I had always dreamed of walking down the aisle at graduation with my Dad in his Harvard robes. When I was a senior in college, He was coming back from giving a paper and had a heart attack on the airplane. Even though they emergency landed the plane in Atlanta, he died. That night I had double dated with my sister to see a “Yes” concert, but went home earlier than she did since I had an 8:00 am Calculus class.
I was a senior in college when my Mom called me up (after a very late night at a YES concert) and asked me to come over since my Dad was “sick”. I told her I needed to sleep and would be there after my class in the morning. My parents were divorced by then, so I thought it was a bit weird, but went back to sleep. Then she called back and told me I was dead. I rushed to her house at 3 in the morning n tears. My Dad was my best friend. My Mom wanted me to find my sister but I had no idea where she was and there were no cell phones back then. She gave me a stiff drink (which was the last thing I needed – but I took it anyway). We waited for my sister Barby to show up and when she did, we both broke down in tears again. My Mom asked me to go to my Dad’s apartment to look for a will (he was only 45) and she didn’t feel comfortable doing it. I was a basket case. Luckily my roommate was there to drive me.
Seeing my Dad’s most personal things was horrible to me. I found what I could and brought it back to my Mom.
I stayed there, but went to school because at the beginning of the semester, my professor had said there would be no exceptions to missing exams. I must have looked a mess, because one of my friends came up as I was waiting and said”what happened to you, did someone die or something”? When he heard my story, he walked into the classroom and explained my situation to the professor and she was so nice, and told me of course I could make it up. Maybe it helped that my Dad was the Dean of the Graduate School – but he led me out of school to the next door college bar. Now this was about 8:30 am. My best friend said “Let’s have a few beers and celebrate his life”. We did and we laughed and cried at the same time. One old drunk came over and asked us what was going on. When we told him, he cried too! We all started laughing which sounds weird, but it was what I needed most.
It was then that I found out who your real friends are. Some that I thought were my friends looked the other way when I was coming. Some sat with me and let me talk, cry and cried with me. It was like my Dad’s death was contagious and some of my so called friends didn’t want to catch the “germ”. That’s when I learned the value of true friends. They are with you through the good and bad, the ugly, the horrible and the tragedy. Some of those people I can call today (and I’m 53) and it’s like we never stopped talking.
Then the next shoe hit the floor. My Mom wanted me to decide where my Dad should be buried! His Dad was on vacation, but I refused to make any decisions until I could talk to my Grandfather. No parent should survive their children. I had never had death touch me, and I couldn’t handle it. I was floored that my Mom couldn’t see that.
We ended up sending the police after my grandfather. Thank God he took care of everything. We all flew up to Massachusetts were my first Grandmother was buried. My Dad was cremated and buried next to her. My Grandfather sent me the pictures he developed that my Dad had taken on that trip; they were of the same place where he was buried. It was fall, so I’m sure he was taking pictures of the changing leaves – but is was still creepy. My sister and I didn’t have much money, but we went to a florist and bought roses to lie on his grave.
When we got home, the money he had was to be left to any minor children (of which I was not) but there was an insurance policy with me as the beneficiary. I felt said because he had always wanted a boat. I think you should always make sure you experience your dreams.
My Mom said she and Barby would take me to court to get that money – so I gave it to them. Not worth fighting for. I almost quit college at the suggestion of my Mom, but my Dad’s professor friends rallied around me and got me through it (thank goodness for those wonderful men).
I gave up the idea of graduate school and got a job in the computer industry where I have been for 30 years. My Mom and Scott moved up to New York before I graduated and no one I was related to came to the ceremony. Not even my sister.
My husband and I have an iron clad will so hopefully none of this business will happen. I grew up very fast during those years and still hear my Dad in my prayers. I made peace with my Mom before she died (at 72) and I am very glad I did. Family is what is most important and should never be taken for granted. Nor should goof friends – they are worth gold and they endure much longer than teenage crushes or small arguments. Nurture them with love and they will serve you for your whole life.
You never know when your time will be up so always tell your loved ones how much you love and appreciate them. Never go to bed with any anger in your heart. I have a sign over our bed that says “Never forget to kiss me Goodnight” so my husband and I remember how important it is. Forgive no matter what and live so you have no regrets on your deathbed. Older people will tell you that the only thing they worry about are regrets from a missed time to tell someone they loved them or a missed time to spend more time with their kids. Don’t let that happen to you. Life goes by in a blink! Live, Laugh and Love everyone! You never know when the last day will come – so no regrets!