I lied in bed just thinking about my life. The movie that played in my brain was on a slow speed. I saw in my minds eye Dad and I fishing as a little girl in Long Island where I was born and raised for 21 years. I flashed through all the excellent restaurants him and Mom took me to. We were elegantly dressed because back then, that is what you did. I heard Dad laughing at me because as a child I always had to check out all the bathrooms in restaurants. There was usually a "helper" in there handing you a crisp, clean towel to wipe your hands on. I would always report my findings when I returned to the table. I also had to test the taste of the water. Dad was always so interested in my "reports" and then he would chuckle.
Dad signed me up for piano lessons for many years and even bought me my own piano. I sucked! I still can't read a musical note to this day. Finally after many years of misery the teacher suggested very gingerly to Mom and Dad to "stop torturing everyone and let her quit." Thank goodness they finally listened.
Over the years Mom and Dad signed me up to try many activities in life. Swim team, diving team, tennis team, basketball, etc. I sucked at them all. I'm not ashamed to say it. I truly and honestly, 100% sucked!! And on top of it all, I can't draw a stick figure either.
My best memory from my childhood was that I really believed that 1 + 1 = 3. Don't ask how I ever came to that conclusion because I don't know. I was REALLY young. It remained a running joke between me and my Dad for the remainder of his life. It was always brought up in conversation and he would tell anyone he would meet. Did it embarrass me in my adult life? The answer is NO. I was proud that my Dad remembered this quirk about his little girl. He talked about me with such pride in his heart.
I have many of my Dad's qualities embedded in my soul and there is no doubt that I am a Hagen thru and thru. But I am more like my Mom in many, many ways. Mom was the nurturing one. Always there to lend a hand to someone in need. Be it a friend or a stranger, she was forever helping.
I found my love for Special Olympics thru my Mom. I was always helping her when she volunteered for the handicapped. She was the one who would always visit you in the hospital and cook a meal when needed. She was the one taking care of her parents when they were sick and dying. She was the one helping out Dad's mother and handicapped sister. I was always right by her side. This is where I believe I get my compassion from.
When we moved from Long Island to Rochester, NY I didn't know a soul. I joined the fire department. I fought fires actively for almost 8 years. To this day, I am a 34 year member of the department. My Mom was always frightened and worried about me when the sirens went off. Dad was always the one who would wake up, turn on the house lights so I wouldn't trip running down the stairs and out the door. He would sneak in a kiss and tell me to be safe. He was proud that I was a firefighter and puff up his chest with pride.
I spent 20+ years as a County Coordinator for Special Olympics. I learned to be more patient, to just go with the flow and often spoke of their motto. Everyone is a winner! Dad and Mom were once again proud that I had so much compassion.
I took care of my Grandmother (Dad's Mom), my handicap Aunt (his sister), my sister-in-law (Rolf's sister), my best friend as she was dying and also Rolf's Mom who is still with us with full blown dementia. Compassion is my calling in life I guess.
I thank God every day that I was good at something. That something turned out to be compassion!
My life list could go on and on. Taking care of Dad since 2008 is right up on top of my list. It was our pleasure to take him in when I knew he couldn't go on without Mom. It came with many up's and down's believe me. Being a care giver is no easy task. But we made it through the best of times and we've made it through the worst of times too. I've thanked Rolf every single day for loving my father too. I couldn't have done it without his help and cooperation.
My guy's hanging at the Home aka Happy Acres
When Mom was sick and dying Dad kept telling me over and over, that "sometimes we just have to throw ourselves onto our swords." In other words, the pain is there, the pain is great but we just have to keep going on. And that's just what Dad, Rolf and I did.
When that slow movie was playing in my head this morning, I could hear my Dad as if he was standing over my bed telling me it was all going to be OK. To just throw myself on the sword and it will all work out in the end.
Yesterday was just way too much to handle. From receiving the phone call at 7:39am to come to the Home quickly to running down the hallways pushing the Director of Nursing and police officer aside I just needed to get to my Dad. He needed me there one last time to throw myself on my sword. I knew he was already gone. But I ran down that hallway like I've never run before. My sweet and loving Dad, left in his sleep to join Mom on the other side.
What could I say to him now that I haven't said to him everyday since 2008. I sat quietly in a chair next to his bed holding his cold hands. I cried and cried and cried. Just like I'm crying now. I can't stop. We had a very special bond him and me and that bond even in death shall not be broken. I stayed as long as I could until the police tossed me out of the room. It's protocol for this Home to have the death investigated. I didn't want to let go of his hand but knew I had to. The County Coroner then arrived and did her thing. They questioned all of us there. It was a long couple of hours sitting there waiting and being interviewed. I had to explain all of Dad's medical history to them. They finally cleared the scene. We don't know why he died. There could be many reasons especially with all his health problems or something to do with the nasty fall he took the other day in his bathroom. We are very thankful he died peacefully in his sleep and that's good enough for us and the only answer we need.
