1halffull's Blog

The Surprises of Life…
April 4, 2010, 5:05 am
Filed under: Change, Dad, Friends, God, Happiness, Humor, Jesus, Kids, Legacy, Life, Love, Memories, Nostalgia, Parents, Travel

For the average person, there are very few really big events that take place in our lives.  You’re born – but you probably don’t remember that.  You learn to walk – don’t remember that either.  Your first day at school – maybe.  Your first visit from the tooth fairy – yep, pretty sure you remember that.

 The first date…the first kiss….the first ‘real’ boyfriend.  High school graduation then college.  Getting engaged then the big (or small) wedding day.  The birth of your first child, and every child after that.  The death of your mom, then your dad; your grandmas and grandpas if you were fortunate to know them at all.  There goes your favorite aunt and suddenly you’re so much older than you’d have thought you could get when you were 20.

 For me, most of that happened in the first 30 years.  It was a lot to pack in there.  They were all a big deal at the time….some remain a big deal in my heart, my head, even now.

 Someone once said that it’s the little things that sneak up and grab a hold of you.  They were right.

 Some of my ‘little things’ include, in random order….

 Going fishing with my dad and catching more fish than him.  He let me.  I loved the lake.  Still do.

 My friend deciding that I wouldn’t be able to deal with a club meeting when I got home after my dad’s death.  She put herself in my place and took care of it so I didn’t have to.  A little, but thoughtful thing.

 My dad poking his head into my room, handing me a $20 bill as he told me that he knew all I’d been doing around the house to help out.  Demonstrated appreciation that meant so much to me under the circumstances.

 Aunt Betty who invited me to visit her in the summers and allowed me to see myself as a valuable person like few others did.

 Learning that my friend Avis daily sang ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’ in the final weeks of her life.  I’d always hoped she would.

 Playing a game of ‘keep the car moving till the light turns green’ when taking kids home from church – it’s a fun game – you should try it.

 Having a mother-in-law who patiently listened over the years, didn’t butt in, and has spent hours on the phone with me, talking about anything and nothing.  If we were running the world, it would be a much better place.  Thanks, mom.

 Going to the beach with the whole clan; all the kids playing together; sunburns radiating.  Sea creatures scurrying out of the bucket of sand while one child screamed and the others all laughed.

 My sister-in-law and I in the ocean – without our contacts in – screaming at ‘jaws’ coming for us then laughing our faces off when we finally could tell they were just shadows.  Another time laughing ourselves silly so hard in the card section that a man ‘just had to come see why we were so hysterical’.  “There are two sides to every divorce” the outside of the card said.  “Yours and the s— head’s.” (not my words – but how we howled and promptly sent it to a sibling who may still have it today)!

 Two little faces pressed against the window waving and calling ‘bye mommy’ as I’d pull out of the driveway on my way to somewhere else.

 The surprise 40th birthday party my husband gave me where I was totally surprised.

 The kids so excited to sleep in the van the night before a vacation started.

 All the Christmas videos we made that could be Christmas any year except for the changes in sizes, hairdos, glasses and voices.

 Howling at the moon from the causeway with my daughter.

 Taking my son for his first tattoo.

 Oh, the list goes on and on and is my way of saying, let the little things grab on to you and you hold on tight to them.  In the end, they’re really the only things that matter.


Remembering My Dad
July 2, 2009, 2:38 am
Filed under: Dad, Death, Love, Memories

July 1, 1981. I was 29 years old, living in New York with my husband, my two year old and my 30 day old son.

It had been a busy week but something nudged me that I needed to get all our clothes washed and dried. I’d been working on the laundry all day. I’ll never forget it. I can see it in my mind’s eye as clearly as if I was there this moment.

It was about 2:00 p.m. I just finished folding the last load of wash. I heard the porch door open, then the kitchen door. It was Dan. On a work day. In the middle of the afternoon. The horrible look of pain on his face began the nightmare as he walked toward me.

“June,” he said, full of emotion. “It’s your dad. He’s been killed in an accident.”

The world stopped and my mind ran amok. What did he just say? “Your dad is dead,” he said again. No. Impossible. Not again.

