flew home because she couldn’t handle the return on the train. That day was the longest day I ever experienced worrying about how he would handle the stress of the flight. He was fine.

The trips to NY were officially over.

My sister and I began to visit them every 3-4 months for a long weekend even staying at a nearby hotel rather than stress them out by staying in the condo and upsetting their routine. That was not something either of them liked, they would have preferred we stay with them but we insisted.

Mid-June 2000 my sister, Husband and I flew down to celebrate Mom & Dad’s 54th wedding anniversary. We arrived to find him disoriented and Mom out at a doctor’s appt. Before long the day really bottomed out when we got the call that Mom had fallen breaking her shoulder. Much later we’d learn that Dad's confusion was due to a small stroke.

The party was cancelled after we spent most of the day in the ER with Mom. We cancelled our hotel reservations and literally camped out at the condo arranging to get home care givers in place before we flew home on Sunday.

I cried from the minute we got into the car to the airport that Sunday. Both my sister and Husband kept telling me there was nothing to cry about, everything was going to be okay.

But I knew this was the beginning of the end. I am not a religious person but as we flew home I looked out the window at the clouds formations, one looked like a castle and I thought ‘that’s heaven’ …and I started to cry again.








Dad and I had a very close relationship. He was my daddy, my hero. He had yellow hair and blue eyes and I wanted them too. There wasn’t anything he did that I didn’t want to do. There was nothing he ate that I didn’t eat; if he didnt like a food, neither did I. When I started school we’d sit together in the evenings and discuss what I learned. He taught me to appreciate photography letting me use his Rolieflex. He taught me to appreciate puns. And he was the smartest man I ever knew til he wasn’t. He was very optimistic about that. He said it was scary to become so stupid but relieved when I realized he was smart again.

There are times now when I think back to those days when I was so rebellious, so disrespectful, and hope that I didn’t hurt him too badly. Once it took an intervention by Dad’s sister (The Aunt) to mediate peace after he grounded me over an argument we had and took away the car keys. I told him I didn’t need the car but who was going to drive him to work? Surely, not me. What a horrible thing that was to say to a man who was legally blind! The Aunt sat me down and told me I was to apologize. That even if I thought I was right, I was wrong. I was young, I could bend while he could not. Somehow that got through to me and I did apologize and this man who loved me unconditionally never mentioned how much I had hurt him.



After he died we went though the papers in the safe deposit box, I found a letter he saved. I can’t read it for the tears but I don’t have to because its burned into my memory. It was an apology for a long past birthday I had almost forgotten.

The last 6 months of his life I stopped working to spend weeks at a time in Florida with both of them helping the home care givers. At the end of August Mom broke her hip and was in a rehab facility; Dad was in a wheel chair because his legs could no longer support him, his lungs were not good, the strain on his heart making him very weak.

One night the cushion he used to sit on in the chair deflated. I looked everywhere in the condo for the pump gizmo to re-inflate. When I couldn’t find it, I took it, got into the car and started driving.

Even now I am not sure where I was going or what I thought I could do at 10 pm at night. I was crying. I was talking to God. I wanted my daddy back. This was not fair. This was not right. Somehow I ended up at the fire rescue station. My eyes swollen with tears. The fireman who opened the door took one look at me and the deflated cushion in my hand and said ‘stop crying, its going to be alright’. He gave me a glass of water drink while he inflated the cushion. I suspect he had a daughter of his own.

At the end of September 2000 I was offered a job that I simply couldn’t refuse. I told Dad I would be back before his birthday.

On Thursday, October 19th my sister and I flew down to spend the weekend with Mom and Dad. Mom was still in rehab so we picked her up the afternoon of October 20th and brought her home to spend the day/evening with us at the condo.

After dinner we took her back to the rehab facility she was very upset because Dad had been very spacey; he spent a lot of time sleeping and occasionally when he was awake he was confused. From time to time he spoke to people who weren’t there. Mom was having trouble coping with how much Dad had deteriorated over the time she was in rehab. His rapidly deteriorating health worried us but she just couldn’t come to terms with it. She said ‘I am not ready to lose him’. None of us were.

We spend Saturday with Mom at the rehab place then my sister and I had dinner with Dad at the condo. That night he had very bad dreams and none of us slept well.

Sunday morning we had breakfast with him, he was very alert but very tired.

