You May Think I’m Crazy… Remembering My Dad

Every once in a while my dad still pops into my mind from out of the blue even though he has been gone for over 6 years now. I wondered if there was a Eulogy at his funeral and don’t think that there was one. I was too much in grief and denial to remember much about that day.

In 2008, I decided that this was the year that I was going to visit my dad. It had been a long, long time that I had seen him last… over a decade. It was difficult to visit because of my fear. He was an alcoholic and although in the recent years our relationship had been better, healed in ways, I didn’t know what to expect when I was actually there. Every year I wanted to visit, but didn’t. 2008 was different because a close friend told me that I should go, that he wasn’t getting any younger. He was a strong man though. He was only 74, he still worked at his restaurant establishment, and was building a patio that went all the way around the house. Our phone relationship was better because he learned what not to talk about if he still wanted to have a relationship with me since I had to cut him off before. He stopped talking crap about my mom, being persistent and angry about getting my sister’s phone number, he stopped calling when he was at the point when he was a “drunk dialer.” We had great conversations and I remembered the dad that I loved as a child. Our relationship was even better because I was older and we could talk about more things. If I had any questions at all about world news, politics, religion, or whatever my current interest was, he was the one that I turned to. He knew everything.

That year in late March I went to California for a weekend trip. It was for my friend and a bunch of her family members that had birthdays close together and they were making one big party of it. My mom, step-father, sister, and her son came along as well. My dad called me while I was in California but I didn’t answer the phone. I figured I would call him back when I returned home to Colorado. Our last conversation had been about two weeks before and it was awesome. We talked about so many interesting topics, and laughed heartily about something that I don’t remember anymore. I felt so much love for him in that moment and couldn’t stop smiling, I could sense him smiling too. He was feeling the same way and told me how much he loved me and I reciprocated that love for him. I had told him that I had decided that when I die, I would die in my sleep and I thought that was the best way to go. He agreed.

When I returned home and to work, I meant to call him back but was always working, on short breaks, or thinking about it too late at night to call. He called me at work that Wednesday but I couldn’t answer because I was in the office. A couple days later my phone rang with an 800 number attached to it. I really dislike telemarketers and am on the National Do Not Call List. I always ignore them and let the call go to voicemail but I was pissed off and answered it abruptly. “Kimi?” I heard a soft timid voice on the other line. I was quiet for a moment because no one except for my family and a few others (that don’t have my phone number) call me by my middle name. “Yes?” It was my cousin Jennifer. “Sonny passed away a few days ago.” My head started to spin, and I didn’t know what to think. My dad couldn’t have passed away. He was supposed to live longer, I wanted to see him, I ignored his calls. “What? What do you mean?” Jennifer told me that my dad was working on his patio, went to take a nap, and never woke up. They thought he died of a major heart attack and that he didn’t feel a thing. She asked if Becky, my dad’s long time girlfriend had called. I told her she didn’t (not realizing that the phone call that I got on Wednesday was Becky calling me from his phone since she didn’t leave a message). Becky had told the family that she tried to reach me multiple times (once) and that I never returned her calls. She did everything, she said, to get in touch with me. I had to go to his funeral, even though I didn’t have a lot of money and didn’t like to ask for time off from work. But he was my dad, this was important, I didn’t want to regret not being there. I left work early that day, I shouldn’t have been driving, I called Becky and talked to her about my dad. I told her I was going home and was going to book a flight to South Carolina. She told me to let her know my itinerary and she would pick me up, no problem. I searched online for a while, on different websites, using different dates, and even tried different airports, even ones in North Carolina. All of the tickets averaged $1500. I eventually lucked out when I found a ticket for a little over $500. I tried to call Becky and left her a voicemail with my itinerary and never heard back from her so I called my Aunt and she said that she would pick me up from the airport.

When I arrived in South Carolina, I found out that I had just missed what I believe was a viewing, or some kind of pre-funeral thing for my dad. I was upset that Becky didn’t tell me about it or I would have surely booked an earlier flight. I stayed at my Aunt’s house next door instead of with Becky in my dad’s house (their house now since she lived with him) and went over that night. A bunch of people congregated in the house and I sat on the sofa. I remember being full of anxiety, still wondering if my dad would walk into the room any minute now. I ended up laying down and asked Jennifer to sit with me. She kind of gave me a strange look. I found out shortly after that it was because Jennifer was thinking that I was laying on the couch that my dad died on several days before. When I realized it, I felt more comfort than anything else. Earlier when I was just sitting on the couch, I felt as though someone was hugging me from behind, that was the first time since I heard the news that my dad passed that some of the anxiety went away.

