March 11, 2008
overdue
It’s long past due, and I’m sorry about that. I wish they made an electronic “Interwebs, thanks for your support during my father’s death, and the really, really tough months that came just before and after it” card, but I haven’t found any of those to send to you. Just so you know, if I were allowed to design one, it would surely be one of those black and white cards with children dressed as adults on it, only on this one the little boy in the top hat would be putting a single red rose on top of a casket, and the girl with the pink lips would be bawling uncontrollably next to him. And it would ruin those cards for everyone who keeps them in production and spoils my trips to Hallmark stores. Just as it should be.

I’m not sure many of you really knew what was happening up until my dad’s death. I kept it quiet, mentioning it only in a few posts. Even then sometimes I’d try to capture the part of his life that remained funny, like I did with the Oreos escapade. Because much of our lives was really, really funny. Or he and my family made it so, mostly because we had to, because the alternative of thinking about the imminent or openly moping really wasn’t even an option. We save most of that kind of drama for our friends and boyfriends, anyway.

The truth is that it was pretty awful, those last months, maybe longer, although I don’t think any of us knew it at the time. I know from pictures that my father was on oxygen for our cruise to Belize in 2005. At that point it was hard for him to make it down the hallways of the ship, and we’d stop with some frequency for him to catch what little breath he had, making it look like we were staring at the ocean or discussing the cheddar eagle atop the buffet. He was hauling around a newfangled oxygen container then, one which finally didn’t make it look like he was about to fill dozens of children’s balloons, and it was the envy of many on the ship. It’s sad even to think about that. He was on oxygen 24 hours a day, even then, more than two years before he passed away. So I guess it was pretty bad for a pretty long time. It just didn’t seem that long to us.

I was afraid for some reason to write in depth about my dad and his illness, afraid that I would be doing a disservice to his privacy and what I perceive to be his legend as a father. Always thin, something that irritated all three of his closest girls, he was still always incredibly strong, particularly in the upper body. In the summers of my childhood I can remember him being able to lift tools and wood and furniture that he probably shouldn’t have. I recall him working under cars until the late hours of summer nights and holding a three-year old me on his shoulder for hours in the airport. The hospice nurse would comment on this remaining strength the day before he died, actually.

He was also ridiculously bright. An engineer, my father almost couldn’t comprehend what it was that his two daughters didn’t adore about physics. I would sit kitchen tableside under his tutelage, crying with frustration because I didn’t understand – and frankly didn’t care – about the velocity of a bullet shot into wood. Or was it the velocity of the wood we were concerned with? I remember him demonstrating the principles of lift and drag to us with pieces of paper. I still don’t understand it, but man was it cool that he did. He loved science and math so much that he still had many of his college textbooks. I loved that. And he was funny. He laughed so hard at bad jokes and great greeting cards that he would be forced to wipe away tears. And I was in awe of him. I continued to be, even in those times when his illness would sneak a little of his lucidity. The father I knew remained intact, questioning medication amounts and laughing with hospice nurses up until his death.

And by not writing about it so much, I think I allowed things to stay that way. For the most part, I don’t feel that I need writing to remember just how awful things were, how his body was disintegrating and refusing to cooperate with his unwavering optimism. I have a surplus of those mental images, and a few concrete ones, and those should suffice for a lifetime.

You didn’t know my father, this man who convinced me I could learn Algebra at an age when it likely wasn’t legal, who wore jeans in the summertime, who cheered for every Florida State game even when many on the team were in jail or on the verge. And most of you don’t know me. But when my father died, I knew I had to come here to post that it was so, partially because I needed to put it into print, but also because part of me needed you to know. And you were completely gracious. You commented, sent flowers, sent private messages, many of them sharing with me your personal experience with losing someone who was a crucial part of your world. I checked your comments and emails during those days with somewhat alarming frequency. I wanted to hear what you had to say, to be close to this community of mostly faceless folks who have been accepting of me and my 12-13,000 neuroses. I needed that support in the face of losing that man, the mathematical wonder, the lover of puns, éclairs, and Peeps, the inexperienced father who once let me throw up in his cupped hands because he couldn’t find a garbage can fast enough. Poor thing.

I loved that man more than I can capture here, and although you didn’t know us, you knew that. Thank you all so very much.


38 Comments:

Blogger Ryane said...

Now thatis a beautiful father moment. Kris, you are amazing. The drink offer stands--ad infinitum.

Blogger jessabean said...

I'm sorry I didn't comment much during that time. But I read and thought about you.

Hope to see you soon so I can hug you!

Blogger Beth said...

That was really lovely, Kris.

Blogger Tilly said...

Chills. In the very best of ways.

Thank YOU. For sharing.

Blogger HKW said...

Lovely and moving post, my eyes welled with tears. You and your Dad are lucky to have one another.

Blogger Debbie said...

beautiful and poignant.

what you lack in your proficiency of physics you more than make up in your ability to weave a beautiful story with your words.

thank you for sharing your world.

Blogger Chantel said...

Again, I'm not going to cry, I'm not going to cry...at the office. Maybe later I will at home.

XOXXO - Beautiful my dear.

Blogger Meg said...

Beautiful post. I got teared up.

Blogger Wicked H said...

Now we know both of you so much more. What a privilege.

