My father, my friend

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Albert G Horton Veterans Memorial Cemetery

They say “life sucks” and sometimes I couldn’t agree more.  Life hasn’t been kind to me or my family as of late.  But, “that’s life”.  It has punched me in the gut, breathlessly awaiting the kick once I am down.  I haven’t written for the blog in almost two weeks.  Instead I have been spending my time with my father, who passed away on Saturday, July 23rd.  It was by far one of the worst days of my life.

My father had been battling an illness for almost six months.  Two days after my son was born, he went into the emergency room and would spend the rest of his days in and out of the hospital and rehab centers trying to get well.   I am sure there are many unknown factors that contributed to his passing and I guess I will never be sure but I am comforted to know that now he is at peace.

My father will no longer suffer or be tired or feel sick.  He will feel no more pain.  And even though I would rather be selfish and keep him here a bit longer, I am starting to accept that he is gone.  It still doesn’t feel completely real.   I am writing this, with my stomach in knots and tears coming down my cheeks…having to pause every few moments and gather my thoughts.  I want to write this.  I need to write this to work through my thoughts rattling around in my brain, to work through my feelings that seem to bubble to the surface in public and quickly are smothered down in hopes I do not upset my mom.  I want to be strong for her more than ever now.  I need to be strong for my children who lost a grandfather who loved them dearly.

So, I write this for him and for myself.  I am happy that I was able, along with my sister, to share this with him at his service a few days ago.  I had hoped that I would be able to muster through the words and let him know my feelings out loud.  It was difficult to read in front of everyone; Strangers to me, but friends of my father who came to show their respect.  This post is special to me because it hits so close to my heart.  And my blog is about family and finding and knowing your family to know your true self.  I don’t think I would know who I was without the love of my father.

Below is what my sister and I had written and read aloud at my father’s service this past Monday.

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Ashley : “Today, we have gathered here to honor the memory of our father, Norman Ferguson.  There are hundreds of words to describe him, but we will give you one: exceptional.

Adrienne:  We say this because we believe that being honest, being kind, being funny, loving, selfless and intelligent can all fall under one word: exceptional.  Our father was all of these things.

Ashley:  Our father was an honest man, a good police officer for thirty-one years.  He helped his community by serving the people and carrying out justice.  He never once harmed anyone during those years but instead probably helped saved many lives and stopped wrong doings from being carried out.   He was proud to have served his community and his country.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps before becoming a police officer and that is why we are here today, with the best send off any military man could imagine.

Adrienne:  Our father was a kind man.  Never once growing up did we fear him.  He never gave us a reason to, we respected him.  He taught us that kindness goes farther than hate and that the world was a better place to live in when people were kind to each other.  He created this world for our family, but it didn’t stop there.  With his kindness, he touched many lives.  We are sure that many of you standing here today have felt the warmth of his affection.

Ashley: Being funny was an understatement.  We remember sharing many laughs with him when we would visit or call him and chat.  He was a regular comedian with his smart humor and silly sayings.  He could make my sister and me as children laugh and today made our girls laugh by playing with them or tickling them.

Adrienne: He was a loving father.  My sister and I never wanted for anything growing up.  He, along with my mother, sacrificed everything for us.  They made sure that we had a proper education, food in our bellies and clothes on our backs.  But most importantly we knew that we were loved and cared for.  Our father may not have been the most outwardly affectionate man with hugs or kisses, but we never once questioned how much I was loved by him.  If he wasn’t ironing Ashley’s hair in the morning, he was tolerating every kid in the neighborhood to keep us close by. He had a way of doing little things to make us happy, like he thought of us everywhere he went and brought home little tokens of that love.

Ashley:  We hope he never questioned how much we loved him.  That he knew how we looked up to him and that he showed us what a man was supposed to be like; that every man should be modeled after our father.  He showed us that a man could be strong and nurturing all at once and what true love looked like, because the way that he loved my mother was like a fairy tale.

Adrienne: Selflessness was another quality of daddy’s.  All though sometimes we wish had not possessed this quality.  By this we mean, if he thought of himself more often, he may still be here today.  But instead, he thought of our mother and his girls and our babies.   Sometimes we think he didn’t tell us how sick he may have been feeling to protect us.  He never wanted us to worry about him, but he always was willing to take care of whatever we needed.

