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My Angel Father

My Angel Father

I am a daddy's girl. I always have been. As much as I love my mom, there is just something special about a dad and his daughter. My dad had a larger than life personality. He was almost always smiling, laughing or making someone else laugh. Everyone just loved him. The life of the party!

On September 3, 2017, he turned 66 years old. He was at my house the night before for an early family birthday dinner. When he left my house that night, that was the last time I'd see him how I'd always known him. When he woke up the next morning on his birthday, he was suffering a massive hemorrhagic stroke. He was rushed to the hospital and in tests and procedures all day. He didn't wake up for several weeks, and when he did, he was not the same. His entire left side was paralyzed. His reasoning and logic were incredibly hindered. He couldn't eat or drink.

Over the next four years, my sweet dad slipped further and further from us. His recovery stalled and then regressed. His 6'2'', strong body was too much for my mom to care for 24/7. He lived his last years in a facility. Vascular dementia took over his brain. He was paranoid, hallucinated, he became unpredictable, mean and his emotions were out of control. His grandchildren were scared of him often. My brother and I were losing our dad and my mom was losing her husband of more than 40 years. The last 2 years of his life were lived without his family due to covid and facility visitation restrictions. We went from being with him every single day to not seeing him at all for months at a time.

As traumatic as these last four years have been, I've had to force myself to find the good. I had my dad earthside for 4 years when I could have lost him forever. I spent hours upon hours talking with him about everything and about nothing, praying over him and with him, helping him eat, bringing him treats, washing his feet and helping him with things like trimming his nails or beard. While he was lucid, I heard stories of his time serving our country in Vietnam. When his mind got worse, we talked about things that were very real in his mind but I know weren't reality. I took him outside to feel the sun on his face. I held his hand and sang to him for hours. I talked to his nurses and CNA's about how he used to be. I made sure they knew his story and how wonderful he was before his stroke took so much.

About 4 years and a week after his first stroke (and right after his 70th birthday), my dad suffered another large hemorrhagic stroke. There was no coming back from it and after years of praying for God to heal him or take him home, we knew this world wasn't what was best for him anymore. My dad was placed in hospice care and was expected to leave us in a matter of a couple of days. True to my dad, my very stubborn and life loving dad, he lived another 2 weeks. He shocked everyone, as he often did. I know he was tired and ready to be done, but he didn't want to leave his family so he hung on.

I'll always be thankful that my family was allowed to spend his last weeks by his side. I got to sing to him again, hold his hand and hug him again, and say goodbye. My dad earned his angel wings on September 28, 2021. I miss him every second of every day. I wear a Mini Dog tag necklace with my daughter's name and my husband and my initials. After my dad passed, I got an angel wings charm with "dad" on the back. My Tiny Tags helps me remember I'll see him again one day.

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Mariah Z.

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"I will never take this necklace off. Three boys and along came a girl! Yes, I bought this for myself. A present for me! Thank you- I love it!"

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