I giggled. She must be talking in her sleep! This will be a GREAT story to tell when it's not 4:30 AM!
Then she came out of the guest room.
"That was Mama. Daddy's not breathing and his heart isn't beating. She's waiting for the first responders. I'm going to go over there."
Always wonderful with words in situations like this, I responded, "...Happy Thanksgiving?"
I wasn't convinced it was real. Clearly they could resuscitate him, right?
He'd been sick for so many many years - almost every illness one can imagine that isn't life-threatening, he seemed to be on a quest to collect just about as many chronic illnesses as he could possibly be diagnosed with in a lifetime. It had gotten to the point where we imagined he'd live to be 100, moaning and groaning all the way...
|The family in 1988|
I got back in bed when Elizabeth woke up and lay there praying, not sure whether to pray for his recovery or for the repose of his soul... Andrew's phone started buzzing and I had a feeling it would be the latter.
My daddy was dead.
We used to joke (and will probably continue to joke) about his unwavering loyalty.
His judgment, to us, seemed so ridiculously flawed. To him, his wife was the most beautiful woman in the world. His daughters were far and away the most gorgeous girls anyone could ever have laid eyes on. Any concert my sister or I ever sang in would end with him, possibly crying, telling us we were the best singer on the stage, better than any of those other kids, and they were all probably jealous of how stunning and talented and smart all his children were.
We laughed that it was just because he was crazy. But maybe somehow his love for us, brimming brimming brimming overflowing, clouded his vision and transformed us into the most perfect of children, the most flawless spouse.
He and my mom were teenagers when they met.
He an awkward 17-year-old high schooler, her a seasoned 19-year-old college student. He completely fabricated a story about recorder players and the neck straps they needed in order to play correctly. Somehow that won her over...
They wrote each other long, long letters for years until finally (although everyone said they were far too young), they were married at the ripe old ages of 21 and 23. They looked about 15.
He hated to dance.
I didn't love it either. I didn't relish the thought of awkwardly slow dancing with my father for an agonizingly long 3.5 minutes during that father-daughter dance at my wedding.
So we danced to "Everything is Rosie" from Bye Bye Birdie, vamping the whole time. We did the tango. He spun me and dipped me. We were embarrassingly bad, I'm sure, but we were both laughing so hard that tears were streaming down our faces!
He was so very silly, and that was one of my absolute favorite things about him. I don't think there has ever been another daddy who was as silly with his babies as my daddy. The made-up songs, all rhyming and scanning perfectly, the ridiculous nicknames, the completely impossible stories (all told with a completely straight face so we never knew whether he was actually joking about that extremely detailed biography he had just told us about a person who never really existed)...
|My high school graduation, 2004|
My daddy was always the strongest man in the room.
My parents were married young and had babies young, so they were always the youngest parents wherever we were. When all the other dads had gone soft, my daddy was volunteering to help set up for the elementary school fun fair, muscles bulging through his tiny little tank tops.
As the years went on and he too, grew soft, he insisted that his stomach was actually solid muscle. So solid, in fact, that he chose to show it off by wearing underarmour shirts as his regular stay-at-home-dad uniform.
None of us ever did have the heart to tell him (a licensed medical professional, by the way...) that it was just fat. Nobody accrues that much muscle solely on their belly.
But there were no jobs.
She eventually took a job teaching something out of her subject area, was stuck with a lot of really tough kids, and her contract wasn't renewed for the following year. It has been several years, and she still hasn't been able to find a full-time job out there. She's always been frugal, so savings has taken her quite a ways. But the cost of the constant medical appointments, prescriptions, specialists... It's all taken quite a toll. And it's been many years since Daddy worked, since he has long been too disabled to hold a job (and yet not disabled enough to qualify for Social Security Disability...) If you can help in any way possible, we would all be eternally grateful.
Those obscure offers of, "Let me know what I can do to help!" are so well-meaning, but the grieving and overwhelmed are often not in the position to solicit specific errands.
Here are some specific ideas for what you can do to help my mom (particularly if you're in the Harrisonburg, Virginia area):
Send a meal (home-cooked or not!)
Send a gift card for a local dining establishment
Come by and wash dishes
Clean the bathroom
Help organize books in the various bookshelves in the house
Clean one of the guest rooms
Make the beds with fresh sheets
Offer to let the dogs out and feed them for a day so that she can leave the house
Invite her over for a meal
Invite her over to play with your kids
Invite her over to snuggle your baby
Offer to list some of their enormous stash of action figures on ebay (true story - anyone an ebay guru?)
Access the site here: http://www.carecalendar.org/
CALENDAR ID: 167453
SECURITY CODE: 8470
Or go here to donate to the funeral fund: gofundme.com/5imblc
Jonathan Hunter-Kilmer died this morning in his sleep, at the age of 55. He leaves behind his wife and four living children, as well as five grandchildren. We appreciate any and all help you are able to give. Above all else, please pray for the repose of his soul.
If you knew him, would you mind sharing a story in the comments? I'll see what I can do about opening up anonymous comments, just please sign your story so we know who you are. I can't promise I'll be able to respond to comments, but I do so appreciate all your love and prayers, and I know the rest of the family does as well.