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Bloviating Zeppelin: One More Good-Bye

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Monday, August 17, 2009

One More Good-Bye

This year and last have been years of "goodbyes."

I had to place my father into what turned out to be his last nursing home, on November 5th of last year, when I determined he couldn't take care of himself. I found him curled up in the fetal position on the guest bed in his home. I wrote then:

Yesterday, I had to place him in a nursing home. And it cuts me to the quick. I feel like the worst possible betrayer, a bad son, and it literally tears my heart.

In the process of physically lifting him out of the house and placing him into my car for the trip to the nursing home, he turned and, in a small voice, looked through the window and said: "Goodbye, house."

My father finally succumbed to a number of physical ailments and, eventually, the leukemia with which he had been diagnosed. He lived a full year over what the doctors thought he would.

The family visited him in the hospital Tuesday night, February 10th of this year, absent my mother -- who had herself passed away in the hospital on May 14th of 2002. He was on oxygen and kept trying to push the mask away in order to talk. My wife that night kissed my father goodbye. She said: "Kiss your father. You might not see him again." I should have listened to her.

Instead, I held his hand, squeezed it, touched his shoulder and said "we'll see you tomorrow." None of his sons kissed him goodbye that night. Just my wife. And I'll regret not doing so until the day I die.

Because at a little after 3:30 that next morning, we received the phone call.

We went to his bedside that morning. He was still warm but drawn, mouth open. Maybe he knew his death was near, maybe he didn't. If he did, he played the game: "see you tomorrow" he'd said. Then, as I held his hand once again, I thought: he died alone. Completely alone. In a cold, sterile hospital, with no friends about, no family around. Alone. In a room. How terrible, how horrible that must have been. Because he had family. He had children, unlike me.

But we left him. We walked away. He had to face that night, his final night, completely abandoned and alone. That haunted me then, it haunts me now and at this moment as I write these lines. My eyes are, admittedly, clouded with tears.

I spoke to him a little bit that morning. We marveled that we discovered he had his wallet in his possession, hidden in his hospital bed. He was anal about his wallet. It went wherever he went. We found it with him. How very Dad was that? My final words to him, before I had to turn and leave him, again alone, in his hospital room: "Goodbye, buddy."

That first night of the 11th, I had a dream. I awakened with it in my head. Carole King was singing "So Far Away." I remember that most distinctly.

It is now Sunday on August 16th, after 6 PM, as I write this. I am up at my cabin in the mountains. The air is smoky from some local fires. But I am still far away from civilization. I reminisce about my father. And I now tell you about my -- perhaps -- final goodbye.

I had to sell my father's car yesterday. It hurt me to do so; it really did. Yes, I am completely aware that it is an inanimate metal object. It makes no sense to feel empty after selling a car. Yet I feel despicable for having done so.

Three initial people wanted to buy his car, a 2004 Nissan Maxima, which was in pristine shape: the realtor for my father's house, the man who conducted my father's estate sale and a friend at my former work site. None of them "came through."

I then had to try to sell it privately. There wasn't even one nibble.

In the meantime, for almost 6 months, it sat in my personal care -- first at my former work site, then it was parked outside my cabin. I would start and drive it sparingly, mostly to keep the battery up and charged.

Yesterday, the 15th, I sold my father's car to CarMax in Roseville. Overall it was a streamlined experience. The CarMax staff was, I must say, considerate and professional. Yet it still hurt.

It was just a car. It was just some cold steel. Though again, yet, I felt I somehow abandoned my father. Of course I know, intellectually, this is silly. It was just a car. I need to sack up. Get over it. Move on. Get a grip. Be a Man.

But selling my Dad's car was like my final good-bye. I lost him. Then I lost his house. Now I gave up his car for cash.

I know, rationally, it's stupid. But it hurts all the same.

I guess: goodbye again, Dad. Please don't hate me.



Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

Whoa! Feeling flow and grief is a mutha. Bless you BZ. I know your Dad is proud of you. You are what any parent could want; a good man a considerate son. We all make mistakes. I won't say much more because this is a cathartic post. Take Care.

Sun Aug 16, 07:04:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Capt. Schmoe said...

The power of this post made me stop in my tracks, call my folks and call my ill father-in-law. This is a phase of our lives when we have to make hard choices regarding the care of our parents. Much like the choices they made for us when we were small. Some of them are not easy.

Thanks for your powerful words.

Sun Aug 16, 07:55:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Ranando said...


I wish you only the best my friend.

There is nothing left to say.

