Friday, January 20, 2017

Five On Friday: Red-Foiled Candy



Joining Amy this week for Five-On-Friday at Love Made My Home.

In the supermarkets this week the Valentine's Day candy is out and on full display. For the first time in 23 years, I didn't cry when I got my first glimpse of the red-foiled chocolate candy. That's what my five is about this week.

One: The Hospital  On January 18, 1994, my father called to tell me he was in the hospital.  I was at work in the same town as the hospital, so I left quickly to go see him and stopped at a market to buy a deck of cards on the way there. They were putting up a big Valentine's Day display in the store, so I bought a large bag of red-foil-wrapped chocolate pieces for him to share with the people who stopped by to see him. 

Two: How To Win  At the hospital, his two older sisters had just left and my father and I were alone. We both loved playing Black Jack, so we started a game. Since we didn't have many coins on us, we decided to use the Valentine's Day candy as betting "chips". We finally ended the game that night when he had all the candy pieces. It was late, so I headed home...and that became our ritual. 

Every afternoon after work I (an over-worked, 40-something divorced mother) went to the hospital after other family members left and played Black Jack with my dad until he (usually) won all the chocolate pieces, then I drove the 30 miles home to the town where I lived and got up the next day and did it all over again. I hope, when I was with him, that I didn't show all the pressure I was feeling. 

One night, when he had won my share of the red-foiled "chips" yet again, I said:
"Dad, sometimes people let their kids win a game or two!" 
And he replied:
"Well...you know...they're showing their kids how to lose.  I always tried to show you how to win."

Three: Diagnosis  After almost a week of nightly Black Jack, my father had exploratory surgery. I was by myself in the waiting room when the doctor came to say there was nothing they could do. Later, I sat in his room staring at the red-foil-wrapped chocolates while he slept.

Four: 6 Months  Dad went home with hospice soon after the diagnosis. A friend drove him to his doctor's office visit on Friday, February 4th. Dad walked into the doctor's office perfectly fine by himself. Dad called me that evening and we had a long, clear conversation. He told me the doctor said he had 6 months to live. We agreed I'd be over the next morning with my daughters and we would make plans.

The next morning at 9, my girls and I arrived at his house (about 45 miles from where we lived) while the hospice nurse was there. We found that my father had no idea who we were, could not walk without us supporting him, and would eat only if his granddaughters fed him...and then only pudding and mashed potatoes. Dad died in the hospital the next day, Sunday Feb 6th, probably the shortest 6 months on record. I believe he willed himself to die. He won.

Five: A Sweet Memory  Since I wasn't much of a match for his card playing skills, I wondered at the time if he was bored while playing cards with me in those last days of his life. After his death, at his memorial service, I mentioned this to his two sisters. My aunts looked at each other and smiled, then told me when he was in the hospital he asked them not to eat the red-foiled chocolates because he wanted as many "chips" as possible to make our games last longer.

I'm sharing this with you as Valentine's Day approaches because I hope when you see those red-foiled candy pieces this year, it will remind you to slow down and love someone a little bit harder, a little bit longer, a little bit better. That lifetime you see ahead could easily turn into just 6 months or maybe even just 2 little days.

Thanks for dropping by


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29 comments:

  1. What a tender story. Thank you for sharing it with us. Have a good weekend.

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  2. Certainly time is precious, a touching story.

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  3. Oh gosh, I can relate to so much of what you have written. It is so sad and yet so lovey that your Dad just wanted to keep on playing. I hope you can look at the chocolates this year and remember the good times and the good things with great love and not too much heartbreak. Hugs to you. xx

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  4. A very thought provoking post. So true that it's important to make the most of what we have. B x

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  5. A lovely post, thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

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  6. It must of been hard to tell the story, so glad you shared it.

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  7. Oh, Sugar! Thank you for sharing this precious, precious story here. I am so glad you got to spend those days with your dad while he knew who you were and was engaged in life.

    As you know, I lost my only brother to cancer and he was only 4 days from diagnosis to death. I, too, think he willed himself to go...as he would not have wanted to be 'taken care of'. Bittersweet for all of us but I do believe your dad (and my brother) died as they wanted--without being a burden to others or having family count their every breath.

    God bless you- I will always think of your story now every time I see those red foil-wrapped hearts. xo Diana

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  8. What a wonderful post about your father. I got a lump in my throat when you told of how your aunts couldn't have the sweets so that his games with you would last longer, how he must have appreciated those games:)

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  9. What a wonderful story and memory. I think the short six months was a gift.

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  10. Turning back and seeing our life gives us many sweet memories. Your father would have felt happy when you were all with him. This is what the older people wants to be happy...

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  11. Oh, I am crying! What a beautiful story. I love his quote about winning! Blessings from Ringle, WI

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  12. What a wonderful post and one that made me cry.

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  13. Now you've done it, Sugar, I've got tears rolling down my face! What a beautiful story and reminder for us all. I think my father, too, willed himself to die rather than drag it out. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  14. I don't know what to say. Be glad you had those days playing cards. Time to share something close and personal with him.
    We had no warning when we lost my Dad. The first phone call was to let us know he'd had a massive heart attack and was already dead. I agree - tell your loved ones how you feel as often as you have chance. You really never know when it'll be too late.

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  15. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I lost my father the first of August just a few short weeks after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July of 2004. My memories of that time are certainly bittersweet. I will be thinking of you in the days ahead as I know the anniversary dates of losses are so very hard.

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  16. Oh my goodness, Sugar, what a heartfelt post with so much love and and such a wonderful message at the end. Yes, one never knows, and we should never let anything come between us and our loved ones. Thank you for sharing this lovely post and your love for your dad. ❤️

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  17. What a post dear.. it filled my eyes with tears, as well as left a smile in my lips...
    love to read .... big hug..

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  18. It's a sad story, but also a beautiful one. I think you made the most of those last days and that you actually treasure the memory of those card games.

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  19. Thanks for sharing your precious five, Sugar, that encourage me to show and tell those who are dear to me that I love them as you did your dad. xx

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  20. You are so kind to share that personal story with us. You were lucky to have a dad like him!

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  21. What a beautiful story and I have a lump in my throat just reading this. I was thinking...I bet your Dad couldn't wait for everyone to leave so he could play cards with you! I'm so glad you had those special moments with him. What a blessing.

    Cindy

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  22. That was such a lovely memory and story. Thank you for sharing it! Dad's are so special and I know you miss him terribly. My dad died last year, 3 days after Valentine's Day. Love and hugs to you!!

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  23. I'll never look at a red candy in the same way again. They'll always remind me to love my people as much, as long, as passionately, as possible.

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  24. This made me tear up! Such a touching post. Thank you for the reminder to slow down a bit.

    Thanks for stopping by Colletta's Kitchen Sink :)

    Colletta

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  25. Beautiful story the ending brought joyful tears to my heart.. i often wondered if in the last days did I do enough for my mama... i was by her side 24/7.. with love Janice

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  26. It is such a sad story but I am so glad you got to spend time with your dad. I'm glad you have a special memory.....
    ~Des

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  27. What a wonderful story of precious time well spent. It's good to have these memories and that you took the time to honor your father at the end of his life.

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  28. I'm sitting here too,
    Crying my eyes out.
    I will always think of you and your Dad now when I see those chocolates.
    I'm glad you had that special "card-playing" with him!
    XOXOXOXOXO

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  29. Sweet memories, no pun intended! I'm sure he treasured every one of those games and it's great that you got to spend that time together. Great post!

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