When it came time to say good bye and leave to catch our flight we hugged him. I started to cry. He said 'stop, don’t cry, no matter what happens I will be alright'. In that moment he was who he had been: my daddy, strong and sure.

We weren’t home 2 hours when we got the call from his care giver. He’d told her he was very tired and was going to take a nap. She settled him into bed and went to do the laundry. When she came in to check on him he wasn’t breathing so she called the emergency rescue team and they pronounced him dead.

A sort of calm settled over me. He was no longer in pain, no longer stuck in that hated wheelchair, he was at peace. My sister and I called Mom’s care giver and told her to go to the rehab place before we called Mom, we didn’t want her to be alone when she heard. It was one of the hardest calls I have ever made.

We flew down to Florida that Monday and learned that Dad had set up all the necessary details for both his and Mom’s funerals years before. At the end of the week we all flew back to New York to bury him.

Sunday, October 29, 2000 was a perfect fall day. Temps in the 50s, the sky clear cloudless blue, the sun shining as we stood around his grave listening to the Rabbi.

When the Rabbi was done, with Husband on my left, my sister on my right; I spoke.

I said how much we loved him, how much we would miss him.

I said he' been so excited to live to see the Year 2000 arrive, to have celebrated it with his wife, his daughters, his son-in-law.

I said I knew he was not happy his Mets hadn’t made it to the World Series

And how I knew he was alright because he told me he would be.

I still miss you Daddy.

Irving Singer October 20, 1909 – October 22, 2000

51 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for your loss, and I know it still feels like the same loss, eight years later. When we lose our parents, it hurts deeply. Even when it is expected, it hurts. (((HUGS))) I know he's proud of you as he rests in his castle in heaven.

    Incidentally, my dad's birthday was October 21 (1922). I felt very close to him, too, though he was sometimes a volatile man.

    Peace - D

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  2. Daryl, what a beautiful tribute. I feel like I knew him. I wish you a light-filled day today....

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  3. Great post DaryL...
    You are a Lady !
    But it's the life...
    And we must remember...

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  4. I feel your loss in the depth of my heart and soul. I shed tears for the pain all of you experienced and relief that he finally got.

    I'm not liking the month of October too much anymore.

    Amazing post.

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  5. Daryl, such a deeply moving post and despite time passing, your emotion comes across even now.

    It is so sad to see the strong men in our lives deteriorate. I saw the same with my highly intellectual grandpa who got Alzheimers, it was so sad.

    I send you a big hug on this sad day for you, but you wrote a beautiful tribute. Take the time to get outside today and just appreciate the world, maybe head into Central Park and just remember.

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  6. I am so very sorry for your loss. He seemed like a wonderful man and a loving father.

    What a beautiful tribute to him...

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  7. Daryl, I am so moved with your sharing this story. The anniversary of my Dad's death is coming up in a few days, as well as his birthday. He was so strong and so there for us in everything. I'm not sure if my tears welling up in my eyes right now are for you or for myself. Thank you.

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  8. Daryl
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute to your Daddy with all of us.
    Today i want to give you some huge bear hugs.
    ((((Daryl))))

    Bear((( )))

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  9. What a loving tribute.

    I still miss my Daddy too. He died of a heart attack in 1980 at the age of 46.

    I keep him alive by trying to emulate his gentleness and curiousity...something I hope that my 4 children will see because they never got the chance to meet him...
    which is a tragedy in and of itself.

    xo

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  10. Oh Daryl, what a legacy for him to leave you. The strength and optimism. Happy birthday to a great dad.

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  11. Daryl, I'm crying for you, and for me, and for everyone who's lost someone they love. However much you expect the event, it always hurts and goes on hurting.
    I'm so glad you have happy memories.

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  12. "no matter what happens I'll be alright" - I hope you know that's true. I don't know for sure what happens after we die - to our bodies that is.

    I do know that our light, our energy, our souls if you will fly. They fly everywhere with open joy and abandon much as a child running through the park.

    I also bet that you didn't hurt Dad so much with the foolishness of being young. I imagine he saw the person I have come to know. Strong. Independant. Wonderfully curious about the world and engaged in it.

    You have your Dad's beautiful jaw line. Hair and eye color mean less. The set of a person's jaw says so much. I see strength and resolve and serenity in that jaw line, in the hint of an always about to smile face.

