We spread my Fathers ashes over the past weekend. It was one of the hardest things to do, but also I felt relief. His ashes were spread at one of his most favorite places. He loved going to the local Boy Scout Camp Guyasuta( http://www.campguyasuta.org/ ). He loved to walk/golf cart up to the waterfall they have, sit there and just listen to nature. He found it soothing, and relaxing. It was his wish to be spread there, so that he could be at peace eternally. So there we took him, and I had my Wife read a letter that I wrote to him the day after he passed. The letter is below, and it helped provide some closure with feelings I had after his passing. I still fight with my depression daily, but it seems lightened since the weekend. I like to think that is Dad in my soul taking care of me…as he always has.
Hey buddy, it’s been a few days and it all seems like it just happened yesterday. I miss you so much already Dad. I know these past few months were not easy for you, and I felt terrible seeing you go through all that you did. I tried to do what I could to make your stay as comfortable as possible and I hope you knew that. We have been going through so many pictures these past few days, and I finally saw a picture of Grandpap Donahoe. I had never seen a photograph of him before. He was holding you, when you were 9 months old! It looked very similar to the photo of you and I, except in our photo I was only a few days old. That picture is one of my favorites of you and me. Mainly because of the story you told me around it. That picture is when you told me that we were going to be best buddies forever. It’s never changed. I grew up, sure, but you were still my best friend. I could tell you anything, talk to you about something so small and it would turn into a life lesson somehow.
I think back a lot to when I was a kid growing up. You worked your ass off to make sure that we had everything we ever needed. Not everything we wanted, but what we needed. You always made sure we had a roof over our head, food on the table, and clothes on our backs. Even if it meant you had to go days with barely any sleep due to being paged out in the middle of the night, or because you were helping me with a Boy Scout merit badge/project. The Boy Scouts is what I think gelled mine and yours relationship. We got to do so many amazing things together through them. We took trips/vacations, we went kayaking, canoeing, camping, hiking, etc. Not once did you ever complain about all the things we did, instead, you volunteered for more. I never told you how much I admired you for doing that. I know you did it because you enjoyed it, but I kept doing it because I loved spending time with you.
After high school, when I told you that I was going to join the Marines, I remember you sitting on the back porch with Sam and smoking your cigar. You told me “I love you buddy, and I am going to miss the hell out of you, but you come home to me and your Mother, promise?”. I promised you that I would and you gave me a hug. You said you should be the one to tell Mom since I had a habit of making things seem unimportant and that this was probably one of the scariest things for parents to hear. I remember you dropped me off at the airport when I was shipping out for boot. You gave me another giant hug and said “Remember, you promised you were coming home” and I saw some tears fall. This was the first time I ever saw you cry in my life and it terrified me. I was so scared that I was letting you down. It wasn’t until I talked to you after arriving and getting our one and only call before we entered boot that you told me it was ok, and that you were proud of me.
I remember when I came home on leave, you would always make me feel like it was some giant homecoming. You would invite all the relatives in, make a ton of food, and make me remember just how much you meant to me. The last leave I had before deploying to Afghanistan, I’ll never forget. I told you that we were deploying and that I didn’t know exactly where, and I couldn’t tell you the exact day but that it was going to be soon, and I would call you as soon as I was able. You were looking down at your feet and just nodding along. I got up to get another drink and you grabbed my hand and squeezed it. You never looked up, but I knew what you were saying to me without the words. You were saying “You promised to come home to us”.
I came home to you guys, and you met me at the airport, and I don’t think I ever saw you smile so big. I dropped my seabag by my feet when I stood in front of you. You grabbed me and lifted me and kissed my cheek more times then I remember and shouted, “My baby is home!”. It was a bit embarrassing at the time, but now I think back, and I wish I could still be in that embrace. So many memories Dad. So many. I never did learn how to grieve properly. You and me both I think are the same way. We want to be as strong as we can, but the harder we try, the uglier we look when we cry. When Missy died, we both needed a lot of help to overcome that. I have that same pain these days. I was talking to a friend yesterday and I told her that it felt like I was missing an arm. Even now, I have to keep stopping so I can cry and wipe away the tears. Chrissie keeps asking if I am okay and I just nod. I promise you though, I will make it through this. I have to. You’re my best friend, you always will be. Mom told me that Kelley was always jealous at how close you and I were and that it’s supposed to be Daddy’s girl and Momma’s Boy. She’s taking this all pretty hard too, but you know Kelley, she is hiding it too.
So many people loved you Dad. I can’t tell you how many people I have talked to the past few days that said you were such a great man, and a wonderful Father, but more importantly, somebody to look up to. Butch, Brian, and Matt all said you were like their second Father…you know, the fun one! They all immediately said they would be there for the family and make sure that we all had what we needed. They have been calling/texting me several times a day the past few days just to make sure I am doing ok and not shelling up.
I am so sorry that I was selfish those few times. I never wanted you to hurt, or be upset. I know how much it hurt you to see how much things had changed when I came home from war. You stayed with me though, you helped me find your Jimmy again. I promise I won’t lose him again.
I hope you are in Heaven right now with Missy, Uncle Ricky, Aunt Lou, Grandma, and Grandpap. I hope you are all playing cards, and having a few beers. I know you missed Missy tremendously and I am sure she missed you too. Tell her that I appreciate her looking over me and I miss her every day. Tell everybody up there that I love them and to give you the lay of the place so that when I get up there with you many years from now, we can have one hell of a homecoming party.
I love you Dad. There’s nobody else in this world right now that I want to see more…than you. Please visit me as often as you want. Let me know you are ok and aren’t upset with us for the last few months that you had to endure. I never in a million years thought these past two months would end this way. I had myself convinced you were coming home soon. You kept asking me to take you home. I feel like I mislead you by saying it would be soon when I knew in my heart that it was going to be a while. It was gut-wrenching to see you dependent on the ventilator, and the feeding tube. It was so hard to see you and not be able to have a conversation with you the past few months due to the intubation, and then the tracheotomy. I just wanted to hear your voice one last time, I wanted to hear you say that you were proud of the man you raised, and that you loved me. I loved being your best friend, but I loved even more being your Son. You rest up, and I’ll see you in my dreams. I love you buddy.