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.

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