That is the first line of the song my dad used to sing all the time. He stopped loving her today, by George Jones. We would walk down the road on our way to visit my granny and he’d sing and be silly.
Dec 24, 2013, I found my father. He had already passed away. In the days that have followed, I have been on autopilot, making funeral arrangements with my brother, who was in town from Toronto; taking care of the kids, eating, tidying up; emptying dad’s apartment, trying to sleep…with some success. Today, everyone left. Big bro went back home, daughter is off with her friends, my boys are spending the rest of the week with their dad. It’s just me and D for a few days. I’ve been cleaning up everything…took down the tree, put away anything Christmas, vacuumed, dusted, rearranged photos. In between bouts of tidying, I’ve found my self sitting and staring. Music playing in the background ( yes, George Jones). Tears have flowed, silently, heavily. Then back to cleaning, thinking of my 42 years with dad.
He was not a perfect man. He made mistakes. Who he was as a child, I have not much of a clue. Dad was a private man, he didn’t share many stories about his life before us kids. The years when we were little, I’m not entirely sure he remembers, thanks to the bottle. There are things he could have done differently, other choices he could have made. As I reflect on my life with him, I remember that we all have choices to make. That we live and die by those choices, as he did. I loved my dad. And I hated him at the same time. I have different memories of him than my brother does…we lived different things with him. What stands out for me the most, though, despite mistakes and differences of opinion and values, is that he loved us and his grandchildren with everything he had. I choose to believe that he tried to make up for the mistakes he made with us, by being there for our children. Anyone I talk to tells me how much he talked about me and my big brother ( aka his ‘gentle giant’). They know all about his grandchildren and have most likely seen pictures. I am grateful for the good memories I have and have found myself smiling and laughing about them today. His simplicity, his overuse of scotch tape, the fact that he kept nothing, except photos…and obituaries, the mug of water that was always cold in his fridge, his love for country music and mostly, his love for his little family.
Death is a part of life…we all know it’s coming. Not all of us are ready to face it or to let go. I can’t help but feel that dad was ready. There is a part of that that gives me peace. He carried so much with him in this lifetime…bitterness, resentment, a heavy heart. It is ironic (and fitting) that it was his heart that took him out of this world. I felt him that first night after he was found. He was so light and so young and so peaceful. It is THAT feeling that is helping me to be okay with his passing. Life will continue and my time will eventually come. Death is hardest for those left behind, but I hope to heal and move through this gracefully, showing my children that death is simply another part of our journey.
Joseph Gerald Micheal LeGallais: May 18,1936 – December 24, 2013 He stopped loving her today…