    Irving was a lucky man on earth. And I imagine him soaring about today.

    Hugs sweet girl.

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  13. Very moving, Daryl. I'm sure he's alright.

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  14. How very beautiful. You've filled my heart for the day.
    Your dad was obviously a wonderful man. How fortunate you are, Daryl, to have him for your daddy.

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  15. Always a day to remember the life of a man who meant so much to you, Daryl. What an amazing tribute you've written here - I wish I'd know you and your family then.
    Today is a special day for me, too, as it's my older daughter's birthday - a day that I remember as the happiest day of my life bar my wedding day.
    Peace to you today my friend and thanks so much for sharing this precious man with us.

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  16. what a wonderful tribute, like so many I feel as though I know him...what a treat hugs to you!

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  17. that was an absolutely beautiful post Daryl.

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  18. What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your dad with us!

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  19. It's lovely you have such fond memories of your father. So many people don't.

    Lots of hugs and kisses your way. xxx

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  20. Such a meaningful tribute to your father. You've showed him who he is, and who you are, in these words.

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  21. This is a beautiful and touching tribute, Daryl. And I am envious of the wonderful relationship you had with your dad. October 20 is a perfect birthdate, BTW. ;)

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  22. Beautiful, wonderful tribute.

    We found a letter I'd written to my father when I was young.

    I can't believe how much heartache I put him through.

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  23. Daryl, this was an incredibly touching tribute to your Dad. It's so difficult to tend to aging, ailing parents from a distance. And too easy to revisit past regrets - even those of the teenage years. No need to do that to yourself. That was so long ago, and so small amid the love and respect your father has clearly experienced. Somewhere in those cloud castles, is a heart beaming with pride for his daughter.

    I love that you learned your puns from him. I too have my Dad to thank/blame for incessant wordplay. So many gifts to cherish.

    Thanks for sharing your Dad with us.

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  24. Heaven gained a new angel that day, Daryl. What a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to your Dad. I am sending you blessings and hugs today.

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  25. Aloha Daryl:
    Thank you for sharing your deep feelings honestly. That is the only thing that truly heals (as opposed to 'cure').
    Clouds, home teams, ageing; we have similar experiences but we each make them our own.
    My dad is ready to go. He made it to his 83rd birthday.
    We never got to REALLY 'get' each other. We fought a lot. what was it for? He always seemed like he wanted to prove that he was right *& I was wrong. Once driving my boyfriend and I home from high school he noticed a homeless guy on the street and sneered at me out of the blue: "One of you FRIENDS?!"
    I grew up to be a street outreach worker with the homeless (then with prostitutes and homeless kids).Dad loves me. He can say it, but never really knew me. Since he and mom moved here from a neighbor island it's been hurt feelings, shoulds, and OY! Just like when I was a kid. We all started politley, but as he got to know them he began to draw us into his frenzy of unconsidered behavior. Never stop and plan, jsut do what YOU say with all the inconsistancies, lost trains of thought and (ultimately, always) anger & yelling. He wore out my husband and our friend. Now no one wants to be around him & mom- but I try to call daily. I do love my one and only dad. He was tough and made me what I am, for ill and for GOOD. There are good things about him but he never hears me when I tell him about them. I admire things about him, though he'll never really hear that when I say it.
    He never stopped worrying or bullying enough to just enjoy his kids. I spent years on my own, learning to survive that childhood and it's twisted lessons. I envy your pain. Mine is pain of missed connections and yearning and unresolved disputes. What I feel is regret . . . that he never lookd and just saw ME, only someone to fight with. Your is the relationship I cryed myself to sleep wishing for. But I'm rambling....you got me thinking.....I need to log off and call to see how he slept...
    Mahalo (thanks) from Waikiki

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  26. hopefully writing about it helps - even a little bit. hugs to you.
    (love the new banner pic)

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  27. Oh Daryl, what an amazingly from-the-heart post. I can just feel your sorrow oozing off the page - and how much you loved him. GBS x

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  28. Daryl, This is so beautiful. I'm like you a "Daddy's Girl". I'm sitting here with tears running down my face. I lost my Dad in 2002, he was 81, much too soon. He was, to me the smartest man, ever, even smarter than my great hubs.

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  29. Oh Daryl.

    Thank you for this. The peace that you speak of - I understand. The sadness and loss - where does love go? That I don't understand. I wish I did.

