Remembering Dad

I couldn’t have told you June 1st was the day Dad died. I knew it was in the first week of June. But I wasn’t sure of the exact date. We discussed it recently, and Mom said Dad died on her sister Lila’s birthday, which is June 1st.

I gave the assignment to my siblings this week to talk about memories around Dad’s funeral. That was a very difficult time for me personally. I could have had a break down during that time, but I didn’t.

My youngest daughter was born in September 1995, This was only 13 ½ months after my middle daughter was born. My oldest daughter was five at the time, and had just started kindergarten. I remember that fall, dad hadn’t felt very good, and was going to the doctor a lot. I was living in Meridian, Idaho at the time, about an 8 hour drive from Kellogg.

At the beginning of May, Dad was diagnosed with cancer, and the doctor said he had about one month to live. I made arrangements to go to Kellogg and spend a week or so at Mom and Dad’s house. I remember taking my in-law’s car and driving to Kellogg. My mother-in-law may have been with me, because her father, my husband’s grandpa, was also sick. He also lived in Kellogg.

So I was at the home of my childhood, with my five year old, my one year old, and my 9 month old baby. My Dad was able to be at home during his last month of life, and have his doctor come to him, and also had a Hospice nurse taking care of him. I remember at one point, the pain was getting bad and they gave him morphine, and that is when the weirdness began, which I think is rather common.

So this was going on in my home. Across town, at the Taylor residence, Paul Taylor’s family was gathering because Grandpa Taylor had a stroke and was in the hospital in Coeur d’Alene, and wasn’t expected to live much longer. I remember PKR came up to Kellogg one weekend, and was able to say goodbye to his grandpa before he passed away sometime in the middle of May. The following week was his funeral.

So, between my dad dieing, and PKR’s grandpa dieing, I wasn’t holding it together very well. I felt like I needed to be a support to those around me. But I also needed some support from others, but my husband, my main support, was 8 hours away, and my other support, my own family and my husband’s family, had much bigger things on their minds, so I really had no where to turn. And keeping a baby, a toddler and a five year old quiet in a house wasn’t the easiest job in the world.

I do remember pleading with my sister-in-law Laurie to go out to dinner with me one night, which she did. I think that may have been my salvation. I’m not sure she realizes how important that dinner was to me, but it was very important.

I remember sitting next to dad while he was in bed one afternoon. He was very restless, in a drug induced state, and I rubbed his arm and sang and prayed for a while. At some point, he woke up enough to realize it was me, and I think the fact I was there with him and he was in that state made him very uncomfortable, and he wanted me to leave.

Soon, it was time to take my family back to Meridian. I still remember Dad sitting in his chair in the living room, holding all my girls, and me video taping it. (I still haven’t been able to watch that tape. Maybe this is the year to do it.) What a special blessing of being able to say goodbye this way, though. With all my girls on my dad’s lap, and then going out the front door, and telling him I loved him, but knowing I would never see him again. That was tough.

About a week or so later, my sister called me at my home in Meridian saying Dad had passed away. From what I remember her telling me, Dad had struggled all night, in his bed, fighting to die, and my sister said she prayed for the angels to take him away. And he finally gave in, and he was gone. I think Mom went in and shut his eyes.

I remember PKR’s Aunt Nancy coming over and hugging and crying with me. She had just lost her dad, too, so she knew what I was going through.

We went home to Kellogg for the funeral, and again stayed for a while that summer. It was the summer Dante’s Peak was filmed in Wallace, and I remember going up and seeing how the town of Wallace was transformed to look like the aftermath of an erupting volcano.

Kind of like I had been about a month earlier. But I never blew. I think God gave me the grace to hold it all together for my girls, my mother, my sister and my brother. And we all survived. And now we fondly remember Raymond “Pert” Woolum each time we are together.

I do wish he still lived here, now that I am living in Kellogg, the town he loved. He could tell me so many stories, and he could share about so many things. But now Dad lives in our memories, in our stories, and in the hearts of his friends around town who still, after eleven years, tell me how much they miss that old “son of a b****”.

Dad was loved by many people. He was a great guy. I wish I couldn’t have known that guy a lot better….but it wasn’t meant to be.

But your legacy of loving Kellogg lives on in your kid’s, Dad, and we thank you for giving us such a great hometown…and for being such a great dad.

I sure miss you!


Laurie R. said...

"I’m not sure she realizes how important that dinner was to me, but it was very important."

I don't remember our dinner that week, SVG, but I'm so glad that I was there when you needed something. More and more I am convinced that we need to ask people for what we need in life. It is lovely when our family and friends can do or say just the right thing, without any prompting from us, but for those many times when they don't, bravo to us for just asking for it.

I have the very fondest of memories of your dad. I am always proud to tell folks around the Silver Valley that I am related to the Woolums.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Wow - I could feel your pain! There's something about men of that generation that didn't or don't show weakness of any kind to their wives or children. Your dad was that kind of man.

Hopefully, his friends will fill in the stories that will make Kellogg and the life he lived more real to you and your siblings.

InlandEmpireGirl said...

I love the take you did on your assignment. It is amazing once again how different they are. Excellent job sissy.

raymond pert said...

This is superb. I'm so glad you took us deep into what was happening with you at the time. I wrote in my email to you what I thought about all the hubhub around the house...I thought it was exactly how things should be. You were dealing with an awful lot. You are so right about Dad not wanting to be seen in the condition he was in. I think it was hard for him to let me do night duty and be with him in some indignified moments. He gave in, though, and it was what allowed him to stay home and not run Mom ragged. I'm glad he bent on that one. We'll have to look at that video some time. Or maybe not. I guess we'll just have to decide if we think it's good for us to relive Dad with his granddaughters on his lap when he was so sick and so medicated. I've rambled here. Great writing. Thanks a lot.

Ordinary Janet said...

This was a touching tribute to your dad. June isn't a great month for me, either-my dad passed away on June 13, 21 years ago.

I was just watching Dante's Peak last night, and I wondered how they made that "ash"-I thought it was actually snow that they grayed up with a computer. Looks like a heck of a mess to clean up!

MarmiteToasty said...

Wonderful tribute to your dad, how come reading you and your siblings blobs always get me choked up..... gawds sake....


Silver Valley Girl said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments. I'm glad some of those feelings and emotions came through in my writing. It was a really hard time, but a really good time, and it was good to think back and write about it, as well as read my siblings writings as well, and share what we were all experiencing at the time. The written word is an amazing thing, and it is such a blessing to have this kind of technology to share it with each other.