Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Michael James Barron: My Dad & Grandpa Extraordinaire

First and foremost, my Dad was a GREAT father not because he was mine but simply because he WAS. Plain and simple with no explanation needed. So I feel like he should be the focus of my first real entry. After all, he is the reason I am here again in the first place.

My Dad past away on May 4, 2010. There it is... the phrase past away. If I have learned one thing in my life it is that "past away" is awful in "all ways" imaginable. To be thirty-one and have both of my parents still living was something that seemed natural since most people in their thirties do, yet it was something I didn't think I took for granted. It was not until my Dad's death three months ago that the true impact of the abscence of my good fortune really hit home. I have spent a good deal of the past two nearly three years talking about the death of ,Elise, and the loss of my future. But I am now feeling what many others have felt before me... a sense of losing my past.

I believe it is wrong to compare losses or try to debate which one is "worse," so I won't even go there. Pain is pain, and when you are hurting, it doesn't matter what the cause is, it hurts. It also doesn't matter whether someone has felt a similar pain before you or how many blessings the life that is lost may have brought you. During those moments of grief, it hurts bad. I am hurting BAD.

To be honest, I thought I was somewhat prepared for this loss, and to a degree maybe I was. Unfortunately, I am no stranger to grief and all the ugliness that comes with mourning the loss of a loved one. The loss of Elise has taught me more tough life lessons than I ever wanted to learn. The loss of your child is so unnatural whereas a parent's death fits more into the scheme of how life evolves. So I guess from that standpoint it was something I knew would likely happen at some point. What I did not anticipate is the emptiness that comes from knowing that someone you have counted on your whole life is no longer a phone call away. My Dad's death came as a complete and total shock. Fifteen weeks later, to some degree, I am still in shock he is really gone and I will never see him again on this side of Heaven. It is difficult to accept that there was no long goodbye that comes when you anticipate the death of someone you love. I wish I was given a long goodbye. Oh how I hate the word Goodbye and how final it really is. I am trying hard to concentrate on the fact that, in the end, my Dad knew I loved him and that he loved me back wholeheartedly. Because in the end that's all that really matters.

Just in case some of you don't know what the cause of my dad's death was I will explain it as simply as I can. The final diagnosis on his autopsy report read: Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease, with Ruptured Plaque and Adjacent Thrombosis in the Right Coronary Artery. What does that mean? Well, it means that three vessels (The Left Anterior Descending, Circumflex, and the Right Coronary Arteries) had greater than 90% narrowings. There was also extensive calcific plaquing at both the Aortic Arch and the Abdominal Aorta. Can't get any worse than that. The vessels feeding his heart were clogged with plaque and it was so bad a piece of plaque broke through the wall of his Right Coronary Artery and he died between two heartbeats. In all reality this is the dream death. He slipped away from this life with no suffering, in his own bed, next to the women he loved for 37 1/2 years. Yet my mind is plaqued with a million questions. Why him, why my Dad, why Ava's grandpa, why didn't he have any signs and symptoms, why couldn't he have gotten a stent placed which would have saved his life, why did God call him to his eternal home so soon, haven't we suffered enough as a family, and how am I going to go on in life without him in it?

"Clearly unless the Lord chooses to explain Himself to us, which often He does not, His motivation and purposes are beyond the reach of mortal man... Many of our questions - especially those that begin with the word why - will have to remain unanswered for the time being."
Dr. James Dobson - When God Doesn't Make Sense

So I guess that's it... I'm left here to wonder why and carry on with a broken heart until God calls me home too. I wish more than anything I could have watched my dad grow old. To see all of his hair turn silver. To see him and my mom travel the world and have retired adventures together. To see him hold all of my children. To have him guide me though my middle years. To see him walk slow and hunched over like an old man. To see him to the end of a long long life. To have an endless supply of great pictures made by great memories. If only... if only...

The last day on Earth I saw my Dad was Thursday April 22, 2010. My parents were watching Ava for me while I went to work for the day. I arrived to their home to drop Ava off at 6:00 in the morning giving myself enough time to chit chat without being rushed yet make it to work on time. My parents were both up and it was common place for my Dad to meet me in the driveway. He was like a child on Christmas morning. He loved Ava days. I loved watching him play with her and seeing the special relationship they were building. I can't really describe what a great grandpa my dad was to my daughters other than he was a real Ace and they were very lucky to have him.

On this morning Ava was being a real Grandpa's girl and only wanted him to hold her which was becoming the case whenever they were around each other. Something my mom and I shook our heads at and tried to not take it personal. As Ava snuggled my Dad he had a gleam in his eyes that sparkled the greatest blue. He was full of it that morning and was really trying to playfully push my buttons. He reminded me that since Ava was officially one he was ready for another baby. HA! Can you believe it? I reminded him that his being ready didn't mean that Rob and I were ready. He was going to have to wait! I giggled... "I can only imagine how many grandchildren you would have if it worked that way." He said, "This little girl is so sweet I wouldn't mind you having me another little girl..." I said, "maybe someday Dad... maybe someday." I hugged my parents and Ava goodbye and I went to work. When I called home on my lunch hour He answered the phone. He gave me an update on the days events which were unremarkable. After he was done talking with me he always said, "Let me get your mother." A phrase I miss hearing so much already.

