Dad passed away on Tuesday afternoon, surrounded by love. We showered him with rose petals and kisses and tears. For his homecoming, he wore his favorite navy blue 442nd Regimental Combat Team blazer. I can only imagine the festivities going on in Heaven, and how wonderful it must feel for Dad to be forever rid of fear and pain and loneliness. With a breaking heart, even in this, I know God is near, and Dad is still my dad.
For years, he drank like the soldier he was, smoked packs and packs and ate atrociously. He loved corned beef straight out of the can, smeared on white bread slathered with butter, he slurped up the little cube of fat in lau lau and put salt on his shoyu rice. He was diagnosed late in life with bipolar disorder, which explains years of self-medicating (use your imagination liberally).
At 19, in the army, his buddies called him "Chow Hound" because this petite man could put away groceries like the bag boys at Costco. He was the bazooka man in Company C of the 442nd Regimental Combat Infantry, and my littlest son's hero.
He sang with a baritone voice, wrote with a beautiful, scrolly cursive hand, and could ballroom dance.
He snored so loudly we could hear him clearly in every room in the house.
One Christmas, he got me an aluminum tree and I cried my eyeballs out, so he walked to the store and dragged a fresh one back home for me. He mixed my ice cream sandwiches to make them into a cookies and cream soft serve, before there was ever such a thing.
He loved people--oh, how he loved people. He could--and would--talk to anyone. He bought homeless men dinner. He loved to play poker and taught us kids to play paiute and hanafuda when we were young--we'd empty our piggy banks and gamble.
He drove a tour bus and taxi cab and survived a mugging that left him for dead. He forgave those idiots (my word, not his), with tears in his eyes. He was forever haunted by that horrible beating. He had 9 lives, plus more. He had Alzheimer's and didn't always remember me, but he could recall his childhood and army days clearly.
Sometimes we fought hard. Always, we loved.
This is my dad and I miss him so.
Kickstarter Project Update: Shine Bright
With Dad now gone, and Mom still declining in hospice care, I appreciate your patience and understanding of my timetable delays more than ever. Please know, your support and contributions are always on mind and I hold my responsibility to fulfilling all of my promises and rewards with great sacredness.
Always in the back of my mind, I think about my Kickstarter project, and how so many of you, my tribe, supported me in my efforts to build a body of work (thank you). I've been feeling overwhelmed and wracked with guilt that I can't seem to draw a thing these days, and you have all been so kind to wait patiently while I focus on my family during this time of sorrow.
Recently, I had an AHA moment. I'm realizing this--that my writings here about grief and Mom and Dad's journey with hospice and dying ARE the creations that are coming out of this season. It's not the work I intended to give birth to, and I'm still needing and wanting to get the promised rewards mailed out as soon as things settle--but it is the best of me that I have to offer you right now.
In the meantime—Kickstarter supporters—I am fulfilling the “new work” part of my project with words in lieu of images (for now). The 52 pieces of art I envisioned—the weekly pieces of art I intended to create—are taking the form of writing. I'll start numbering them and posting these essays for you to read very soon. I'm hopeful that there will be art and illustrations born out of this season too.
This thought frees me to write without holding anything back, and to share with you my heart on a more frequent basis.
Thank you in advance for your love and understanding.