“Sharing tales of those we’ve lost is how we keep from really losing them.”
—Mitch Albom, For One More Day
March 30th will always be a defining moment in my life. Three years ago today, my family and I said goodbye to my Dad, Jack McCann. It is a day for all of us that will never be forgotten and because it coincides with Easter, well that brings along its own emotion and sensitivity.
The Easter holiday is a different date every year and on March 30th in 2013 it happened to be Holy Saturday when Dad passed away. The day was absolutely gorgeous that year and I found comfort in knowing that he left us on such a special day. My faith allows me to believe that on that Holy Saturday, the angels surrounded my Dad in love and he was welcomed into Heaven to God’s embrace. No more suffering, no more pain.
I carry in my wallet the prayer card from Dad’s funeral services. There is a quote on one side and a saying on the other with his name, date of birth and date of death. I’d like to share the words with you on this card with the hope that as you remember any loved ones of yours that have passed away; you will find comfort knowing that they are always with us.
My quote today embodies the truth that through sharing our stories and memories, how those we love are never really gone. The words on Dad’s prayer card perfectly describe what he was like:
Nor speak of me with tears…
But laugh and talk of me as though
I were beside you.
I loved you so…
‘Twas heaven here with you.
I Said A Prayer For You Today
I said a prayer for you today, and know God must have heard.
I felt the answer in my heart although he spoke no word!
I didn’t ask for wealth or fame (I knew you wouldn’t mind).
I asked him to send treasures of a far more lasting kind!
I asked that He’d be near you at the start of each new day.
To grant you health and blessings, and friends to share your way!
I asked for happiness for you, in all things great and small.
But it was for His loving care, I prayed the most of all!
These three years have gone by quickly and on this 3rd anniversary, everything is still very fresh; the details are clear; the feelings during that last week are still very strong; the anger we felt that our experience with Hospice turned out to be less than what we were told and thought it would be. It’s all still there and the tears can easily come when I think about how helpless we all felt that there was little we could do to alleviate the pain Dad was in.
But, what is also true is that that experience is how Dad left the world. As much as that stung while it was happening, three years later, that’s not what I choose to focus my attention on. Dad’s journey leaving the world was a very small amount of time compared to the life that he lived.
And that my friends, is how we heal grief. That is what it is all about. To not stay stuck. To not wallow in the loss. To move forward in love. I know in my heart that Dad wants nothing more than for his family to be happy, to be healthy, to love one another, to look out for each other and to always stay together as a family.
Well, he got his wish. Our family is together. We have done just that, love each other, take care of Mom, look out for each other and stay together. We are there for all of it. Mom has become our first priority. Never dreamed that her journey in this life would be to not have her memories, let alone find it hard to remember her nearest and dearest. This life twist has certainly felt far more difficult to handle than watching Dad lose his battle with Cancer. The heartbreak I feel that my Mom, who to me, is the kindest most loving human being that I have been blessed to call my mother, has been robbed of the memories of the life she lives and struggles daily to know the family that she and Dad created and raised. But what she has not lost is her ability to love. And love she does with all her heart.
My brothers and I circle the wagons when a crisis looms and we love and care what happens to each other. It is a wonderful feeling to be part of the legacy that Mom and Dad created and to live that legacy now that Dad is gone. My Dad is a part of each of us. How proud he is of the men that my brothers are and who they have become. I have two sides of Dad in me, the tomboy side that can roll up her sleeves and hang with the boys any day. The daughter side, well that says it right there, I am my father’s daughter. I’m a red head because of him and have many of the “McCann” features from his side of the family. Unfortunately, he turned all grey before he was 30 years old. Thankfully that didn’t happen to me! Rest assured, I’ve never doubted for a moment the love my Dad has for me.
I am beyond proud and grateful to be his daughter. And the best tribute I can ever give to Dad is to be the best Mary that I can be and to live my best life. That is what he wants for me. Just to be happy, to love, and to thrive in this life.
So, today, March 30th will always be the day our lives changed and Dad left this world. It is only one day out of the 82 years that he was blessed to have lived. I gave my Dad a gift years ago of a framed saying that read, “Dad, when I think of you, I smile inside.” I never knew what he did with the gift until he was gone and I saw that he must have liked it because he kept it in his bedroom on his dresser. That gift is mine now and today of all days, I know I will focus on all those memories of Jack McCann that are inside of me that make me smile.
That being said, today and always, Dad is in my heart and when those moments of profound sadness and grief surface today and I find myself brimming with tears, I know that they will pass very quickly because I have a lifetime full of memories that will overpower any sadness that I feel.
And, the best way that I can celebrate Dad’s life is to honor what he wanted most and that is to take care of myself, be happy and enjoy my life to the fullest.
So thank you dear friends for reading my newsletter every week and for today, especially, for allowing me to share a piece of my heart that is Jack McCann.