“Pete’s beer hall.” A smile could always be heard at the end of that phrase.
“Hi daddy!” Still like a five year old, my pitch goes up three octaves any time I said that. Until the last few months.
I never did ask why my father answered the phone with that greeting. I don’t know if he did it for anyone else. I don’t know if he knew how ridiculous it was and yet how happy it made me. None of those thoughts matter. The one thing that does is the fact I’ll never hear that greeting again.
Every time I heard that phrase I knew Popi was in a good place. Which let’s be honest was pretty much every day except for these last few years. Dad’s disease took its tole on him these last few years starting with New Year’s Eve 2014. That was the afternoon dad told me, “Jamie, when I started this drug trial there were 25 people in it. Now there are 8. I’m one of the 8. So I need you to know I’m probably not gonna live much longer.” Happy fucking New Years to me!
I’m lying in bed sobbing as my husband holds me and breaths deeply. His last words being, “Wake me if you need me.” I’m tempted to get annoyed with him for not staying awake. Not because I think it’s rude or insensitive but to start a fight. So I can yell and hit things irrationally without judgement and make this about him being an idiot and not about my broken heart over the death of my father, the man who helped me become the person I am today and the man who managed to keep clear boundaries and still managed to play the role of mother and father even well into my thirties.
I am daddy’s little girl. But not in your traditional spoiled sense. When my dumb ass for a mother was pregnant with me he got the morning sickness. When I was born he did all the evening feedings. When my family became a statistic he was the one who raised me. We stayed up late at night in middle school often on school nights in our one room hotel room that we lived in watching Remington Steele. That show was the bees knees!!! And at eleven pm or midnight when it came on we both laid in our beds and watched intently.
When one of us got hurt the other would feel the pain. Literally, I could call and say, “Popi, what the heck did you do to your right knee!? Go ice it I need to keep training for my race.”
I’m gonna miss that most, just being able to call him and talk. I called him daily. I’ll miss that most.
I started writing this a few days ago. A few days before I got the call that he was not being moved to hospice because he wasn’t going to make it. A few days before I walked into that hospital room and lost my shit because he had passed just minutes before any of us arrived. A few days before I laid with him for three hours and cried while my family watched me cuddle his dead body.
I started to write it because I knew something was different. I didn’t mean to give up hope but I needed to write.
Tonight I sit here staring at a black TV wondering if I should turn it on. Waiting for another text from a loving friend. Watching my husband take care of chores as I stare blankly into space unable to articulate the words he needs to hear to know I’m ok.
My dad is gone. No matter how much I screamed or cried, he didn’t wake up. No matter how much I shook him and begged for him to just tell me he loved me one more time, he didn’t wake up. No matter how much I know he’s no longer in pain and he’s with the Lord now, all I wanted was for him to wake the fuck up!!!!! But that didn’t happen. He’s gone. I laid with him until his body was cold and yellow. I laid until I couldn’t cry anymore. I held on until he wasn’t my dad anymore and I felt his spirit gone from the room.
David took me to have Thai food, one of dad’s favorites, to have Thai tea, dad’s absolute favorite and that was special. And now like that, the day is almost over and I can post this now because I need to say goodbye to my Dad. Goodbye to the man I called Popi and hoped our children would one day call Papa, the man who knew me better than any human, the man who made a difference in the life of everyone he worked with, the husband, the grandpa and great grandpa, the friend, the patternologist, and the dreamer. Goodbye to the man who had more faith in me than I, who was impressed with anything I did even if it was running away to China, the man who had more unconditional love for all of me (even the crazy and irrational parts) than anyone, the man who encouraged me to write and do anything I wanted even if it was to give it all up and go back to the ninja suit and bartend or go back to school and become the doctor I always wanted!! Goodbye to the man my sister called the male version of me.
Goodbye daddy, I love you. I miss you already.
-run JKO run