Friday, February 12, 2010

November 2009 In Memory Of Daddy

Jimmy Lee Thacker
June 20, 1946-Nov.6, 2008

Tonja and Dwight
Nov. 8, 2008

Mama and Daddy on their wedding day
July 1, 1971

The Thacker Family
Mama, Daddy, Tonja, Jami, Jeremy, and Adam

Group shot at the museum
Dec. 2007

Daddy helping Chase with his sunglasses
Christmas 2007

Mama and Daddy
Christmas 2007

Daddy, Patrick, and Chase at the airport headed to Maine
June 2008

Daddy burying Patrick in the sand
Old Orchard Beach
June 2008

Daddy in Rehab after spending 7 weeks in the hospital
August 2008

Tonja and Dwight's wedding
November 8, 2008

I started this post on Nov.6, 2009 and have went back and forth for a couple of months journaling a little each time. This is a private post about my Daddy mostly and the feelings I have for him. He was a precious man who was not perfect by any means but is missed terribly by his family. He was 62 when Amyloidosis claimed his body. Amyloidosis is a rare disease affecting 8 in 1 million people. It occurs when abnormal proteins form in the blood that damage vital organs. The first organ affected was his kidneys which is one of the better options because dialysis is available. Had his heart been the organ affected his time would have been much shorter. There are 3 types of Amyloidosis. Primary which occurs alone and for no known reason, Secondary which is a result of another condition, and Familial which is caused by a inheredited gene. He was diagnosed with Primary Amyloidosis in March 2007. At his age, chemo was the only chance of remission and it failed three times. The prognosis was unknown because of the experimental chemo. There was no actual cause of death but we assume the dialysis just wasn't enough to make up for the damage caused by the abnormal proteins.

My Mom become a young widow at 55. He had 2 daughters, 2 sons, 5 grandsons, and 2 son-in laws that loved him dearly. We talk of him often and laugh and cry equally the same because...well, you'll get that part after reading the post. Our lives will never be the same..never. However, we would do it all over again.

When A Year Flies By...Slowly

Yeah, time flies when your having fun but what about when you're not having so much fun? The last year has been mostly fun but today marks the anniversary of my daddy leaving us which makes for a loooonnnngggg year. I think I will forever remember the last year he was with us, the last holidays and birthday and all those lasts, but the truth is...memories indeed fade and I fear that. I am not posting this for sympathy or for any other reason other than to admit I miss my daddy and I want to remember him for the moment. This will be lengthy and even though I don't mind others reading it, obviously, I am doing this for myself and for my children. This is the first time I have put my thoughts down so feel free to skip this post, I have no outline, no deadline, no minimum requirements and will write as time allows and as the memories come to me. You know, when thinking of my daddy, it's hard to laugh without crying and hard to cry without laughing. That's my feelings of him in a nutshell.
Now, crack that shell and there's a whole lot of Daddy going on.

The week he passed is somewhat of a blur and it helps just recounting my steps, it feels like I missed something. He had been in the hospital for a few days, it was the third time in 3 months but he was only there for 4 days and it was a breeze compared to the previous stays. The doctors were baffled and all seemed well, I mean the disease of course was still there but nothing new was discovered. This was the third time he had went into respiratory distress but no one knew what had triggered it and it was so mild that he didn't have to be put on the ventilator...again. It's a good thing too, because he told my mom on the way to the hospital "no more ventilator, if I can't talk when we get there, you'll have to tell them, no more." He could talk when they arrived and he told them himself. However, he only needed oxygen this time and recovered easily. I remember walking in to see him, coffee in hand, and he looked disappointed to me. This was the first time I realized, he was ready, waiting, and actually anticipating his departure from this world. I stood there thinking "he thought this was it." Then he blurted out "you gonna give me my coffee or stand there and hold it?" Hahaha, he loved his coffee and I miss getting it for him. I remember growing up there was never a cold coffee pot at our house if daddy was home and we hated to make coffee, day after day we made coffee, over and over we fussed whose turn it was. To this day, I don't like making coffee, actually, I like to pretend I don't know how.

