To Be In God’s Waiting Room: The Passing of My Father

My father was called this morning, he no longer waits. My feelings are bittersweet as I’m so pleased that he no longer suffers, but like most, I wanted him to stay with me and somehow miraculously be healthy again. I’m so glad I got to speak with him yesterday and say those oh so simple words, I Love You. Sadly, I already buried my mother 14 years ago, so these emotions are all too familiar, my heart is heavy with grief and I feel so  ~ alone.

One might ask, how can you feel alone when you have a great husband and two beautiful sons as your family? Let there be no confusion, I love my family and my life; but there’s a cord that is struck when a parent dies, you can’t help but feel ~ alone.

250dadMy Dad was the last connection…to my beginning.
He’s half of the duet that made me, cradled me, taught me to walk and talk, instilled my morals and values, and always told me how proud he was, sometimes directly, but mostly in subtleties.

My father was in God’s waiting room for three and a half years. He never had the chance to bounce back from postoperative cancer complications and later his cancer returned. It was difficult to watch him struggle, for a Dad is always the strong one, physically and mentally. He never complained. He was the consummate problem solver and negotiator for work challenges, having been in management and worked with unions for many years. He was the handyman whom I lovingly nicknamed Earl. At every visit to my sister’s or my home he would survey the land and see what projects needed tended, roll up his sleeves and dive right in.

Anthony GemmatoKorea

Proud isn’t a good enough word.
I’m proud of my father. He was one of five children born to Italian immigrants. His parents never learned to read or write English, but wanted to be a part of the land of opportunity and gave as much as they could to their children. My father worked literally from the ground up as a jogger in a pressroom, to a pressman and then into management. My Mom and he wanted more for us and so we became the first generation to be college educated. I wear that medal proudly, never take it for granted and never forget where I came from and the sacrifices that were made to help make that happen.

I’ve often joked that no one loves you like your mother; no one wants to truly know all the crazy you’re buying and selling or is interested in the everyday mundane details of your life. She is your biggest cheerleader when you attempt something new or when you’re in the dumpster thinking you can’t accomplish something. Now I say, no one loves you like a parent.

My Dad did a fine job of being a Dad; especially, once my mother passed, he did his best filling both roles – as best as a man can. He was there for his four grandchildren’s births, played, read and giggled with them. He continued the tradition of his father and bought savings bonds for his grandchildren’s milestones and birthdays. Unfortunately, my sons have no memory of him when he was healthy. Gratefully, my boys can watch videos where he taught my eldest to walk with his push truck and drink from a big boy cup for the glimpse of the man he was; but their memories are clouded with a wheelchair, oxygen and Grandpa sleeping a lot.

I never envisioned being without.
Life is never how we plan it. Honestly, I never saw my children without my parents; but they are. It’s sad for me whenever there is an event in their lives, whether that is grandparents’ day at school, a call to tell they advanced to the next level in swimming, scored a goal in soccer, or to share their report card. We’ve made adjustments in our lives and find others who want to participate in that way. We are very blessed to have a great circle of friends and a few extended family members that have so willingly stepped in and filled that void. Moreover, there are others who influence our sons’ lives that are unaware of the impact they have, just by taking a genuine interest, making them feel safe and cared for.

It has to be difficult to be in God’s waiting room, especially when your body fails you and restricts you from living life to the fullest. Every night when you shut your eyes, you wonder, will I wake? What a challenge it must have been to see no cooperation from your body or progress in your health, but have to wait…patiently…to be called.

250Dad-MomWhat happens now?
When I think of him in the afterlife, I can only envision one of those sappy movie scenes where my parents are running toward one another in a beautiful field; so happy to see one another after all these years. Later, after finishing a round of golf, he’ll have a bourbon on the rocks, read the paper and listen to a little Louie Prima, while my Mom makes dinner. I hope that’s how it plays out for them, together, reminiscing of old times and eating popcorn while watching their children and grandchildren’s lives play out.

With my parents gone, I have become “the generation.” There is no one before me. I pray for the grace to fill such big shoes and pass on the wisdom that was passed onto me. I will surrender to the sadness of my father’s death and fully embrace his ending to allow for a new beginning to unfold, but that time is not now. Once the clouds lift, once I’ve taken the time to revere what once was, what will be will be well worth the wait.

“When someone is in your heart, they’re never truly gone.
They can come back to you, even at unlikely times.”
~ Mitch Albom

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19 thoughts on “To Be In God’s Waiting Room: The Passing of My Father

  1. This was so beautifully written Kristin! A wonderful tribute to your parents from a loving and grateful daughter. May the joy of having wonderful parents in your life sustain and help you move forward in your own family as you continue to be a wonderful mother to your children. Best wishes to you!

  2. Dear Kristin – My deepest condolences. So, so sorry for your loss. This tribute to your father is beautifully written. And the photos are lovely. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. ~ Anne

  3. Kristin,
    So beautifully written. What precious memories. May you and your family be comforted in the beautiful memories of your parents. I, too, lost my parents early in life and take comfort in passing on the little nuances that connect us from one generation to the next. May your holidays be filled with reflection, gratitude and hope.
    God bless,
    Sue Hegarty

  4. Beautifully written, Kristin, and a beautiful, perceptive tribute to your dad. Having both my parents still alive, though batteries running low, bless their hearts, your words help me to prepare. My heart and empathy are with you in this loss and on this Winter Solstice night. As we mark the return of the Light, after this longest night, may you also come into the light of healing and be blessed with the Grace to move through this.
    One of my favorite quotes from a sympathy card I received says, ” We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand, and melting like a snowflake.”
    I’ll be thinking of you, dear one, and of his soul, freed now from a body that no longer served him.
    Bless all our hearts,
    Marguerite

    • Marguerite…Thank you for taking the time to comment and share that beautiful quote. I love how you phrased that, “Freed from a body that no longer served him.” That is beautifully said, and so how I feel. Best to you in 2013!

  5. Kristin,
    What a beautiful tribute to your father! I can tell through your words the depth of the love that you shared for one another. To live a life where one is loved that much is to truly be blessed. Thank you for sharing.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  6. To Kristin and the men in her life. I did read your memorial at work which I probably should have waited. Thank you for sharing your hearfelt warm and sincere stories. And the pictures were special. Happy New Year to you and your family. “T” Theresa

    • Thanks Theresa for taking the time to read my entry and comment. As always it was good to see you last Friday. Happy New Year to you and your family as well. See you soon!

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