Tuesday, September 7, 2010

memory

A strange thing is memory, and hope; one looks backward, and the other forward; one is of today, the other of tomorrow. Memory is history recorded in our brain, memory is a painter, it paints pictures of the past and of the day.
Grandma Moses (b. 7 September 1860 - d. 1961)

dear mouse readers, thank you for all the thoughts and prayers of love, light and condolence.

in the hope of healing though memory today I offer one more post on this journey of loss I'm currently undergoing.

there was a funeral mass for my dad on friday and afterward there was a luncheon for family and friends to celebrate my dad's life at his favorite restaurant. the process of working together to plan the funeral and the gathering was extremely helpful for my 'family of origin' -- and such a tangible lesson that shared grief not only lessens the burden but can also strengthen the soul.

over the last couple weeks I have learned just how powerful the taproot of memory is for healing. in the spirit of keeping the light and memory of shan burning bright, I would like to offer the eulogy I gave for my lovely, remarkable, and unforgettable dad.

The Yanoshik family would like to thank everyone for coming this afternoon to Holy Spirit to attend this blessed mass for our beloved Shan - husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend extraordinaire.

Today we gather not only to mourn Shan but also to praise and thank Shan and God in that Shan graced our lives for as long as he did. Dad died last Thursday morning at 4:10 - a little more than three weeks after his 88th birthday. Dad had a good life, it was filled with a loving family, work he loved, and an incredible network of friends. And if there is anything as a good death, I believe Dad had a “good death.” He did not suffer and he was never alone.

I was blessed to be at my father’s side when he and God finally decided that it was time to be moving on. Our family felt it was important that dad not be alone while he was in the hospital and I eagerly volunteered to be the “night nurse” - truth be told, being with dad, during this period has been one of the most, profound, important and beautiful things I’ve ever had the good fortune to be able to do.

But on Thursday morning I fell asleep on my watch - for the previous two nights I was ever vigilant and although I did take a few cat naps I was alert and roused by any change that happened in the room - be it the hospital staff coming in or a change in dad’s breathing. Those sleepless nights caught up with me and some time after 2 AM, I fell into a deep sleep. At 4:10 I woke - I didn’t wake up startled or alarmed, just calmly opened my eyes. I looked over at dad - I didn’t see his oxygen mask rise. I put a hand on his chest and it seemed still. I immediately picked up the phone to call Nicole, the real night nurse, I whispered, “Nicole, I think my dad has died” Nicole replied, “No, I just left your room, he is alive, but his breathing is very light.” A second later Nicole entered the room and went over to dad. She looked up at me and said “Oh my, it must have just happened, I was just here.”

I’ve have been accused of being a bit of a magical thinker, maybe I am, but in retrospect I think dad was waiting until I was in a deep sleep to leave. But everyone who knows my dad, knows what a huggy-kissy fellow he is, I believe that he brushed past me to give me a kiss as he was taking off on his last flight -- a flight to go home to God.

In case anyone doesn’t know me, I’m Kim, Shan and Rita’s middle child - which dad always reminded me of -- whenever I called home, when dad heard my voice he’d say “Is this my middle child?” You may think this was funny kind of greeting, but it was all mine - and it made me feel special. Whether it was something small like a greeting, or a special nickname, or a shared inside joke, Dad had a gift for making each of us kids feel special - this quality wasn’t limited to his kids, I think Shan had a gift for making people feel special.

Dad was christened Francis Yanoshik and was born on August 3, 1922 in the family home in Lofty Pennsylvania. One of my favorite Shan stories deals with the fact that dad was born at home. When Feagin and I were expecting our daughter Emma we told my folks we were planning a home birth, as soon as dad heard “home birth,” he got alarmed and launched into an campaign to change our minds claiming that home births weren’t safe. Turns out he had recently read an article by some MD claiming home births were a form of ’child abuse.’ Well, I had done a great deal of research, so I proceeded to present facts and figures which showed the opposite outcome. I presented research which showed that with low-risk women, accompanied by a trained attendant, home births were very safe -- in fact many times safer than hospital births. After presenting my data, I asked dad where he was born. He answered “at home.” I don’t know if it was reminding him of his own birth, or my research, but the campaign to change our minds ended. For me, this story illustrates a few of qualities I appreciated in dad. One -he never hesitated to challenge us (a trait he passed down to his children, as he would say in spades. - no one can accuse any of Shan’s kids as being shrinking violets). Second, dad prized researched and reasoned arguments. Lastly, dad valued the ability to change course when presented with new information. Thanks dad!

Dad was the third of seven children born to Stephen and Mary Yanoshik. He may have been the third kid, but he was the first in his family in many things. He was the first person in his family of origin to go to college. He passed his love of learning to his children and he was so proud of his children and grandchildren’s academic pursuits and accomplishments. Thanks dad!

