Monday, June 25, 2012

Life Goes On...

It's been a few months since Dad's passing,
but it's still hard to go over to his house. My
Step Mom and I were avoiding each other.

It's such a double edged sword. We both loved
my Dad so much, that seeing each other brings
it all back up. But it's comforting too, knowing
that someone in the world knows your pain
so intimately.

We talked about it. I'm grateful she's such
an honest person. I like keeping it real.

I want to be there, to be in the place he called
home.  I want to nurture this relationship, to
the woman he loved, and who made him as
happy as I have ever known him to be.

We still have stuff to handle. Someone
hacked his email account and started sending
trojans to his contacts. That stirred up pain
and anger. We had to deal with closing those

I went over there this weekend, and brought
the kids, to make a pie with her,
and she took out a box full of my Dad's
diaries, photos, and treasures.

He traveled all over the world, so he kept
his possessions to a minimum. Anything
he kept, you knew it meant a lot to him.

We found a father's day card I had sent to
him back in 1998, two years before my son
was born. He's twelve now, so 14 years ago.

I read it and cried. We had time to say things
that were meaningful to each other, before he
passed, but finding that card, meant a lot,
because it showed me that I really had
expressed my love to him, and that he
treasured it.

Here's what I had written on the card:


From you I Learned
Honor and Integrity,
Patience and Kindness,
Love of Art, Song, and Stories,
Travel and Adventure,
 Family and Friendship,
 and the joy of routine.
To be Open-Minded,
and slow to judge others harshly, 
To look for the good in people,
To look for God, 
and to find Peace,
To enjoy serving my fellow man,
To be perceptive of my impact on people,
the ability to connect with all kinds
of different people and places,
To stand bravely for what I believe,
To respect other's opinions,
even when they differ from my own,
To become a person I respect, 
that both out us can be proud of.
I am so very grateful,
 that of all the men on earth, 
that you were my father. 
I've never wished for another.

Love always and forever, Jeanne

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ashes to Ashes

The research hospital called to say that they were done
 with my father's body, and his ashes were ready
for us to pick up. I was surprised it was so quick,
 (only 2 months), because they had said it could be
 up to 18 months. My step Mom picked them up
 and I got them from her yesterday.

She said the lady there told her that my Dad's body
 was used in research, not an actual transplant,
but study about face transplantation.

I recalled in the news recently, there had been a story
about a man who had been electrocuted and had lost
his face to burns. He had a face transplant, (one of the
first successful ones), and was then able to feel his
daughter kiss him on the cheek.

When I first heard about it on the news, I had thought
the idea "creepy", but when I heard the part about the
kiss, my heart melted. Then it sounded more like a "miracle."

 I remember so clearly how it felt to kiss my Dad's cheek...

Tears still come so easily....

He was in the VA Hospice. We kept him home as long as
possible, but finally he needed round the clock nursing.

We had been making sure someone from our family was
with him round the clock, except in the deep night. His
bed was on an alarm, so a nurse would come to his side if
needed it.

Even my Mom, (his ex-wife) was part of the team,
because they had always remained friends, even after they
divorced, when I was 10 years old.

They met teaching Bible school, their mutual
love of God, and me (their only daughter), and their
deep respect for each other, kept them from ever becoming
petty, or hateful toward each other.

This last day, I had been supposed to stay home, because his
two sisters were in town, giving us a break. But that day, I
couldn't stay away. I felt a really strong pull to be at his side,
so I grabbed some food to eat on the road, and went to him.

Since I told them I was coming, his sisters and my step-mom,
decided to go out to lunch together. So, when I arrived, we
were alone,  just the two of us, next to his sunny window.

He was already non-communicative, but the nurses told us
that he may still be able to understand us. So, we kept talking
to him. His eyes shut, the only sound he made was raspy,
heavy breathing.

I told him what was going on with the kids, and then
for some reason, (probably because we were alone),
I sang out loud, the song that popped into my head.

"You take the high road,
and I'll take the low road,
and I'll be in Scotland before you.
For I and my true love
will never meet again,
on the bonnie, bonnie banks
of Loch Lomond."

(Later, that song would prove prophetic, since I did not
ever see him again.)

I noticed that shiny grey stubble had grown out on his chin,
so I got out the razor and cream, and shaved him, telling
him I was making his face smooth for when his wife
would be back soon to give him a kiss.
When I was done, I kissed him, and pronounced it smooth.

Later, when they were back, I kissed him again.
My last kiss, my last contact, that I will never forget.

When I learned about the research they did, I thought of
that kiss, and how I made his cheeks smooth, and of the
other kiss, that the other father was now able to feel. It all
feels so meant-to-be.

 It's, just another wonderful way
that he was heroic, and a blessing to his fellow man,
even after his death, but in such a personal way, that
really has meaning for me.

I will keep his ashes until we can go to the Veteran's Memorial
for internment. He was a hero, not just to me, but during the
Vietnam war. I have his silver star and purple heart, and the
flag they gave my Step Mom at the hospital after they took
his body away.

Those things will have sentimental value, but it's the kiss
that lives in my heart, that really means the most.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Willed Body Donation

Sent to UT Southwestern Medical Center
Willed Body Donation Dept.
For my Dad


Handle With Care!

This is the body 
that shielded
wounded soldiers
under fire.

These are the arms
that carried them 
through the jungle,
to safety.

These very arms 
held me warmly,
when I cried,
and worked to provide
food and shelter.

These are  hands 
that carved sculptures,
beautiful landscapes
and portraits.

These are the feet
I stood upon,
that taught me
how to dance.

This is the back 
I slept against,
in safety
from the storms.

These are the lips
that kissed my cheek,
sang songs,
and told  stories.

This is the heart
that beat for us,
with steady,
unwavering love.

These are the eyes
that saw the world
as it really was,
but reflected back
what it could be.

These are the eyes
that saw injustice,
and the mouth 
that spoke out
against it.

This is the head
that thought things through,
and guided so many
with wisdom.

This is the cancer
that took him from us.
Hate it
as we do,
and let that passion
fuel your work. 

Here is the body
he decided to donate
some thirty years ago,
and now we also
let go.

Draw knowledge from it.
Teach with it,
Gain skill from it.
But above all,
Respect it.

Make this gift
worth all that we still suffer
from the loss
of his warmth
in this world.