Well, he came home on Friday, October 31, just in time for Halloween ( this is where I get my love for candy). We visited him for the last time on Sunday, Nov.2. What did we do? Laughed, ate candy, played with the kids, ate candy, others came to visit, ate candy, moved a refrigerator, ate candy, played with Lincoln logs, ate candy....we dug through halloween candy picking out all the good stuff like a bunch of kids. I remember my dad was complaining about the time change and Obama. He was not an Obama fan, no siree. It was getting dark and he gathered some movies for the kids to take home and we hugged and kissed everyone bye. He always, always said "I love you." Even though that was the last time we saw him, it wasn't the last time we talked. Nope, ever since he was diagnosed I called him and my mom twice a day, once ion the morning and once at night. That Wednesday was no different. I called and talked to my mom first, she was making chicken enchiladas, a recipe my dad had torn out of a magazine the day before. I chatted with her a bit and then she handed the phone to him and immediately I realized he was short of breath. I asked if he was OK and he straightened up and acted as if everything was fine. This was normal for him, he hid his sickness well from the kids and grandkids, he would always act fine when we were around. We talked about the upcoming weekend which was scheduled to the max as it was, little did we know it would become much busier. My sister was getting married on Saturday at 2:00 and
Alabama was playing LSU at 2:30...see this was the problem we had at the time..."What are we gonna do?"...I asked. "Well, we can't put a ballgame before a wedding." dad said. "Uh, no...we aren't, just 30 minutes later..the wedding will be over but we still got the reception...can you bring a TV?"...I asked. "Oh, yeah...that's right...yeah, I can bring a TV."...he chuckled. Then we talked about a boat, he was thinking about buying a fishing boat...he wanted to take the kids fishing. I remember he was so chatty about random things and I had a migraine coming on. Most of the time, he didn't feel like talking but he was in an unusually talkative mood and we talked for 20 minutes before i told him I was getting a migraine and needed to go...I had to say it like 3 times before he finally said "Ok, I'll let you go get rid of your headache, but mama wants to talk at you again for a minute. I love you and take care of the boys." Then he handed the phone to my mom as he told her to make it short, I had a headache. That was it. My migraine hit me hard at about 8 that night and during the pain I thought of my dads sickness and how I could understand that at some point the pain gets unbearable, as my migraines do, and you just want to go....go home. After the migraine passed, I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned and every time I dozed dads face came to me and I would jump and wake up remembering that I was telling him something, the same thing over and over, I kept repeating something to him but couldn't remember the words. This happened at least 4 times, then the phone rang. I knew it. "That's daddy." I jumped up, grabbed the phone but it wasn't daddy, it was a lady that lived down the road from them. "Jami? This is Linda. Your dad is bad and we have called the need to get here." "Let me talk to mama." "She's upset, honey." "LET ME TALK TO MAMA!" She handed her the phone and I said.."tell me"..."he's gone, Jami, he's gone." So calm as a cucumber, I called a sitter and we were on our way within minutes...I knew it...all night...I knew what was I telling him? I told Randy all the way to Ashville, I was telling him something...what was I telling him!! He was still in the car when we got there. See, he couldn't sleep either and was actually hooking a new microwave up over the stove at 1:00 a.m. My mom woke up and told him he was crazy and needed to get some sleep, they had to leave in a few hours to go to dialysis. He said he couldn't sleep and would finish hanging the microwave if someone would help him, hinting her way. She got tickled at him and said she was going back to bed and he needed to get some rest. She says she can still seeing him standing in the kitchen grinning when she realized what he was doing at 1:00 a.m. It was 3:00 a.m. when he went to wake her and said "We gotta go, I can't breathe again." she jumped up, got dressed, grabbed a few things, and headed out the door ( this was the 4th time, they had become pros). He was sitting on the doorsteps and asked if she would pull the car closer and he walked to the car. She was nervous and couldn't get the car in gear, he put his hand on top of hers and put the car in reverse. She asked him twice if he was OK and he said yes but for her to hurry. He laid his head back and was looking out the window when she asked for the last time... "Honey, are you OK?" This time he simply said..."yes". 10 seconds later she stopped at a stop sign and his head fell forward. That was it. He was gone...gone home. She pulled over at the next house and they never got a pulse or any signs of life. They called the ambulance and offered resuscitation but my mom said "no, he didn't want that...let him go." He was still in the car when we arrived, I went inside and saw my mom first. All she could say was "I am sorry", all I could do was assure her that he was ready. But still, it bothered me that I couldn't recall what I had said to him in my dream. I walked to the car, opened the door, saw his face. and it came out..."It's OK daddy, go, go. It will be so peaceful, daddy, go, you can go." THAT WAS IT! I had told him that same thing over and over every time I dozed off and his face came to me. I smiled, kissed his forehead, and said "Told you!" Oh, he looked so peaceful...I know it sounds trite but he looked like he had fallen asleep...Praise the Lord! The disease he had was horrible and increased suffering was to come, bad suffering, then hospice, then waiting. He was spared all of this and simply fell asleep.

All of a sudden we realized...there was a wedding in 2 days, family members were at the airport headed for Alabama, there was a baptism on Sunday. Now, a funeral. That's pretty much where the blur began and lasted through the weekend.

So, home was the next stop. Home meaning the place I grew up...the place my Mom and Dad built before kids...the place I know best...the place where Mama and Daddy always were...the place that would never be the same. That was an unexpected blow. Simply walking in the house literally took my breath away. I couldn't breathe. I felt better outside and would go there just to get air. That part has gotten better, I mean it will never be the same but it gets easier. At least a year later I don't forget he won't be there. A couple of months after he passed I remember driving quietly, absorbed in my thoughts, looking forward to seeing my Mom and Dad because it had been awhile...then I remembered. "Shit!" is what I said out loud and that is what I meant. For a few short seconds I thought I would see him there again. It really ticked me off that my mind had tricked me like that. Daddy would find that amusing. He had such a witty sense of humor.

