Fathers Day is right around the corner. My father left this world for the Good Place a year and a half ago. Although certain parts are foggy, other parts seem so fresh, still.
He lived in a little house across town, quite spacious to be considered a duplex. It was an older ranch style, brick, well-built and had a nice yard. The road he lived on was called “Circles End Circle” and it was just that… a large circle. How Dad loved walking his dog around that large circle, which was made more attractive by way of the entire center being a well-kept grassy field. As I remember, the inside of that circle measured larger than a football field. The continuous view of the grassy field made for well more than a leisurely stroll, and you certainly could say you got your steps in with just one trip around it.
Dad and I really weren’t close until after the ending of my 20+ year marriage. After my separation, he stepped into his father role as well as any man ever has. Heck, I guess you could even call us best buds. After a lifetime of not having him around, I relished the attention from him. That should not suggest that I didn’t understand the deeper meaning of that attention… which is, Dad loved me. For the first time in my adult life, I truly understood that. I wasn’t just a black sheep any longer, at least not to him. He couldn’t wait to talk to me on the phone at night, to describe new events that happened throughout his day. He would go out of his way to let me know he loved me – and each occasion meant the world to me. One day he showed up at my work with a fresh-baked banana bread loaf (my God, he made the best banana bread). We’d go to the farmers market together, church, and events happening uptown. It was everything I’d ever wanted but never really knew I needed from my father. He knew it, I knew it… and we were both thankful.
Yep, I grew to know that house of his pretty well.
Years later, when routine hospital visits for his failing health became the norm, he would always want me there. Each time I’d walk in the room, his smile would grow as big as Disney. One of his favorite stories to tell was of how hot he was in the ER, and I’d fanned him. Something so very simple. On more than one occasion he told me I kept him calm. I still feel this is probably the biggest compliment I’ve ever been given.
Enter dementia. That big, awful, damned demon unleashed it’s wrath. Like cancer, I hate dementia with every fiber of my being. Those who have never had to witness a loved one battle dementia will never understand the toll it takes on a family. Dad withstood it for a while at home, until it started biting its ugly teeth deep into his brain. Soon came the walks outside during the wee hours. Then his phone calls telling me the painters were invading his home, he was afraid of them. Finally phone calls from the police asking me to please come over to try and coax him out of his bedroom.
That last call from the police ushered in the last time he would ever physically reside in his house. As I walked though the living room to his closed bedroom door, I knocked softly and said “Dad, it’s Bonnie”. He opened the door immediately, blue eyes welling up with tears and hugged me tight. Now, Dad couldn’t hug tight because of the lung removal a decade earlier, and he was always mindful of that. But the dementia had made him forget about all that. That hug was probably the tightest one I’d ever had from him. To say I’ll always cherish it is an understatement… the tears flow as I write about it.
Many things happened after he left that house, which I won’t go into since it’s really a moot point. The memory remains of him and how his soul was just larger than life. Even though we joined forces later in life rather than earlier, I wouldn’t trade a single thing. Not a one.
Happy Heavenly Fathers Day, Dad. I sure miss you.