For me, the year following my operation would be one of healing. For my father and my kids things were spinning again. They all watched me. My father called and wrote long letters. The kids kept bringing home flowers, the cat would promptly eat them, then throw up. Which was getting to be a pain since he slept with me. My sisters two best friend called and wrote, and sent old pictures they had of my sister and brother-in-law.
Frankly it was making me nervous. When I had to have another operation in February of 1997 I thought everyone would have a seizure. The operation wasn't as bad as the first one. [big Thank You to my co-workers who donated time so that I could stay out to recover] I was back to work after eight weeks. My father's calls and letters were not as frequent, so I thought he was over the worst of it. Trying to get on with his life.
Wrong. He hadn't been feeling well, and had told my mother's friend he didn't want to worry me. It would also mean he would have to admit something was wrong and he definitely did not want to do that. He fell victim to a sinister group of morally bankrupt individuals during this time, but that shouldn't have surprised me. It had been happening for three generations thus far on both sides of my family. My mother was always saying to my father, "If anything ever happens to me, hide the jewelry!"
My father had hidden his most prized possession years earlier. He gave it to me. I had been going through a rough time. He drove nine hours to bring the kids and me presents. In one of the bags I found the red velvet box housing his 'good' watch. The fact that it was worth a small fortune meant nothing, it was the watch he always wore when he was home on leave, and to every special event he attended. "Your watch was in the bag by accident, here." I handed it to him. He held the box in his hands, looked up at me and said, "No. It was my first job, first paycheck watch, and I want you to have it. The vultures are moving in." After the last I thought he might be getting a bit senile, later I would learn he had been right, but was too ill and weak to stop it once it was in full swing.
He died lonely and alone on January 5th, 1998. The military sent me his last paycheck. His medals had been stolen. I wrote to the Department of the Navy explained what had happened, and that I would gladly pay for replacements. A letter came saying how sorry they were. They would certainly replace the medals at no charge, but they were in the process of moving offices and it could take up to a year. Someone cared enough to find paperwork in the midst of moving (a daunting task). The medals arrived three months later, with another kind note. [Thank You - GO NAVY]
My father had two funeral as well, but his trip to the abyss was not as pretty. The only people that came were the morally bankrupt that had destroyed what peace he had left in life at the end, and my kids. One of the fortune seekers would even raise a verbal objection when the Veteran handed me my father's flag. Gaud did they want blood as well? It was late April and cold. My daughter would remark the devil was there in those people. She may have been right.
I had yet another hole pierced in my left ear. And started telling my kids "If anything happens to me, hide the jewelry."