Ashley: He showed me this when he became a grandparent for the first time with my daughter, Caitlyn.  He would have jumped over the moon for her.

Adrienne: And when Madison was born, it was the same.  He loved his two girls more than anything.  We always joked that my father was given more time on this earth with the birth of those two girls, that they healed him and made him feel younger and more vibrant.

Ashley: I only wish that my son could have given him a few more years, just as those girls had.  I am happy that he was able to meet another grandchild and spend time with him.  We had at one point wondered what would have been better or easier…to grow up only knowing a grandfather through pictures?  But we realized we are the lucky ones for having known him and not just through paper; to have felt his goodness and to see him be able to embrace our daughters with open arms.

Adrienne: Our father loved history and politics and could carry on conversations and arguments with the best of them.  His quick wit and clever banter was always a joy to be around.  We remember spending many nights growing up having him help us with homework and projects and always calling for his advice on most matters in our lives.

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With Caitlyn and Madison.

Ashley: I am so proud to have known this man.  I am even more proud to call him my dad.  All though it hasn’t sunk in yet, he is gone.  I will never be able to replace him.  I will no longer be able to sit for hours and chat with him, to call him when I am excited or have questions.  We all talk about it and know that it has happened.  My brain registers it, but my heart cannot accept it.  My love for my father will never fade.  It will only grow as I get older and am able to share with my children all the memories that I will carry in my heart.   I hope that I have made you proud.  I know you will be watching over us all as our guardian angel and one day I will be able to see you again.  In the words of my father to my mom, “we had some good times didn’t we?”  Wait for me daddy.  Treasure these few words till we’re together, keep all my love forever.  P.S. I love you. “

Adrienne: Though it broke my heart to lose him, I know that I am lucky to have had him in my life for all of the years we were given.  And while he made me the person I am today, I still strive to be more like him.  More thoughtful.  More caring.  More patient.  I strive to find the humor in life as he did.  And to work hard to have all of the little things in life and make those around me happy.  I also strive to have his strength and protect the ones I love as he did.  I know that I’ll never lose affection.  I know I’ll often stop and think about him.  In my life, daddy, I loved you more.”

I sit here now, choking back more tears to be able to share these thought and words with you.  My father was my best friend growing up.  People told me days before he passed that I should say all the things I want to say and ask him any questions that I needed answers to.  I had nothing.  I had nothing because I shared everything with my father.  I didn’t have any questions for him because we kept no secrets from each other.  He was a huge part of my life.  He cared for my daughter when I went back to work.  Their bond was incredible.  They were each other’s pals.  My daughter comes to me now at the age of six, having to understand already what it is like to lose someone you love dearly.  I think that she would be carrying a heavy burden having to deal with this.  She tells me often she misses her grandpa and that she feels sorry for him.  I tell her to not feel sorry, for grandpa is now in a better place, where ever that may be.  I know he is looking out for us and making sure we stay in line and that his love for his girls goes beyond boundaries even in death.  To this my daughter simply responds with a kiss that she blows towards the clouds.

Now, it is most important to me to spend more time with family.  I lost my father.  My rock, my greatest advisor.   I have my mother, who is also my best friend.  I guess I am lucky to have such wonderful  parents.  I want to be strong for her more than ever now.  She lost the love of her life, her other half.  She was married to my father for almost 36 years.    They would be celebrating an anniversary next month.  My mother not only lost my dad on that day.  But, hours later I had the burden of telling her she also lost her brother.  I received a phone call hours after we told my Aunt the news on my dad’s passing.  She couldn’t bear the thought of telling my mother that her brother, who was closest to her in age, had also died that morning.  My Uncle Walt.  That was a terrible feeling, having to sit my mother down.  It broke my heart.  Those were the lines I gave her.  My mother carries the sorrow of losing two great men in her life.

This is why family is the most important to me now.  Cherish the people you love.  Do not keep things from them.  Tell them all the time how much they mean to you because you never know when you will draw your last breath.

 

Thanks for reading.

A-

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