formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just Do It 'til You Fart...

When I was a teenager, my dad asked me to help him loosen a bolt from a pipe (my brothers weren’t home, so DIY assistance fell to me). My job was basically to provide resistance – to hold the pipe still as he used a massive wrench to loosen the bolt. Sounds easy, right? Nope… that bolt was stuck tight. I was holding the pipe as steady as I could but I wasn’t strong enough to counter his… wrenching. My dad looked at me with a rather exasperated expression and said, “Diane, just do it ‘til you fart.” Well, I burst out laughing and lost my grip on the pipe just as my dad gave it a good yank, and it shot up and damn-near broke my cheekbone.

That was my dad… he was a ‘do it ‘til you fart’ sort of person. Whatever he did, he gave it his all. And that included loving me. I could always trust that no matter how I failed; no matter what asinine thing I did; no matter what – he would love me; he would accept me (I know all parents are supposed to do that, but I also know that not all do). He was not a perfect man and sometimes he infuriated and confounded and even disappointed me, but he was still my hero. He taught me to think for myself – something I’m sure he kicked himself in the ass for at times, as from 15 on, I rarely agreed with him about anything… but I think, deep down, he was proud, too; proud that I stood up for what I thought was right, even if he thought I was wrong.

My father’s death was devastating. I knew it was coming, but knowing something and believing it are two different things. Knowing certainly didn’t make it easier to accept or handle. That I didn’t make it home in time compounded the difficulty. I was already so angry and hurt and lost and sad, but still, the part of me that likes to torture myself when I mess up had to throw some guilt on top of the emotional crap heap already smothering me. It didn’t matter that I knew in my head my dad understood why I wasn’t there; that he knew I loved him. My heart was ripped apart with grief and guilt, and it ruled my psyche for a long time after his death.

The day after he died, I sat down at his desk and started writing – logging memories frantically; terrified they would all disappear because I couldn’t see his face or hear his voice anymore. The unintentional result of my scribbling was my father’s eulogy. No one in my family thought I’d actually be able to deliver it. Hell, even I didn’t think so. I was a mess. But as I stood, all alone, in a little room next to the chapel at the funeral home, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace settle around me… in me. I believe it was my dad giving me what I needed at that moment… and I understood that it had to be me who spoke at his service; that no one else could say my words. Having me deliver the eulogy was what he would have wanted… and what I needed. It was my way to say good-bye; to honor my father in a way he would have loved. So I did it. I stood up in front of everyone, with dry eyes and a clear voice, and I told them about my hero; I showed them my dad through my eyes; through my words. I made them laugh… and cry… and I know I made him proud.

That was ten years ago. Lord, how time flies. It feels like his funeral was just last December. I didn't think I’d make it through that first year... and I’m not entirely sure how I did. It was likely because I had a new baby to take care of… and because I still felt my dad around me; I really believed he was still there. I was also sure it would get easier with time. I suppose it has. I don’t cry every day now… but I still cry. There’s still a hole in my heart… in my life… in my whole world… where my dad used to be, and time and my memories simply aren’t big enough to fill it. It gapes, wide and dark, and sometimes – the times when I want so desperately to tell him something or when I need to lean on him – that darkness just about swallows me whole.

And I don’t feel him anymore.

And that might be the worst thing of all.

I just miss him like hell.

My dad…

June 26, 1937 – December 10, 1998

28 comments:

Mama Wheaton said...

I am sad for your loss, but it makes me more sad that my girls don't have the realtionship they should wtih their dad. I never had a dad but through post like yours I know what I missed and I realize what the girls are missing when he shuts them out for their failures.

hebba said...

I am so sad for you. That post just ripped my heart out. Yet, it also made me laugh. "Do it 'till you fart". That may be my new philosophy of life

Mel said...

I knew you'd be able to do that eulogy. I didn't know you'd be able to do it without crying all the way through and I didn't know that we'd all laugh at some of it, but I did know you'd be able to do it.

Jane! said...

How lucky you are to have had such a great dad - one that still makes you miss him every day. It scares the heck out of me to think of losing mine. He's always been my biggest fan and inspiration.

Great story!

Jenners said...

This was truly beautiful and moving. What a great memorial for your dad to write this. You brought him alive for me and the others reading this ... and because of that, he lives still. Thanks for sharing.

Shanna said...

I can't imagine losing a parent - hopefully being able to get some of it out of your head where you can come back to it when you feel like a good cry will help.

Red Cup Mom said...

