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Wendy Schreiner: Memories of Dad are so bittersweet

Daddy, Father, Papa, Dad – no matter the title one chooses for this special man, a father’s love lives on even after he leaves this earth.

In September, my Dad will be gone nine years. He passed away on my older brother’s birthday. The obituary didn’t list that date (Sept. 9) because the undertaker arrived after midnight, so the report said Sept. 10. No matter the date, the pain was the same for everyone who was now lost without his “live” presence.

I remember looking in the bathroom mirror after my father died. My face appeared as white as a ghost. I thought I looked terrible. Like the pink color that was missing from my cheeks, the color had vanished from my world. Sadness crept in and tears fell.

Somehow, I and many others managed to survive the next few days. Two days were spent at the funeral parlor with two sessions each day and a quick bite to eat in between. The third day was the funeral. One of my sisters-in-law read the eulogy.

As memories flowed, so did many tears. Laughter was also heard as fun times were being reminisced. A celebration of Dad’s life was being memorialized. He lived 75 wonderful years.

The finality set in when the car was driving away from the gravesite. I turned my head around and watched as they lowered my father’s coffin into the ground. I have never felt so much pain in my lifetime.

In a way, I wanted to get out of the car and yell, “stop!” If only it were that easy to raise someone from the dead.

Dad was a son, a brother, an uncle, a godfather, a friend, a co-worker, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a gardener and a carpenter. Most of all, he was my loving father. The one who taught me how to ride a bike and brush my teeth.

Dad was the one who loved me no matter what. In his eyes, I could do no wrong.

My father had a great laugh. He didn’t make much noise, but his facial expression showed much joy. I miss that laugh. I miss that man. My hope is to one day be able to see him again.

Dad died surrounded by those who loved him. He was lucky to die peacefully in his home. I hope he wasn’t in much pain. I know he was in pain being alive. Each day, his frail body struggled to survive. This went on for a long time until it was time to suffer no more.

In some ways, it seems like just yesterday when we said our final, “I love you.” In other ways, it seems like forever ago.

It’s hard to lose someone you love. Even though we knew for a long time that the end was near, there really was no way to prepare for it.

There were days when I couldn’t handle looking at Dad and seeing him suffer so much. Now, I wish for a day to look into his handsome face and say, “I love you, Dad” once more. Because the many times I said it during his final hours just don’t seem to be enough.

The tears flow now. They are filled with sadness for the hole in my heart. They are also filled with joy as I remember the first 35 years of my life with the greatest father there could ever be. After all, he was the first man who loved me.