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Following a shadow, looking for footsteps.

dad grave

On October 13th of this year will be the 18 year anniversary of my fathers death. To this very second as I write this I still feel like it has not been that long, see my father was more than a man who married my mother and had kids. He was a dad he was a loving caring man who suffered from illnesses himself. Even though he had his own stress and severe depression which was medicated by Alcohol he did everything he could to ensure the safety and love for his family. Yes, my dad was very old school and stubborn which was the true cause of his death by thinking he could beat anything that came to him was an inspiration in itself but ultimately taught me a valuable lesson. Even the toughest bravest person is not exempt from the afterlife. Which I feel is the hardest thing for me to get past, see some would say as time goes on it becomes easier to get past the death of a loved one I personally think the opposite, yes I have learned how to cope and process through my feelings I have towards my father and his death. For me as I think about the 18 years I think about how much he missed and I look at my 3 kids and my wife and my life I made for myself and just get pissed. My kids not only do not have my father as a grandpa in their lives but they also do not have my wife’s father as he passed away from cancer 6 years ago. With my mothers passing 3 years in September I am faced with a repeat of my life. I grew up with only one grandparent which was my mothers mom so its like deja vu. I know my kids are being raised very different from how I was raised and they are already ahead of the curve, just makes me feel as I am living in a paradox. I am now living a life with logical thinking but often find myself in a torn state. Do I still have anger towards my father? Am I still deeply sadden by his death? I am still haunted in my nightmares of his death and have re-occurring dreams about him coming back.

It was fall of September 26th 1998 I turned the awesome age of 18 I finally became a man I was an adult I finally started feeling like a true member of society. My birthday was on a Saturday and myself and a buddy went to go ride my brothers friend jet ski for my birthday little did I know this was all a ploy to get me away from the house. My parents were throwing a huge surprise party. My dad had been feeling under the weather a few days before my birthday so during my party he did not drink much at all, I know this sounds weird but to us we knew he was not feeling good if he was not drinking especially at a get together like that. As the days went on his health went up and down for weeks until it got to the point where he was in bed for a few days. On the morning of October 10th my mom woke up in a panic asking me to check on my dad, he was wheezing and my mother asked him if it was time for him to go to the hospital, since he refused in the weeks prior. I walked into their room and my father who was a good 6’2 was curled up towards the foot of his bed making the most horrific noise that I to this day am haunted by and could not explain if I tried. I started saying him name repeatedly and louder each time I said it until I eventually was yelling his name and damn near smacking the sides of his checks to get a response he just kept staring off into space not a single blink of an eye lash. Which I just started screaming for my mom to call 9-1-1 I remember like it just happen my stomach was like a pit and my heart so pounded so hard and rapid I felt like I needed an ambulance.

