Home is Where we Hook-up

July 25, 2008

Two years have gone by

Filed under: Travel in the U.S. — Heligypsy @ 8:13 am

A high-school friend of mine wrote on her Facebook site today that she is “coping with the loss of her mother”. Oh, boy, does that ever ring so familiar. I wrote to her my sympathies, but hated the way everything started. Sorry for your loss, condolences, deepest sympathies, it all sounds o.k. from the sender, but to the person grieving it can kinda sound, well, like it misses the mark.

I had come back to the hotel to have lunch, and possibly write a blog when I saw her note. I am in a very reflective mood today, since this is the day my dad passed away, two years ago. I spent the morning wandering the city streets, thinking about my dad. Thinking about his life, and our lives together, and eventually, thinking about the end of his life.

I regret that I didn’t sit with him in those last months and make a list of all the places he thought of that had “the best…” fill in the blank, cinnamon roll, prime rib, tacos. When I was younger I used to joke with him that I was going to make a map across the country with stickers marking all these places to eat “the best ________” , his own little navigational tool. Food GPS. No matter what trip he and my mom took, he told stories of the random greasy spoon diners, with a waitress with a name like Marge that hollered across the room for them to “Sit wherever ya like, hon!” and served the biggest prime rib you ever saw for lunch. Yes, biggest usually equaled best.

I’ll always remember the time my parents came to visit us in Vegas, and we went to Freemont St. to go to the buffet at the Horseshoe. The first buffet Keith had ever been to with us, and when my dad walked across the floor towards our table, skillfully handling a four-story mess of salads and meat I wanted to melt.

“Uhhh, dad, you know, you can go back as many times as you like….”

“What? What fun would that be?” This was his architectural masterpiece, engineering at it’s finest. Sometimes I used to think that he would have been a good truck-driver, he loved driving on the open road and eating in dive cafes. But he had the mind of an engineer, he needed to build and fix things – and so he did.

When he was dying the nurses would whisper to us and ask “is he still eating? Because when he stops eating that will pretty much be it.” but that just made me laugh. No one was really sure what was happening to the food, but he sure as heck was eating. Didn’t mean he was going to win the battle. We cooked all his favorites that summer. I shipped Swiss sausage in from San Luis Obispo to celebrate his birthday, he was hardly able to talk anymore, but he would hold up a bite of sausage and griiin, happily celebrating that moment.

The weekend after he died, we held a Celebration of Life in his honor, at his request. The local BBQ restaurant catered, in gigantic amounts, pulled bbq beef, bbq chicken, beans, salad, oh, I don’t even know what else, kegs of beer, there must’ve been desert. More than several times I could hear “Phil would have loved this party.” It was what he wanted.

I hope my friend finds the peace with her loss of her mom. I hope anyone who’s suffered a loss finds their strength.



  1. Hi Paula, Dimples…….You do know how much Danny & I loved your Dad. When we first came to town we got our washer/dryer from him. We have many memories of him and your mom. After all you stayed at our house so often. You were Dina’s best friend for so long. Your family meant the world to us. We could trust them. Something you just don’t find these days.
    I too know what it is like to lose a father. Mine has been gone for 18 yrs now and just last week, I really missed him.
    God Bless You and Keith
    Take Care
    Love Judy

    Comment by Judy Gladden — July 27, 2008 @ 10:24 am | Reply

  2. Keith was right, a tear jerker. I lost my father almost 19 yrs ago, but the hardest thing was and has been losing my mom. She has been gone for 6 years now, but the hard part is we live across the street from what was my parents home from 1953 until 2001 until my mom passed away. So I look out each morning to constant reminders of my life in that house growing up and my parents. That can really be tough. Good blog

    Comment by Karen — July 28, 2008 @ 1:28 am | Reply

  3. Very sweet story!

    Comment by Kimberley — July 28, 2008 @ 1:35 pm | Reply

  4. 2 years…
    Sometimes the loss is so close and other times so far away. It seems that they were just with us.
    I love to hear you talk about your Dad, it makes me smile…
    I didn’t really think it was a tear jerker until now, as I write to you.
    Love you.

    Comment by Debbe — July 28, 2008 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

  5. Thinking about you on this difficult day and will keep you in my prayers always.

    Comment by Julie — July 30, 2008 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

  6. Hi Paula,
    I was just looking at some of your travel photos and I ran across your blog when you responded, so nicely, to my coping with my mom’s death. I didn’t realize that your dad had died so recently. Your blog was very nicely written and well here I am, still coping! I’m sure this happens to you too- when I’m thinking about something funny or some kind of anecdote I want to share with my mom, I then realize that she’s dead and I suffer the loss all over again. I understand this is a normal process. One part of the brain keeps that loved one alive and in this life and the other knows she’s not here, but wants to believe she’s gone somewhere else. Regarding eating…when my mom didn’t stand the smell of chocolate any longer, we knew she’d be dying soon! We did bury her with a piece of chocolate, which was one of her requests and we had a celebration of life reception where we made my mom’s favorite foods and made sure there was plenty of chocolate around. I think our parents would like to know they are being remembered in such a positive way.

    Comment by Anna — December 13, 2008 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

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