One year ago today, this morning, I drove out to Forbes Hospice to spend the day with Dad. MJ had spent the night. Her friend Batia was visiting with her when I arrived. There were no parking spots in the garage parking reserved for the Hospice, so I had parked on the street. Batia was just getting ready to leave as I arrived, she was parked in the garage, so after saying a good morning to Dad, giving him a kiss on the forehead and telling him that I would be right back, I followed Batia out of the hospice to move my car into the garage. I knew, or at least thought I knew, that Dad could not hear my good morning, probably did not recognize my kiss or touch, and certainly was not aware of his surroundings or the fact that I told him I would be right back, and that MJ was sitting out in the hall. I believe I was wrong. With all of the cousins that had come to show their love and respect for day, with Joe, MJ and I, old friends coming to visit, the incredibly wonderful staff at Forbes Hospice, there were so very few times that Dad was ever actually alone in his room. This couple of minutes while I was moving my car and while MJ was sitting in the hall was one of those rare times. I believe that Dad was waiting for this opportunity. I believe that he chose to die while we were all out of the room so that none of us would have to bear witnessing him taking his last breath. I had no sooner stepped outside the door at the hospice, not 5 minutes since I had left Dad’s room, and MJ called to tell me to come back in. Dad had left, as Joe has so eloquently put it, to play for the other team.
That was one year ago today. I can feel the pain as I write this as if it were this morning. How could it possibly have been a year ago. How can the pain still be so acute after 365 days. How can I miss him so much, long to talk to him so much after that much time has gone by. Will this deep chasm ever not feel so empty. I hope so, I hope not. I pray that the pain will pass but the love and the memories will stay. I can’t believe that it has been a year Dad. So often it feels like it has just happened. And yet, as I look back over the year, I think of so many times that I wanted to reach out to you, that I wanted to share something with you, that it sometimes seems like this year has gone by so very slowly.
There are so many things that I have missed this last year. We always talked so much leading up to the Superbowl. I worked so hard to try to get a fair bet from you, which I rarely ever got. I would call you watching the game, after a great play, at halftime, after the game to discuss it. I always looked forward to Alumni game when Sam and I would drive up to State College to attend the dinner and game with you. How I used to love to watch you walk out onto the floor when your name was called (usually miss pronounced), always amazed as you stood next to Lee, so short amongst the gathering of giants, yet remembering how instrumental you were in the successes of those teams. I looked forward to March Madness and the calls and debates, and yes, again trying to get some bets. How we would talk after an upset. I could not get myself to follow it this year. I wanted to talk with you before my Hip Surgery. I wanted your advice, your guidance, your prayers. So many times I wanted to reach out to you through MJ’s cancer battle to help give me the strength that I need to be strong for her, Jonathan, Sm and Zoe. The list goes on and on about the many times I started to pick up the phone to call you. I know that I no longer need the phone to talk to you, that you can hear my words and know my thoughts, but I so miss seeing you and hearing your voice.
But life does go on, and we go on. MJ, Joe and I have learned to better lean on each other to reach you. To guide each other because we know that you are so much in each one of us that by reaching out the each other, we are still able to reach out to you. I think we have all become better because of you, now knowing that we have to try somehow to fill your shoes in each others lives. That is a pretty daunting task that you have left for us Dad. We are calling each other more, so often when one of us would have called you. We reach out to each other more for help and guidance. We are seeing each other more, making greater efforts to let you Grandchildren understand what love in a family truly means, like our family did before us. That is your legacy Dad. A legacy of Love and Devotion to our family. Finally Dad, I want you to know what I have said for years, long before your illness and death, but something that I still say today without any reservation when someone asks me about my father. I simply tell them: He is the greatest man I ever knew!