Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Remembering My Dad

wedding photographs by Alison Carlinos Photography

Good morning everyone!  Today is a very bittersweet day for our family.  One year ago today, our dad gained his angel wings and was welcomed to his eternal home in Heaven.  I wanted to talk a little bit about my dad, and what has helped me this past year get through all the firsts, all the struggles and all the pain.  

My dad was a very unique person.  He was a big fella....6'3, 240 pounds, the loudest voice you have ever heard.  haha!  You definitely knew when he walked into a room.  Even when he would try and whisper, everyone within several feet of him could hear every word he was saying.  He had a passion for farming,  fishing and his family.  And my goodness, he LOVED his grandchildren so much.  He was so proud, and still is, of each and every one of them.  
 He would give you the shirt off his back and drop anything and everything if you called him for help.  For example, when my daughter was a baby, I bought her one of those popular chairs from pottery barn (these).  Well, I accidentally bought her the wrong size and the nearest Pottery Barn was far away and I was scared to go by myself with a new baby.  I called my dad and even though he was busy on his farm, waiting for the 18 wheelers to come as scheduled, he dropped what he was doing, rescheduled the trucks and came with me.  He had the biggest heart ever.  

I definitely get my sarcastic personality from him.  He was always telling jokes and loved to make people laugh.  Some of my favorite memories with him were taking our family vacations to New Braunfels, Texas and floating the comal river.  Fishing off the pier at our home away from home in Sargent, Texas.  Sitting in his lap popping bubble wrap for hours.  Staring contests which I ALWAYS lost.  I don't think anyone could beat him. He taught me how to eat crabs and if you know him, you most likely have heard the story about how that went down.  haha! Stomping cotton growing up while he was hard at work in the field.  Going on cotton picker rides with him and Londyn.  He just LOVED taking his grandchildren on cotton picker rides.  We had a little thing where anytime we would get off the phone, instead of saying "Bye" we would say "Bicycle" haha!   I could seriously go on and on and on but this post would be super long.  Bottom line, He was a family man.  He loved his family more than anything in the world.  

Fast forward to March 2015, we received the news that my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.  I cried for days and days.  I am a  nurse, but it doesn't take someone in the medical field to know how wicked this cancer is.  My dad never lost his sense of humor.  Through all the treatments, procedures, pain, tiredness...he always had everyone laughing.  He always had the infusion nurses laughing.  They knew it wasn't going to be a dull day when he was on the schedule.  haha!  Even in his final days, he had my sister and I laughing so hard trying to get him to "break out of the hospital"
Three and a half months after my dad's diagnosis, he gained his angel wings.  If you have ever read the statistics on pancreatic cancer, he beat the odds.  He fought so hard and even though saying goodbye was, by far, the most  emotionally and physically difficult day of my life, I would never want to see him have to live that way a minute longer.  They say the good die young and that is so true.  My dad was one of a kind. 

The moment after he passed, my sister and I looked at each other and both agreed that the sense of peace we felt overwhelming our bodies is something that can not be put into words.  To be there, holding his hand as he was welcomed into Heaven was something I will hold strong in my heart for as long as I live.  I have a whole new, very unique relationship with my dad now.   I believe he is with us everyday.  I talk to him every day....and he's a very good listener, I might add....;)  He's my angel. 

 I want to share some things that helped me get through those toughest days.  Now, I am definitely NO EXPERT!  This is just what has helped me.  

My faith is what got me through this past year the most. 
When I was sad, I prayed.  When I was angry, I prayed. When I felt that I couldn't breath, I prayed.  When I was an emotional roller coaster, I prayed.  When I felt peace, I prayed.  
 After my dad passed away,  I can't even put into words how much more my faith has grown. .  I learned to  give God all my troubles and fear, all my worries, and I learned to TRUST Him.  I stopped trying to deal with things alone and wonder WHY this happened.  I began to trust God's will and not question it (because I mean....who am I to question I right) It wasn't until I got to that point, that I started to really heal.  I realized this is only temporary.  I will see my dad again....I don't know when, but I know I will, and that in itself gives me so much peace.  Londyn and I still talk to him daily.  I don't ever want her to forget him and how much he loves her.   I know that my dad is living a life now that if we could just catch a glimpse of, we would never want to come back to this world. He's more alive now than he ever was before.  A life with no worries, no anxiety, no fear, no hate, no pain, no sickness....just pure unconditional LOVE and happiness.  How cool is that.  

Family and Friends
Another huge help.  It's easy to want to close yourself off  and crawl in a ball and shut yourself off from the world and hey, some days, that's just what you have to do.  But I know when I am having a rough day, calling my sister, brother, husband and other family/friends can make all the difference in the world.  Without them, this process would have been impossible. 

I'm going to list a few books below that have helped me tremendously.  I've read a TON but these have stood out the most. And if you have any recommendations, please leave them book supply is getting low :) 

 The Bible

Regardless of what anyone says, your journey is going to be just that...your journey.  There's no right  or wrong way to grieve.  It's different for everyone. The following several weeks after my dad passed, we were still in shock. I went through so many emotions every day, I never knew what to expect.  I felt crazy.  It was around his birthday in September that it really start to sink in and it felt like I was going through the emotions all over again. It was a roller coaster ride everyday. I still have my hard days and I think I will for the rest of my life.  In all honesty, time doesn't heal.  I used to get so mad when people would say that.  When you lose someone you love so dearly, you are never completely healed.  You just have to learn how to live your life and cope with a piece of your heart in Heaven.     

Every day we wake up, is a gift from God.  Don't take it for granted, don't hold grudges.  You never know what tomorrow will bring. When our time comes, it's not going to matter what kind of car we drove, how much money we have in the bank,  what kind of clothes we had, but more so, how much did we love one another.    

In closing, I just want to say this:

Thank you.  
Thank you for being the best dad a girl could ever wish for.  Thank you for loving your family unconditionally, no matter what.  Thank you for all the memories and there are soooo many amazing ones.   Thank you for always making us laugh. 
 I hope I am making you proud and you will be on my mind and in my heart all the days of my life. 
Until we meet again...bicycle and I love you and miss you so very much! 

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