What’s Normal? It’s a fantasy. There is no normal, at least not a single thing for everyone and everything. It’s what you make of it. Normal for you, likely isn’t normal me or John Doe down the street. These last few months, normal is trying to come to terms with this sudden detour on the road of life. This detour sends me into an unfamiliar neighborhood. One where Dad isn’t here and I’m fast approaching 40. A friend once told me that getting another year older never seems to phase him until that first number flips to the next. I disagreed because 20 and 30 didn’t seem to register with me, one way or the other. But, with 39 around the corner and 40 right on its heels, I’m beginning to feel the creep of that first number starting to flip to the next.
Veronica never visited California before. I was determined to make a few happy memories for her, even if we were surrounded with the sadness of spreading dads ashes. On our first full day on the west coast, I managed to accomplish that. Finding good in a sad situation took us 80 miles south to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Veronica is an animal lover, so there was no better choice, the park was remarkable. So many animals to see, some weren’t enclosed in anything and came right up to us. Others, we were able to go to them. A swarm of lorikeets found Veronica with two cups of nectar and wasted little time attaching themselves to her. She walked into an enclosure to visit with and pet goats and snapped pictures of everything from ducks to a cheetah cub.
At first, I was taken aback by the cost of entering the park. At $50 per person, I thought it was steep, but after four hours walking around, I’m very glad we spent it. As attractions go, the souvenirs weren’t overly priced, the food was decent and the weather, as is the norm in California, was amazing.
Captain Jacks, a quaint little restaurant on a street corner in Sunset Beach. The setting for our Friday night dinner with the rest of the family. A delicious meal even if I’m not a seafood fan. We all ate until we could barely move. As the only non-seafood eater of the group, I can’t recommend the Filet Mignon enough, it melted in my mouth. Saturday afternoon brought more great food. We ate lunch at The Longboard on Main St in Huntington Beach. Baja Chicken Sandwich all the way. Outdoor eating in the patio, sports on the TVs all around us. Afterwards, a short walk down the Pacific Coast Highway.
Finding good in a sad situation was easier than I imagined it would be. I’m grateful for the wonderful weather and great family to share it with. After five days in sunny, Southern California, Veronica can’t wait to return for another visit. I’m just not sure if that’s for the food, the animals or the weather
Hi Dad. On Saturday afternoon, we helped you complete your final journey. Veronica and I boarded a plane to California a week ago, today. We met up with Greg, Matt, Tina and Heather on Friday for a great dinner and to share memories of you. The following morning we set out to spread your ashes. After two days of considerable wind, the weather was great. I was afraid it would be too chilly on the water, making it physically uncomfortable instead of just emotionally so. Something tells me we have you to thank for the pleasant temperature. You always made it abundantly clear, you wanted to be laid to rest with Uncle Al. We weren’t going to disappoint you and thankfully, neither did the weather.
Trudging through your belongings seems so wrong, all along expecting you to come walking thru that door. Nothing has felt right without you here with us. The holidays are upon us, but they seem just like any other day, now. Bowling hasn’t been the same either. There’s nobody to talk sports with, in the way you and I always did. Sue and the kids are doing as well as you might expect, like the rest of us, they have good days and bad.
It’s proven very difficult to put into words how I’m doing mentally and emotionally over these last few months. The memorials were sad, yet somewhat soothing. Veronica has been a rock and Mom, Marv and Ma have been incredible as well. But, through everything, nothing has helped to close this hole deep within me. I know in time the pain will lessen, yet the hole will remain. Memories of you are all around us and the more I think about them, the more it hurts.
If there’s one thing that can bring even the slightest glint of a smile to my face, its knowing how loved you were by more than just those of us closest to you. You touched so many lives, in many ways. Your Final Journey was certainly not when you’d expected it, nor did anyone else. But, I hope it was to your liking.
On September 27th, my dad passed away after three weeks in the hospital following triple bypass surgery. Obviously, the last 5 weeks has been an emotional whirlwind. Two memorial services, planning the spreading of his cremated remains and going thru 3 generations of memories and mementos. Mixed within all of that has been me working 40+ hours a week, sorting out his debt and explaining to those debtors that he left nothing behind to pay them. That also goes hand in hand with having to set up an online fundraiser to get the funds to have his memorial services as well as to afford the flight to California next month to spread his remains.
Emotionally, I’ve never dealt with anything of this magnitude before in my life. Yes, this sort of thing is inevitable. That doesn’t mean I was anywhere near ready for it, nor did I think I’d be handling it before I turned 40. Then again, never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be saying goodbye to my father before his 60th birthday, either.
It was incredibly hard, watching family and friends pay their last respects to Dad. Though, I’m certain that spreading his ashes will be the most difficult moment of this emotional journey.
He was my best friend and a huge part of the lives of so many other people. Two articles were written by local newspapers following his passing, I’ve linked to them below:
I love you Dad. I hope you enjoyed the World Series as much as we did. The Cubs finally won it all! If nothing else, I know you had the best seat in the house. I just wish you were here to celebrate it with us.