Havin' re-read my prior post about Daddy and the comments, I need to clear up a few points.
I have 4 brothers. But my older 1/2 Bro lost Daddy in my Parents' divorce. Daddy gained my younger 3 Steps in 1968, when he married Mom. So I'm the only child Daddy was father to for an entire lifetime. It doesn't diminish the love between him and his sons, it just makes our love "different", in my mind, anyway. They were there intermittently, but they had jobs, and one still has young children at home. I was there intermittently too, but when I was there, I was callin' the Church, arrangin' for food to be brought to the house,so that when fam came in on the weekends we had somethin' to feed them; cleanin' a bit; doin' laundry and takin' fresh clothes to Mom who was stayin' at the hospital w/Daddy.
Once the Dx came down that it was terminal, I thought it over and then made a unilateral decision. Daddy was an only child. But he had some 1st cousins to whom he was quite close. I called and I said, "Look, he doesn't have a lot of time left. He's in good spirits NOW. He's got some energy and not a lot of pain. The time to come see him is now. Not when he's at Death's Door." They came. Some came more than once. And they networked with friends. He had so many visitors!
His old football team came as well. In 1944 and '45 he was on a State Championship Team. He even failed a class in High School, deliberately, so that he could play again on the 1945 team! Man, they talked for hours. And cut up? they were like a bunch of kids... I was tempted to tell 'em I was gonna separate them if they didn't settle down! But they were just havin' so much fun, I simply couldn't and neither did the Nurses.
I think the Cousins and the Teammates were probably the best thing I did for him. I'm not telling you this to make myself out to be some kind of big heroine. I just want you to know that he was surrounded by all kinds of love.
His family, all of us: kids, in laws, all his grandkids, friends, Church friends, preachers... Shoot, even my Cousin in Baghdad called every time he got a chance. That really warmed his heart.
And my friends and Sistahs and Chirrens and the Dearly Beloved. I would have drowned in doubt, sorrow, anger and misery were it not for them. One friend left a house full of packin' boxes and flew down with a broken foot in a cast to be with me when Daddy had that back surgery. A Sistah put aside her worries of a Mother with a torn cornea and an upcoming transplant to listen to my daily cell calls when the $hi+ was comin' down fast and hard. I had Friends of faiths from Methodism to Islam prayin' for Daddy, and the rest of us, too.
There was a Silver Lining to all this horror. I got to reconnect with my two younger Steps and their fams. We had been close into our early 20's. But then raisin' our kids in different cities and gettin' on with our careers got in the way. We just couldn't seem to get to Killeen at the same time. Gathering around Daddy gave us the chance to get to know each other again. It has been a delight. They are so much fun. I am so proud of all my nieces, even if I do tease one Bro about changing his daughters' middle names to "who Works at NASA".
One Niece, the middle daughter of the Middle Step, was gettin' married in October 2004. Mom and Daddy urged us to go, no matter what condition Daddy was in. So we did. We needed something Pure and Beautiful and Happy. They delivered in spades.
It was an outdoor weddin' in a rustic setting in Arkansas. A flock of geese flew over after they kissed! Like it was timed, OMG! The reception was just a total love fest. We all just cut loose and hugged and relaxed and laughed and forgot all our worries for a night.
As we were drivin' home the next day, we got the call that Daddy had died. Bro, the Father of the Bride, decided not to tell the Happy Couple about Daddy.We all concurred. They would have cancelled their honeymoon and it would have cast a pall over their happiness forevermore. That's no way to start a marriage.
I called everyone in my circle as Dearly Beloved drove on through the night. My And that's what we did. Slept, re-packed and headed off to Killeen.
Y'all have no idea how cathartic all this has been. Thanks again for listenin'.