The following day we went to the graveyard for my dad’s funeral. He was the only one in our family plot that had been cremated, as he had wished. It went by so fast and I don’t remember much. Just how annoyed I was. I was sad that I would never see my dad again. I was annoyed at the man who opened the box which housed the remains of my dad. WTF? I was annoyed at Becky’s family members that I had just met telling me again how it was “a shame” that my sister didn’t come to his funeral. Even though I lied to them and said that she really wanted to be there but couldn’t take time off of work. I didn’t have the time or energy to argue with Southern gossipers at my dad’s funeral service. Then there were these kids that I didn’t know, jumping on the graves of my Great Grandparents. Everything was about Becky and her girls and how my dad was like a father to them. Whatever. They were crying as if they had lost their own dad, and they were older than I was. I lost my dad and I had no tears because I still couldn’t believe it and grieving is a private matter. I wondered, as I watched them wail and moan if I was a bad daughter not to have “loved” him as much as “they did” since I was not displaying any emotions. That night we all went over to my dad’s house, everyone was drinking a lot. I had one drink just to calm my anxiety and despair. When it was late at night, Becky had disappeared. As I was ready to leave for the night, I quietly knocked on the bedroom door and she said to come in. She was laying in pitch black darkness on their bed and told me to come over. So I layed down with her and we talked about him. We talked about his drinking and what it did; that he tried to quit but got sick when he didn’t have a drink; how apart from the drinking, he was an incredible man and would’ve been the perfect man. She held my hand and I felt a little better and we just remembered my dad. I had a strange feeling. Like my dad was in the room watching us. It wasn’t creepy, it was surreal. I’ve been able to feel bad spirits or just eerie spirits, but this was the first time that I felt a good spirit. And I liked that my dad was still here, even if not in physical form. I looked at the bedroom door where I felt he was standing; I strained my eyes in the pitch black dark, then squinting, to see if I could see him. I couldn’t. “I feel like dad is in this room,” I said to Becky. “Yes, he is. He’s sitting right here next to us,” she said. “No,” I thought, “He’s by the door.” After a little time went by, I told her that I was going next door and would see her tomorrow. I stepped out onto the porch where I was stopped by one of my dad’s good friends. She said, “Your daddy is here… your daddy is here!” I dismissed what she said, though I wanted to believe it, but she was really drunk. I wanted to believe it all. That my dad was the one that wrapped his arms around me the first day I was there, and that he was in the bedroom the night of his final service, but I tend to dismiss things like that until I can’t dismiss them anymore.

After I came back home to Colorado, I remembered a night that I felt like someone or something was looking into my apartment from the picture window and the bedroom where I quickly retreated to. But I lived on the 2nd (top) floor. I later realized that this happened either on the day my dad passed or a day later. One late night I walked out of the room that was our office and felt like I walked through a wall of cologne. It smelled good. I wondered if my mind was playing tricks on me (even though it was so strong) and backed up, seeing if I could still smell it. I couldn’t. So I dismissed it until I spoke to Becky about a week later. She told me that she felt like dad was still “here.” She said that sometimes it felt like he was sitting on the bed with her, that she could smell his cologne on occasion, and once thought she heard him say something to her through the closet door. Yeah, maybe it’s weird, but I believe my dad was there all of the times that I felt his presence. Though I tried to dismiss it, there is no way for me to dispute it anymore. I bought Patrick Mathews book, “Never Say Goodbye,” which also reaffirmed that I was not completely “crazy.” I rarely have dreams that I remember or that feel so real. I had a couple of dreams about my dad teaching me things like he did when we were children. What he said in the dream was something he never taught me and was not true because of what I previously believed. I decided to Google it to check if there was any validity to what he told me in my dream. I found different sites about it and it was in fact true. I was sad the day that I no longer felt him and no longer had him “visit” me in dreams.