Brother Bob and I helped the funeral director load Dad up for transport. Yes, throwing ourselves on our sword again. I picked out dress clothes for Dad. Mom would be mortified if Dad arrived wearing his nightgown. We took some family pictures down off the walls and put them in Dads hands. We followed him out the door and went home.
We got to see Dad one last time yesterday afternoon at the funeral home. He looked so handsome all dressed. I know Mom was smiling and saying "that's my girl. Dressed him well."
Today Dad will be cremated. And when they are ready, they will put Mom and Dad together in Mom's beautiful urn that sits upon my fireplace. My brother will also have his small urn and they will be mixed in there together also. What does not fit between the two will be given to us so that we can scatter their ashes together in top secret location, in stealth mode. Hell, we don't want to go to jail for littering! It will be yet another day to pull out my sword.
What does the future hold for me now? It will be endless phone calls, straightening out Dads affairs and estate, the cleaning out and the selling of our beautiful NY home. The house that Rolf, Dad and I (plus Lily and Muffin) lovingly called HOME since 2008. It was a wonderful stopping place in our life's journey. I shall miss this place because of so many fond memories are here of my Dad. How we liked to sit on the deck and watch all the critters and family of deer who also called our property home. So many, many memories of a loving family of 5.
Today I will write his obit for the newspapers (NY & FL). How do you write something short about a man who lived so large.
This is the picture I would like to use for his obit
Have my work cut out for me with packing up this house. I tried to go into Dad's in-law unit yesterday and just walked in and walked right back out. It was too soon. The pain is too fresh. Today we will return to the Home and clean out Dad's room there. Wasn't even there 30 days but he made a lasting impression on everyone with his smile and his jovial personality.
Rolf and I will eventually become Florida residents as we will buy out Bob's share of the house there. It will be hard to go back to that house too now that Dad is no longer there. But it was always his wish for us to live there. And it will be an honor.
I miss him more than I can express in words. I was always and will forever be his little girl. He was always and will forever be my Dad. He was my hero, my friend and so much more.
If you could see into my heart right now, it's not pretty. It's angry, it hurts because it's in a million little pieces. I'm lost, just plain ol'e lost! I need my Dad right here by my side to guide me. He always could help me figure out what to do. But that ain't gonna happen anymore. I'm on my own now like a lost soul. I AM a lost soul.
Our last picture together - July 4th, 2015
In a few days I'll cheer up and remember Dad and the wonderful life he lived and gave us. I will remember fondly our last breakfast together the day before he died. I brought him Dunkin Donuts and his face lit up like an 87,000 watt light bulb. We sat and ate and chatted for a few hours. The two of us were never at a loss for words! We hugged, kissed and said I love you to each other before I left to go home that afternoon. I spoke with him again that night and he was happy because the nurse brought him cookies for dinner as he wasn't too hungry. Brother Bob also stopped up with another favorite, a Frosty from Wendys that night. He was on cloud nine. What an excellent last meal for my Dad. We chatted on the phone for a few minutes before he said he was exhausted and wanted to go to bed. Little did I know it would be the last time I would tell him just how much I really loved him and what a great Dad he is. He told me he loved me too and what a great daughter I have always been and thanked Rolf and I for taking such good care of him. Perhaps he knew his new journey awaited him.
Lily knew when I came home yesterday that something was terribly wrong. She has always been that way. She is in tune completely with my soul. Telling Lily & Muffin that Grandpa died was something I needed to do. It's what I did with Muffin when Mom died. If you remember, Muffin was Mom and Dad's dog first. I can tell any expert out there, they knew exactly what I was saying and they felt the grief too. We are all grieving and are sticking close to one another for support.
I know I've said it many, many times in the past and I will say it again. My Blogville friends are the best in the world! Most of you have been on this journey with me for many years. I have life long friends because of blogging and for that I am thankful. I thank you all from the deepest part of my heart for ALL of your love, support, words of wisdom, humor at just the right time, sharing smiles and tears together and most of all just letting me bend your ear with my life stories. Dad always loved that I was a blogger and I would often show him the blog's and read the stories to him. He said it was pretty cool! A very special thank you to Miss Shelle at Simpatico for the heartfelt post about Grandpa Bob yesterday. And to Agnes aka WHN, lot's of bleach baby!
I know that Grandpa Bob will be missed by many of you also. He'd just tell you to get over it and go throw yourself on your sword! And.... when you were done with that he'd probably tell you to go eat an ice cream in his memory.
Yup! that's my Dad.