I know I have left so many stories dangling in this Blog: the story of Mom-Mom and the Sparks house, the story of The Army, the story of my addiction and recovery. It has been a whirlwind of a Spring. With the Walk To Defeat ALS fundraisers and two showers, two wakes, a funeral and a 50th birthday party, we really have had a Social Season, for better and worse. I am hoping that after next weekend, I will have restful times, find some inspiration and continue the stories I have promised ends to!
Next weekend is the culmination of the season, with the wedding of two of the best people I know, my nephew Mark and our lovely Molly. Molly is a member of our sister family. I say sister family in the sense of a sister organization. We have grown up side by side and shared many, many happinesses and sorrows. Molly’s grandfather passed away one month ago today, and we were all there, sharing in the grief. Her grandfather, who was father to my best friends in the world, was a fascinating, caring, giving man and the global community felt his presence in his missionary endeavors. He was remarkable, and is greatly missed. My heart is with my friends today, as they remember their Dad and Grandfather and how much he means to them.
When I woke up this morning I was thinking about my Daddy, which is not unusual, since it’s Father’s Day. I opened my eyes, and my first thoughts were that my Dad had such a hard job, clothing and feeding and taking care of ten children at home, as well as helping his married daughter and her young family. This morning I thought of all the lessons he taught me; lessons I didn’t know I learned until many years after his passing. These lessons must have been those proverbial seeds that fell through the cracks; somehow they found light and grew. I know now that he loved us very much, though I didn’t understand as a child. I thought love had to be tied up in hugs and soft words. I see now that my father gave everything he had to make sure his kids were taken care of. He never said no, even when he should have.
On Christmas, my father was a light. One Christmas morning, my brother had a camcorder, and walked around the family filled house asking people what Christmas meant to them. He found Daddy in the kitchen making more coffee for the masses. Daddy’s answer to the question was simple but from his heart, “Giving.” That was my Dad at Christmas. He was like a kid at Christmas, but his happiness was in the giving, not the getting.
In August, my father was a joy. He always took the last two weeks of August for vacation, and joined us at our rented Victorian in Cape May, New Jersey. He also came the first two weekends, taking public transportation to Atlantic City, where Mommy would pick him up and bring him back on Sunday nights. He stayed at home the first two weeks of our month-long vacation, but those weekends were really nice with our Dad. He couldn’t totally relax. He did a little though, and you could tell he needed it. The last two weeks, when he came and stayed, those were so wonderful. He was so much fun then! He was the Dad I always wanted him to be. The one I dreamed he would be everyday! The Vacation Dad! Approachable, impulsive, smiling. I miss that Vacation Dad.
Over the years I have come to realize, and everyday, that I miss my father in so many ways. He was a wise man, but I never listened. He was a loving man, but I never noticed. I am listening and noticing now. I was so lucky to have spent time with him before he passed, to hear some of his stories, and discover the man, not just the Dad.
By Meg Marlowe~2009
I remember that I was sitting in his hospital room. We were taking turns watching him; taking turns in the ICU waiting room. I was reading a short story book, by which author I don’t remember now; I don’t even remember the stories. But, I remember being thankful that I had chosen a short story book at the library the week before he was admitted.
It was my turn. My turn to sit with Daddy while he lay dying, which he did not want to do. I was glad and sad to be there at the same time. We had only come to know each other in the last four months, my having spent thirty-three years filled with animosity and mistrust; making for a difficult upbringing.
I finally had my daddy as my friend, and he was leaving me. I decided to come home in November 1993, with my one year old in tow, because I missed my father. I was always homesick for him when I went away, despite our overt displays of contradictory beliefs (arguments over me being young and dumb, and him being old and wise). Daddy, I have to admit, was all I had left. But, more than that, especially looking back now, always was the one there for me. And, I was realizing that his way of dealing with children was the way he was dealt with as a child. Yet you could see that he wanted more for us, and he tried to treat us better than he and his sisters were which is actually very sad.
I had always heard that his mom was long-suffering and trusting and that his dad was a womanizing, one-armed alcoholic. I knew there was some basis in that, but, I thought, it must be embellished. However, I recently came into possession of a copy of a picture of their family. I look at him, so happy and relaxed, I look at her, so worn and tired, and I know it’s all true. And, I feel sad for the woman in the picture, my grandmother in the early 1920’s.
I was relieved of my duties by a brother, and sent back to the waiting room. I had been at the hospital for two days, and my family basically forced me to go home to rest. I had slept for about two hours, when I heard Daddy yelling at me, “Meggie! Meggie!” I jumped up, and sped back to the hospital. Everyone thought I was nuts (have I told you yet that’s true?). But, I had to be there for him; and I was, until the end, and held his hand as he passed.
When Mommy died in 1983, I was so scared to watch her die, that I ran away to California. The day my sister Karen called to tell me she was gone, my boss got the phone call, as I didn’t have a phone, and work was my contact number. I was working in a local restaurant and also cocktail waitressing in ‘the bar’ on the weekends in my small and lovely town of Cambria, California. I lived in a little apartment above the bar. It was a Saturday morning. I was sleeping off a hangover, as usual. My boss came to my door and knocked, which she had never done before, announced herself, and I knew. I knew Mommy was gone.
I shot out of bed, and ran to the payphone to call my sister. She confirmed what I knew. I cried and wondered what had possessed me to be so far away at this monumental time. I had no money, and for some reason, this was the one time that Daddy didn’t bail me out of a predicament. I was stuck on the west coast, slowly going mad from grief, and far away from the obligatory events: writing the obituary and death notice, picking a coffin, and then the wake, the funeral, the repast. I thought I was suffering much worse than the rest of the family, as I was all alone.
That was until Daddy passed, which he did after several attempts to resuscitate him, on March 7, 1994. I then found out what it is like to lose a parent as an adult, with the responsibilities that must accompany the sorrow. It was a milestone for me, and one that I think Daddy would have been proud of watching me go through. I stood strong through the next few days of public mourning, and was even there for his sole remaining sister, and my nieces and nephews.
Losing a parent does teach lessons, and we grow in our fortitude, maturity, and perspective. I learned these things from my daddy growing up, and from his passing, and moving on.