A few years later out of the blue “his song” played over the radio (by this time I had moved back to Hawai’i). It’s an old song that rarely is played at all anymore (however I even heard it once in a grocery store in Colorado which was strange not only because of what I just mentioned but because this song is from an artist that lived on Maui. I always thought they were signs of him being there even though I couldn’t feel him. A lot of things made me start thinking about him and I didn’t know why. Was he trying to say something? I heard about a lady that was a Psychic and was told how she was really good and told some friends of mine things that she couldn’t have possibly known. I decided to get in touch with her and she came to my house. I was very guarded at first, tending to be a non believer, and waiting for her to prove herself to me. She told me a lot of things that made me believe that she was legit. Things that she could not possibly know about my grandparents on my dad’s side or about my dad. So I was open to what she had to say. One of the things she told me that stuck with me was that my dad wanted my sister and I to know how sorry he was and wanted us to know how much he loved us. It made me cry. I knew exactly why he was saying sorry and why he might feel the need to reinforce that he did love us. He didn’t need to apologize to me, I didn’t know everything but I knew a lot about how hard his life was. Even though I didn’t condone the drinking and how he acted when he was inebriated, I knew that was his way of dealing with his pain. I excused him for it, even though he hurt those that he loved the most. My sister couldn’t do that. And I understand her choice too. I just feel like it was a shame that things turned out the way they did with their relationship, and that my dad never had the chance to meet his grandson (my sister had her second son after my dad had passed). She told me to get a Jade plant and that my dad would be around the plant and I could spend time with him there. I had no idea where to get a Jade plant from, or how much it would cost. I texted my cousin about the session because she was interested in maybe seeing her too depending upon my experience. I mentioned the Jade plant and she told me that she had just put part of a Jade plant in a pot and I could go pick it up. I still have it. Dad and I

I decided that my dad needed a eulogy. Although six years too late and unedited, this is what I wrote for the day:

 

As I was “taking a break” outside, I thought about my Dad and all of the wonderful things that he was. I couldn’t remember if someone wrote him a eulogy, as everything seemed so surreal at the time. I don’t remember much about his funeral service. Just that I couldn’t believe that he was gone and that I would never see him again. I was thinking about visiting him in June, but June never came for him that year. So I will make up a eulogy for him, although it is not really thought out, these are the thoughts that come to my mind at this moment, unedited.

This is for Ruben Jr., also known as Sonny, Michael, or Dad… depending upon who you are and at what time period you knew him. He was one of the best men that ever lived in my book. You could not find someone who was more loyal or faithful. Someone who would do anything for those that he loved as well as for those that he didn’t know well. He always generously gave what he could: whether it was his help that was needed, someone to talk to, or money (which a lot of people asked for), and gave it willingly and freely knowing that he would never be repaid. He was a really hilarious guy who had a great sense of humor and made many of us laugh heartily. I can still see his smile and hear his belly filled laughter. It’s one of the things I miss the most. He also had a sensitive side that he shared with a few. He loved the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” and I will never forget watching it with him, loving him more after seeing how much he cared about people, especially people in need. He didn’t care about his looks, or what others thought about him. He knew who he was. Many times he would go out with overalls on. I loved his overalls. And I loved that all that mattered to him was how he saw himself and wore whatever he was most comfortable in. Some could have looked at him like he was merely a “country bumpkin” who had a limited education. But dad was one of the most brilliant men that I have ever known. His resume is impressive, job titles and positions that he held in his life were top caliber and you had to be more than intelligent to be able to do what he did. He also had a great thirst for knowledge and read up on many things, including Jesus (as he searched for the real Truth), ancient history, and the list goes on. He was also very creative. One day he showed me a piece of old machinery that he said he was going to make into a beautiful desk. I looked at it, disbelieving this was even possible. But he did exactly what he said. When he was done, a beautiful desk (with a hiding spot, I love hiding spots) stood before me. He even made me a dresser, since there were no closets in my room (when I lived with him). The dresser was awesome. On the side of it was a bookshelf. That was exciting in itself. But then there was more… he showed me a hidden bed on the top of the dresser. The bookshelf also served as stairs to get to the top of the dresser! Before he passed, he was building a patio around his house. I saw scribblings he made, a sort of blueprint. He wanted to have a little gazebo, as he always loved Japanese culture. He even was a “Mr. Miyagi” with bonsai trees. This is something I didn’t know about him but wished that I did. As kids he used to take my sister and I on drives to his favorite places, which quickly became my favorite places. My top two favorites were: Kukuiolono Park and the refuge outside of his hometown. I will forever miss my dad and regret that I never had the chance to see him one more time. However the memory of him, although bittersweet, will always make me smile, sometimes through tears.

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