My father passed away two weeks ago. This isn't a post looking for sympathy...what I want to examine is how we deal with these situations (not sure I'd call it a crisis...I'll explain why in a moment) when they occur and you are separated from your extended family by thousands of miles.
My father was 80 years old. He fought lung cancer - giving up a lung in the process - in the early 90s. He then went on to battle heart disease, skin cancer, a heart arrhythmia, a series of minor strokes, and bladder cancer. He was a mess. I came face to face with his mortality when I was a senior in high school and they had to remove his lung because of the cancer. He was given a 5% chance at long-term survival at that point.
He went on to live another 18 years. That was my dad.
And I miss him but it's more of a dull ache than anything. When my momcalled to tell me, I was sad but not shocked. And I think my sadness ismore for her than for him. The last few years had seen his quality oflife diminish and the last time he came home from the hospital, he wason morphine and oxygen. So we knew. Even if we didn't talk about it oradmit it, we knew.
When the call came, my husband answered the phone. Once I had finishedsobbing, he asked me which suitcase I wanted to use. And I just staredat him.
I wasn't going anywhere.
My dad didn't want a funeral and my mother cannot stand them - theyremind her too much of losing her own father at what she considers tobe entirely too young of an age (she was 26 but I don't think there isever a "right" age to lose a parent). So no funeral.
My brothers are scattered - one is on the east coast and the other is abit of a drifter. Neither of which were able at this point in time tocome to a funeral. Maybe next year, we decided. Dad wanted to becremated which is what Mom did. So now he sits on the mantle in theliving room.
Until we can all get there.
The thing is, he was always such a patient man. So this doesn't surprise me. I know he'll wait for us. He's in no hurry.
But to my friends, and even possibly my husband, my decision to NOT goback is odd. To me, it is practical. My husband had shoulder surgery afew weeks ago and cannot completely care for himself. I have 2 childrenin school, a job, FRG responsibilities, church commitments, etc. that Iam not comfortable walking away from.
And I am my father's daughter. He raised me to know that you do notback out on your commitments. He raised me to honor my word and seethings through to the end. He raised me to think of others beforemyself. So I know darn good and well that he would have been rollingover in his grave (or in his urn?) had I ditched those things to comeand cry over his ashes.
And I know that I would not, technically, be 'ditching' anything. Butit would feel that way. I am, if nothing else, practical. And flyingback to be in my mother's way as she navigates the "TO DO" list that myfather's passing has created would not do anyone any good.
Am I odd? Who knows? Everyone handles their grief in different ways,don't they? A few days after my Daddy died, I had stopped in to a candyshop to get some candy for my sister-in-law. They had licorice chewsout for Halloween and my first thought was, "I should get some of thosefor Daddy! He'd love them!"
And then it hit me...no, he wouldn't. He would have last week maybe.But not now. And I had to leave the store before I made a fool ofmyself crying over licorice. Silly, I know. But everyone handles griefin different ways, don't they?
I don't think there is a point to this post other than to point outthat grief and the ways we face it and deal with it are as varied aswe, as military spouses, are. And that's ok.