When I was 16, I was getting ready to leave the house to go to a basketball game when the call came. It was my dad. He called to say I needed to stay home; my mom had been in an accident and she was in the hospital. After three roller coaster days, she died.

Now it was happening again. How could this be?

Dad had been training a younger man on his route. He was a milkman for the Goshen Dairy. They were out on Rt.39 headed toward Coshocton. Dan said that dad had gone off the side of the road and overcompensated to bring the truck back on the road. He was thrown from the truck. The truck landed on him, crushing him instantly. Not a moment’s hope.

He was gone in a heartbeat.

I was dumbstruck. I called my stepmom. She had lost her first husband in a skiing accident. Now here she was, facing it all again. She was in total shock. Yet she had the presence of mind to talk about where tributes might be sent. I suggested they be sent to the fish in dad’s favorite Tappan Lake. The shock of it all made me stupidly humorous. It’s the dumb way I respond.

We packed the fresh, clean clothes and crawled into the car with our daughter and our baby boy embarking on the longest ride of my life. It was so fresh, so unbelievable. I kept thinking “Maybe they’re wrong.

Maybe it was the other guy that died.” “No,” Dan said again and again, “he’s in the hospital. It was your dad.” Then I’d cry and cry some more.

When we got home, there was mom, but no dad. I’d be in the kitchen and swear I heard his footsteps on the porch. I expected to see him on the porch swing. He wasn’t there.

My dad was quite well known in our town. Both mom and I had learned with our previous losses that we didn’t want a big wake. Dad had always said he didn’t want that either. We chose to just be able to go as a family the day before the funeral to see him, spend some time with him, then have a time before the funeral for visitors.

It was a time when I was expected to be strong, get everyone through it all. If I was going to be strong, I knew I had to go see him first, by myself. I was afraid of my own reaction. I knew that I needed that time alone. Our friend was also our funeral director so I called him. He didn’t think it was a good idea for me to come alone. I insisted, knowing that I couldn’t make it through the rest without this one precious moment.

Dick went in with me. There he lay in a suit when he should have been sitting in a chair in his green plaid pants with his red plaid wool shirt – what a combination that had been!

I commented that he didn’t look as bad as I feared he might. Dick told me about his injuries. They’d done a good job with him – except his hair, always shiny and warm auburn, now turned to straw. I didn’t like that. He wouldn’t have either.

I went home and told mom what I’d done. I told her, “He looks okay. You’ll be able to look at him okay.”

Our family visit wasn’t without drama that none of us needed. The morning of the funeral, I informed the culprit that should she behave like that at the service I would personally yank her out of there myself. If I had to keep a stiff upper lip I wasn’t about to tolerate crap from someone who was trying to make it all about herself.

Three hundred people came that morning. It was amazing. For the viewing, they had placed dad at the back of the room. After everyone was seated, they gave us a last moment before the service started. When it was my turn, I walked over to the casket and looked in at the man I’d loved as my father. There he lay, taking with him the grandpa I’d hoped for my kids; the man who had dealt with so much in his life yet managed to stay afloat. In that moment, I truly wanted to throw myself across his lifeless body, screaming in grief, crying until I could cry no longer. But I didn’t for the sake of the stiff upper lip. I’d have been so much better off if I had.

I don’t remember much about the service except the sense that it helped a little. The ride to the cemetery was unreal. It was a beautiful sunny, summer day. Life was taking place outside the car. I wondered why it hadn’t stopped the way my heart had stopped?

Leaving my dad at the cemetery was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, even worse than leaving my mom. I’d always had this idea that dad would be around till he was 85 and I’d end up taking care of him. I thought, having lost my mom, I was owed at least that much. Now he was gone at age 61.

dadToday, 30 years later, it seems so long ago and yet it still seems like yesterday. I can still see him on his hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor one Saturday morning when we were visiting, an impish grin on his face. Or the time he brought grandma and mom to see Rachel at six weeks old; he never got to see Michael.

So many more memories live in my heart and the eye of my mind. I treasure each one. I rest in the knowledge that some day, we’ll be together again, in a happier time and place. Till then, I still love and miss you dad – Robert Hayes Page – August 11, 1920 – July 1, 1981.