By looking just at the title of this post, one could assume I am talking about my elusive due date, which is most definitely near, but not near enough.
But this is another post about my dad. I'm sure it would be much better for the two people who actually read my blog (thanks mom and Tony) to move on to a different topic. But I sense that the feelings that creep into my heart will slowly start to fade, and because of that, I feel more of an urgent need to post little things I am feeling about my dad.
My dad used to love to give big hugs. They were full bodied and strong. He always said "Come here and let me squeeze your guts out". It was a trademark of his, one that every single grandchild will recall with fondness.
In his last weeks, Miles was just beginning to speak. I would often lay him on my dad's chest so he too could experience a squeeze your guts out hug from Papa Bill. Each day I would ask him "Who squeezes your guts out?" and he would promptly respond "Papa Bill".
I stopped asking eventually and Miles began speaking in full sentences; each of us pressing forward, moving onward.
Sunday night we gathered for family dinner. We toasted a niece on her new job, we welcomed my mother home from an extended vacation, we laughed and traded stories. It was just the kind of dinner my dad would have loved. Miles kept leaving his seat, racing to my chair, and then running back to his own. I was growing exasperated by his antics in the crowded restaurant. At last he came to me and said "Papa Bill squeezes guts out." He repeated it over and over to his cousins, his siblings, his aunt and uncle.
Perhaps Miles was the only one who could see my dad there, wrapping his arms around each one of us.
Tuesday, Cole came and lay down with me in bed. He has been recovering from a pretty bad case of strep, which he so kindly shared with me. He told me how he'd been thinking so much about his grandpa. He said when he felt so sick for just a few days, it made him realize how his grandpa had been sick for months and months and yet he rarely complained. He always remained positive, stoic.
I, too, have been having these same thoughts of my dad. Especially when I was in the hospital a few weeks ago suffering from severe pain. In those short six hours before I was able to obtain pain relief, my thoughts turned continually to my dad who endured that kind of pain for months on end. I understood on a different level his desperation and panic. I have thought of little else and have worried and wondered that we did enough to help make and keep him comfortable. Over and over I have felt him calm my fears and tell me it was enough, that we did everything possible. Perhaps the only lesson he is trying to show me is that of empathy for others pain.
On Wednesday, I was searching frantically for a lost email and came across an email written by my second oldest brother the day after my dad's funeral. Somehow it had ended up in my spam file.
"I think everything went extremely well yesterday. I want you all to know how proud I am to have you as my brothers and beloved sister. I know I don't always say it, but I just wanted you to know I love and appreciate you all, I couldn't ask for better siblings. Now pick yourself up. The show must go on!"
I wept and recognized my dad's hand in reminding me that I am not alone, that I have three of the kindest, most amazing, accomplished, compassionate brothers. Each of them possessing a portion of my dad's charm and character. What a lovely reminder found in an errant email on a day when I most needed it.
Yesterday, I attending a meeting for the American Cancer Society. Their annual Babe golf tournament will be held in honor of my dad this year. I knew that this was happening, it was the sole reason I was asked to volunteer my time on the committee. And yet, walking in that door and seeing "In Honor of William C. "Bill" Roderick" on all of the tournament literature took my breath away. I quietly wiped away silent tears as my sister in law gently rubbed my leg under the table.
I don't have any physical possessions of my dad due to some pretty unusual circumstances. But what I do have is a lifetime of memories, an over-flowing reservoir of treasured moments and tender feelings. I think he was with me at that meeting, reminding me that while I don't have his 'things', I still have him. I carry him with me everywhere I go, right here in my heart. Surely he is nearby if only the sight of his name can bring me to tears.
I know my dad is near. I feel him every day in sometimes profound, sometimes silly ways. He is here, just not nearly close enough.