• Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Do you ever have those times in your life where everything seems to happen at once and you have to make decisions that are difficult in the midst of your heart breaking?  That is this week for me.  About an hour ago I received “the call”.  The call we all dread and pray doesn’t happen.  “Jerrilyn” a gentle calm voice said, “I am so sorry but your Dad passed away about 5 minutes ago.  He wasn’t alone, Carl was in his room praying with him when he passed”.  Blank air……”Thank you for letting me know Marcia, and thank you for taking such good care of him”

So in one minute, life has changed.  My year of change takes on a whole new meaning.  So, this is where I’m at.

1. I’m in the middle of running for Mayor in the town that has been my home for over 20 years.  This is so important to me because my heart is in this community and the people of the community. This is our home!

2. On Friday I’m supposed to be heading off to a friend’s wedding…not just any friend but the friends who shared their lives with me the week my mother died.  The listening ears, the gentle smiles, the caring.

3. I’m the one who cared for my dad, his power of attorney so now I plan a funeral for the man who taught me so much, so many life lessons.

Today I feel like I’m drowning but I know that this brief moment  when I’m writing this post is only a small nippet of the emotions, memories and feelings that I will go through over the next few weeks.

A little about my dad: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Dad was a warrior.  You always wanted him on your side.  He wasn’t given to a lot of words but when he spoke, you listened.  He was a police officer at heart.  He worked for his entire adult, post Canadian Navy years as a police officer and that was him through and through, a keeper of the law, tough and fair.

I remember times when I was younger and he would take my bike away because I was riding on the wrong side of the street, tough but fair, or he would have me empty out confiscated liquor in a hot stinky room to make sure I never thought alcohol was fun…it was work…a lesson all kids should learn.

He taught me that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear….that it’s more important to be beautiful inside because the outside is what it is.

He taught me that it is possible to have a toothpick in your mouth every minute of the day.

He was so proud of his three kids and loved us more than life itself.  He always wanted to win a lottery so he never had to worry about any of us.

He taught me a work ethic, and that if you wanted something to change, you got in and changed it.  He taught me not to whine about things I had no control over.

He was a good man with few close friends and I’m so thankful that he was my dad.

I remember when I was a kid and I would have a bad dream…my dad was always the hero who rescued me, there was never a monster that my dad couldn’t handle.

The last few years the rolls have been reversed.  I have been caring for my dad and I’ve learned so much about him.  I would take him out for drives every time I went to see him, we would drive his old police route.  He would make comments and tell me stories about places, point out places “that’s the Klein’s place” or “that is where the Heibert’s lived”.  It was great to relive those memories with him.

One of my favourite memories was after he had his head injury and had been in the long term care home in room 103 for a few months, I called him and was talking to him.

He said, “when are you planning on coming to see me again?”

I said “in a couple of weeks”.

He said, “ok, don’t come until them because I’m currently traveling around Europe”

I said, “that’s awesome Dad, how are things in Europe?”

He said, “strangest thing, everyday I stay in a different hotel but I’m always in Room 103 and my name is on the door…no matter where I stay.  How do you think they do that?”

I loved that he travelled in his mind, it made him happy and made the last years of his life great.  He began loving ice-cream and chatting with people.

Two weeks ago, my brother’s and i spent a week with Dad in Dalmeny…it was perfect…the three of us together made Dad so happy.  The last few days we were there he wanted ice cream cones, Alan would reach over to wipe his face and dad would hit his hand away and say “Get lost, it’s mine”.  Made us all smile.

I close my eyes and I picture Dad seeing Mom upon arrival to his new home and saying, “Joanie, I’m so sorry for everything” and Mom smiling at him and saying, “don’t worry Vern, lets go get some ice-cream then I’ll cut your toenails they look terrible, has no one been cutting them since I’ve been gone?”

Thank you to the amazing caregivers at Spruce Manor in Dalmeny, if there was ever a place I would want to be when I”m older…that is it. The care and love the residents are given is beyond amazing and the good Mennonite food makes it even better.

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