Sunday, April 1, 2012

Basketball, Basketball

"Keep living your life out loud." words of wisdom courtesy of Chris McQueeney


photo courtesy of Sports Blog Moment 


"Basketball, basketball..." is what echoes in my mind when I remember my fathers final days. I have yet to grieve, or fully accept, his death. But today is a good day to begin.  

"Great weather, if you're a duck," is how my father would sum it up - a weekend full of damp drizzle mixed with spouts rain.

I stay inside, surf through pictures and video's of him, wishing I had more.

When I'm not doing this, I'm surfing the cancer discussion boards, gathering stories and information from those who are battling the disease.

Living with the fear of cancer is my next big hurtle.

"We'll have to watch you closely," said my doctor.  
"What are you looking for?" I ask. 
"Primarily ovarian cancer, colon cancer, and - because you had a melanoma on your back and breast cancer in front - lung cancer. Your odds of getting cancer in the next ten years are..."
"STOP!!!" I shout.   

Tonight is the NCAA Women's semi-finals college basketball game. It is Notre Damn vs UConn. The same matchup we saw at our last, live, game together. 


I don't remember who won, but it must have been UConn. My father idolized their head coach, Geno Auriemma, and his "girls" were unstoppable. 

 photo via AP

Maya Moore, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, and Tina Charles were some of his favorites. When he spoke of them they sounded more like daughters then players.  I'm certain he did this to make me jealous. And it worked.

When I think of how he lived, I have memories that stretch miles. When I think of how he died - at home, peacefully - I reflect on his final three days...  

On the Friday before his death, my father asks to see Jackson - his great grandson. When I tell him Jackson is at school he repeats, "Jackson at school, Jackson at school..." over and over again. 

When Jackson comes home from school, my father turns his head towards him, and repeats, "Basketball, Basketball." 

Jackson loves basketball. His backyard hoop rests just outside my father's bedroom window. Jackson takes great grandpa's cue, and goes outside to shoot some hoops. 

My fathers eyes, ears and mind, are alert, as he focuses on the bounce, bang and swish of basketball, basketball.

On Saturday, my father turns towards me and says, "Lindsay, Lindsay." 

I text my daughter and tell her that Grandpa wants to see her. When she arrives his eyes tear, his mouth quivers, as he repeats, over and over again, "I love you, I love you, I love you."

On Sunday, my father tells me, "Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania."

I know exactly what he means. 

My husband is in Pennsylvania visiting his family and I am convinced I am better off without him.  I am convinced he doesn't love me enough, but my father knows he does.

I listen to my father, call my husband, and ask him to come home.

My relationship with my sister, my fathers only other living child, had been strained for many years. She is on her way here and I am dreading it. To me, she is the enemy.

When she arrives, we take turns sitting beside him - stroking his hair, clutching his hand, replaying memories of childhood mischief and merriment.

As the day grows dark, after the priest delivers his last rights, my sister reads him passages from her bible and I read him Dr. Seuss.

He waits.  He waits until it is just my sister and I, alone together.  He waits until the strain lifts and the laughter is sincere.  He waits for us to giggle, as little girls do. As, once upon a time, we often did. 

And then, after three, deep, gasps of air, he leaves. 

I close his eyes. 

I kiss his forehead. 

I leave while his skin is still pink and warm.

I leave holding my sister hand. I instantly understand, that we are the last, living part of him.

I leave with tears and a smile.




Writing about my father is a reoccurring theme. Play Date for Dad is my favorite. 

xo, MOnkeYME


49 comments:

  1. I'm lucky enough not to have had to mourn someone close to me so forgive me if I say the wrong thing, but these do sound like some wonderful memories you have to cherish whilst grieving.

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  2. This is wonderful and beautiful. Death is a shock, memories will visit to comfort and soothe.

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  3. It was an honor to be there with him and I would not have had it any other way. Thank you both for reading!!!

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  4. Your friend, BevApril 1, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    A really beautiful post, Shannon. The love for your father comes through.

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    1. ohhhhhh thank you BEV (((HUG))))) I miss you!

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  5. The 2 photos of the two of you are priceless <3

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  6. I have so many words, but none of them are coming to me right now. Seems you've used them all up.

    (((HUGS)))

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    1. its the first time I wrote in a very long time. thank you for reading Juli! I cried more than I wrote, but that was exactly what I needed.

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  7. You've got me crying over here! Those last moments with your dad were exactly, precisely like mine, right down to the last drawing of the breath.

    Shivers. Sorrow. Sympathy. Strength.
    {{{hugs}}}

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    1. HUGE HUG back!!! I share your shivers, your sorrow, your sympathy and your strength.

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  8. What a remarkable gift to him, everyone giving him just what he wanted and needed. We should all be so fortunate when it's our time.
    Basketball basketball....I love that.

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    1. :)))))) me too! and "his girls" lost tonight and I'm having a hard time NOT smiling!

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  9. I wish I had wonderful memories of my father, but he really wasn't part of my life. His choosing. When he died I don't remember feeling a thing. I still don't. I envy you your grief, my friend.

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    1. Jayne, its something I reminded my self of regularly - thinking about my grandson, Jackson, who has no memories of his dad :( who died when he was 1

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  10. Ahhh, Shannon...what a sweet post! Love the pic of you, Colleen and your Dad! Hopefully, the two of you will continue to hold hands and giggle and laugh and remember your Dad!

