Requisit Respite

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Twenty Years Ago Today

It is twenty years today that my father died.
I can't believe it's been that long, but, as all parents, I measure time by my children.  I remember Jewely was just seven months old at his funeral. Jewely is now 20 years old--and seven months, tomorrow.
I received a phone call from my mom at about nine in the morning, I think, and she told me that dad had passed away early, early in the morning.
As usual, he had been up during the night and left their bedroom to go to sleep on the couch (sometimes he would get on the recliner) for one reason or another.  When my mother awoke to get ready to go to a Christian Women's Club meeting (I think it was), she just took her shower, got dressed, put on her makeup, etc., knowing my father was an early bird and he must be outside enjoying the morning.
When she came out of the bedroom into the living room, she noticed he was lying on the couch--unusual for someone who wakes up at 6 a.m. every day.  It was going on 9:00!  Then she saw that his eyes were open.
  We knew my dad wasn't feeling well.  He had just failed a stress test on Friday and the doctor told him to come back to the hospital the next Friday for a cath.  He didn't make it.  He died Tuesday morning of a massive heart attack.  He was only 63.
I was calm when I received the call from my mom in Florida.  I listened.  She said everything was going smoothly with medical personnel.  My aunt and uncle lived near, so I knew she had them and many friends.
I hung up and called my husband at work.  He said he was coming home immediately.  I told him I was fine.  He, thankfully, didn't listen to me and came home at once.
When I hung up the phone from him, my body started shaking involuntarily.  I. couldn't. stop. shaking.
That had never happened to me before.  I'm glad my husband came home.  I had little ones to take care of, and kindergarten and nursery school car pools, and...

I remember collapsing into my brother Andrew's arms at the cemetery and sobbing, finally able to release my sorrow. My mother, who was about my age, reflected after the funeral that she was much too young to be a widow.

Anyway....after 20 years, I guess this is a good time to reflect on my dad.  He died right before Thanksgiving.  Having my Uncle Tony's funeral this week has caused us all to ponder it, I think.  We know they are in that better place and are now watching over us, our guardian angels, to make sure we are safe and to help us when times get rough. They are that whispering in our minds to remind us we left our keys in the car, or to turn off the lights, or you forgot to unplug your curling iron. 
I can just picture my dad in my mind's eye, gently nudging me awake every morning, reminding me, "You're going to be late for work!" as he did for me when I was in school.  He was my personal alarm clock.  He would come into my room every morning at 6:55 a.m. and gently say, "Susan, wake up."  I would, bleary-eyed, come to my senses, look at the clock and at him, then drift back to dreamland, only to feel my father lovingly give me a back rub and quietly urge me to wake up.  It was a long process.  Now I set the alarm and push snooze about 10 times before I actually leave the bed, waking up slowly, slowly.
I never set an alarm as long as I lived in that house.  My dad woke me up every morning, ever so quietly and gently, and slowly. 

As a parent, I can only hope that my children remember me fondly and lovingly.  I know I failed at a lot of things, but I have never failed to love them with all my heart.  I hope they forgive my shortcomings and remember, oh, remember, how much I love them.


John Barclay said...

A lovely and loving post Susan. My Dad has been gone for 18 years. He died at 68, too young as well.

Susan Knight said...

Thanks, John. You know how I feel, then...