    Thank you for the Rainbow Bridge. You are very special to me for having reached out to me in my pain - I hope you know that I am trying to reach out to you as well.

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  30. This one had to be a hard one to write, Daryl. But it was a beautiful tribute to your Dad. It would make him very happy and proud of you.

    I am so glad that you had such a wonderful relationship with your father. Happy memories are so precious.

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  31. Oh, gosh, Daryl, what a beautiful tribute to your father. You know, he knew how you felt about him – make no mistake about that. Thank you for sharing this with us. It is very similar to my final months with my Dad.

    When my Dad died, I found a picture of myself when I was seven years old, tucked away in his wallet. On the back he had written “Bright eyes”. His wallet wasn’t very old, so he had transferred it from his previous wallet.

    There is something special about a father/daughter relationship, and even though many daughters go their own way for several years when they become adults, we always go back to our fathers, don’t we?

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  32. I remember when my mom finally passed. The night before I cried to God to take her because I couldn't see why she was still here. He still had work to do, I suppose.
    That morning, when she passed...I have never felt such relief and happiness. While I knew I would miss her terribly (and I still do) I knew she was in heaven free from pain and perfectly whole in His image.
    Thank you for this post because every now and again I forget to remember her the way this made me remember her.
    Thanks.
    xojen

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  33. Oh Daryl, the tears came reading that heartfelt tribute to your wonderful Abba. He was a blessed man to have a long life with a loving family, as you were blessed to have such an amazing man to guide you growing up and set you on the right course to enjoy your own journey. The sadness of loss never fades, we just learn to wear it. Sadly my own Dad died suddenly 7 years ago at age 68 - I feel cheated, but like for you, the many memories are consolation, as best they can be.

    Incidentally, my Birthday is October 21st. Librans rock.

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  34. this was a lovely read, d.

    it's lovely that you had such a wonderful relationship with your dad. and wonderful memories.

    hugs to you.

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  35. Oh, Daryl, this was beautiful. I have tears streaming down my cheek. What a lovely, lovely tribute to your father!

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  36. Beautiful.
    He was lucky to know how much you loved him. You were lucky to have him, period.
    xoxo

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  37. Oh my. I'm sat a public computer at the airport and I'm crying...not a great look!

    Daryl, this is so beautifully written and so filled with love for your dad. thanks for sharing it with us.

    Oh, and thank goodness for firemen, eh?

    x

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  38. That's maybe the most touching tribute to a dad I've read since... well since my own last July. I lost my dad just a few months before you lost yours, July 3, 2000. And yeah, 8 years later I still feel the loss.

    Seems like every day I have to add to the list of "People I Wish I'd Known". Why should today be any different?

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  39. Whew! I came to your blog from Aims, so more tears. I lost my dad in 2007. He was only 77. It was the saddest moment of my life.

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  40. Dearest Daryl... tears are streaming down my face... I'm a bit speechless... thank you for the detail and pure heart you've written here.

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  41. Hi. Your writing went right to my heart and my tear ducts. I am left speechless, wanting to reach out to you. Hugs to you and now I must go call my dad. Take care.

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  42. Daryl This is so moving, so beautiful. Your daddy would love this I am sure. What a wonderful tribute to your dad. Truly. And also to your mom and to your family as a whole.

    This brought tears to my eyes. Great post.

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  43. Well you sure made me cry. That was really beautiful! You were fortunate to have such a Dad.

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  44. Daryl,

    That was the most beautiful tribute to your dad. I am sorry for your loss but happy for your peace and remembrance of him. You are a good daughter.

    <3 L.

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  45. Oh, Daryl, you are my hero right now. You have put down in words, ones I can never say. I did not have a daddy like yours, but I had one who took care of me and our family. He was not perfect, but neither am I. Thank you for this wonderful story, and rememberance of your Dad & (Mom).
    You are precious my friend....

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  46. That was such a beautiful post. I cried and cried. It is very hard to lose Dad -- I know. My Dad has been gone for 32 years. Hugs to you.

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  47. Oh my dear Daryl I am so sorry for your loss. You wrote a beautiful tribute to your daddy. Remember he is always with you. xx

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  48. I don't think we ever get over losing our loved ones. What a loving tribute you have written for your Dad. He sounds like a great Father.

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  49. Very, very touching - have been there, know what it is like to lose a father, no matter how old one is.

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