After work I came straight to my parents house to pick up Ava. It was my routine to hangout for a good hour after my day to visit with my parents. I loved seeing my dad play with my daughter!!! He was so natural with her. He loved her so much. At 5pm my Dad walked me to my car. He put Ava in her car seat. I strapped her in and gave him a hug and a kiss. I thanked him for watching Ava. He leaned into the car and kissed Ava who was fussing about having to leave her good time behind. As I got into my car I look at him and said, "I love you." Then I drove away. How can that be it? How can that be the last moment I share with my Dad. My heart breaks over and over and over each time the shock of his death wears off and the reality of his absence sets in. On Thursday, April 22, 2010 I saw my Dad for the last time.

I'd like to share with you something my Dad wrote me after Elise past away.

"As the reality set in I could hardly stand to see the pain and tears in Rob and Erin's eyes. It seems God has heard only part of my prayers. The only part that came true was the beautiful baby part. Elise is beautiful! God I prayed give her my breath and my heartbeat! Don't let this happen! Take me, it's more natural and will hurt less than loosing Elise. God, you are the all powerful, don't let this be. I prayed. Seems God is not into the "Let's Make A Deal" business. No trading today. He has other plans. How could a loving God allow this to happen? Why not give me some understanding of your plan? Surely God has a plan. I sure did. I was ready for rock-a-bye baby and singing "Twinkle-Twinkle." I was ready for hugs and kisses with candy in my pockets. I was ready for coos and giggles and playing, "I'm gonna get ya." What I am not ready for is the silence. I need some music to dance to. I need to fix something. I need to stop crying. I need Gods help. I can't fix broken hearts."

I would like to argue with him a little on this... Loosing him hurts as much as loosing Elise, but very different all the same, and he could nurse a broken heart back to life better than anyone I will ever know. My dad was one of the greatest supporters of me during my darkest days. He loved me right on through my grief for Elise. He supported me through the most difficult moments in my life. I will never be the same or feel the same about this place we live without him in it. My dad was the person in my life I could always count on whenever it was falling apart, when it was at a high, and every moment in between. He never once judged me. He always challenged me. He was always there at all the right times. My dad was loving, smart, wise, logical, compassionate, gave of himself to church and other organizations. He was not perfect. He worked hard to improve his imperfections. He loved life. He loved his family. He loved his wife. He loved his children. He LOVED his grandchildren. He loved his friends. He loved his tool and die career. He loved retirement. He loved to hunt. He loved to fish. He loved God. Thankfully, he gave me his faith. Everything he had he gave to us. As we move forward we carry him in our hearts.

Dad I love and miss you more than you will ever know. I look forward to the day I will see you once again. Until then love on Elise for me and let her know how much I miss her and I will love on Ava for you. Visit me in my dreams when you can. Listen to my prayers since that is when I will be sending you messages from my heart.

I would like to share some of my favorite pictures of my dad. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Each picture is a memory I will never forget.

This is my Dad at our Cottage on Little Pine Island. When I close my eyes and think back to my childhood days this is how I see my Dad. Funny he is roughly the same age in this photo as I am now!

My Dad and I posing together... I can't say why I love this one but I do!!!

This is one of my favorite wedding photos of my Dad and I. We were dancing to "MY GIRL" and having one of our talks about life's greatest moments. He was the best slow dancer in the world!

This is my Dad fishing in Canada. I think I love this one because I picture him just like this, "Sailing on the Ships of Heaven." He looks so happy and peaceful.

This is another fishing picture... I love the look of pride in his face.

He really knew how to catch some BIG ones! His smile could light up the sky...

Rob and my Dad spending time together hunting... They had such a great relationship and I am so thankful Rob reminds me a lot of my Dad.

This is the only photo of my Dad holding Elise... so it is automatically special.

My Dad holding Ava... He was so thrilled she made it into the world safe and sound.

There was never a time my Dad was more happy... His face tells all... he LOVED holding his Ava Girl!!!

My Dad called this "baiting them in..." He sure could be funny and I will miss his big booming laugh the very most!

My dad with Ava on her birthday... This is my favorite picture of the two of them together and their smiles speak for themselves. My dad was so excited to give Ava this wagon he couldn't wait until her birthday party to give it to her. I am happy Ava spent her 1st birthday with my Dad.

This picture of Ava and my Dad at her first Birthday party isn't the greatest picture but I couldn't be happier to have a series of pitures of her opening her gifts sitting on my Dad's lap. They sure were the best of buddies!

The last picture of my Mom and Dad taken together... They were so in love!

My Dad and all of his siblings... The Barron clan sure do look alike!!!

My Dad in all his Grandpa glory... "Elise", Jack, Ava, & Emma. I would bet a millon dollars that he had candy enough for all of them in his front pocket!

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