Great share. It's hard to lose them. And it is almost harder when it doesn't hurt anymore or do you feel him anymore.

For some reason, butterflies remind me of my dad. Do you have a particular item that brings back a flood of memories?

I always take solace in that my kids won't know what they are missing. I am sure Ryan is the same way. Hard to explain. It's our loss and not our kids in some way.

Again, great post. I also like your quote of the week.

Lee said...

Wow! That was an ambush and a half! But not your fault, though. I am not long home from spending most of the day with my Mum, talking about my Dad and related things, sorting 'stuff' in his workroom and generally being a bit teary. Still am.

The only consolation I can offer is that you wouldn't miss him if you didn't love him so much. A bitter-sweet and somewhat salty reality.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

"Do it til you fart"? I like that!

Leon Basin said...

That is a great point.

Henry the Dog said...

Very moving. I don't know what it's like to lose someone I love, but my mum does and she says that it gets easier with each passing day but there's an ache that is ever present. Big hugs from a cuddly dog.

Protege said...

Diane, I know how you miss your father and I know the pain will never completely disappear. Death, as a part of life, is impossible to accept.
Your post is as always very moving, sincere and very real. I am sure all of us who have lost someone very dear can relate to your experiences in one way or another.

Strange Pilgram said...

What an awesome Dad! He sounds so much like mine. Before I got married he told me that there wasn't anyone on earth who could love me more than he does. I believe him now.

Wonderful post and beautifully articulated emotion.

mo.stoneskin said...

New babies certainly preoccupy. Beautifully written by the way.

Sam_I_am said...

Oh, Diane. You make me feel not so alone. :-)

Heather said...

I know your father would be so proud of the strong, independent, free-thinking woman you are today. Thank you for sharing this bitter-sweet memory with us. (I'll definitely remember your dad's advice next time I'm facing a difficult situation!)

Cat said...

Beautiful post, I was hoping you'd post the eulogy. He sounds like a wonderful man, and reading this, my chest constricted with the thought that my dad will die someday and I just don't know what I'll do without him.

Heinous said...

Great post Diane. He sounds wonderful. He would be very proud of who you are now.

I know how you feel. I lost my mom 17 years ago and it hurts the most when I realize it's hard to even see her face without the aid of a picture anymore.

Blarney said...

Planned or unplanned losing someone hurts all the same. I keep telling myself that in the game of life no one gets out alive but it only dulls the pain. My Mom is only gone since June but I can't help wonder when I will begin to forget. Sometimes I wish it was tomorrow and sometimes I hope to never forget ... it's a hard road to travel.

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

When you don't feel him, that is when he is with you the most, because he wants you to move on with your life without being held back by the grief of losing him. No matter what, he's always a part of you.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Diane, I have to second another commenter -- you really were fortunate to have a Dad that gave you so many special memories. Just remember that when you're feeling blue.

Ronda's Rants said...

Oh Diane...I am sorry...I hope you will enjoy all of your memories of him...you lost him much too soon!

Sometimes Sophia said...

A very loving tribute. This kind of sadness is a shape-shifter that never goes away. So sorry.

Anonymous said...

So sad for your loss. That is a pain I've not had to deal with yet but have been dreading since I first learned that we all die eventually. I admire your strength at being able to deliver the eulogy, I pray that when the time comes I'll be able to honor my parents that way.

Heather's M

JIMSIGHT said...

I know it sounds like a cliche but I so feel your pain Diane. Lost Dad on Valentines day 1999, Mom in March of 03 and then my wife in April of 06. It seems that after a while the only time you can feel them is once in a while in your dreams. I love when then happens. It always makes me cry in the morning but most of the time there are some happy tears in the mix.

Braja said...

Gosh, it's in the air...I just wrote a piece for a guest post on the death of my father...and death in general. It's posted on Monday on LadyFi's blog:

http://ladyfi.wordpress.com/

Something to share with you at least...

hautepocket said...

I love your dad's "Do it til you fart' mentality. It sounds like he would have gotten along with my dad famously.

I am sorry for your loss. I can't imagine the death of a parent. Every time I visit home my parents have aged a bit more than the time before and although they are both relatively healthy it breaks my heart. I can't wait to move closer to home. Thanks for sharing this. You dad sounds like he was a great guy.

gwenlyn said...

Hey Diane,
This piece really touched me; my mom died Dec. 12, 2003 - a day I'll never be far from. Hanging Christmas tree ornaments she gave me is a one way I remember her, though it's a tender memory. Thanks for this post and all the courage it took to be in your grief and share it with us.