Most of the posts on this blog have been humorous and at times touching. We are so grateful for all of you who have faithfully checked this site for updates and allowed us to share a bit of our crazy lives. This posting is an especially challenging one for me to construct. In recent days, I have found it increasingly difficult to adequately express myself. So, here goes nothing…
My Dad died.
Just typing that simple phrase still seems like a foreign concept. Even though I was there in the ER and saw and touched him for myself, I STILL can not believe that he is actually gone. I feel like I have been wandering around in some dream, unable to wake up. This can not be my life! Our entire family and our community are still reeling from this event.
Much like both my dad and my mom, I am a project person. After we left the ER, I automatically went into “project mode”. What needed to be done? Who did we need to call? What arrangements needed to be made? Lists were made and checked off. The busyness kept me active and productive. (These projects also served to keep the feelings at bay). Obit announcement-check. Flower arrangements-check. Pallbearers-check. Program for the service-check. The monotony of these items gave me a handle to endure the event itself.
Early in the mornings I would sit in my parent’s home and reflect on all that was happening around me. I found myself growing frustrated with my own inability to come to terms with my Dad’s death. Everyone wanted to do something to show their love and support. Our small family home was inundated with people and food. Food was literally flowing like water! (We received enough paper products to put Wal-Mart to shame.) Why could everyone else find an outlet for their grief and I could not? Why did I feel that I was suffering from a personality disorder? (Depending on the moment, I did not know if I needed to be a husband, a father, a son, or a caretaker… )All that I knew to do was work through it. Find a project. Keep busy. During the week and a half that I was in South Carolina, I worked in the garden, cleaned out my grandfather’s house, moved furniture, cut the grass, trimmed hedges, burned trash, and even reorganized my Dad’s shop. I welcomed the hard work. Even more so, I welcomed the numbness that would wash over me as I got lost in project after project. Fleeting moments of laughter were ushered away by waves of guilt and apathy. Although death is something that we will all be forced to deal with at some point, the way that it affects each of us varies greatly.
Now I am back at home in Atlanta. Not much has changed. Each day I have to remind myself that my Dad really is gone. I find myself wanting to ask him a question or give him a quick call. One of the hardest aspects of this whole journey has been interpreting death for our three-year old. I hope that our futile attempts to explain things has been enough. As we walk through this journey of grief, we covet your prayers and your friendship. May we all find our own ways to grieve properly and honor my Dad.
As I end this posting, I would like to share an excerpt from the eulogy that I prepared for the funeral.
“As a small child I rarely got to eat breakfast with my Dad. He was always up and gone long before I was out of bed. On a few occasions, I would make it a point to get up early to visit with him. Like most folks my Dad had a morning routine. He would rise, get dressed, and then come into the kitchen for some coffee and a quick glance at the paper. Every morning he would do the same things. I finally asked him what section of the paper he read each morning and why. He quickly explained with a smile on his face that he was scanning the paper to see if his name was in it. If his name was in the paper (the obits section), that meant that he did not have to go to work that day.
Early Thursday morning, while it was still dark outside, I ventured outside and down my parent’s driveway to the mailbox. Like so many days and times before, I removed the rolled up newspaper, and like my Dad before me, scanned the paper.
And there it was- Johnny C. “Jackie” Boltin.
Finally, I thought, Dad could take the day off.”
Dad, I love you.
Chris (2 years old) with his Dad