Monday, November 2, 2009

Missing My Dad

It was 2 years ago today that my Dad passed away.  I'm thinking about him and missing him right now.  He was the last one of our 4 parents to leave us, and perhaps, the one we'd grown closest to since we had invited him to live with us.

My Mom passed away in 2002.  She and Dad had lived next door to us in Tumwater, WA for 2 years.  Dad wanted to stay in his own home and "not be a bother" as he put it.  We had him over for dinner every night and saw him during the day, too.  He and Annie the Schnauzer were great friends and he walked her several times a day.   Here is a photo of Dad with his buddy.

Bruce's Mom was still living at the time and so Bruce and I decided to take the 2 remaining parents traveling a bit.  We had a motorhome at the time that we weren't using much due to the duty of caring for our parents.  In February of 2003 we put Betty and Bob (Bruce's Mom, my Dad) into the motorhome and headed for Walt Disney World for a week's vacation. 

In the evening when it was time to stop driving for the day, we'd pull into a motel to get each of them their own room for the night.  We'd stay in the RV and boondock in the parking lot.  This worked fairly well as everyone had their own "space" and time alone every night.  In the morning, we'd gather them both up and head East again.  Along the way we stopped in Texas to see the Alamo in San Antonio, the George H.W. Bush Library/Museum in College Station, and the Houston Space Center.  In Mobile, Alabama we stopped at the U.S.S. Alabama battleship park and toured the battleship and the submarine they have dry-docked there, the U.S.S. Drum.  We didn't have time to see a lot of stuff along the way, but gave them a few highlights of things they had never seen before. 

We got to WDW and they had a blast, although I think it was harder to deal with "oldies" on motorized scooters in such a busy place than taking toddlers for a trip there.  We were gone for about 5 weeks.  

Betty had to have quadruple bypass and valve replacement surgery in April.  Also, about that time we sold the RV (long story).  Betty never got totally well after that, but she did OK for a while.  The 4 of us decided on another trip that summer of 2003.  This one would be a car trip.  We took them to Calgary, the Canadian Rockies (Lake Louise and all of that) and then we went north.  Went to Hyder, Alaska to see the bears and then back south to Prince Rupert.  There, we got the ferry for a 15-hour cruise back down to Port Hardy, BC.  Came back to Tumwater after that.  Betty was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 months later and passed away 4 months after that.

Now with only 1 parent remaining, we decided to invite Dad to move in with us.  We took him on a few more car trips and then in 2005 we decided to purchase another motorhome, "if" he'd travel with us.  He'd never actually lived in an RV so was a little uncertain about the close quarters and all.  We took him shopping with us so that he could try out the chairs and dinette to make sure he'd be comfortable.  He was and we were now good to go.  But where?

We decided that we'd let my Dad decide where to go since he was a lot older than us and his traveling days were more numbered.  He decided he wanted to go to Alaska and to Nova Scotia.  OK...good ideas....just not in the same year as they are at opposite sides of the continent.   In May of 2006 we set out for Alaska with Dad in tow.

He had an absolute ball up there in the north country.  We spent 7 weeks actually in Alaska and we went to:  Fairbanks, Denali Nat'l. Park, Anchorage, Kenai, Homer, Seward, Valdez, Haines, and Skagway.  We also drove up the Dalton Hwy. (just with the car) as far as the Yukon Crossing.  Dad got a good look at the pipeline and the tundra area.  It sure was a trip of a lifetime for him.

The next summer (2007), we took off in June for Nova Scotia.  We stopped in Michigan so Dad could visit a childhood friend and a cousin in Detroit.  From Michigan we went north into Canada at Sault Ste. Marie and then went East.  We made quickie stops in Montreal and Quebec City just so Dad could see them.  We ended up staying in Nova Scotia for over 5 weeks.  Among other places, we stayed in:  Amherst, Truro, Kingston, Yarmouth, Lunenburg, Halifax, Sherbrook, Sydney, and Baddeck.  We saw too many wonderful things to list here.

Dad took to living in a motorhome very well.  He especially enjoyed the comfort of riding in a nice recliner chair rather than sitting in the car for hours a day like on previous car trips.  He enjoyed not having to carry suitcases into a motel room every night.  At the end of this trip, we began planning a winter trip to the Arizona desert to escape the cold winter.  Dad was becoming a real RVer.

That was not to be, unfortunately.  We got home from Nova Scotia the end of September in 2007 and Dad passed away on November 2nd of that year.  That was the end of the "3 Muskateers" as I had begun calling us.  Traveling with a 3rd party may not be the best idea to some RVer's, but for us, it sure beat staying at home waiting for "our time to travel alone".  Besides that, it gave my Dad a lot of wonderful experiences he never dreamed he'd have.  He also managed to mark a couple of places on his Bucket List that he never thought he'd see.  It was all good.

So, today is bittersweet.  Bruce and I have our time to travel as much as we want and even have become fulltimers.  Unfortunately, we had wanted to be able to take Dad to a few more great places and were not able to do that.  That is one reason we want to go out as often as we can and see as much as we never know when it will all come to an end.

 Dad, we still miss you.


Phyllis said...

Margie - that was a beautiful story. Len and I are fortunate as we both still have our mothers. They are 83 and 84.

My own Dad died on Christmas morning 2004. He was on lifesupport two weeks. We had decided to remove him the day following Christmas. However, he needed units of blood. We felt it was wrong to give blood to a dying man so we chose to remove him that morning. People say how sad that he died Christmas. I look at it another way. He loved parties. What better day to enter heaven but the day of Jesus' BD party!

Margie M. said...

Phyllis, that is a wonderful way to remember your dear Father. Thank you for sharing that memory with us.

Gypsy said...

Margie, what a wonderful and beautiful thing to do for both your parents, and you will always have the memory of those trips. And I'm sure your Dad, as well as Bruce's Mom are with you in spirit as you travel now.

Bdubba said...

Thanks for sharing. I lost my Grandpa in the 3rd grade and I feel that I have never stopped missing him. I can empathized with you.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

How great that you took your folks into the wonderful world of RVing. Better than looking at the same scenery out of the window!
What lovely memories were made for all of you.
Thank you for sharing with us.
Happy Trails, Penny, TX

Cindy said...

Wow what a special family you are. Not many people can handle elderly love ones in a home much less traveling with them!!!!Just remember you gave to your dad in that short time what many people never do in a lifetime! What memories..and now all the time with the grands..Special is your title. Your new friend Cindy

Sonyasmith642 said...

Margie, I've been following your blog for weeks but never figured out how to 'follow' you. I especially loved your blog about your Dad. My husband and I are both caring for elderly parents. Ours are too feeble to travel. All in their 90's. God bless and keep up the good work...

Sonyasmith642 said...

Margie, I've been following your blog for weeks but never figured out how to 'follow' you. I especially loved your blog about your Dad. My husband and I are both caring for elderly parents. Ours are too feeble to travel. All in their 90's. God bless and keep up the good work...