Shan came from a railroad family - both his father and grandfather worked for the railroad, but dad broke tradition and instead of staying on the ground he took to the air. In 1942 Dad enlisted in the Navy and in 1944 he was commissioned as an officer. Perhaps his naval career was preordained. According to the book to The Secret Language of Birthdays, August 3rd is "the day of the dangerous quest" and "Those born on August 3 are attracted to danger in one form or another." For twenty-eight years dad was in the Navy as an aviator. During his early years he was a test pilot, later he was one of those guys who take off and land on aircraft carriers. Unlike so many of his friends and colleagues dad survived all the dangers he faced. Thanks dad!

In 1950, dad met the Rita and as is said, ‘the rest is history.’ Dad’s passions for flying and the Navy never wavered, however, when he met Rita, they did take backseat to his love for Rita and the family that they created. Shan and Rita married in 1951 - on March 31st they would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary - but they did celebrate a sixtieth anniversary - for it has been sixty years since they met and fell in love.

I know if I start talking about the profound love my parents have for each other and for their family I will surely dissolve into a puddle of tears and emotion.

Instead, I will close with a poem I wrote and recited to dad last week as we shared his last hours before take-off.

‘Ode to our Flyboy’

Rita and Shan true love
Deep red, white and blue love
Everlasting sweet love
I'll always be there for you love

Family love, always growing love
Joining hands together love
Chitter, chatter, pitter, patter love
Silly love, billy love, playing together love

Flying high above love
Wandering around the world love
Everything is connected love
The world and we are one love

All is love, Love is all
Love, love, love

Thanks Dad!

17 comments:

tut-tut said...

what a lovely post, Kim. Be brave!

ArtSparker said...

I am very sorry to hear of your father's death. My own has been in and out of the emergency room recently, we lost my mother last year.

Roy said...

Well put, Kim!

Reya Mellicker said...

THis is so beautiful, so moving. I'm thinking about you a lot, holding you in my heart, sending good, clean, loving energy for you to access (if you like) as you move through a process that is completely incomprehensible. Much love to you! Amen and Shalom!

pink dogwood said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

I know your dad had a great life, but I know how you will miss him forever. My grandfather passed away 20 years ago - I still miss him and often want him back just for a few moments so that I can tell him something. I miss my grandmother who left us 10 years ago - my mom and I often discuss how Amma would have really liked something.

I wish you lots of strength to deal with your loss.

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

A wonderful tribute to a wonderful life. I have enjoyed learning about your dad and family through your posts from afar of the past three years or so. Know that the wonderful circle of joy and love you have spread through your blog will come back to support you during this sad time.

John Hayes said...

Just beautiful--your father sounds like a wonderful man who led a wonderful life--what more can any of us ask? Still I'm sure you feel his loss deeply--my thoughts are with you.

TechnoBabe said...

I can't tell you how happy I am for you that you had a relationship with your father that was nourishing and loving. I am enjoying reading every little thing you write about him. I am sorry he passed away but what a blessing that you were there.

Kat Mortensen said...

Kim - Such a wonderful post in tribute to your dad. He must have been a great father who loved you very much. That is such a powerful thing to hold onto in time of loss. I'm sure your dad is smiling down as he reads these words from his "middle child".
I'm also sure you're right; he must have brushed his lips across your cheek as he left this world to go to the next. God be with him and you.

Kat

maggie's garden said...

What a beautiful tribute for your dad Kim. He must surely have waited for you to be asleep when he left...from all you have written about him...it just seems like something he would do.
I'm sending some more light and love your way.
Hugs and love,
karen

Anonymous said...

How amazing that you were able to do a eulogy without being a puddle! Thank you for sharing it and your poem, love Ali

K. said...

Please accept our condolences.

Your father's life saw the presidencies of Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, or more than one-third of our presidents.

The New York Yankees won 39 pennants and 27 World Series.

Elvis was born and died during your father's life, as was Hank Williams.

The top grossing film in 1922 was Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks. Robin Hood was remade in 1938 with Errol Flynn, and later with Sean Connery and Kevin Costner. Your father was there for them all.

During his life, the United States fought at least six wars.

In 1930, Sinclair Lewis became the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. During your father's life, Eugene O'Neill, Pearl Buck, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Saul Bellow, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Joseph Brodsky, and Toni Morrison would follow Lewis.

Plainly, I could go on and on. Suffice to say that anyone who saw as much as he did and who was graced with a loving family had a full and enviable life.

Angella Lister said...

such a lovely remembrance of the man who helped you become the woman you are. what greater tribute to a life well lived than to have a daughter write such words. you've done your beloved shan proud. hugs.

Daisy said...

Thanks for sharing your memories of your wonderful dad, kim. My thoughts and prayer are with you and your family.

Alan Burnett said...

So very moving. I would have expected nothing less from you.

Merle Sneed said...

Kim, what a great tribute to a great man. We stand on the shoulders of ordinary men like your dad, who did great things quietly. Bless you and yours.

lettuce said...

Kimy I'm just catching up - and so sorry to find out about this loss and grief.

This is a beautiful eulogy - I'm so glad you were there, I'm sure he did kiss you on his way past.

Its so hard. And nothing to do but go through it - wishing you all the support and love you need dear Kimy, take your time, go easy on yourself.


much love