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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Calling Heaven...

Good, honest, hardheaded character is a function of the home. If the proper seed is sown there and properly nourished for a few years, it will not be easy for that plant to be uprooted.
~~~~~George A. Dorsey



There have been many times in the last few years that I've picked up the phone to call my Daddy. Then I'd stop myself, asking why did I do that?, knowing that he can't answer. You see, Daddy passed away June 19th, 2005. It was Father's Day. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Tomorrow is his birthday. He was born on January 14, 1927. He would have been 82 had the cancer not stolen his hope. Yes, he had hoped to beat that ugly old cancer. I remember all of us kids discussing with him and Momma, all of the new, untried, holistic, quack remedies or possible cures. We girls had gone to the oncologists office with them. We knew the outcome. We knew the options. WE KNEW THERE WERE NONE...

Daddy had melanoma that had metastasized. The original cancer had started in his right eye. A seed radiation had been implanted to burn the melanoma, but we were cautioned then that if it didn't eradicate all of it, it would possibly return in his liver within a year. 14 months later, the mass was discovered on the liver's main aortic vessel. Surgery wasn't an option. Radiation wasn't an option. Chemotherapy was the only treatment with any hope. I took him to the Cancer Treatment Center 3 days a week. Every week. We started in late January and stopped near the end of April. After each treatment, we'd stop at some restaurant along the way home, have coffee or share a plate of french fries and catfish. And we'd talk, then talk some more.

That last treatment visit was so hard. The nurses knew that they wouldn't be seeing David B. Pierce, my Daddy come in anymore. He would always tease them, make jokes, and just be his general pain in the ass type of guy that he was.


And yet... Daddy had hope.

In early June, we moved him to my youngest sister's house. She owned a huge house, enough room for all of us and a hospital bed. Let me tell you, it was a really big home to hold all of us kids, her family, plus all the in-laws that came, grandchildren, whoever wanted to be there, stayed. We moved travel trailers into the driveway. We made pallets on the floor. We slept in chairs, on couches, and air mattresses. We didn't care. Daddy didn't want to go to Hospice nor would we allow him to.

My only problem was that she lived a little better than an hour away from me. I made arrangements to take FMLA leave. I took my remaining weeks vacation to spend with Daddy prior to the FMLA starting. I'm so very thankful I did. It was a week where Daddy's every wish and whim was granted. I remember how he once yelled at us when we didn't think the cost of one of those "cures" was worth it. He told us it held hope and that as long as he had that hope then he had a fighting chance on beating the cancer. We bought the "cure".


With two of my sisters being RN's, we all knew the medical terminology/jargon. I had done several stints in a Nursing Home. Momma had been an assistant in our local Doctor's office. The eldest brother had been an Air Force Medic for 7 years. We could handle anything Daddy needed. Or so we thought...

There were fights and arguments galore. Just because we all were adults didn't change the dynamics of being siblings. O'Wise One had reached the ripe old age of over fifty when Daddy gave her last spanking. All because of me. I think we were out on the front porch when being Daddy's daughter, I zinged her with a wet kitchen towel. Back and forth several times until she got the better of me and I let out a yelp. Daddy thought she had hurt me, so he smacked her on the butt. "Oh No Daddy, she didn't hurt me."

But she was. Not physically, but emotionally. She was devastated. As was I. That evening she and I went for a drive. Words needed to be said, tears needed to be cried. Within an hour, calls were being made to our cell phones to return. Seems we had that magic touch Daddy wanted. We can laugh about it now, but at the time, the thought that he would choose one over the other made both of us hurt. Apologies were given and accepted. Still, the feelings are there.

Several nights later, we spent his last evening sitting in the bedroom, crowded around the bed. Daddy wanted us to sing all his favorite songs. Several of my sisters have beautiful voices, as well as Momma. Me, I sing solo. So low, no one can hear me. As we sang, we'd all take turns brushing Daddy's scalp. His silver hair had fallen out without us paying much attention to it having done so. We would stop for a minute to make a comment or something another when Daddy would raise his eyebrows and motion with his eyes for us to continue. The youngest brother, and any of the rest of us girls who weren't rubbing his head or brushing his scalp, rubbed his legs, feet, hands and arms. Daddy enjoyed the rubs and we certainly needed to touch his warm skin as long as we could.

The one song that I'll always associate with my Daddy is the old gospel song of "I'll Fly Away". It had been his favorite as far back as I can remember. Since my speakers aren't working on my computer right now, I won't attempt to add a video. I need to hear it, too. But I will add the lyrics below and listen in my memories...

Some glad morning when this life is o'er,
I'll fly away;
To a home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).

[Chorus]
I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I'll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away)

[Chorus]
I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).

Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away)

[Chorus]
I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).


There's not a day that goes by, where I don't wish I could speak to Daddy just one more time. To rub his head or brush his hair, to sit at the table with him, sharing a piece of Pineapple Upside Down cake, his favorite. To watch him pick up the plate and lick the crumbs off. There are so many of Daddy's quirks that manifest themselves in us, his children and now his grandchildren. I know that Daddy will truly never die as long as we are alive. But there are so many days, I wish I could pick up that phone to hear his voice... One more time.

In our family, we have a little competition to see who can call whoever is having a birthday and be the first to wish them "Happy Birthday". This year, I think I've beaten everyone.

Happy Birthday Daddy! I will always love and miss you. I know you had to fly away.






And so it goes......

8 comments:

joyce said...

Beautiful post. all my boys love pineapple upside down cake. Thank you.

Susan Katz Keating said...

What a beautiful tribute. Your Daddy was lucky to have you, such a loving daughter. If you listen carefully enough, you'll hear Heaven answer back...

~LHP

Earl said...

Talk to your father, always, his best is always there waiting for your need.

Ky Woman said...

Joyce,Susan and Earl,

thank you ALL so much for your sweet words.
Daddy knew how much he was loved. And one day I'll fly away to see him again forever...

and Earl, I do. Both of them.

O' wiseone said...

As a joint participant in the life and times of the one to whom this tribute was written, I must say it was beautiful and well said for all of us. Nary a day goes by that I don't see his his influence nor hear his voice in my head. I can only hope to leave half the legacy that he did. I thank you so very much for putting into words what we are feeling, once again. How blessed you are to be able to capture in the visible what is so often invisible. You better do something with that talent or as daddy would say, that'd be a boneheaded move. I will dry my tears and retire for the day. I love you. O'Wise One

mens socks said...

hm. I also like the song very much. My favorite too.

tankerbabe said...

Oh how I feel our pain. I still pick up the phone to call. I still get emotional wanting to share happy times, good news, etc.; wanting to talk to my daddy when the chips seem to be down. Mine is fresher than yours (but you know that). The memories are so sweet and...so difficult, aren't they.

I'm sure your daddy had the happiest of birthdays. Thank you for allowing us to share it.

Ky Woman said...

O'Wise One,
Only with someone's help did this spill forth... *ahem* and just who is supposed to be writing the "Life with a Redneck"? Taint me... So hush yore mouth, and start practicing what yore preaching... and I Love YOU, too.

Tankerbabe,

I don't care how old I get, I know I'll always miss my Daddy. But he always told us "life is for the living." As normal, he'd be right. Or as he would say, "if you don't believe me, just ask me..."
Knowing my daddy, he's got your daddy in a corner of heaven just chewing his ear off. :)