Wednesday

Dad: Letting Go and Moving On Holding You Within my Heart

A year has passed since I was going to shut down Dad's page.  I couldn't do it. But I'm doing it tonight. But I still couldn't quite let go. I had to bring his story over to my blog. I am care manager but I am adult child too. Grief can be complex and it has taken me all of two years to finally let go.

This is the anniversary of what would be my Dad's 31 years of sobriety and what is the second anniversary of his passing I am going to close up this page. I don't know why it took me so long but after awhile it is just kind of strange to see his face here as if he were still an active and alive on Facebook and other places.

I still have his ashes and hopefully late next summer I will make a trip back to Wilson NY and scatter them near the old family cottage...the place where, as a family, we seemed to make the best memories.

I am writing from his old laptop right now. I remember trying in vain to get access to it. I simply could not find the passcode. Many months after his passing...I was ready to give up. I stopped, took a deep breath and asked for his help. A certain phrase came to me. For the heck of it, I put it into the password space and voila, I was in. Go figure.... One of those things that cannot quite be explained. I wrote him this little message and I will end his Facebook career with it.

God bless all of you who are reading this post. I love all of you who have loved him and I close this page tonight with love and gratitude that I had him in my life.

This was my final letter to him when I was trying to crack the code into his laptop....



Tuesday

Dad: Winding Down and Letting Go

Gone 11 months yesterday. Today is your birthday. You would have been 81. You never needed caregivers. You thought for yourself. You made your own decisions. You were never a burden to anyone at anytime. I have not posted here because life goes on and this page seemed to become my shrine to you. I want to start focusing on your life instead of your death. The last time I saw you, you said "I need to go back and visit Wilson one more time." That's how I know where I need to lay you to rest. This Fall I will drive back to NY and scatter your ashes at Sunset Island in Wilson...the place of our most happy young family memories. For anyone who might still be looking at your Facebook page, I will be closing it on August 1st.
Happy Birthday Dad. I miss you.


One of the clippings he had saved.
No wonder he liked it. He could have written it.


Dad: Sharing The Success

I'm not sure what is politically correct in AA, but I have a friend who is celebrating 20 years of sobriety and I want to give him my Dad's XX. Another friend celebrated her 30th and I gave her Dad's X+XI+IX = XXX, 30 years in total. I do hope he would be happy that I am sharing his success with others.

Dad: Facebook was our Friend That Day

My Dad's birthday was July 2. Last July brought his 80th and final birthday. I posted this post on his page. He wasn't much for Facebook.

People poo-poo Facebook, privacy and all that. They say it's overrated. But Facebook was a miracle for us. I connected with several of his "Friends" (and such good friends they are!). One of those friends, Bill K. became my Facebook friend and we exchanged a few messages.

On Aug 1, Bill called my Dad to congratulate him on Dad's 29th year of sobriety. My dog, Jack, had died that morning. At the end of the day Bill messaged me through Facebook to let me know he had been trying to reach Dad, to no avail. He asked me if everything was okay. Of course I didn't know -- I was consumed with grieving over the loss of my dog.

Dad and I usually talked at some point on the weekends. I called him at 9 a.m. Saturday and got his voicemail. Normally I would have left the voicemail for him and simply waited for him to get back to me. But after Bill's message I was more proactive. I called Dad again at 11. He did not call back. At noon I called the apartment manager who went to his apartment, found him, called the police and the police came to my house in Sedona at around 3 p.m. to report that Dad had died in his apartment.
Had I not heard from Bill K. that day, I would have simply left the voicemail message for Dad, assuming he was out shopping or at a meeting or something else. I may or may not have tried calling him again later that day or even Sunday. Another week might have gone by.

So Facebook is good for something and I have found the goodness in all of his loyal and loving Facebook friends. He is one person who knew each and every one. No one was a stranger to my Dad.

Dad: Results of Our Final Shopping Trip

I took him to his favorite grocery store. I could tell he was running low; struggling to gather the simplest essentials. He picked out some fresh blueberries (his favorite) at $1.99. Then he went to the frozen section and picked out a bag of frozen blueberries priced $3.99. "Dad," I said "Did you know you can freeze blueberries? You can buy the fresh ones at $1.99 and freeze them in a Ziploc freezer bag and they will taste as good or better than these frozen ones. He smirked. "No, I'd rather buy the frozen ones." Okay. 

Two weeks later I went to clean out his apartment. I gasped when I saw what was in his refrigerator. It was almost empty. One english muffin, a stick of butter, his Britta water filter and what was left of a small fast food burger. I opened the freezer. Two full ice cube trays and... fresh frozen blueberries in ziploc bags.


Dad: He Had to Admit....

"No, I don't think the doctor would appreciate you going in there with me." 
"But Dad...." 
"No." 
He met with the doctor while I waited patiently outside. The nurse came out a few moments later. 
"You're father would like you to join him please." 
Soon after we went over to the lab for blood tests. 
"I think there's something wrong" he said to the nurse "my veins are all puffy." 
He showed her the veins in his arms and hands. 
I said "Dad, it's probably a good sign. You've been drinking more water and hydrating yourself." 
He glared at me as if to say "Be quiet! What do YOU know?" 
He looked back at the nurse for her answer and she said "If you've been drinking more water than usual, it is very likely that your veins would be fully hydrated. That's why your they are puffed up." 
He looked back at me and said with smirk and his sarcastic wit, "Well... aren't WE a world of information..." 

