Wednesday, May 19, 2010


My heart aches for my friend, Janna, today.  She lost her dad on Monday.  I just read about it today, and was hit with sadness, memories of loss, concern for Janna, and hope that they can eventually be at peace with knowing he is rejoicing now.

It made me remember nearly five years ago when my father died.  I can remember it very vividly like watching a video.  The doorbell ringing, my husband answering the door to my mother who was shaking and spasming and crying so hard she could barely speak.  She lived across the street, and had walked the slow walk across, slow because of her arthritis and shortness of breath from emphysema. 

I assumed it was another snake or possum or some such creature that had gotten into the garage and freaked her out.  It had happened many times that way.  My family was all very close back then, and we met every Saturday for coffee and laughed and lovingly picked on her for things like that.  But this wasn't going to be one of those times. 

She grabbed me and managed, "He's dead.  Daddy's dead."

Daddy's dead.  What?   It didn't register. 

My parents were divorced when I was 14 and therefore didn't live together, but had remained unmarried and pretty much best friends.  When she got sick, he basically checked on her constantly and even had moved back in for a while to make sure she was okay.  Then they had a falling out over something neither would say, and didn't talk.  So what she said that day didn't make sense.  I thought maybe her medicine was messing with her and making her delusional, talking about HER daddy. 

"No, Mom, he's not."

"Yes, he is."

"No,  I saw him yesterday, he's fine."   I remembered him walking down my driveway, waving behind him on the way to his truck, wearing his perpetual fishing hat and blue shirt.

She clenched down on my arm like I was a child again.  "Christopher (my nephew) went over there to borrow a tool and  found him on his kitchen floor, Sharla.  They just called me."

Time stood still.  Up went down, white went black, my ears started to ring.   I will never ever for the rest of my days if I live to be 250 years old, forget that moment.   The buzz and sickness of the moment I realized my dad was gone.  That Daddy's girl (at 39 then) was now only a girl.  The moment our family dynamics changed forever.

For my mother physically went down after that.  She passed away 8 months later.  One of my brothers got a divorce from his wife of nearly 30 years and moved away.   40 years of "things" were divided up or sold and the house was sold too.  I look at it every day across the street and I can't go in now.

My brothers and I have said many times that you think you're a grownup till you lose your parents and realize how much of a child you really are.  You become orphaned  in the sense that there is no one to validate your childhood.  Your stories.  The private moments that only they knew about. 

In honor of Janna and her father, this is a tribute to my dad today.  I've never written this down before, it's a first.  And a weird one.

Love you, Daddy.  Our three stars are shining bright.


Melissa Marsh said...

Oh Sharla...this is so bittersweet. I know how hard it must have been to write. Hugs...

Linda said...

How touching, and very true. I lost my parents withing 1 1/2 years of each other when I was in my early twenties. I am 51 now and still miss them.


Stephanie Hollis said...

Very sweet pictures. Thank you for sharing your dad with us! I know it wasn't easy but sometimes hard days can be softened by the words we share.

ChristaCarol said...

Sharla, I'm crying for you and Janna right now. Your story really touched my heart, and ooooh, that picture of you on your tippy toes kissing him. Oh it's heart wrenching. I wish so much I had a daddy like this. I'm glad for you and Janna you've had such wonderful father figures. Thank you for having the courage to share such a memorable story.

Sharla said...

Thanks to everyone for your sweet comments. I felt driven to give my dad a little nod after finding out about Janna's. My prayers are with's such a rough thing to wrap your head around, and a roller coaster ride for years. Love you Janna.

Casse AKA Catholic Kittie said...

Oh, wow. I just cried my eyes out. That was beautifully said. My dad was just talking about this. He told me not a day goes by when he doesn't think of his parents. his mom died when he was younger than me and it has been over 20 years. No amount of preparing yourself helps. I write about death because it is me facing my fears of losing everyone to it.

Your friend and her family are all in my prayers.

Nishant said...

I know it wasn't easy but sometimes hard days can be softened by the words we share.
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