D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

“One day, you’ll have to bury your parents.” If someone told me this when I was as young as I was in this picture:

I would’ve never believed them. But, then you grow up…

Enjoying a vanille-peanut-butter shake!

…You find someone to spend the rest of your life with (even when you weren’t looking)…

He’s a keeper! 😉

…And then you start your own famille

At 38 weeks pregnant.

And this is when you realize that you’re parents will not be around forever…No matter how in shape they are were.

And that, one day, you’ll probably be burring them (or, in my case, one of them).

This happened to me, only, much sooner than I thought.

My dad was sick – he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 45 years old. His mom and one of his brother’s passed away from the same disease. But, knowing that he would die, éventuellement, as a result of the disease didn’t make his death any easier to handle.

Dad’s early retirement party in 2006.

I remember when it happened. I was in France…

…he was in the U.S.

I received a text from my mom (oh, the strength she has!) and then we skyped immédiatement afterwords.

Father’s Day, June 2014, our first without him – we tried to remain positive and to keep his spirit alive.

He passed away just after my brother made a nice visit with him. Thankfully, though, my brother wasn’t there to watch our dad take his last breath. I can only imagine the scar that would’ve left.

Being several kilomètres away, I didn’t have the same luxury as my brother. I only saw our dad via Skype.

My dad, his sister, and one of his brother’s at the annual Parkinson’s Disease Walk for a Cure in 2013 – juste 9 months before his death. Photo courtesy of E. Kies.

In the weeks leading up to his death, he was bed-bound, so, our conversations were short. After all, he could barely communicate – at this point, we all knew his death was inevitable. But, we tried to remain positive.

Even during Noël in 2011, he was on the decline (confined to the chair).

Even now, a year later, not having him around still hurts. One bright, sunny morning, I was at the marché and I passsed an elderly man being helped by his wife. This man looked exactly like my dad during my dad’s last month of life. It was so hard trying to hold back the tears…éventuellement, they fell onto mon chéri‘s shoulder. The shedding-tears-in-public bit didn’t last longue, but, it made me realize that I still miss him and that I will always miss him. But, it’s easier to live with knowing that he’s no longer suffering. Plus, remembering him during the happy times certainly helps ease the pain of his death.

But, in the end, the réalité is that he’s gone. The most painful part is that my future daughter will never know him.

I had some really great times with my dad – stories that I would’ve loved to hear him tell his grand-daughter, er, to his grand-daughters and grand-son.

Dad with his grandson, Caleb, in Novembre 2013.

Dad and Mom with their grand-daughter, Caitlynne, in Avril 2012.

But, now, it’ll just be me trying to explain the stories – trying to keep his memory alive. This could work, except that it didn’t work so well with my mom. You see, she also buried her dad. I never knew him. I still find myself not being able to identify him in pictures as “my grandpa.” Instead, I say, “oh this was my mom’s dad.” I guess that happens when, for your 29 years of life, you never called him grandpa. Even though, techniquement, he is was my grandpa.

So, it’s painful thinking that my daughter will never recognize my dad as grandpa. Sometimes, I want to scream: He is your Grandpa, dammit! Even though he’s no longer around…

But, what good would that do?

So, how do I instill this idea that he’s her grandpa even though she will never meet him? Well, I have some ideas…Photos all over the place will certainly help. But, getting her to call him grandpa when she sees his photo might make it more réal. Sure, he’s in a better place now, but that doesn’t mean he’d never want to be recognized as a grandpa. In fact, he was overly content when my nièce was born.

Dad and Mom with their first grand-daughter in Mars 2012.

And even more so when my nephew became a part of the famille.

Dad and Caleb playing a game on the Xbox in 2013.

So, I know he’d be as excited as my mom that his ‘little girl’ is having one of her own.

The poème I wrote and sent to my mom to announce that mon chéri and I are having a girl! Photo courtesy of L. Brown.

The fleures (flowers) I sent to my mom to announce that mon chéri and I are having a girl! Photo courtesy of L. Brown.

Dealing with his death is difficile, especially since I’m so far away from my mom and my brother. But, it’s not the end of the world. I keep his memory alive by sharing stories of him with mon chéri and by keeping photos of him throughout our appartement (and by thinking of him often).

My graduation luncheon – juste 1 month before his death.

Death is one of those touchy topics that some people don’t like to bring up in conversation, but death is a partie of life. We all live; we all die. It’s what we do during our lives that determines how we will be remembered by those we leave behind.

My dad was a huge fan of the Packers, the Chicago Fire, and FC Barcelona.

When we experience a death of a loved-one, dancing around the sujet doesn’t help one bit; however, keeping the good memories alive by sharing them with others is the cure to healing and accepting the death.

I know my dad would rather see my smile as I share the memory of the time I nearly begged him if I could jump over a block of wood with nails sticking out of it. It was lying on the floor in our salon, though, to this day I don’t remember why it was there. He said, “non,” of course, but, I was a stubborn child…I didn’t listen. I took the jump and one foot landed on the thing (see, this is why we should listen to our parents)! He called the hot-line provided by the insurance for advice on whether or not it was a severe enough injury to go to the ER or if he could handle it at home (this was before Google). And then he proceeded to tell me that he’d have to amputate my foot. I started crying even though I knew he was joking. He asked me why I was crying, but I was too young stubborn to admit that I was crying because I knew I made a mistake and that I should’ve listened to him. Instead, I replied, “I don’t know.” At the time, I was embarrassée. But, every time I tell this story, I can’t stop from laughing at myself. Even though my foot was in pain, I wouldn’t change that memory for anything. In fact, I don’t even remember the pain; I remember the ridiculous-ness of the scène and that is what makes me laugh…and in turn it makes everyone else laugh. ♦


This is part of a blogging challenge: Topics ranging from A-Z. You can follow my challenge by clicking on the links below:

A: Adulthood: The Age of Absolute Ambiguïté 

B: Bilingue: La Vie is Better Being Bilingual

C: Christianisme: Combing the Cliffs of Clarté

D: Death: Dealing with the Décès of My Dad

E: Éducation: The Endeavor of Easing into French Écoles

F: Food: Fancy or Faulty in France?

G: Going: Going Going Gone!

H: Home: My Heart Has Two Harbors

I: Interests: Intelligent, Insightful, Incredible!

J: Joy: La Jalousie is Overcome by La Joie

K: Khimar: Kind and Kooky Knitted Clothing Traditions

L: Lesson Plans: Leading the “Little Ones” into Language through Laughable Leçons

M: Musique: The Many Musicians Making Love on the Streets of Aix

N: Naughty or Nice?: Not Only Noticing the Différences, But Also the Similarités Between France and the U.S.

O: Obéi: Only Open to Obeying the Rules of the Road in…

P: PACS: Passionate Partners Pledging L’amour

Q: Questions: A Queen’s Quest for Clarté

R: Raisons: Riding on the Pony of Real Reasons (to Take the A-Z Challenge)

S: Study Abroad: Smiles and Sadness Set the Scène

T: Travel: Time to Hit the Trail!

U: Under the Influence: An Ugly Upward Climb Until Reaching the Summit

V: Vulgarité: Venturing out into the Vast and Voluptuous World of Cultural Différences

W: Walking: The Wise and Watchful Médiéval Wanderer

X: Xenial: A Xenodochial but not Xenophobic Host in France

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