Sunday, April 14th, 2018
My parents had taken my two older sons, Peter and Anthony, over the weekend to stay with them. The plan was that they were going to attend 8:00 a.m. Mass on Sunday and then come to my house to pick up my two girls and then head to my brother’s house to be with him and his family before they attended my niece’s play. They were also going to drop off their car to lend to me for a few days since mine had broken down the day before.
Around 9:00 a.m. my sons walked in the door. I looked at the clock and said, “What happened? You were supposed to go to Mass!” They responded simply saying, “We missed it.” I had been alone with my seven other kids because my husband had a football game that morning. We had all already gone to Mass. I went to open the front door so as to look for my parents since I assumed, as per the norm, that my Dad was not going to come in. My Dad, for many years had trouble walking and trouble with his knees so he really only walked to where he absolutely had to go to. When I open the door I see my Mom and asked her what happened. She said the same thing the boys said. I shout to my Dad asking him what he is going to do and he responded that he was just going to get the girls and go on to my brother’s house. Because I did not want my little kids running outside I kept going back and forth inside the house trying to reason with both my Mother and my Father about going to Mass. It literally became a screaming match; that would be me screaming at them. I told them that it was 9:00 and that there was a Mass at my Church at that time so they could just go and come back but no, my Dad refused to do that. My Mom agreed. My Dad actually said he would watch Mass on TV that night (insert eye roll).
For the next five or so minutes I could not reason with either parent but especially my Dad. I was livid and hormonal since I am pregnant. The weeks and days leading up to that point were extremely stressful for me for a few reasons so I was just not in the mood to have to deal with this. When I realized that no amount of screaming at my Dad would make him change his mind I ordered my children to all get in the car regardless of shoes or coats. I told my parents that I was taking my kids in their car to Mass and they could do what they wanted to. My children will not miss Sunday Mass for no good reason. My parents had more than enough time to go to Mass and still make it to my brother’s with ample amount of time to spend before the play. As I got in the car I asked them what they were going to do. My Mom said she would just stay there in the car with my Dad until I got back. Really?! REALLY?! Why not just go to Mass? So I continue to scream, kick and yell like a child and drive away in their car like a lunatic literally.
About a mile into the drive I noticed that they were following me, beeping at me and flashing their lights. I figured at this point my kids are going to be about 25 minutes late to Mass so they can yell at me when I get to the Church but I am not going to stop until I get there. I arrive at the Church and tell my sons that I do not know what is going to happen when Church is over but to make sure they do not leave until the very end. I park in front of the Church and my Dad parks on the side of the Church. My Mom walks over to my car and reams me out for both my psychotic attitude and crazy driving. She told me to put the girls in her car and I inform her that one of them doesn’t even have shoes and a coat on. She responds telling me that it is my fault and storms away to go inside of the Church. At this point I think she is going to get the boys from the Church but instead she was actually going into the Church to attend what was left of Mass. My Father then tries to rearrange his car so he can talk to me side-by-side so that, once again he does not actually have to get out of the car. He yells at me for the way I have driven his car and I yell back at him telling him if he just took my kids to Mass I would not have had to even take his car out nor my nine kids! I remove my knee high boots and my light sweater cover and I give it to my nine year old daughter and tell her to try it on and see if it is ok just for today. She agrees it is so I instruct her and my other daughter to go get into my Dad’s car. Once they are in the car and I pull alongside him and tell him to give me his dog. I was supposed to dogsit while they attended the play. He gives me the dog and I ask him his schedule and etc. He bites back at me as if he doesn’t know it. We are both clearly still annoyed. When he finally shares the key points of what I need to know about the dog I take off leaving him with my daughters and eventually my two sons.
I arrive at the home totally irritated and annoyed. I could not believe that this man, my Dad, a devout daily communicant of Mass would intentionally miss Mass on purpose just because he missed a turn to a Church (which is the reason they missed the first Mass). And then, to top it off the man is five feet from the Church and he still won’t get out of the car to attend Mass?! What kind of madness is this? LOL. I text my husband and tell him to call me ASAP when his game ends and so he does. I explain what happened and he chuckles and says, “Really?!” And I inform him that if my Dad does not call me that I am NOT going to be present when he drops the kids off at home. You see, for those of you who do not know, when my Dad and I fought- which is not a lot at all – it is like Russian Roulette; who will be the last man standing? And trust me, in my mind it is always ME and in his mind it is always HIM. So I was definitely most certainly NOT going to call him.
