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Well I have officially completed my anniversary of Firsts.
First Fathers Day, Birthday, July Fourth, Thanksgiving, Christmas...just to name a few.
See, my Daddy passed away June 7, 2009 and this year of firsts is always the hardest, so I am told.
I always said I could never imagine my life without my Dad and Mom. However that stark reality hit home last April when Dad started exhibiting strange behaviors.
Trying to eat his breakfast eggs raw, sitting at the table for long periods of time straightening the placemats, and just not communicating to name a few.
Knowing something was terribly wrong, we started the tedious process of doctor appointments. Test after test was run and they finally discovered a small brain tumor.
More doctor appointments and test were needed until finally a decision was made to operate to try to return Dad to his same old grumpy self. The operation went smoothly considering Dad was 82 years old.
Heck, the next day he was sitting up in bed eating his breakfast when I got to the hospital. However after the pathology reports came back the news was not what I had hoped for.
Dad was diagnosed with glioblastomaeean aggressive type of cancer that is just not curable. I felt like a deflated balloon. How in the world can a 82-year-old man go to bed one night and get up the next day with a stupid brain tumor? Dad was supposed to die of a heart attack in 90 degree weather while hoeing his garden, not with a brain tumor.
My whole family was devastated and not prepared to make major decisions for my Dad. Needless to say Mom was the most crushed by this news. Being married to the same man for 60 years and realizing that their time was limited put her in a state of depression and fog.
Being an only child, my children, Ashley and Kyle along with their spouses, my wonderful husband Bob, and, of course, Mom rallied around Dad and we encouraged each other with suggestions, support and prayer.
It was an unanimous decision to put Dad in Oaklawn Nursing and Rehab Facility to let the professionals help to take care of him. Not exactly where I wanted Dad to spend his last days, but it was the right decision.
The care and concern he received was wonderful and Mom got to live there with him. They continued to share meals together and visits from family and friends just as they always had.
As the weeks progressed and Dad became worse, the girls at Oaklawn rolled in a bed for me, fed me, made Dad comfortable and gave us support when asked.
For that I will be eternally grateful.
Even though the situation was sad, I am grateful I had the opportunity to take a leave of absence from work to spend Dad’s last days with him and Mom.
When Sunday, June 7, rolled around, I realized that Daddy was slipping away fast.
I never asked him to stay, but encouraged him to go on home to see my Granny and Granddad Owen, Uncle Calvin, Aunt Thelma and Uncle Roger, Aunt Gladys, Aunt Juanita and my sister Melva.
Boy, I never expected to encourage him to let go, but I knew in my heart he would be in a much better place.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him.
Dad was LOUD in his golden years because he couldn’t hear thunder. He never really needed a telephone. He could just hang out the front door and you could hear him for miles.
As my travels at work would take me up and down Highway 44, I would stop in during the day to check on him and Mom. He always welcomed me in with “come on in Shugee..are you on your way to Sheep Town or going back to the Mount?”
He always encouraged me to stay and talk a bit longer, not caring that I needed to get back to work. Now I wish I had the opportunity to sit and talk just a while longer.
I miss watching him planting his garden, putting up gourds for his purple martins, playing with my grandkids, mowing the grass and seeing him zip up and down the road in his little gold S-10 truck.
Dad loved going to out to eatee.especially Cracker Barrel.
He loved talking to people, family reunions, homemade ice cream, popcorn, fishing, traveling, a huge breakfast with a cup of coffee every morning, Wheel of Fortune, Price is Right and reruns of Archie Bunker and Bonanza.
Most of all Dad loved his church and his God. He hardly ever missed the opportunity to worship even when he was a teenager in WWII. I have letters he mailed home to my MaMaw Owen telling her he had been to church on the base.
The Owen family has always been famous for picnics.
During the summer we can find any excuse to haul out the old black grill and make homemade ice cream. But now, those picnics are missing another very special person.
Just remember when you have your family picnics this summer, enjoy every minute you spend together with your loved ones. You never know when it might be your last memory together.
“Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a Dad.”
Miss you Dad! Melville “Bud” Owen, Sept. 15, 1925-June 7, 2009.