About My Dad’s Death

(Copied from a Note I posted on Facebook yesterday).

(Unfortunately, the formatting didn’t copy into here properly and refused to fix despite my efforts.)

Saturday, November 8, 2014
At this point, I don’t have all the details surrounding the death of my father, who was born in a small village in Serbia in 1932. I am told he died on Monday. I just found out yesterday.
Yesterday…
Yesterday, I drove the 2-1/4 hours to Kamloops alone for an appointment and some shopping.

Shortly after 4:00 pm, I came out of Target at Sahali Mall. I put my purchased items into my car, returned the cart, and kicked back in the driver’s seat. There was WiFi there, so I looked at my phone. There was a message from my sister, which said:

“I have some really sad news. Dad died on Monday. Frieda just phoned me and told me this today. I have been trying to phone you. Phone my home number when you get a chance to.”

I didn’t feel sad. I felt shocked. I’d long ago lost touch with him, so it was more like hearing of the death of someone else’s father. I suddenly thought of the part in a favorite movie, “Smoke Signals”, which I had just watched the night before, where Thomas says, “Hey, Victor. I heard about your dad.”

Why would I only be hearing about my dad’s death five days after the fact? I’ll get to that.

My dad has always been confusing to me. I knew a bit about him, from partial stories he revealed while he was drunk (which he was quite frequently during the years I knew him). Like, why did his dad die when my dad was in his early teens? Why was my dad in prison – twice – in his home land of Serbia? Why did he refuse to have anything to do with any of his family in the Old Country since he left there in the early 1950s? Why did he get so mad at me when I made contact with some of his relatives in the early 1990s? And why did he never return my calls when I tried reaching him between 2006 up till this past year?

I’m thinking that the stories I imagine are probably worse than what really happened, but I may never know.

After I got the message from my sister, I replied to ask how he died. She didn’t have much news herself, briefly explaining that she’d gotten a phone call yesterday afternoon from Frieda, a long-time friend of my dad’s, to let her know of his death, and that it somehow involved him having fallen, resulting in cracked ribs and a hospital stay, and while healing up from that, he died.

I went about the rest of my errands in Kamloops, lost in thought. I walked into London Drugs thinking, “Hey, everyone. My dad just died. How’s YOUR day?”

I drove home, thinking about my dad often. Lots of memories came to mind and I shed some tears. The first time was while listening to “Let It Be” by The Beatles. My dad always hated the Beatles and would make fun of their music. The other time was while listening to the guitar solo in the Metallica song “Master Of Puppets”. I remembered when that song was new in the mid 80s, I was doing a crazy aerobic workout to it while drinking with my dad. Not that he liked that music, but it was a memory that popped into my mind, how he didn’t care WHAT music I cranked when he was drunk.

I’ve not seen my dad since August of 2005, when I had gone down to Point Roberts, WA, and drove by the lot he had on Panorama Drive. He got to meet my fifth child, who was a year old at the time. I got a picture of my dad holding him. I treasure that.

My dad never did meet my fourth child, nor my sixth and seventh children.

The daughter of one of my dad’s old friends told me she had run into my dad in 2005 and he was annoyed at me for having so many kids, quoting him as having referred to me as “a baby machine”.

Today I phoned Frieda. I’d tried calling her a few times over the past couple years since I last talked to her, but it always just rang and rang. No answering machine picked up so I couldn’t even leave a message. Thankfully, she answered today, and she filled me in on the details surrounding my dad’s death.

Apparently, my dad had fallen in his apartment. (He lived in the same apartment since 1991, where the Pillars Inn used to be in Tsawwassen, since he sold our family’s old house after my mom left him – the house he’d built for us in 1976.) He’d phoned Frieda and asked her to call an ambulance for him. He was taken to Delta Hospital, but they sent him home after two days.

A few days later, my dad called Frieda again, saying he was in a lot of pain, and so again an ambulance was called. This time, they found that my dad had some cracked ribs. They got him a brace that he was to wear while his ribs healed up.

Frieda had gone to see my dad on Saturday, November 1. She said he seemed fine as they walked the corridors, although he did seem a little cranky.

The next day, Frieda got a call from the hospital. They informed her that my dad was in the Emergency room and was unconscious. Details were sketchy. Frieda couldn’t sleep, being worried about him. At 1:30 on Sunday morning, she got a call saying that he had quietly passed away. Frieda isn’t sure of the exact cause but said it might have been a septic condition from being in hospital. She tells me that the medical staff made him comfortable and that he died peacefully.

Frieda had gone to my dad’s apartment to try to find a phone number for my sister or me. She couldn’t get out there till Friday due to other commitments, and that is why we didn’t hear about my dad’s death till five days later.

Now I am trying to figure out the business end of things. Frieda tells me that I am the executrix of his will, and that my sister and I are the beneficiaries. Frieda had gone to my dad’s apartment and tried to find the original will, but couldn’t locate it.

I plan to head to Tsawwassen in the next week to pack up his stuff and deal accordingly with it. I’ll have to insure my Suburban, as well as the utility trailer my dad had given me years ago when he was still talking to me.

I hope it doesn’t snow before I get down there and back. It’s about a 6-hour drive.

I’m not sure if or when/where we’ll have a memorial service. If we do, I will post an update, for anyone who knew my dad, or who knows my sister and/or me, and would like to be there.

Anyone else who’s been through the loss of a family member might have some thoughts to share. If so, please, feel free.

Anyone who has any memories of my dad, I’d love to hear them, no matter how small or large, good or bad.

To everyone who expressed their condolences on my Facebook wall and in private conversation, I say a huge thank you. I am touched by all the caring. It means a lot to me.

My dad with my son, Charles, in August 2005, in Point Roberts, WA.

^ My dad with my son, Charles, in August 2005, in Point Roberts, WA.
The last time I saw my dad, at his lot in Point Roberts, WA, in August, 2005.^ The last time I saw my dad, at his lot in Point Roberts, WA, in August, 2005.
This is how I remember my dad: wearing a mack jacket and working with wood. He was a carpenter. This picture is from 1978, at the house he built for our family.^ This is how I remember my dad: wearing a mack jacket and working with wood. He was a carpenter. This picture is from 1978, at the house he built for our family.
My mom and dad with me as a baby in 1967. I'm pretty sure he was drunk in this picture. That's one of his drunk looks.^ My mom and dad with me as a baby in 1967. I’m pretty sure he was drunk in this picture. That’s one of his drunk looks.
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Soon after I posted this, a lady I’ve known since high school, who works at the grocery store where my dad shopped, privately messaged me, saying this:
I read your post about your dad. I went up to him about 8 yrs ago and said I didn’t realize he was your dad. He told me the same thing you wrote, that he didn’t talk to you because you had too many kids. You did nothing wrong and you can’t blame yourself for this. We love our dad’s but they can be a little different…mine too.”
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Some things just make no sense. Still, life goes on. Really, I’m doing okay. I have a lot of love in my life. The absence of my dad’s love and of his life don’t change that.
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Racism/Bullies

So many are half-breeds or quarter-breeds or other more dilute breeds. My dad is Serbian and my mom is as Canadian as they get, but what is Canadian? So much mixture in that, too.

Having grown up as a blonde haired, blue eyed girl with a Serbian surname that ignorami (my plural of ignoramus) loved to mispronounce, I was the target of bullying.

Really, though, there is nothing wrong with that mix, or with any other mix, in my opinion.

The bullies of the world will always find their lame reasons for bullying.

Dogs will be dogs.

(My comment on the blog of HarsH ReaLiTy)

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My dad (little boy holding a book way up high in the back) with his family.
Serbia, circa 1940.