Sun Aug 16, 08:01:00 PM PDT  
Blogger shoprat said...

Nothing that carries emotional meaning is "just a" anything. We are going to be selling some of the stuff my father can no longer use shortly and seeing it go will be hard on him. I have no control over that decision.

Sun Aug 16, 08:07:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Shanksow said...

My father's mind was going. He rarely reconized me when I made the monthly trip down to visit him in the veterans nursing home. Two months before his death, I asked him what he would like to have on my next visit.

"Some cookies." He left it up to me to determine which kind. I picked up a package of those M&Ms cookies and some oatmeal cookies. My next trip down to Big Spring, Texas, I had to go visit him in the Veterans hospital instead of the nursing home. His condition was getting worse.

He did reconized me on this trip and I gave him his choice. He picked two oatmeal cookies and chewed on them and I had a nurse take a picture of the two of us there in his hospital room.

About five-six weeks later, July 2007, I got the call that he needed to get put into hospitace. I barely got him signed up for it when the very next day, he passed away.

I'm trying to hold back my tears now, but my goodbye to him was that day in June when I gave him his cookies.

That is my image of my father BZ. Maybe if you hold onto the image of your wife kissing your father goodbye and you holding onto his hands - let that be your goodbye and stop beating yourself up over what could have been.

Just my two cents to help out. Good luck.

Sun Aug 16, 08:13:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Z said...

BZ....I'm trying to picture your Dad feeling badly about the car. I'll bet you can't picture it, either.
You have such a big heart and your Dad must have been SUCH a great guy for you to have these feelings.

We sold Dad's car, too....he had a Thomas Guide in the door and I still have it...more meaningful because his name was Thomas...Tom. I like that.

Be easy on yourself, friend...Ranando's right, except I had to babble as usual..."there is nothing left to say"

Sun Aug 16, 08:16:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Z said...

I just read Shanksow's comment...
May I add that I hope many American men NOW are being the kinds of fathers our fathers obviously were..? i hope so.

Sun Aug 16, 08:18:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Law and Order Teacher said...

I had the "advantage" of my father going quickly. You didn't have any foresight of when he would go. Think that he passed after having a final touch of his son and his daughter-in-law. I would think he passed with that warmth. Everything that reminds you of him is painful. But that is good because it reminds you of your love for him.

My church today had an outside Mass. It was incredibly hot, but we were rededicating the shrine of the Virgin Mary. My dad was devoted to Mary and I was thinking he would have loved this Mass at the shrine. You see, your Dad is never far away because he is always with you. I miss him like hell.

But, my faith tells me he is with God and all his relatives and he is in paradise. He earned it.

Your blog inspired me to post a picture of my Dad and to identify him as you have done with yours. I got over the cop paranoia about publishing his name. Thanks for that.

Sun Aug 16, 08:31:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

LOT: yeah. I miss my Dad like hell too. I thought it would just kind of blow away, like some dust on the windowsill. It isn't at all. That was one of the hardest things I've had to do recently, besides go to work the first day at an entirely different job -- and writing this post was supremely difficult.

But I had to do it. Just for me, I suppose. It still tears me up, an aged adult. I feel ashamed and I feel small and I feel conflicted and I feel purged, all at once.

I thought this had all gone away, somewhat, until the act of selling Dad's car actually occurred.

I think I finally realized: it wasn't necessarily the car itself; it was what the car represented in terms of my trying to -- I guess -- hang onto some little final bit or vestige of my father.

He's gone. And now he's really gone; most every aspect of him now.

Six months. And still Dad affects me every day.



Sun Aug 16, 10:58:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Capt Schmoe: that was a great thing to call your Dad In Law. I'm sure he REALLY appreciated the gesture.

"If only, if only. . ."

Everyone says: "get OVER 'if only.' "

It ain't that easy, folks.


Sun Aug 16, 11:01:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Tom said...

Both my parents are still alive and have their facilities, but I dread the day that I will need to say "Goodbye."

Take it easy, and be at peace.

Mon Aug 17, 03:35:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Rivka said...

BZ, you should write a book. You are a great writer. This was moving and although it was short and sweet it was pretty much packed making me feel like I read a chapter. Maybe because we all know the background as well.

You take care today, BZ and know that you have inspired a lot of people to remember how thankful we need to be if our parents are still alive and perhaps go see them more often and attempt to clear up torn relationships if need be.

Mon Aug 17, 04:53:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What ShopRat said. . .
Anything that has emotional attachment, is not and can never be, just a thing. No matter what it's made of.

