Yesterday I broke down.
I was trying to catch a little nap, but when I closed my eyes I started thinking about my childhood. I remembered special times in the house that I grew up in, and I felt the love that surrounded me. Taking myself back to those times used to be comforting, and in some ways it still is, but knowing I will never have those times again is painful. Mom died suddenly almost five years ago, and Dad passed away unexpectedly just two months ago. I find myself not only grieving for my father, but for mom and dad together. It is hard to explain.
I felt a knot in my stomach as it really hit me that I no longer have parents. There is a certain kind of love that only parents can give – they love like no other, and love with all of their hearts. I was reminiscing about how supportive my parents were…even in situations where they could have chosen to never speak to me again.
When I was 24-years old and still living at home, I got pregnant. I was petrified to tell them the news, so I asked my best friend to please tell them. She obliged and when I walked into the kitchen later that day, what I heard from my mom and dad was, “So, we are going to be grandparents!”. Though not happy about the whole situation, they were there for me throughout the whole pregnancy and beyond.
When you lose both parents, it hurts. It is a pain like no other. You want to call them, you want to see them. You want to walk into their house and sit down and talk. Or laugh. Or just hug them.
My mother was a southern belle (from Mississippi), who could charm the pants off of anyone. She was funny, caring and just a genuinely nice person. Her smile was infectious, and her eyes warm. Everyone loved her baking, and the first thing they would do when coming into our home was head for the cookie jar. There was always something fresh awaiting them. Even the UPS guy loved coming to our house, as the smell of cookies wafted out the front door when she opened it. Of course, she would invite him in for a quick cookie or two.
I have so many fond memories of mom. One of my favorite memories is the trip to Europe that she and I took when I was 18. Dad sent us both as my graduation gift. Mom and I spent 23 days touring the beautiful countryside, having wine with the locals, and becoming even closer. Sometimes when I close my eyes, it all comes back so vividly. Another favorite memory is when I was pregnant, and off work for maternity leave. Each afternoon mom and I would sit down at the kitchen table for a game of Upwords. We talked and laughed as we played. They were special times.
Her name was Joy…and a joy she was.
My father was from Wisconsin. He was a hard-working man who would do anything for his family. He was respected and loved by all. My brother’s friends (most of whom stood about 6’1) used to call him “Big Don” (even though Dad was only about 5’6). He was a gentle, soft-spoken man, but extremely intelligent and witty. I remember his amazing laugh – it never failed to warm my heart, and one couldn’t help but laugh along with him. Dad worked hard, and time with him was sometimes limited when I was a child. There was nothing better than getting one-on-one time with him – even if it meant taking a trip to the dump. How excited I would be when he invited me along. He used to laugh hysterically as I plugged my nose due to the unpleasant smell. It didn’t matter to me what we did, I was with my dad.
In his later years (and up until his death), dad had several health issues which would have made any other person give up. He was on dialysis three days a week, had his leg amputated below his knee, several surgeries and hospital stays. He never complained and he never gave up. Dad remained independent til the end – driving his own car, going grocery shopping, etc. He didn’t want to “bother” anyone to do these things for him. My father was my hero.
One of my favorite memories is when my son was born (while I was still living at home). My bedroom was downstairs and I remember the lonely feeling in the middle of the night while feeding my son. Being a young, first-time mom was overwhelming and exhausting, to say the least. But dad came to my rescue. I remember sitting feeding my son in the darkness of the night, and then I would see a light upstairs. I heard dad’s bedroom door open and he gently padded downstairs. He would tell me to go back to bed and he would feed the baby. Dad and my son would cuddle up in the recliner, and after my son was fast asleep, dad would put him down in his crib. Dad and my son were best buddies – they did everything together. My father was so good with all kids, and they always loved him.
My parents. I see their faces, I hear their laughter. They surround me, yet I can’t touch them. When you lose both parents, you lose a little bit of yourself.
Yesterday I broke down.
It helps me to have signs from my parents…if you’d like to learn more about this, please read my Signs from Departed Loved ones post.