Sending continuous love and as many virtual hugs as you can handle.

Blogger Jorge said...

It feels good to write that, no?

:)

I'm glad you did.

I'm sorry you had to go through the hellishness. But I'm certain your dad appreciated everything you did.

Blogger Sizzle said...

Now I am crying. Thanks a lot.

In all seriousness though, this is a beautiful post.

Blogger KB said...

I'm glad you wrote that, too. Wish I could have been there for you in bigger ways. :heart:

Your dad sounds like the greatest!

Blogger Josie said...

I didn't comment, though I read all the time, as it was too close - 6 months - to my own father's passing.
Every time I tried to type something I started crying.
Know you are not alone and have all these wonderful friends to lean on - virtual or real Kris.
Beautiful post for your Father.

Blogger rollokallie said...

Your are a incredible daughter! I love how you were able to capture your dad's personality in your post. I was crying at one sentence and laughing at the next! Your talent of writing has given us your readers the pleasure of knowing your father! It was an honor! I have no doubt in my mind how proud he is to call you his little girl!
(The catching the puke part..my husband has done that for my daughter...those guys make the best dads!)

Blogger Beth said...

Kris, I can't even begin to imagine what you have gone through, and are going through. But you have been in my thoughts and I'm glad to hear that you find some solace in this community you have built. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

Blogger Paige Jennifer said...

Like you couldn't have posted this NEXT week when my PMS will be gone?

(sniffle sniffle)

xoxo

Blogger 'Mazing Amy said...

Kris, I am so sorry for your loss. This was a beautiful post and your feelings for your father come across loud and clear, and that is the part of him you get to keep forever and ever. He is in your heart and always will be. Hang in there, girl!

Blogger jen said...

I feel weird and honored that I found your blog today.

Blogger deeeeeetroit said...

I call them "moments" but that moniker seems almost an unfair classification for these cherished memories. These moments are the time when all is perfect in the world and you can recall every bit of everything with amazing clarity.

They are almost all non-life changing, life affirming, or even a life lesson. These jewels of life represent the perfect situation, with the perfect person, doing what is perfect at that moment.

You are aware of it when you are in it...even in some "dream like" state you know you are witnessing and are a citizen of this, your life's, perfect nugget.

"Please make this last forever!" you scream. But in some ways you are happy it wont because you now have something to keep in your memeory, or on a bookshelf, or in a tupperware container neatly filed with your newly bought lable maker from COSTCO under you bed, that you get to take out and look at again and again.

Each time the memory jogs something else about that brief "post-it" in your life but it always make that time more special.

I know you have had countless moments of these with your Dad. I know you have looked back on them many times while he was still here and since his passing.

Make sure you pull them out of the tupperware and off the bookshelf, more often than you should, so he will always be there for you.

Love you babe.

That was an awesome description of your father and some of the many memories that you have of him and his life. I only just started reading your posts, but I'm thinking of you during this time, and I'm sorry about the loss of your father!

Blogger DJSassafrass said...

I enjoyed reading about your father and I think it's a lovely tribute to him. I'm thinking good thoughts for you and hoping that the wonderful memories of him are what you can focus on.

Blogger Ashley said...

this was a beautiful post, kris. i think i lurk more often than comment on your site....but i'm always blown away by how poignant and funny you are.

Blogger sam said...

I am so sorry for your loss Kris. Your father sounds like a remarkable man.

You're in my thoughts! *hugs*

Blogger Alexandra said...

Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing that!

Blogger Buffy said...

Wow. This really affected me. I'm sincerely sorry about your father....

Blogger Buffy said...

Wow. This really affected me. I'm sincerely sorry about your father....

Blogger Mamma said...

But see I feel like I did know him. The way you write about him...you brought him to us.

And through my knowledge of his daughter I know he must have been an amazing man.

I'm always here girlie.

Blogger Heather said...

I came here yesterday and the heartache and smiles that this post brought were overwhelming. Thank you for reminding me how lucky I'am that my Daddy is still here...

Blogger brookem said...

What a beautiful tribute to your dad.

And damnit, I wish I lived closer to you and Ryane- I'd like to go out for cocktails and hear more about this amazing man.

Continuing to keep you in my thoughts!

Blogger Spirophita said...

I loved that. :) So beautiful.

I really believe that when we are so intensely loved by someone, that it sticks with us forever. Obviously, it has with you.

Blogger Johnny DC said...

Welcome to the fellowship of the orphaned.

You are not alone.
You will never be alone.

Blogger Karl said...

Good Afternoon Kris,

Well said, you honor your father , your self and your friends.

Blogger KathyLikesPink said...

My heart breaks for you. Please accept my sincere condolences on your loss.

Blogger WanderingGirl said...

No charge.

Blogger Amanda said...

Aching for you.

Blogger Jessica said...

*blink* *blink* *blink*

*hug*

Blogger jules said...

I found your website two years ago while googling and trying to find someone out there struggling with men who are jerks. Since that time I have been a loyal fan of your writing style, your humor, and your stories. I read this post about your father this morning and had to respond. It was poetic, your description of your dad. I lost my father 12 years ago and there are days when it still feels like yesterday. I'm so sorry for your loss!

Blogger onewaybanter said...

I don't know you, just happened to stumble upon your blog. I'm at work and in tears. This is beautiful.

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