A Daughter’s Final Farewell

17 09 2009

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know

You realize that life goes fast

It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

Flaming Lips Lyrics to Do You Realize

A friend of my family, Pam Erisman, recently wrote a touching memorial to her father and sent it to family and friends in an email. It reminds us to never take for granted the people that we love.

My fondest memories of my father are going to Ocean City (MD) as a child. We would ride the trailways bus there, and spend  the week at the Plim Plaza hotel. We’d eat dinner at the Paul Revere Smorgasbord, walk the board walk, and ride the rides.  I enjoyed nothing more than digging in the sand looking for sand crabs with him. The two of us would hold hands and jump the waves, sometimes our hands would break apart, but he always came to my rescue!!

When Skylar (my daughter) was three or four, I took her to Ocean City, and took my father along with with us. We stayed at the Plim Plaza too, and did all the things that he and I had done so many years before. This time I watched him with my little girl, and it took me back to a time when I was much younger, doing that very same thing with that very same man.

He and I talked about how much Ocean City had changed, and how much it had stayed the same. He loved Ocean City, and I still love Ocean City.

I grew up. My father grew old. We still fished and crabbed, and we always laughed. When we talked, somehow, some way, our conversations would always go back Ocean City. It was always “remember when……”

My father’s death was and still is the biggest shock of my life. I wasn’t ready to let go. Not yet anyway. I was mad at him. I was so frustrated with him.  I was just mean to him.

He wasn’t going to die, not this time. I hadn’t said goodbye, or I’m sorry. We hadn’t laughed again yet. I  said goodbye a year before, and prepared myself for his death. But he wasn’t ready that time. My father  made a remarkable recovery. When he moved in with me, we talked about how close he  was to really dying.

As I drove to the ER, I was sad because he was going to spend another Thanksgiving in the hospital. I promised Skylar that Pop-Pop would be home for Christmas that year because I believed he would.

When I got the call, I was numb . As I made that final trip to the hospital, I knew  he wasn’t going to spend another Thanksgiving in the hospital. He wouldn’t be home for Christmas. All I could  think was that he was laying in that hospital bed remembering the day before, remembering me throwing my temper tantrum.  I held my dying father, sobbing, and begging for forgiveness. It didn’t matter  if I was ready to let go or not, he was. I watched him die . About an hour passed, and I still watched him, it was like he was still  here, just sleeping very comfortably. It was then I realized that at last, he had found peace. No longer could I give him a hard time about anything.

I still talk to him, and I still tell him I am sorry. I can only hope he has forgiven me. I will live with that regret every day for the rest of my life. My father’s death taught me how fragile we all really are; to treat people like everyday is their last day. It could very well be.

We talked about death. I know what he wanted. He didn’t want anything elaborate. My father was a simple man. I can still hear him laughing after I told him I was going to feed him to all the fish and crabs.

I’ve made one more trip to Ocean City. I stayed at the Plim Plaza once again. I brought my father with me this time too, to keep the promise that I made to him. Just as she was with me at  the hospital on the day he died, my closest and dearest friend Kelli was by my side.  Tonight the stars were shining bright. There was one star that was especially bright, I believe it was my father looking down on me. Kelli and I threw  handfuls of ashes into the ocean, and watched as my father blew into the air.  I waited for that one big wave to come, just like the ones he and I used to jump, and I let the rest of him go. It was a bittersweet moment.  My father is now where he always wanted to be. At our favorite place ever. He is now and forever will be part of Ocean City.

To end the night, Kelli and I went out for a drink, to  toast my father. We got  drinks for us, and a budweiser for my father. As we sat at the poolside bar, the house band played. I’ll call it coincidence, but the singer of that band played a song that he had written for his father. One of the lyrics from that song  was “if the waters get to rough, I’ll be by your side.” It moved me.  It was the closure that I have needed. Rest In Peace Daddy. I love you.




4 responses

21 09 2009

I hope Pam realizes that she was a wonderful daughter and her father loved her unconditionally. That is what parents usually do. I have always tried to feel that way with my children. I know your father forgave you and treasured the last days of his life he spent with you. You gave him more than anyone could have
given him and let him stay with you and took care of him at his time of need.
That was the love you showed him each day.

22 09 2009

Thanks for saying what we all were thinking. And thank you Pam for letting me share this story with everyone. Judging by the number of “reads” people really enjoyed this.

17 09 2009

This really hit home for me. I just recently lost my mom and I can really relate with Pam. Thanks for sharing this:)

17 09 2009

I am so sorry Jeff. I know there are many people out there grieving the loss of a loved one. I was really touched! Pam will appreciate it too.

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