He had a unique sense of humor.



Dad: Could Care Less That I Was a Geriatric Care Manager

I guess it's hard for a father to take a child's advice, even when the daughter is an eldercare professional. He wasn't feeling too strong in mid-July. I suggested we get him a handicapped parking pass so he could park closer to main entrances.. "No, I don't need one of those." I suggested (again, again) that we sign him up for home-delivered meals for the cost of a donation. "No. I don't want them." You should have seen his face when I mentioned that we think about looking into retirement homes where he could get three meals a day and have someone nearby if he needed something. Good grief, no! He just never thought of himself as old. 
He never really needed any of that stuff when all was said and done.


Dad: Gone Four Months


I flew back into Phoenix late Christmas night. It was so late and I was so sick that I stayed over at the Phoenix Airport Hilton. The next morning I got up and before getting on the highway to Sedona I drove through Scottsdale. He loved living in Scottsdale. "Why do you tell people I live in Phoenix?" he asked "I live in Scottsdale." One of his favorite restaurants there was The Village Inn. We went there on several occasions and it was surprisingly good -- even their Thanksgiving turkey dinner. Not to mention their triple berry pie! I stopped there for old time's sake before heading back to Sedona and enjoyed a great breakfast (served by a great waiter by the name of Oscar) and lots of memories.

A Dad's Favorite Topic: So How's The Car Running?

He always took great car of his cars. He changed the oil on July 28 -- just a few days before he died. His first question of me when we got together was almost always "How's the car running?" : )


Dad: XXVIIII

Dad had a few of these 30 day coins. He had a couple of 60 day and 90 day coins. He only had one of each (with a few exceptions missing from the collection) up to XXV (25) years. So proud. It's a strange holiday without him around and I typically spent Thanksgiving with him.

The other day I was in a store and heard the christmas music overhead playing. "Through the years we all will be together if the fates allow.." It used to make me tear up to think someday we wouldn't be together. Needless to say this year I had to leave the store rather quickly.


Dad: One Thing Leads to Another


Dad had been told by a customer over the phone what an amazing voice he had. He soon immersed himself in acting classes and volunteer reading to school kids through the BookPals program. One day he was reading to an elementary school class and seated at his feet was a little boy. The boy gradually inched his foot over to touch Dad's foot and it remained there for the duration of the reading. It was a human connection that touched my Dad so much that he decided he wanted to go into teaching professionally. He began his journey, enrolled into Ottawa University, Phoenix and ultimately received his diploma at age 70. You never know how far a compliment will go. You never know how making a connection with someone will change their life. If you have a choice, reach out. It could change someone's life.

Dad: Courage

This was one of the books on my Dad's bookshelf. 
I don't know how he did it. Almost 80 years old, up early in the morning, packed his briefcase and went into the classroom trenches. He knew full well that kids were typically at their worst when he met them as their substitute teacher. He kept going.


Dad: I Found a Box of Love Letters

I went through some of Dad's briefcases (it seems he collected briefcases, portfolios, folders and files). He had kept a pack of letters from students in 2008 who had misbehaved when he was their substitute teacher. Their teacher made all of them write letters of apology to him. Here are two of them. I like the one that ends with "We should act like fourth graders but instead we act like fools." The other I chose because I would give anything at my age to have handwriting as good as hers.

Dad: Loved His Cars

He had the Ford Mustang in the 60's and the Mercury Capri. He loved convertibles. He was a sports car nut. He wanted the best of everything. As he got older he just bought good, solid reliable cars. As he got older he was a careful shopper. He found a way to get the most bang for his bucks. 


It amazes me how everything he had was quality. Texture, comfort and quality -- all the way down to his pens and paperclips. I found a photo of his Toyota Corolla that he had for many years. I forget what year it was but he put over 200K on it. He had a little engraved nameplate on his dashboard that read "Faithful Oriental Servant".


Dad: Loved the Stage

This was Dad's portfolio of script books from the community plays that he starred in. 
He put 100% into each and every show and he loved it.

Dad: Overcame His Stuttering and it Wasn't Easy

 Chuck was challenged much of his life because he stuttered. As a child it was quite debilitating for him. Yet his very Achille's Heel was strengthened by the act of going into voice training and acting in his later years. One day he was working for a telemarketing company and a caller told him he had a fabulous voice and that he should be a radio announcer "or something". The power of suggestion was at work! He signed up for acting classes. He volunteered for BookPals (reading to kids in the public schools) and he started performing in various ways both for hire and gratis.

I found this article in his files. It was probably also good for him that he left the cold climate in Minnesota for a life in Phoenix that calmed him with it's warmth. He suffered from asthma most of his life as well -- and the Southwest climate was good for him that way too. 

