My dad died today.
He went in to the VA Hospital for knee surgery and he died.
I'm totally over this whole death thing. Death, if you can hear this, please move along now. Quickly.
This year is kicking my ass with sadness. When dad reacted badly to the surgery I immediately thought of flying out. He didn't want me to go because 1) hospitals are no place for babies, 2) the million degrees that is Arizona right now and 3) he's mostly a no-fuss sort-of guy. After a couple of days passed and he was still struggling I booked a ticket. I had visitors coming and the monkeys were starting school, so I decided to wait a week before flying out. My dad died unexpectedly yesterday and my flight is today.
I am so sad. I want to start up with all the "what ifs", but Mia taught me that those are futile.
I've spent the week in a sort of bumbling haze. I went to Tucson and stayed with my Tia. Before dad died I had made all these plans to see people. The thought was, I'd visit him in therapy and then make the rounds with the girlie. Once we landed I didn't really know what to do. We went to my sister's house and sat and talked and ate. At my Tia's house we sat and talked and ate. My dad insisted on never having any type of memorial service, so there was nothing really to plan. All of us were just locked in this stunned holding pattern. We woke up every morning and spent the day being thankful for the family and love that we still have. Even if a large part of that family had just slipped away.
I knew three sides of my dad. The first was the tequila drinking, mischievous, short tempered Marine. My parents got divorced when I was around two, so my dad had me on the weekends. However, he never let that stop him from having a good time. I would go to bars and dance halls and backyard poker games, hunting, shooting and we always would dance, dance, dance at weddings. I've heard stories of his high school football jock years (getting away with so much even though my tata was the Chief of Police). He told me about the Marines, and Vietnam, and getting shot and blown up (I have the bullet that went through his leg). He gave me my first drink, and let me smoke cigarettes with him when I was fourteen (and pretending to be tough). He would take me to R-Rated movies and horrors at the Drive-In. He would let me steer the car and shoot his pistol and dust me off whenever I fell or hurt myself. When camping I would get dirty and pee outside and he never made being a girl seem any different from being a boy. He put me on horses bareback and helped me up again after they'd buck me off. I would watch him play pool with his own stick (and he'd win enough money for dinner). He would drink and laugh and eat and tell jokes and enjoy the life he was given.
Despite doing lots of things that made my mom cringe, my dad would spend lots of quiet time with me too. He would take me to church on Sundays, then we'd go home and watch golf. There were lots of visits to museums and galleries followed by picnics in the park. We'd go play golf and he'd have me carry my clubs. We would spend a lot of time with family, I had a handful of cousins my age that share the majority of my childhood memories. We would go to carnivals and fairs and he'd always try to win me a prize. We'd spend hot summer days inside malls, people watching and making up stories as they'd pass by. Dad and my Tia would take us all hiking on holidays, Easter was usually spent by a stream, or at the park. He'd buy me outfits on layaway, and never believed in credit cards. He'd make me over-easy eggs and taught me how not to break the yolk. We would go to car shows and fiestas in the park. He loved mexican music and 50's songs. We would drive for hours just to see where the road would take us. We would go to the Swap Meet and Gem shows and buy treasures. We would dance in the living room and I would stand on his feet. He taught me how to play chess and he never let me win. I don't ever remember him yelling at me or being too angry (even when I lost my tata's ring on a golf course and dad was crushed). I always felt that he loved me and he was proud, no matter what I did.
The summer before I left to college my dad had a serious stroke. He was in his early 40's and it turned him into an old man over night. Some years before that he remarried and I got a new family filled with brothers, sisters and nieces and nephews. I had the chance to see my dad as a husband, and a grandfather. After the stroke he retired, and he had to walk with a cane. His life slowed down, but he still liked to cook and eat and tell jokes. He was stubborn and would try to fix things by himself. He was off balance and always had some sort of cut or scrape (and the most amazing skin that would magically heal). He moved to Rio Rico into a house on three acres of desert. He would drink coffee and make salsa and watch boxing in his chair. He watched me get married, and divorced, and date all the wrong people. He watched me perform, even if it was late at night and crowded. He watched me jump into everything with my whole heart, and he would still brush me off if I fell. Our visits were quieter and calmer, but we would sit and talk and eat and hold hands. He would smile and tell me he loved me. He watched me move to California and become a stepmom. He walked me down the aisle for the second time and held me when Mia died. He loved Ripley and even learned how to Skype with her on his first computer. He got frustrated at his body and hated being slow and achey. He wanted knee surgery so he could move around better and keep up with his newest granddaughter. He wasn't a perfect man, and he wasn't always a good man, but he was a wonderful man. My Papi. I loved him and always felt loved back.
I miss you dad. Take care of Mia for us.
|60 year span.|
|30 years old. 60 years old.|