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Farewell to my Father

Friday, June 18, 2021, one year and one month after his death, I scattered a portion of my father’s ashes at the same location that I scattered my mom’s ashes in September of 2020. I still can’t believe they are both gone.

It's taken me a little while to finish this post because after I started it, I had a minor meltdown. I say minor but I couldn't stop crying for a good hour and kept asking myself why this happened so quickly and how I am going to get through things without my parents because now I'm all alone. I know I have my husband, my three children and my two grandchildren but they just don't understand what it's like. I mentioned to my daughter, Kelsie, the other night that she had made the comment at dad's memorial service that she didn't have any grandparents left and that I knew she didn't mean anything by it but it really hurt because while it is sad to not have grandparents, I don't have my parents anymore. I know your parents are not supposed to outlive you (typically) but no matter how much you prepare or know that their death is coming, that doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

I thought that the trip to Montana with Kelsie and Maddie would be a good time to relax and get away from things but it hasn't been as therapeutic as I hoped it would be, in fact it has been harder on me than I thought it would be. I've enjoyed being able to see the things I don't always see at home like Virginia City, MT; the waterfalls, geysers and wildlife in Yellowstone National Park; the Gates of the Mountains River Cruise on the Missouri River and all the fresh cool mountain air but until I sat here and really started to write this out I haven't really had a moment to myself other than when I was sleeping, and I think that is what I really need, time to myself. I love my family to death and while we have our ups and downs and troubles like all families do and I would do anything in the world for them, I think I really need a solo trip somewhere to really be able to reflect and come to terms with the loss of both my parents so close together.

This post really did start out as a Farewell to my Father but it quickly evolved into something else so now back to what I originally set out to do. My dad was the quiet one of the family where my mom was the outspoken one who had an opinion about everything and wasn't afraid to share it.

The dad I remember growing up was always out the door headed to work early to beat the traffic in the morning and he was home by 5:00 or 5:30 every evening. He supported me in everything I wanted to do as much as he possibly could. When I wanted to go to France as a foreign exchange student for a month the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years of high school he and my mom were not able to go with me to sign up due to a prior commitment and I had to have an adult with me so they said if I can get there and raise the money for the trip myself, I could go. So, I took them up on that challenge and made it happen. Dad made sure to give me some extra spending money without mom knowing it before I left. He was supposed to go with us to the airport but mom woke me up to tell me that she was taking him to the hospital and that I needed to finish packing and meet her there later. It turns out my dad had kidney stones and he was in the hospital a couple of times while I was in France that month. While clearing out their house I did find my old scrapbook from that trip and in there were letters from both my parents and I'll be honest, it brought me to tears reading those letters after all these years. The part that really got me was seeing "Love, Dad" at the bottom of the letter he wrote to me. I know he love me but just seeing it in print and even thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes.

I really wish the technology we have today was around when I was growing up so I had more pictures to look back on. Granted, I hate to have my picture taken but I'd love to have more pictures of my parents. I have some but they all seem to be when I was younger and not the in between years and unfortunately memories fade and get distorted, I guess that's one reason I want to hang on to so much of what is left of my parents. The tangible items taken from my childhood home hold those memories closer for me. The bookshelf my dad made, the china cabinet that was in the dining room, the dresser that was in their bedroom, the table we ate dinner at, etc. etc. Their car is in my driveway and almost every time I drive up I can picture my mom sitting behind the wheel of that car. I know I need to let go of things and go ahead and have an estate sale but it is hard to know what I want to really get rid of and what I want to keep.

I know dad really enjoyed traveling every summer but I really think he wanted to go further than mom did but he just never put his foot down and said let's go. He expressed to me that he really would have liked to go to Sweden and see where his father, grandfather, aunts and uncles grew up. I know when I went during the summer of 2018 he really enjoyed looking at the pictures I showed him when we got back. While he was in memory care, he had even said he wanted me to book a trip to Sweden for his sister, him and me to go there, needless to say I changed the subject! During his last few days I would talk to him about different things but I came back to what I consider our homeland over and over. I would sit there next to his bed and hold his hand and talk to him about his family that loved and cared for him. I would look through the photo books that I had made for him and that I had made of my recent vacations, including the one to Stockholm. It was then that I promised him I would get him to Sweden one way or another. This was also during COVID and travel was not an option so I knew that I wasn't going to be able to scatter his ashes in Sweden any time soon after his passing but I still plan on doing that. The summer of 2022 is my goal to make it to Sweden with the remainder of his ashes and scatter them near the cemetery where his grandfather, Ernst Svensson, along with his aunts and uncles Sven, Lempi, Mathilda, Kristina, and more are buried near Solvesborg, Sverige (Sweden) in Gammalstorps Kyrkogarden. There is an ash burial site and ash burial grove in the cemetery which sits next to the parish church where my grandfather went to church as a boy. I'm hoping I'll be able to obtain permission to scatter my father's ashes nearby where our ancestors are buried.

I know that scattering the remainder of his ashes won't take all the pain away that I feel because the grief process is ongoing and possibly never ending. The old saying "time heals all wounds" doesn't fit in this case. Time isn't healing this wound, it may make the pain a little less some days but then there are others that it hurts just as bad as the day I lost mom and then 7 months later lost dad.

I’m still at a loss for why both were taken from me so quickly but I’ll leave that up to God to show me why.