Sunday, September 17, 2006

This morning at 3:30 AM, my dad breathed his last. My mom was holding his hand. I haven't cried since. I feel relieved that his struggle is over. I know I will start crying in the days to come, and I certainly cried many tears in the days leading up to this moment...but for now, I am at complete peace.

I will miss you, Dad.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My blogging is going to be sporadic for the next while...not sure if writing here will be helpful through this process or not. Bear with me.

Here I sit, listening to the rain pour down. My father is in hospital in town here, in the last difficult stages of pulmonary fibrosis. He was diagnosed four years ago, and has been in a slow decline ever since; but just as the summer weather ended and autumn weather hit us, he began dying in earnest. My sisters are arriving from their various parts of the continent, and we sit by his side, trying to help ease his discomfort in his last days.

He is at peace with dying. Mom is settled in a comfortable, easily manageable apartment, all his daughters are happily married and walking in relationship with he is at peace. All his loose ends are tied up. He knows he is going to Heaven. But death is still something to be fought against, even when you aren't afraid of it. The body can't seem to help but fight it.

These aren't easy times, but I am glad I am here through this process anyway. The thing that kept hitting me yesterday was the reality of this. It doesn't get any more real than this. It felt TOO real, and I spent quite a bit of time crying.

Won't be long now.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I remember chasing dust devils.....

When I was a kid we lived six miles out of a small town in Alberta, smack in the middle of the prairie. There was dust everywhere. You could only get to our home by gravel road, and any time a vehicle thundered past, clouds of dust would rise and be carried by the movement of the air. The farmer's field to the west of us was often standing in summerfallow, blowing top soil in our direction whenever the wind was right. In the summer we would blow our noses before bed and the snot would be black with dust. This was normal. We thought nothing of it.

Occasionally as we would be playing out in the warm summer afternoons, we would see an undulating column of dust moving towards us from down the gravel road. In my imagination, this small updraft of wind was actually a giant tornado, whirling out of control towards us, smashing everything in its path. Naturally I wanted to stand in the middle of it, proving once again my childish invincibility! My sister and I would run towards the tiny whirlwind and try to predict where it would travel, then stand in its path so it would swirl around us. If we guessed right, the wind would whip around, lifting skirts and hair and shoelaces, and we would shriek with delight. If it was very hot, we could chase the wind all afternoon.

The grit in the eyes, the dust stuck in the mucus membranes....these were small prices to pay for dancing with a devil.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I remember grooming my dad....

Dad would turn on the television for Hockey Night in Canada. He'd stretch out on the floor on his stomach, his chin on his arms, to watch the game. My sister and I would run for the curlers, a glass of water, and a comb. Whichever girl got there first got to sit on Dad's massive back. As long as we weren't too noisy, we could sit there and put curlers in his hair for the whole game!

Dip the comb in the water. Comb up a piece of hair. Put the curler at the tip and roll down to the root. Insert bobby pin. Enjoy the smell of Brylcreem wafting up from Dad's hair. Repeat.

My dad's hair wasn't long, but it was very thick, and we could use dozens of curlers before we had to take them out and start again. I saw nothing strange in this activity. I thought all girls put curlers in their fathers' hair while they watched hockey. I realize now that this wasn't so, and my respect for my father is immense.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I remember discovering a phrase that had been coined about me....

Year: 1987
Place: Friends' apartment near Denman Street, Vancouver

A whole gang of us had been out dancing and drinking and having fun. It was late in the evening, and we, one big leather-clad, spiky-haired, metal-studded monster, stumbled back to Adam and Geoff's apartment. One of the girls, maybe Nancy, headed into the bathroom to puke. When she came out, she flopped straight onto the couch and passed out like a dead thing. Somebody laughs. "Hey, she pulled a Paula!"

Ummm...I'm sitting right over here. "What do you mean?" I asked.

"Oh, used to do this every f***in' night! We always had to drag you home from somewhere."

"Oh, yeah. That." I pretend to laugh because everybody is looking, but that really bothered me. Who were these people that I trusted so much, so much so that I was willing to walk around unconscious and let them guide me? I didn't really know any of them at all. I knew their names, but I knew nothing about their hearts.

I secretly vowed to become better at holding my liquor.