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  11. That was a lovely tribute. It reminds me of when i lost my dad. Hold onto those memories.

    -1osugrl

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    1. thank you 10sugrl!!! we daughters love our fathers...

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  12. I find it very interesting that our Dads both died about the same time. Still new to me too. My sister, (also the enemy) is speaking to me once again. Funny how that works. My dad was the last of that generation in our family at 95 yrs old. I am the elder with my brothers and sister now...and I still feel like a kid....just like you

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    1. I agree Jaybird!

      95!!! from the pictures I saw of your father, he did not look a day over 80 :) he really did look wonderful.

      yes, lets promise each other we'll never grow up!

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  13. Shannon, a beautiful post. Your love for your dad just shines! It's beautiful to know, that love like this never dies, it just gets richer with time!

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    1. Thank you Susan! you know how much I appreciate and devour your praise.

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  14. Hey Shannon,

    Thanks, as always, for sharing re. you and your dad. I love your memories (is that weird:) and am glad your still writing.

    PS. Thanks for stopping by - I appreciate it :)

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    1. I'm just getting back to reading my favorites. I missed it - especially (and this I would have never predicted) my male bloggers. You cut out the fluff and make being real look easy.

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  15. So well said and shared, thank you Shannon.

    Lovely and sad and just makes me feel.


    xoxoxo

    MG

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    1. well of course it does MG - we are connected in such a large way..... Love my monkeyGurl!!!

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  16. Lovely honey, Sundays can be emotional!

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  17. Wonderful tribute and memories of your Dad, Shannon. My parents were in town over the weekend and I feel lucky to still have them in my life. This post reminds me to appreciate them while they're still here. Thanks.

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    1. yes Marty, I just read about your parents and I WANT THEM!!! seriously.... I know their headed home but next time I get to meet them and convince them why I'd be the ideal daughter.

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  18. That was so sweet Shannon. Just so happens I was reading about my husband's mother's death in my journal yesterday...things I don't remember writing, about how she called each of her grand children to her and gave them parting words of wisdom and love. We listened to her describe heaven as she went. "Look at all the babies" she kept saying. "It's so beautiful."

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    1. .....really! that gave me chills. CHILLS!!! (still)

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  19. This is a wonderful post. It's very special that he called for each person closest to him, and that he had an agenda for each. Jackson's basketball sounds put your dad in a comfortable place, his tears let Lindsay know how much he loved her, he got your hubby back home, and he got you and your sister together. Remarkable. And now you have honored that and taken your grieving process to a whole new level. Good work, Shannon.

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    1. he really did have an agenda... its wonderful, wonderful. and wait til you hear part two of this story.......

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  20. I think I'm jealous, not sure. I've never been there for a loved one when they died. Considering the pain I felt when I got the news, I don't know if that's good or bad. Couldn't bring myself to go to their funerals either. Probably missed out on a lot of closure. None of us were ever able to express emotion to others and that was appreciated in my family. I enjoy hearing about your relationship with your dad though.

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    1. thank you for reading and enjoying - for seeing the joy in loss. as far as no emotions expressed - my dad was the same way. his parkinson's disease taught him how. exactly why it was a gift. :)))) xoxo

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  22. How wonderful that you could be there with him. I wish I could of been there with my mom when she passed. He sounds like a wonderful man.

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    1. thank you Jessica ..... he was wonderful in a flawed, larger than life, sort of way.

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  23. OMG, that was a tough read for me right now! Nice trick calling it basketball, as in KY Wildcats. I'll be in and out monkey just don't give up on me.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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    1. goooooooooooooooo WILDCATS!!!!!!!! I will NEVER, NEVER give up on you.

      "Bartender.... two shots of tequila asap! hold the lime!!!"

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  24. Shannon Thank you for the quote...You know what happened to my dad, I also got to say good bye. To this day 8 years 11 months and 8 days later I am so grateful for that! This was a beautiful story, and I had tears. at 12:08 this morning I had tears for another reason...I saw my first meet the writer interview and spotlight posted...for the first time in my life I cried because of something good. Keep writing my friend, your words have power...

    If you want to see it Shannon it is up at
    http://nadjanotariani.blogspot.com/2012/04/welcome-christopher-mcqueeney-wander.html

    Wander

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    1. happy cries!!! I'm so excited for you Wander.... on my way over ~

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  25. This is a wonderful tribute to your father, but also to you, Missy. Your capacity to love and the appreciation you have for life's little moments humbles me.

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    1. thank you Betty! you see it too, I know you do :)

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  26. Hi Shannon! I swear I thought I left a comment here the other day....Hmmm, maybe it was during the time Blogger wouldn't allow me to do that! I remember reading your posts about your dad when he was in the hospital, and your writing is so beautiful and REAL and your love for him came across so brilliantly. YES, I just said you write brilliantly! Hugs to you!!

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    1. :) oh Becky, you know exactly what to say to motivate me to keep pounding away. Hugs to you as well! xoMOnkeyME

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Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

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Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing
greenmonkeytales@live.com

Shannon E. Kennedy

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Photo by Joan Harrison