Welcome, fellow travelers on the grief journey
and a special welcome to anyone
who is new to The Grieving Room.
We meet every Monday evening.
Whether your loss is recent, or many years ago;
whether you've lost a person, or a pet;
or even if the person you're "mourning" is still alive,
("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time),
you can come to this diary and say whatever you need to say.
We can't solve each other's problems,
but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.
Unlike a private journal
here, you know: your words are read by people who
have been through their own hell.
There's no need to pretty it up or tone it down..
It just is.
Let me introduce you to my Pop. He was 80 years old and had been married to my mom for sixty two years. He left two daughters, four grand children and five great-grand children. He lived his life with dignity, class and a great sense of humor. He left a legacy of creativity that we will all treasure.
My dad started working when he was nine years old delivering newspapers. He was brought up by a bigoted, egotistical, abusive father, but a mother who was sweet and loving. I was spanked once by him and he apologized after it occurred, when I told him why I said "no" to a grocery shopping request. I was eleven and getting bullied by kids on the block. I didn't want to walk past them to the store and have them throw rocks at me.
My dad was the only white guy on an all black football team at his Oakland High School. My mom had no problem finding him on the field on their first date. Only one pair of white legs running on the field! There wasn't a racist bone in his body and he raised us that way. But, don't mess with my dad, he had a way of looking at someone that shut them up. He wasn't tall of stature, being only 5' 8", but he had a way of carrying himself that generated respect from all he encountered.
He graduated from high school at sixteen and at seventeen he and my mom went to Reno to get married. The judge said my dad was too young and he needed parental permission. Well, my cocky, confident Pop pulled out the note signed by his parents and by golly, they got married. A year later, I came along. He was working full time in the heating and air conditioning venue and continued until he was fifty seven years old.
My mom and dad watched Dancing with the Stars faithfully and he likened himself to an older Derek Hough. My parents could cut a rug with the best of them. It was always a kick to watch them dance the cha cha, samba or swing. The most fun is when my dad would grab our hands and dance with my sister and me.
Upon retiring he figured he needed to do something with his time other than playing golf or cards with all the other old "farts." He decided to take up wood working. He started working on small pieces of wood and then had an idea to make carousel horses. So he did. It was that simple for him. He was that way when he learned how to fly small planes, became a square dance caller, and so much more. When he put his mind to do something, he researched, learned, and did it.
During his retirement, my dad made six full size carousel horses, from scratch. My sister, me, and my son have one and the other grandchildren will get theirs when my mom passes on. She's holding on to them right now. He also made smaller ones for friends of the family. True treasures.
Here's my son's carousel horse. It was one of his last and favorite because he worked so hard on the muscularity of the legs. The wall quilt hangar is something he made for me so I can hang the quilts I've made.
He also made a ukelele, a violin and a few mandolins. All from scratch. All the instruments he made are playable. A good friend of the family got one of the mandolins, and since he's the bass player in a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band, he's thrilled to have the mandolin. This is my dad's favorite mandolin and my son inherited it. It is gorgeous in person!! The paint he used makes the mandolin look a different color depending on the angle.
When my dad was 65 he had a heart attack that would probably have taken a less healthy man. He told us at that time that he had made "peace with my Maker." He lived every day to the fullest. He was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia about four years ago. An untreatable bone marrow disease, but his only symptom, at this time, was a slightly higher white blood cell count. We thought we'd have him a couple more years.
My son was able to fly up from Los Angeles to see his Papa in the hospital before he passed. My son told my dad (they said hearing is the last to go) and the family that the baby boy that was due in June would get my dad's name as his middle name. We now have Shane "Dale," and I've already told him a lot about his great-grandfather. He is a laid back, laughing little baby. A lot like his Papa.
My sister and I moved our mom to her own home closer to us, and we have spent the last six months doing our utmost to help her live a life without her heart and soul. It has been extremely difficult and exhausting trying to take care of our grieving mother, who is not well herself. Not having our whistling angel amongst us has been hard, but we keep going because we must. We miss him, but have we truly grieved losing him, I don't know yet.
My dad would not have wanted to linger if he was not fully functioning, or if he was a burden to anyone. I was blessed to be there when my Pop took his final, gentle breath. Tomorrow would be his 81st birthday and I wrote this diary as an homage to him.
I hope that we can all face the end of our lives without regrets, as my Pop did. Fulfilling those bucket list items, and leaving a creative legacy to our family and friends to remember us by.
Thank you for reading and I hope you received a little joy in reading about my Pop.