On October 12th 1998 the Doctors called the entire family into a vacant room to explain to us that pretty much the only option was to pull the plug, two days in the ICU and they determined that my father was brain dead and that there was nothing more that could be done. As I sat there with my baby brother ( the one with special needs) sitting in his wheelchair in front of me with my arms around his neck hugging him, I remember the anger just rushing through I wanted to beat the shit out of that Dr. my mind was like what are you talking about? you want to kill my dad? not being able to process the whole conversation I just heard “There is nothing we can do he must die” the whole part of this that still to this day disturbs me is even though my baby was 15 his convective ability was that of a 6 month old and he is blind but the look on that kids face when the Dr said that, was like he just knew. That is the part that kills me he knew his dad who he also loved and idealized was gone. The Dr were awesome in letting us call in the whole family to say our good byes they waiting a whole day before they pulled the plug. By this point the ICU waiting room looked like a camp ground as we had sleeping bags blankets coolers food and 40 or people at a time in there people came and went all night as they lifted visiting hours for us. I kinda felt bad for the other few people who had family in the waiting room but we had a system my Uncle sat at a desk in front of the room my dad was in so he could monitor who was in there, so people could go in and say what they needed to without other people coming in. I went in and out but it was not til the day of is when I went in there and spoke to my dad, I just kept repeating to him “We are Hamels we do not quit, don;t you fucking quit on me” over and over and over the amount of pain I felt that day was paralyzing then something happen. On my dad;s left hand he was missing the tip of his ring finger due to a machine accident and his middle finger was fused so it would not bend I actually used to tease him because it looked like he was always giving people the finger. As I was sitting there by his bed side damn near in bed next to him I was holding his left hand as tight as I could just staring at him waiting for him to wake up and make some smart as comment about the tubes in his neck  just then his entire left hand squeezed my hand tight and for a few seconds I flipped out and started yelling the feeling of hope hit me so hard I felt as the power of prayer and everything worked. So I ran out to where my family was screaming “HE SQUEEZED MY FUCKING HAND, HE IS ALIVE HELP FIND A DR HELP” within a second a family member found a nurse who came in and did a quick check only to tell me it was just a natural body reaction and that was not him. I felt devastated and was crushed so bad I went radio silent for the rest of the day my oldest sister tried to get me to talk to eat to do something I was a stone I completely left my body she just kept telling me not to shut down but it was too late. My hatred started to form for life I felt as my life was completely cheated and I was done with it. My father died October 13th 1998 from Strep Meningitis which traveled up his spine to his brain stem his right lung was 90% full of fluid he went into  Respiratory Failure at our house they think sometime in the  night or very early morning before my mom found him he was gone.

For so many years I spent locked in my head and the only time I would ever let out any emotion about my father or even talk about him I was drunk. I never processed my fathers death I just did I what I did best I buried deep and drank it away I fought so hard to not be like my father as I felt so angry that he failed us and he abandoned me in the time I needed him the most I just became a man, I went back to school I was turning my life around then that giant bolder came and crushed me flat. Instead of trying to get out from underneath the rock I made it my home I became comfortable with misery and learned how to hide my emotions except when I drank to much then all that anger, sadness grief would just pour out. I never really knew who I was as a person or what I wanted in life to be honest I was breathing but I was not alive I just walked around inside of this shell of a body pretending to live. I hated everything about myself and blamed myself for my dads death, my mother loosing the bar, her house and having to be split up in different zip codes. I also had a ton of anger towards my father all he had to do was go to the Dr he would have been fine would have gotten the treatment for his pneumonia but no, he had to think he was unstoppable. For so many years I found myself living in a shadow of a man I did not know, I turned to many as father figures in my life and surprise all three of them men are dead. My two uncles from both sides of my parents family and my father in-law the last was my Uncle Sam who was always there for me when I was a kid and he taught me so much he died on September 14th of 2014 which that January was when my life just about came to an end. The start of my new beginning my new life I got clean and got the help I so needed for my Mental Illnesses I have been able to process a lot in the last 18 months and I now am OK walking in my dads foot prints see I have decided I am going switch careers and after searching for what I want most out of life and what I want to do I realized I am my fathers son so I am getting into a trade. I got hired on with a company that will send me to school and pay me for it and since I grew up learning how to build, wire, and everything that involved a tool I am very happy. My dad was a jack of all trades and every house we ever lived in we gutted and re molded for so long I stayed away from doing this kind of thing as I feared I was not good enough. Turns out I am good at it and I enjoy working with my hands as I am always building things and repairing stuff around my mother in-laws house. I now know my path I need to follow is in the direction of my dad footprints but it is OK for me to not follow them into areas I need to change I can make new ones such as being sober and setting those footprints for my kids, and at any time I can meet up with my dads prints and walk right beside him I do not have to be in his footprints but I can walk right beside and make my own. in 18 months I have walked beside my father and made some new prints I broke some chains and took down some walls I am clearing a safe path for my kids to walk if they choose to follow me. I no longer feel as I living a shadow of my father I feel as he is next to me just smiling at me for everything I have done and the hell I went through to get there, I walked through hell and was lucky enough to not get burned as bad.

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