When I last left My Bella Vita I was rushing to the airport in what I hoped would be a superfluous trip to Texas where I’d eagerly meet my family at the hospital, encourage my mother and sister and aid in my father’s slow, but inevitable recovery. I convinced myself somewhere over the Atlantic that my trip would be a homecoming of sorts and that we would all laugh about how Dad had given us a scare, but had once again pulled through.
However, this time it was not meant to be.
I arrived at the hospital at 4:30 on the afternoon of Friday, February 13 … my dad passed away an hour later.
What transpired over the next few days was a muddled rush of numbed emotions, crushing moments of clarity and difficult decisions no child wants to make. I am proud of the way my mother, sister and I united, agreeing on every aspect of the services we would hold to honor my father’s life and legacy. Our extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were unbelievably supportive and went above what could have possibly been expected of them.
The Kountze community, KISD and especially the teachers and administrators where my mother is employed at Kountze Elementary School outdid themselves, and my admiration and respect for them has skyrocketed.
Oh yes. Dear old Dad would be proud.
He would have been proud of my sister and me for collaborating on his obituary and for mustering the courage to share our favorite memories with the standing-room only crowd that gathered on that rainy Tuesday afternoon.
He would have been proud of the articles that were written about him, from Editors and Publishers Magazine to the Beaumont Enterprise, Silsbee Bee, Hardin County News and Orange County Record.
He would be proud of his family, his community, his journalist buddies and all of the people who traveled long distances by air and land to show their respects.
He would be proud that none of us can remember a time – politics aside – when he muttered a negative comment about another person.
A friend told me that losing a parent is like losing a limb … you will always know it is missing, but you will always feel like it is there. I know he is gone and I feel his absence in more ways than he could have ever imagined.
I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank my virtual and “real life” friends for your emails, comments, Facebook messages, letters, phone calls and cards. Although I haven’t yet responded to each of you, I did see your messages of support and I felt your thoughts and prayers each day.
Thank you for bearing with me over this past month. It is good to be back.