But I know the biggest reason I am in this funk is because I didn't trust my gut. I hate when I do that. Plus, it's hard to change the decision I made at this point. You see, in my last post I mentioned that my dad and I went to see my uncle Stanley. He was battling cancer and we understood that he wouldn't be here much longer. When I found out that things had taken a turn for the worse I immediately told my dad that I would take him to Crookston. It's a 5 hour drive and I didn't want to make my 86 year old dad tackle that alone. I was willing to take time off of work even though it was a busy time of the quarter because that's what you do for your family.
|Siblings - Stanley, Lester, Marian, Barney, and my dad, Frank - 2008|
I assumed that I would be going back for the funeral when that time came. We got back from our visit on a Sunday and my uncle passed away on Wednesday. I knew it was coming and every time my phone rang I feared it would be my dad calling with the news. Even Facebook messages became dreadful since I thought my cousin might send news that way. I got the call on Wednesday (and obviously the passing of my uncle is impacting how I feel right now). My dad said he was going to ride up with his other brother and my cousins... and that I didn't need to come. The wake and funeral were going to be during the week and he said I already had my visit and no one would think badly if I didn't come.
The thing is I take whatever my dad says as gold. Well, not everything... there's plenty we disagree about, but I value what he has to say and if I have any doubt I'll follow his word. Five years ago my brother had a stroke and was put into an induced coma and my dad convinced me there was no reason to go to the hospital until he was out of the coma. I listened to him, but thought we should be there. Unfortunately, we would learn that my brother wasn't going to make it and three days in we finally went to the hospital to talk with the doctors and were there the next day when he was taken off all the machines and passed away. I know my presence in those first few days wouldn't have made a difference, but I know we should have been there. I live with that and for the most part it now feels like a lesson learned: trust your gut.
But here I am again. Sitting at home while my family is up north at my uncles funeral. So how did this happen? Both my dad and my husband assured me that I did not need to go. And then I started to feel bad about leaving Jesse to solo parent for another 2 - 3 days. Plus work! It was still busy and we already had the max amount of people out of the office. I felt that I needed to be responsible with work and my immediate family, but as we got closer and closer to the funeral date I felt sicker and sicker about it. Yet, I couldn't get out of my mind my responsibility to work and my immediate family, especially work.
The night before the wake I discovered that an aunt would be in town from California and by not going I would likely not see her and this made me feel even worse about it, but then I felt it was too late to call in Monday morning to work and tell them I would be out a few days (plus our company has this policy about not giving enough notice and I'm sure - just because I have a kid and get sick and such - that I am bordering on what is acceptable/unacceptable). So once again I decided, after my dad convinced me again that I was fine not going, that I would stay home. My cousin sent a message saying they would like to see me, but that she understood and that sent me into another swirl of doubt. Every moment since then I've thought "if I left right now could I still make it". But then I would think about another obstacle and just wallow in guilt and frustration.
|Uncle Stanley, Aunt Marian, and my dad - 2008|
I don't think I've beat myself up like this in a long time. And then I realized that this wasn't just about going to a funeral to show my respect. This was so much bigger than that. My uncle was the first of my dad's sibling to pass away. My dad and his siblings are all in their 80's - one is on the cusp of 90. My dad still acts like he's 60 or even younger, and even though I know he won't be around forever, this is a big reminder that one day he will pass away too. And the panic that arose when I found out my aunt would be there? It might be my last time to see her! I mean, Stanley was healthy a year ago. From diagnosis of this cancer to his passing was only about 7 months. Things can happen so fast and what if...
It doesn't help that my dad recently had more cancer taken off his ear (and his dad died from cancer that turned into a big lump on his ear when he was 86). Gah! Feeling so neurotic about this all right now. Oh so emotional. I know this is life - this is the way things go and I'm grateful for all the years we've had... and hope yet to have. It just feels so heavy right now.
Every moment with my family feels so important. In fact, I've never wanted to hang out with a bunch of old folks more than I do now. Please tell me about the time Lester built that chicken coop for school. Tell me about how the chickens would pick corn out of the pigs poop. Tell me about how you and Stanley worked at Coca Cola and when you put up power lines. Ha, I can't get enough of these old stories. It's as if I will be able to forever preserve my dad and his siblings in these memories. I need to know as much as I can! I want to be full of these moments of their past.
My dad comes home tomorrow and I'm already starting to feel a little less emotionally unbalanced. I know as time goes by I'll feel even better, but I know this won't be the last time I feel a little unhinged. Because, you know... life happens.