Cowboy Hats and Memories: Thoughts of My Dad

I’ve had many thoughts of my Dad this past year since losing Konnor. Although it may appear that I grieved harder for Konnor, I grieved just as much for my dad. I suppose when trying to describe my grief to those who couldn’t understand it, I would say I anticipated my father’s loss. I had time to absorb the idea that I would be without him. He was diagnosed with Lung Cancer and his prognosis was poor. Even with chemotherapy and radiation from diagnosis to death he had one year.

This is not to say that knowing he had cancer made his death any less painful. It did not. My father and I had a bond, I loved him a great deal. However, in my experience the grieving I expressed prior to my father’s passing may have softened the blow. I knew it was coming by all intensive purposes my heart was preparing itself.

The last year I spent with my Dad I carried with me the knowledge that my time with him would be ending very soon. My heart was heavy, I was already grieving for him even though he was still very present in my life. I knew I would soon be without him. When in reality, I could not imagine my life without my Dad. I was always Daddy’s little girl. Even as I got older, he was the one I called when I needed to talk to someone.

It would take me a good six months after his passing to “forget” he was gone, as I would pick up my phone to call him. If I could only hear that voice, that ever soft yet still present southern drawl.

I needed his hugs when Konnor died. Because Dad was affectionate. “Come here and hug my neck!” (A southernism)

His advice sometimes went back to his roots. “Don’t plant a seed if you’re not going to tend to it”  One I even passed on to my children, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you who to be.”

I’ll never forget my father going to my school because I refused to wear gym shorts as I was self-conscious of my very skinny legs at that time and the school was going to fail me. My father told the teacher, “I’m not going to force my daughter to wear something that makes her feel bad about herself.”  He told me this was the reason he never wore overalls again in his life once he left Alabama. He grew up poor and the way he looked made him feel bad about himself and he didn’t want that for his children.

He was far from perfect. He had many flaws but he was my father and he made me feel loved and cared for and that is what a father should do. He tried to do the best he could do and when he screwed up he admitted to that as well. But he was also a sensitive man.

I was witness to my father’s tears when he had to discipline my brother for things my brother by his own admission deserved to be disciplined for. He had a soft heart. He had no problem showing affection.

We don’t really shy away from showing affection do we? Why isn’t it acceptable to show grief? I’m not alluding to crying in public but damn if I want to continue to talk about my Dad even though he passed away 12 years ago and Konnor passed last year, why can’t I??  It seems as though once a loved one has passed most people cease to talk about them. Is it because it’s too painful? Do you really just want to “forget” them? It’s like denying they existed. Oh, he’s gone, do we still have to talk about him? Hell yes we do!

In my mind the only thing more tragic than the sudden loss of Konnor would be to stop talking about him after merely one year and act as if he did not grace this earth. I cannot do that. If you expect to be in my life, deal with me talking about him, I’m not in need of psychological help. I am grieving in a healthy way. In my state of mind and in my heart those that bury family and never speak of them again did not have a healthy relationship in the first place. That is not what I am referring to here. I speak of love. Love does not die when the body does. I still love my dad and I still love Konnor.

My daughter struggled when Konnor died because she didn’t know where he was. She pictured him lost in the dark, searching for her. She was tormented by this. One night she  suddenly woke from her sleep by Dad’s voice telling her, “quit your fussin’ I got him.”  It wasn’t until this that she was finally able to rest. She now keeps a picture of her and Dad on Konnor’s shelf with his urn. It is her comfort.

The last time I saw my father fully alert was in the hospital the day before we took him to my brother’s house on hospice. He would live only three more days. He was sleeping when I walked in the room so I just sat down for a while in the chair and read the trash magazines that he liked to read, The National Inquirer, The Star, etc. When he woke he smiled and said, “hi angel, why didn’t you wake me up?” I told him he needed his rest. To which he sadly replied, “I’ll be sleeping forever soon enough.”  I sat down on the bed and we talked about other things. To this day I wish I would have asked him if he was afraid. In hindsight, I was too afraid myself.

Did it hurt less knowing he was dying? No. The day he passed it hurt like hell. And for many days since then. He was my father and I loved him and I watched him die. That was painful. I cannot describe the agony of losing my father and compare it to losing my grandson. It would be like trying to explain the love you have for of all your children. You love each of them yet in a different but unique way for each of them. Still, the death of an eight year old child is tragic just due to his being a child. He was so young.

As I stood in the funeral home giving Konnor’s eulogy I thought about Dad a few times. Ashlee and I believe he is taking care of Konnor, he always loved to play with the kids. I keep his memory close to my heart and a few of his belongings closely guarded, mainly a well-worn cowboy hat. Deeply faded and dirty but well-loved. However, I find what I treasure most is the memories of my father, never-fading and also well-loved.

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Grieving Grandmother to Konnor Mason who passed suddenly at eight years old on November 22, 2015. With this blog I hope to share my thoughts and feelings as I move forward through grief toward hope and healing.

4 thoughts on “Cowboy Hats and Memories: Thoughts of My Dad

  1. Patty I think what you have said is very beautiful. I have never understood why we can’t talk about those we loved after they pass. But I know talking about my daddy is very hard for me at times. I miss him so much and I miss his advice. I think we were the lucky ones to have two of the best daddies in the world that just happen to be brothers. I can remember when Uncle Pete would come to visit us he would take the time to catch me by myself so he and I could just talk. He told me once that he knew it had to be hard on me bouncing between my mom and dad the way I did. But he said that it would also make me a stronger person. At the time I wasn’t too sure about that but now I know that he was right. It is because of him that I chose to take my experience and let it make me stronger instead of using it to be a weaker person.

    As his little brother I am sure my daddy gave me some of the same advise through the years as Uncle Pete gave you. I think you and I were very lucky to have southern gentlemen for daddies.

    I do not know your pain when it comes to losing your grandson Konnor. However I do know how I would feel should I lose either one of my granddaughters. I believe that you are honoring him by talking about him and sharing your memories of him with anyone who will listen. No I do not think you need a psychologist I think you are grieving as any grandmother should and if someone doesn’t want to hear your memories then they are missing out.

    I love you cuz, Keep sharing your memories.

    Susan Mealer

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  2. Very emotional read there patti. I’m gonna have to be sure to read more here. The hardest part of losing my dad so long ago is he never met my kids. Not a single day goes by that I don’t think about him. I’m totally convinced my mom actually talks to me all the time. A loss of a child has got to be the hardest thing to deal with. You have ever right to talk about konnor as much as you want. Ashley too. I’m relieved to hear that she’s doing better too. Love you for a long time now. Friends forever. Gina

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    1. Gina,
      I remember your dad and I remember your love for him as well. You hated when he was upset with you for any reason because like me, you didn’t want to disappoint your dad. My father did get to know my children but he passed before my grandkids were born.
      My blog is for anyone to read, I post it on grief websites that I’m on to share my story, honestly it has helped my grieving process.
      And, yes! Friends for many decades! Love ya!

      Like

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