Tuesday, April 9, 2013

~Losing a Best Friend

I can hear Dad's voice now....'I think I'll go for a walk...I feel happy...I feel happy'

This man that raised me had the most amazing sense of humour.  We got jokes that no one else did.  I could say a line from one of our favourite movies...and he could easily rhyme off the next.
Our bond was something that others envied.  It was more than Father and Daughter.  He was my Friend.  Dad was one of my best friends.

One of our favourite movies to watch and quote were the Monty Python films.  Those of you who are fans will understand the first line above.  This is what Dad said to me during my visit to him in the hospital.

I could pick up the phone and he would know by the way I said 'hello' what kind of day I was having, whether I needed an ear, a hug...or a joke.  And he could never pretend to be doing OK with me either.
Twenty years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer.  The doctors gave him six weeks to live.  My Mother was also diagnosed within two weeks of him.  A year and a half later, she was gone.  We helped each other through that.  He never forgave himself for being the one that survived.  And he never stopped missing her.

For the next twenty years, Dad has had so many near brushes with death. Heart attack, stroke, angina, diabetes, an horrific car accident, concussions, alcoholism, depression.  Every time he came to visit me in Ontario, he always said he might never see me again.  I had said goodbye to him so many times over the years that it became commonplace to feel, 'this could be the last time'.  But I think it began to desensitize me.  I thought to myself ..'I've said goodbye to him so many times...this will be easy when it finally happens.  I will be ready.'

But I knew that wasn't true.  We were so close that I was terrified of losing him.  It would be like losing an extension of myself.

Three months ago, Dad called me to say he had pneumonia in his lungs.  And that the doctors said they could not help him.  Was this another false goodbye?  Would I really lose him this time?  I never thought so.  But I did cry.

'I need you to be a big girl right now.'

That was what got me.  He spoke to me like a was a little girl again.  His little Jaynie.
I told him I was afraid.  Afraid of losing him...yes.  But most afraid that I wouldn't know when it happened.  Out of seven of my siblings, there is only one that keep in touch with me.  But he is up here in Ontario as well.  And another thing I told him, was that there were special things...things I had given him over the years.  Things my children had made for him and given to him.  I wanted to be able to hang on to those items...to keep him close to us.
He assured me that I had nothing to worry about.

Mel Moir was an amazing man.  The funniest man I've ever known.  A wonderful Father, warm and loving Grandfather.  A genius when it came to mechanics, be it of a car or electronic nature.  He was loved and respected by many people.  The first 28 years of my life I lived in Fredericton.  And every place I ever went to where I had to give my name, the response was always, 'Oh! Your Mel Moir's daughter?'
Even at his funeral there were men coming up to me and saying, 'I used to drag race against your Father years ago...I never could beat the bugger.'
But they came.

I feel sorry for anyone that did not know my Father.  And even more sorry for those that knew him and did not respect him.
People that did not know him, the real him.... that would not come to visit him, or pick up the phone to call him...went through his private belongings and took what they desired, discarding or destroying things they did not.  Personal photos of myself and my children were already gone when I got there.  Brand new items that we had given him for his last birthday and Christmas were also missing.
One person in particular admitted to burning precious items that linked my Father to my Mother...items that I would have cherished.  Dad had received a cast of his newest baby grandson's hand and foot prints for Christmas.  These were found in the bottom of a garbage bag.

I will never understand the level of cruelty that must exist in order for these circumstances to have occurred.  But it has made me grateful that I am no longer a part of 'their world'.
I have been told that I need to forgive them for what they have done.  And I will....for my Father's sake, my children's sake...and my own.

There are people that have criticized me for the book that I have written.  Even though they have not read it. But I realize now that it is out of fear.  I have written about my life and things that have happened to me.  Anyone that has ever hurt me would not want it written about or known.  This is what writers do.  They write about what they know.  What they have experienced.
I have a right to speak my truth.
They can not take that from me.

There is one more thing they will not be able to take from me.  And that is my Dad.  My memories of our life together.  And every part of my heart that bears his fingerprints.

The last night I spent with Dad, he was cold.  So I crawled into bed with him.  I wrapped my body around his to keep him warm, rubbing my hand over his arm and forehead.
He started to sing, 'Soft Kitty'.
It broke my heart to hear it then.  But I started to sing with him...and I continued long after he stopped.  And I stayed there with him until he fell asleep.
That is something that I can carry with me for the rest of my life.  Something that no one else will ever have.

And it saddens me that so many others will never know a love this strong.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

~I Still Believe...

Every year we run around, worrying and stressing...making lists and checking them twice (or thrice for some of us).  We go to the store one more time because we forgot cream cheese in order to make just one more dish.  Just in case some company shows up.

Did I remember that one particular thing for Joey?  And what if Santa forgets that all-important item for the stockings.....so I get it anyway, just in case.  We spend so much time getting prepared, decking the walls and trimming the tree...the lights must go up.  And we can't forget the fudge.  Does it not seem like we spend all year getting ready for this one day?

And then finally we wake up, open our presents and it's over.  Does anyone else feel that great heave of disappointment that all of our expectations and wishes once again did not reach our magical standards?

Why is that?  We already know that Christmas doesn't come from a store.  The Grinch taught us that.  And thanks to Charlie Brown we know that it's not about the lights and the glitter.  But there is a definite magic to the air as Christmas approaches.  People that have pushed passed me every other day of the year with a grumpy busyness, all of a sudden slow down and return my smile.  And my heart sighs.

All of the shows and movies during the holidays are about Christmas miracles, bad people turning good...and whatever our hearts desire becomes a possibility if only because Santa is on his way.  Himself and I found that every Christmas movie we watched caused the tears to overflow.  Even the commercials were having the same effect on us.  The Hallmark Channel commercials were like mini movies on their own and we had to have our own supply of kleenex nearby.

Maybe it was because of the time of the month. (for me, not Himself)  Maybe it was because we're both far away from 'home' and 'family'.  Maybe it was because we wish it were that easy to just wish on the Christmas star or a holiday snowflake before it lands and all our hopes & dreams come true.  Maybe it's because we miss our Moms.  I miss the smell of the turkey cooking on Christmas Eve.  My Mom coming out with a tiny dish of turkey and stuffing, dripping with butter so that we could have a little pre-tasting of what was to come.

It seems harder every year to keep the spirit of Christmas alive.  Especially since my children are all 'too old to believe' anymore.  I'm 42 and I still believe.  I remember clearly the Christmas that I made the mistake of snooping.  I found the stash in my Mother's closet.  I was so excited, finding the goodies that I had hoped for.  But I don't think it was until Christmas morning that I realized....those gifts under the tree tagged 'from Santa' were the same that I had already discovered in my treasure hunt.  I'm not sure what upset me more....that my Mother was in fact Santa....or that I had ruined the surprise of all my gifts in one fell swoop.  By my snooping I had ruined my entire Christmas.  I didn't realize it at the time, but Christmas would never be the same to me...again.  All these years later, I still remember how that felt.  And I've explained it to my own children so that they would understand the dangers of hunting.  

I think I've done a pretty good job.  Since this was our first Christmas with all 3 children no longer believing. And they being 14, 18 and 21....I was happy I managed to keep the magic alive as long as I did.  And although 'Santa' is no longer filling the stockings in our house (for now..) I look forward to the day that my grandchildren are hanging their own little stockings and we can re-light the magic for another generation.

In the meantime...I will hang onto my belief...and continue to spread the Christmas cheer as widely as I can.  And in the words of Buddy the Elf...'the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.'

Wishing you all your hopes & dreams in 2013.