posted on May, 25 2006 @ 09:44 AM
Judy and I had a very nice visit with Cathy this weekend. After Mom’s funeral last week, I guess we all needed a break. It has been a strange life
being big sister and mom to these two. Nothing against Mom, you understand, but I had to be mom to them.
You see, Mom had her hands full with Donnie. My older brother was dying from cancer and he was a full time job. Therefore, at the age of 13, I
became mom to Cathy who was only eight and Judy who was only four, and, of course, there was Andy who was only three. Bob, who was getting ready to
graduate, was making plans to join the Air Force. As I was the next in line, the responsibility fell to me. Although the mom thing was only about a
year and a half, it changed our relationship.
I was amazed at how much closer we had grown together these past few months. As we made our peace with Mom, we made our peace with each other. The
three of us spent the weekend watching movies, including Mom’s memorial video, and playing games. My favorite game was remember when.
“Hey Cathy, remember when you were little. You were running in church and fell down in front on Mama? She said ‘Get up from there little girl,
whoever you are.’” Cathy grinned. “Yeah, Mama never wanted anyone to know her children misbehaved in church.”
“Hey Patti, remember when Mama caught you skipping school?” “Yes,” I replied through my laughter. “But I wasn’t skipping that day!”
We talked about Mama, remembering the good and the bad. We discussed how we had all grown apart and took joy in how we were coming back together. We
talked about how we thought Dad would probably follow her soon. Dad has congestive heart failure. Nine years ago his doctor told us how he doubted
that Dad would live another year. He battled heart disease, diabetes, bladder and prostrate cancer, and finally lung cancer. We were amazed at how
he struggled to stay alive for Mama. We always thought he would go first. No one expected Mama to get inoperable pancreatic cancer. She was gone in
I smiled. “You’d never know how much those two loved each other to hear them talk.” Judy said “Remember how he called Mama ‘Ol Yellar’
when her liver started shutting down?” “Yeah,” replied Cathy, “but he was the only one who get away with that!” “Hey,” Judy suggested,
“let’s make up a list of Wadeisms.” “Oh.” said Cathy, “tal.” We all laughed. “Tal’ was Dad’s response for I love you. It was
his way of saying “I love you too,” although it was short for “not at all.” “Then there was his famous telephone greeting, ‘yella’
which was short for yeah and hello.” I responded. “It’s a Wade thing.” We spent the next hour laughing at Wadeisms.
From Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, we remembered. As Judy and I prepared to leave, we assured Cathy that we would stop by the nursing home
and give Daddy her love. We last saw him Friday night just before we left for Cathy’s house. Judy and I spent the trip home talking about how much
closer the remaining five kids were now. We prayed for the family and asked God’s love and protection over Daddy.
It was late, past ten o’clock, when we finally arrived in Macclenny. “It’s too late to visit him now,” said Judy. “We can come back in the
morning.” I agreed. “Did you hear him Friday night?” I asked. “No,” answered Judy. “What did he say?” “Well, when we were
leaving, I leaned down and kissed his forehead and told him ‘I love you, Pa.’ and he said ‘I love you too, Pat.” Judy laughed. “He asked
me ‘What’s for dinner tomorrow?” “Yeah,” I said with a sigh, “his mind comes and goes.”
Well, diary, it is midnight, so I am going to get some sleep. Goodnight diary.
It is nine am. I had just settled down when the telephone rang. The nursing home said Daddy went into a diabetic coma and the paramedics took him to
the hospital. We jumped up, got dressed and broke a few speed laws getting to the emergency room.
The doctor took us to his office. There he explained that Daddy had a massive clot in his lung. Judy and I exchanged knowing looks. “Can we see
him?” we asked. “It’s over.” replied the doctor. “We understand. We still want to see him.” The doctor led us to the room.
As I approached my daddy's lifeless form, I reeled with the flood of memories. I remembered Daddy taking me to the ball game for my ninth birthday,
scratching my cheek with his whiskers, his smile, his laughter, and his love. I held his stiff hand in mine and kissed his cold forehead. “Tal,
Pa.” I said through tears. “Tal.”