I get off the phone with my husband and within a half an hour of me driving away from my Dad I get a call from their cell phone. It was them on speakerphone with my Dad saying he just wanted to call me to see if I got home ok. I immediately burst out in tears. After all this man took the higher road than me and called me. I tell him he has to understand that I am very stressed out and immediately my oldest son age eleven chimes in and says, “I told them that, Mom!” Of course I laugh and tell them that that is correct and that I am very hormonal and that as my children know quite well they have to ignore 99% of what I say and do during this stressful hormonal time. We both apologize and then we laugh out loud because my Dad informed me that there was a 9:30 Mass on the way to my brother’s house! Had I just not been a pyscho and thought to google Mass Times I could have saved us a lot of anguish. We get off the phone after wishing each other well; them at the play and me a day of rest. You see, I was supposed to go with them but due to all of my stress I stayed home to rest. Of course now I really wish I would have gone… I normally can suck it up and deal with sleep deprivation and the like but as I said, it was a really stressful few weeks leading up to that point.
Around 5:30 or so my children enter the house. My Mom follow them in. I was really hoping that my parents would at least come in for a drink because they usually do although of late they had not because again, my Dad didn’t want to walk or move more than he had to. My Mom had said that they were both tired and it was late (they did not like to drive in the dark) so they were just going to drop the children, get the dog and go home. So as my Mom is in the house with the kids I open the door and see that my Dad is in the passenger seat. I thought that was odd because my Dad ALWAYS drove, always. It was raining that day so I pulled my socks off so as to walk out to him barefoot. As I walk to him we smile at each other. I ask him how the play and day went and he was just so happy! He said that it was wonderful and that they had a great time. He mentioned that he did have some chest pain and some shortness of breath but otherwise all was ok. I will be honest, I didn’t really pay much attention to it because my Dad always had at least minor health issues and since he did not seem too bothered by it I was not either. I told my Dad that in the morning he wanted to tell me something about his car-the car that he loaned to me-but I was so crazy I would not listen so I asked him to tell me what he wanted to tell me and he was quiet and simple about it; it was no big deal. At this point I giggle about how much I love their dog and how easy he is to take care of. Everyone who knows me knows that I do not want a dog despite the fact that my one son has been begging for one for a year now. After I mention the dog he looks at me very seriously but lovingly and says, “I want to tell you three things. 1. I am sorry. 2. I love you. and 3. Now give me my dog!” I laughed and told him I was sorry and that I loved him too. I kissed him on his right cheek and per his request, gave him his dog. My Mom got in the car and as they drove away I waved to them.
What the key takeaway for me from the whole day is that had my Dad and I NOT gotten into a screaming fight I do not know what my last memory or moment would have been with him. I talked to my Dad all the time but lately we did not see each other a lot. He always wanted to be home and he rarely wanted my Mom to come be with me. So had not our fight occurred I would not have that most beautiful last memory and moments with him. And how perfect were they? The way he looked at me and spoke to me, now looking back, I think he knew he was going to die. The fact that he called me was miraculous in and of itself. I think he most certainly knew…maybe not that it would be that day but he knew. And I thank God that I have that moment, that precious moment as my last moment with him. We were completely over the fight just like we always were once we hashed it out. It was like it did not happen. But him saying those three things in that order were just so important to me then and more so now. The way he exited my world was with a joke! If you want to know more about why his comment about the dog was so funny to me you may want to read the speech that I gave at my Dad’s viewing which you can find here. You know what the ironic thing is to0 about that day? Had he just listened to me he could have heard and attended Mass and communion on the day he passed away…
Less than four hours after that beautiful moment with my Dad he left this world. And that is another story for another day…
Rest in peace Daddy. I love you and miss you more than words could ever say or an image could ever capture…
If you would like to read the dream that I had about my Daddy ten days after he passed you can find it here.
Note: the picture featured here was taken on the day he passed away. This was him with my Mom, my four oldest children and my niece Colette after her play.