My Final Words

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Where Was He?

The church was hushed.   He lay there still, quiet.  At least now I did not have to see his vacant eyes.

How often had I stared into twinkling bright blue eyes when he told a good story?

Where was the little half-smile and throaty chuckle when he tried to hold back laughter at his own jokes?

I even missed his warm breath, tinged with the scent of coffee.

What was the difference between his state now and his state just days before?  He had not been living, just existing for the past fourteen months.

A Hundred Whys

The tears wouldn’t come, just an all-enveloping sadness.   Sadness, regret and anger.  A hundred whys.

Why didn’t I ask him more about his childhood when he could talk?

Why did Lewy steal our last years with Dad?

Why did I resent him telling me how to live my life?

Why did I harbor hardness in my heart about the past?

Our Final Words

I was the last one to walk up to the coffin before they closed the lid.  Seventy pairs of eyes watched me.  The perfume of flowers penetrated the air.dadfun2

I touched his hand, it was stiff.  An odd thought came into my head: Dad wasn’t supposed to have stiff hands.  He was strong, even at the end his grip startled the nursing aids.   His hands held his babies, measured and cut ceiling tile, carved wooden signs and delicately repaired glass and crystal.

Now his hands were artificially folded over his heart.

We had our “final words”, my father and me.  I spoke, and imagined he agreed.  What I did not know was those final words would forever change me.

Words I wished I could have said to him years ago.

Healing words.  The healing that continues now, seven long years later.

I looked at him and said out loud:

“Okay Dad, this is it. You are not going to be angry with me anymore, and I’m not going to be angry with you.”

Yes, those were my final words with Dad.  The shell of Dad.

The anger dissolved like an ice cube on a hot day.   Did I immediately forgive him for all ills, real or imagined?   Had I NOT forgiven him earlier?

This moment wasn’t even about forgiveness, it was about harboring misunderstanding, frustration and resentment in my heart.   I can barely explain this, I just know that I could let go, and celebrate my Dad’s amazing life.

An End and a Beginning

Funerals are for celebrating life on this earth, and for saying good-bye.  For me, it was an end and a beginning.  It was the end of our somewhat-rocky, somewhat-loving father-daughter dance.   I was and would always be his #3 daughter, his little girl.

Dad was in heaven, and all was forgiven on his side. He could not be mad at me any more for taking over his finances, for selling the house, and moving him into places he didn’t want to live.  And making him go to the dentist!

Lewy was defeated, Dad was whole again.

How could I do any less?   I turned from the casket, had a great big sigh of relief.  I sat through his funeral without a tear.

Handout shared at Dad’s funeral.

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