Monday, May 18, 2009

My Father, My Hero...

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I have been MIA from blog world for several reasons. But the main reason is my father passed away on May 7, 2009. My dad was 80 (he would have been 81 in June), and suffered from emphysema and neuropathy of the hands and feet. He was a great man and will be greatly missed.

Many people have asked me if it was an expected death. The answer to that question is yes and no. We knew that eventually the emphysema would be more than likely be the cause of his death, but I don't think any of us expected it to be so soon. A few years ago he was in the hospital for bleeding in his stomach. He had to undergo a procedure to get the blood out of his stomach and because of his breathing, he had to be put on a ventilator. He was on a ventilator for several days and because he was in the hospital so long, he had to undergo some pretty extensive physical therapy to learn to walk again. At that time we were not sure if he would ever walk again, drive a car, or even be able to care for himself. But after lots of prayers and a miracle from above, he recovered quite remarkably other than being on full time oxygen. He also had to have breathing treatments three or four times a day.

The day he passes away I called to ask my mom something and he happened to answer. Mom had just left to go out with a friend. I called just before five o'clock. Dad answered the phone and at first I thought we had a bad connection. He said he was laying in bed and I told him to get his behind up (we joked alot with each other). He said he was laying in bed because he was having trouble breathing. I asked him if he was alright and he said yes, it happened sometimes and he just needed to lay down for a bit. He said he was going to take his breathing treatment soon and that should help. I could tell he was breathing heavy and I did not want to cause him anymore discomfort so I told him I would talk to him later. He said "okay, I will talk to you later, " and those were the last words he ever spoke to me. I was the last person he spoke to on that day. Apparently around six 0'clock he sat in his chair just like he did every night at that time to take his breathing treatment. He passed away in the middle of his breathing treatment shortly after six.
I got a call from my mom shortly after nine that evening (I was online in the middle of a final) saying that dad has passed away. She happened to call home around 8:30 p.m.(on her way home) and he didn't answer so she got worried and had a neighbor check on him. The neighbor (who helped my parents around the house with odds and ends) called mom back and told her that he had just called the EMS and that dad had passed away.

I am so thankful that he passed away at home and not in the hospital. The last thing he wanted to do was go back to the hospital. So for that, I thank God for granting his prayers. Although this has been an emotional, heartbreaking time for my family, I have this great sense of peace knowing that he is finally at peace. Because of the neuropathy in his feet, dad was always in a great deal of pain and at times could barely walk. I can just imagine him now up in heaven taking nice long deep breaths, standing tall, and free from pain in his hands and feet.
A couple of days after his passing, my BFF Jennifer (we have been friends since elementary school) called to see if there was anything she could do. I told her no, and she went on to tell me that while she was in Church the other day she kneeled to say a prayer for my dad. She said that in the middle of praying she got this vision of my dad sitting in the clouds showing her that his hands and feet did not hurt anymore. Praise God.

My dad was a great dad. When we were younger he worked long hours as a truck driver so he would leave early in the morning and not get home until after dinner most nights. He was a hard worker with a great work ethic. My dad was in his forties when he and my mom got married. As long as I can remember he has always been bald (except for the ring of hair we called his "halo"). Back when he did have hair though, it was the color of mine and just as curly. Dad had a great sense of humor which I like to think I inherited from him. He was also a very caring and giving person. He would do just about anything for anyone and was very well liked. If you needed a dollar and that is all he had in his wallet, he would gladly give it to you no questions asked. He was a very strong man (and I don't necessarily mean physically). He has gone through alot in his 80 years. He always let us know exactly what he was thinking, good or bad. He thought Matt and I were nuts for adopting again. But he was also very supportive and loved to hear about Mylee and how she was doing. He in turn was a very proud man and did not like to ask anyone for anything or any help. He still mowed his own grass every week and loved to tend to his flowers. I can remember every spring he would order exotic or rare plants from a magazine just to see if he could get them to grow. I most definitely did not inherit his green thumb.

When I was little dad and I were both early risers. So while everyone else slept in on the weekends, I would go uptown with dad and have breakfast with him. Because of his age we would often get asked if he was our grandpa (there were 18 years between my parents). I would get so mad, but I did think it was pretty cool that my dad was retiring while I was still in high school. Like most dads my sister and I were pretty good at getting what we wanted from him. If it was something we knew mom would say no to we aways asked dad first.

With every life there are good times and bad. No one is perfect and if anyone knew that it was dad. However, he was a Godly man and faithfully sat in Church every Sunday morning at the 7:00 a.m. mass. He would always ask if we went to Church and if I said no, we didn't make it, he would give me heck.

He was so very proud of my sister and I and told us that quite often lately. Since his passing several people have called to give us their condolences and the one thing they all say is that "your dad sure thought alot of you two girls. He talked about you alot and how proud of both of you he was." He also spoke a great deal about our kids and loved hearing stories about them. He always asked how each of them was doing or what they were up to. He especially like to hear stories about Gabe. Gabe is quite a character and he could always make my dad laugh. Gabe also has my dad's middle name. He was also so proud of Matt and all that he does for our family. Many times dad would pull me aside and tell me how much he admired Matt and he was so glad that I found a man to take care of me and my kids and that made me happy. Dad didn't say a whole lot of mushy stuff, so when he did, you knew he really meant it and was coming from his heart.

As much as his passing hurts, I know he is exactly where he should be and is enjoying every minute of it. Emma asked me this morning if Grandpa is an angel now, and if so is he watching over us? She also wanted to know if he was right there with her every day or just when she needed him. I told her that Grandpa is watching over all of us now and will always be with us. I know that as time goes on she will probably not remember him much nor will Gabe or Mylee. Blake will and he has alot of great memories of them together. My heart breaks that the others will not have those same memories. The last time we saw my dad was at Easter and the one thing I regret was not getting a picture of him with all the kids.

As much as it hurts that he is gone and as much as he is going to be missed, I know with all my heart he is in a better place and is finally pain free and at peace.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

One Year Ago...

One year ago today I received the most precious gift of all, a daughter. I prayed and dreamed of this moment for many years and was filled with so much emotion as Mylee was placed in my arms for the very first time. I have only had that feeling three other times in my life, when Blake, Emma, and Gabe were placed in my arms the very first time. Mylee has been such a joy and blessing to our family. She has touched so many people since she has been here. It is hard to believe that she has only been with us for a year. But at the same time, it is hard to remember what our family and life was like before Mylee.

Mylee is...happy, funny, silly, stubborn, beautiful, loving, caring, smart, sweet, persistent, tiny, determined, feisty, a sister, a daughter, a cousin, a niece, a granddaughter, a friend, Mylee is family. There are alot of ways to describe Mylee, but the most important descriptive word is FAMILY.

I will leave you today with a video montage of our time in China beginning with the moment she was placed in my arms. Over the next few days I plan to reminisce about our time in China and how Mylee has blossomed over the past year.