Peace be unto you.
It's never easy.

B Woodman

Mon Aug 17, 05:35:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Law and Order Teacher said...

I don't want to get over my dad's passing. I want him to be with me everyday in everyway. Therefore, I refuse to let go of him and he resides in my heart.

Things are great, but his spirit makes me strive to impress him just like when he was alive. Nothing has changed in my heart. Your father is with you all the time.

Never let go of that thought. You'll only learn to deal with it. You don't want to get over him. You aren't small to feel love for your father. My dad was a very emotional man and cried at the drop of a hat. It only made him bigger in my eyes. God bless.

Mon Aug 17, 10:55:00 AM PDT  
Blogger commoncents said...

Great post! Keep up the excellent work!!

ps. We got you linked on CC. Hope you can link to us!!!

Mon Aug 17, 03:19:00 PM PDT  
Blogger TexasFred said...

BZ, he's not gonna hate you man... He is long past that...

Mon Aug 17, 04:51:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bushwack said...

Damn BZ, tough post. Wishin you the best.

Mon Aug 17, 04:55:00 PM PDT  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

Mr. Z - That is always the hardest part - reconciling yourself to stop asking 'what if...?' It took me about 5 years after the passing of my father to end that self-torment: I had done all that I could and could do no more than I did.

You loved him in life as he did you. You honor him in life and we are made better for your sharing of his life with us. For that I am grateful: to know such good men have walked the Earth during my time on it.

I have a very few things that were uniquely my father's: an inlaid table he had made, some of his favorite pocket knives, a curio cabinet that was his father's and is now mine through him, likewise two chairs. The living memory of my father is with me, and that of my grandfathers and grandmothers. Those items I will pass on to the next generation if I am lucky. Their memory has already been spoken of... and lives on in others.

The hardest part is forgiving yourself for not being perfect. Those that do not go through it, I do pity as they have no heart, no soul, no life... for they are the most flawed of all. It is a tough process, this learning to forgive yourself, and you will try to do better so that you don't have to do it again. Thus your grief for that and realizing he would not want you to feel that will be his last gift to you: to be a better man by doing better for the rest of your life.

Mon Aug 17, 05:37:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

TF and Bushwack: thank you both for weighing in. That means a whole lot to me, despite what you may think.

AJ: as a staple on my site, I thank you for taking the time for a response.

Five years to "get over it"? I can certainly imagine that. And yes, like you, there are certain things that remind me of Dad.

And yes, sir, I know he wasn't perfect. I wasn't perfect in response. But I should have taken his age and other things into consideration. WHY do I question things now instead of then? Because I'm lacking now.

I may have to learn precisely that. I may have to LEARN how to forgive myself. I can't see that happening now. Perhaps years in the future. Die zukunft.


Mon Aug 17, 07:10:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Average American said...

BZ, did you ever stop to think that maybe your dad waited to be alone to die? I swear both of my parents did that. My mom was on her death bed for a full week and finally, there was about 15 minutes when we had all vacated the room. It was then that she let go. A few years later, my dad did the exact same thing. For four days my siblings and I maintained round the clock vigil. I took my sister and a sister in law to breakfast and while we were gone, the two brothers went out for a quick smoke. Dad had to have been waiting for just such a chance because when they returned, he had snuck out. Ask yourself this, if you had the choice, would you want people watching you die? I know I would NOT. I believe with all my heart and soul that we do have some leeway in this. In fact, when I know someone who is going through this ordeal, I strongly recommend they give the dying person a chance to be alone, at least 15 minutes every few hours or so. You would be amazed how many have thanked me later for it.

Tue Aug 18, 12:18:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a quote, not sure if accurate but you will get the idea...

"Those we love and lost are no longer where they have been, but now are every where we are."

Don't remember the person who stated this.

Tue Aug 18, 04:03:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

AA: that stopped me in my tracks. No. I did not ever remotely consider that. I just don't know.

Now. It makes me wonder just a bit. Just a bit.

Anonymous: and that is a great quote. Thank you kindly.


Tue Aug 18, 05:17:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous HoosierArmyMom said...

Having lost both my parents, Mom in Oct. 97 and Dad in May of 01, I understand the pain one feels when they have to "dismantle" the past and the signs that they were here.

I have come to be grateful that I believe in the here after and am comforted that I will see them again.

God bless and comfort you BZ, as you struggle through your grief.

Sat Aug 22, 06:15:00 PM PDT  

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