Tuesday, May 6, 2008

An Unexpected Loss

This is the hardest post I've had to write since beginning this blog a little over six months ago. I cannot describe how difficult this last week has been. Nor can I adequately assign words to describe the wonderful person surrounding the drama that started last Thursday night.

You see, I unexpectedly lost my beloved eighty-year-old dad (whose home in Ohio is three and a half hours away from mine) last Friday. He had been working in his garage with a grinder Thursday evening when a piece suddenly broke off and cut his lip. He had been on blood thinner medication since having a heart valve replacement several years ago. My dad knew his wife didn't want him working with such tools because she knew if he cut himself it could be problematic. So he tried to sneak in a job while she wasn't home.

Unfortunately no one was with him when he became dizzy from the resulting massive blood loss. He fell head first onto the cement garage floor. Somehow he made it into his house and onto a chair. That's where my step mom found him unconscious. He was life flighted to a hospital in Toledo. A cat scan revealed that he had severe head trauma and that he'd never recover from his injuries.

His living will indicated that we needed to let him go, so we did. My step mom, her children, myself, and my three siblings made that necessary decision to take him off life support.

One could tell how many loved the handsome man with the beautiful white hair and sparkling blue eyes because so many were gathered in his palliative care room. So many, including myself were touching his hand or some part of him when his heart stopped beating. So many filled the funeral home for visitation hours today. I'm expecting the funeral home to be packed tomorrow morning and can imagine that every chair will be filled with a few people left standing in the back of the room.

There are three large picture boards and one slide show filled with photos of my father. There were so many pictures of my dad that we could have wall papered the walls of the funeral home. He attended every graduation, wedding, and anniversary party he was invited to. He went to family reunions and visited all relatives and friends regularly. He wore silly hats when given one, held babies with great pleasure, cut his friends hair, traveled with his fifth-wheel trailer and was known to fall asleep whenever sitting down in a comfortable chair.

I'll always remember him as a great dad who made sure I had a bicycles, braces, a college education, a beautiful wedding and even a down payment on my first home. He took great pride in being a great provider. It meant a lot to him to be able to provide for his two wives and his four birth children. It meant a lot to him to be there for his second wife and her large family and that they were there for him.

He loved both of my sons and it didn't matter to him that one of them was a little different than most children. In fact, I had just talked to him on the phone and told him that my guy with ASD would be riding horses in the Proud Equestrian Program again and also told my dad that my oldest child reminded me of him in terms of always wanting to be visiting friends and family. I also was careful and added that I didn't know where the autism part came from. I told him that I thought my guy with autism would be Ok and that he was doing really well.

It must of meant something to him to hear all that because my brother said that he talked about my son a lot on his last day. My brother was fortunate to spend several hours with him on that Thursday before his accident. I was fortunate to hear that my dad talked about my son with pride on that day. I'll always have that comfort and it means so much.

My dad demonstrated to everyone what it took to be a great person. My favorite picture of his is one that depicts him walking along with a little step-granddaughter, age three, following along behind. To me it showed that he was a guy to look up to. He was a great man and I am heart broken.


Marla said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your Dad. I hope you are surrounding yourself with friends and family right now and taking it easy. Sending prayers and hugs.

J said...

Thanks Marla.

Elissa - Managing Autism said...

Julie, I'm really sorry to hear of your loss. This must have been a really difficult post to write, and you've done such a wonderful job of depicting your dad, and the special person that he was. Take care of yourself, and remember that you are in our thoughts and prayers.
Love and hugs to you all. xx