Anyway - it's an interesting article. He was an interesting man 


Dad: We're All Going Home


Dad: Model for my Business Brochure

I found one brochure for my business CNY Elderplanning from around 1998. 
Dad happened to be in town so we made the most of it!


Dad: I Can Remember Having A Crush on Him When I was Little


Dad: Model

This was my favorite all-time advertisement that Dad modeled for. 


Dad: The Only Dog Eared Page...

Every morning I now read the daily passage and prayer in Dad's "Twenty Four Hours A Day" (Hazelden). He only dog-eared one page in the whole year's worth of pages and it was this one -- September 11.



P.S.  This was kind of interesting.
I was reading the above passage to a friend over lunch. The young waiter came by, overheard me and said proudly "Twenty Four Hours a Day, right?" Then I went to test drive a car. I told the salesman that my Dad had died, had celebrated 29 years of sobriety, always loved his cars and had left me his. (I've made the decision to put my old car and his old car together and get one newer car -- I think Dad would like that). The salesman says "I celebrated 20 years last month!"
What a beautiful world!

Dad: Book Pal

Dad was a volunteer Book Pal (Performing Arts for Literacy In Schools) for more than a decade. Book Pals is a nationwide nonprofit program administered by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. Visit their website at www.bookpals.net 

He always picked the coolest books. 


Don't Say Goodbye

Don't say Goodbye, say I'll See You Again Someday.

And who cares anymore if they don't spell your name right?  

Dad: Behold I Make All Things New

From Dad's "Twenty Four Hours A Day" 
Aug 21st passage:

Dad: You Remember When They Go The Extra Mile for You



One of my favorite photos of my Dad. This was taken in the mid-80's when I was working in my first social work job at James Square Health & Rehabilitation Centre. He had driven from Minnesota to visit his parents in Buffalo and then he came to Syracuse to visit me. He drove through the snowbanks to take me to lunch that day. He was about the age I am now, driving a Toyota Corolla that served him for many years.  It's funny what we remember.

Dad: Bachelor's Degree at age 70

Dad received his Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from Ottawa University in Phoenix at the age of 70. He went on to substitute teach in the public schools until just a few months before he passed. 


Dad: Simplified His Life Over Time



IT'S KIND OF IRONIC. MY FATHER ALWAYS LIVED IN A REALLY NICE PLACE AND TYPICALLY DROVE A REALLY NICE CAR. IN RECENT YEARS HE MOVED INTO A HUMBLE APARTMENT AND DROVE A MODEST, RELIABLE OLDER CAR. HIS FOCUS WAS ON OTHER THINGS IN HIS FINAL YEARS. ONE OF HIS FAVORITES QUOTES WAS THIS:
"A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank...but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child." - Forest Witcraft

Dad: What His Friends Never Knew

Grateful to my Chuck McGahan, my Dad, may he rest in peace. He never gave up learning and pushing forward. He taught kids until the final weeks of his life; he lived fully independent with his presence of mind and a youthful heart. He was full of faith; he sponsored and sponsored others in AA for 29 years and stayed true to it. He never saw himself as "old" and he passed over before he had a chance to find out what old was.


I HAVE LEARNED THAT MANY OF DAD'S CLOSEST FRIENDS NEVER EVEN KNEW HE FOUGHT CANCER FOUR TIMES IN THE PAST 15 YEARS. HE DIDN'T TALK ABOUT THE "BAD STUFF" AND I'M NOT SURE HE EVEN THOUGHT OF CANCER AS 'BAD'! HE ALWAYS WENT WITH THE FLOW. HE WAS ONE OF THE BEST PATIENTS ON EARTH -- EASYGOING AND COOPERATIVE; NEVER COMPLAINED AND ALWAYS THANKED EVERYONE FOR THEIR KINDNESS AND ATTENTION TO HIM.

Dad: Celebrated The Most Important Day of the Year the Day Before he Passed


My Dad, Chuck, passed August 2nd at home. He celebrated 29 years of sobriety on August 1st. It may be a little strange to visit this page and see activity here, but it's my intention to keep his memory strong. I will be posting memories, photos and memorabilia here. He did not have much, but what he had was quality. This applies to his friends as well.

Dad's Mug


I only had one Dad, he only had one daughter and he only had one mug. I'm using it now. 
He pretty much had only one of everything.

Dad: Cleaning Out His Apartment


I'm back in Sedona after cleaning out Dad's apartment. I learned a lot about him in the process. I'll share some things here as I go along. I wish I'd taken more photos as a "documentary" but when you're stressed and grieving you just don't think to do those things. But I did take a few photos like this one which was the view from his balcony taken just before dawn on Aug 5.

Dad: He Lived His Life Backwards


It was either a Tonic and Lime or an Arnold Palmer.

Above all he stayed true to his pledge.



Those we have loved who have transitioned into Heaven are still in communication with us. They send us signs in many ways. Using the power of the World Beyond the Rainbow, they find creative ways, using energy, light, color, metaphors and more. What signs have you received? These can come in the form of Rainbows. Birds. Other animal messengers. Songs on the radio. Feathers. Books dropping off shelves. Words that other people say as you pass by. Orbs. Shadows. Light. Clouds. Dreams.