Next was the funeral home. Ugh. It was no fun but it was nice to shop for him...I guess. Do your kids a favor and plan your funeral before you go. I know it's hard and no one enjoys it but it has to be done and no better time than NOW. This is one thing I could have totally skipped. I mean who cares really at this point what songs are played or what order things are done in. We were in no condition to make decisions and honestly I don't remember but maybe 5 minutes of the entire funeral process, for real. I have no idea who was there or who spoke to me or what was said. I have no idea.

Next stop, the dry cleaners. Yep. See, my Mom had her mother of the bride dress and my Dad's father of the bride suit pressed for my sister's wedding. It was to be ready that day. No, we didn't have to figure out what he would was pressed and ready.

Next stop. Florist. This part literally made me sick. The smell of funeral flowers. That smell. You know. It's a distinctive smell. I hate it. "Do you want a boutineer?" asked the lady. No, he has one. He wore the one ordered for him for the was ordered and ready.

Next stop. Home. Home meaning where I live now. Where my two kids are. Where my two of my Daddy's granchildren were. This was not easy and something you don't get to practice beforehand. Of course Chase was fairly simple. "Paw Paw went to be with Jesus." He said "OK" and never once asked anything but still talks about Paw Paw and remembers his laugh. Chase can laugh just like him. I don't know exactly how but something amazing goes on with kids when someone close dies. Chase just acted like it was no big deal. He loved his Paw Paw and asked for him and called him on the phone and ran to him when we visited. The first thing he would say is " Where's PawPaw?" But never again. He has never asked where he is but if you ask him he says " He is with Jesus!" Patrick on the otherhand. Oh, dear. He adored his Paw Paw. We waited as long as we could wanting normal to remain as long as it could for him. We told him. He thought we were joking and laughed. He refused to believe us until I broke down and in my tears promised him I would never joke about that. He never onced cried in front of us. He did the same as I did and at times would forget he was gone. He asked a lot of questions and I think he went through a normal grieving process. He asked to sing a song at the funeral. This shocked the stew out of me but I wasn't about to tell him no. He wanted to sing a song he had sang to Paw Paw a couple of months earlier that he had learned at VBS. Paw Paw had told him he liked this one particular song the best. This was one last thing Patrick could do for his Paw Paw and he did it. How brave. How sweet. Below is a short version of the song he sang.

Jesus made a promise to always be my friend. To be with me forever with love that never ends. So I will believe with all of my heart. I will believe will all of my soul. I will believe, I will believe, wherever I go.
you ask me how much does God love me..I'll say...deeper than the ocean, wider than the sea.
So I will believe with all of my heart. I will believe with all of my soul. I will believe, I will believe wherever I go

Next stop. Wedding. Now this was quite the blur. I do remember taking our first family picture and thinking how different it felt standing around Mama sitting alone in a chair instead of paired with her husband of 37 years. And what it must look like through the camera looked as it felt..Daddy wasn't there. Instead, his picture was framed on a table to the side of us, barely visible to most. It was the first thing we noticed when the wedding pictures came back. Sneaky thing got in some of the wedding pictures afterall. You can't cry without laughing and can't laugh without crying. Daddy had planned and been given permission to skip his usual Sat. dyalisis the day of the wedding so he wouldn't be so drained afterwards. We truly think had he made it to the wedding and skipped the dyalisis as planned he would have passed shortly after the wedding or maybe the next day and that...oh, that would have been heart wrenching especially for my sister knowing it was because of her wedding that he skipped a much needed dyalisis. We believe we were granted favor that day and are so thankful. Our Daddy would have refused his death to play out like that if he had a say so.

Next. The funeral and two baptisms. No, I don't think these things collided by accident. My sister and her new husband, Tonja and Dwight, were saved after attending a church they had been visiting. The visiting was a result of an invitation by a coworker at Dwight's new job in Trussville. The new job was the result of filling out an application at a business he passed on the way to visit my Dad in the hospital. Do you get it? Some may call it far fetched but it's clear to me that my Dad's sickness was possibly directly involved in the events that led to two souls being saved. Call me nuts...I don't care. Anyway, I think it's pretty awesome that the day my Dad was honored and his body laid to rest is the same day his oldest daughter and her husband publically professed Jesus Christ as their savior. The baptisms had been planned for weeks. They chose it to be one of the first things they did as husband and wife. Nope, no accident here.

The funeral was just that... a funeral. I do not remember much and my Mom had done most of the planning. I remember being really calm and cloudy. The grave site was the same. Surreal is the best way to describe it.

The next few days and weeks were tough as Thanksgiving approached and Chistmas right behind it. We again laughed while eating cornbread dressing when we remembered back to June. It was his 62nd birthday and Patrick had decorated the whole house with a pirate theme, made goody bags, and had party favors. We had planned dinner for him and since his appetite wasn't good we let him tell us what he wanted to eat and whatever he wanted that's what we would have. Well, wouldn't you know it. He wanted cornbread dressing and butterbeans. He had his Thanksgiving in June...we just didn't know it then. Also, my parents have almost always waited until the last minute to buy Chrismas but no this year. They started in October and all the grandchildren received a gift on Chrismas Eve that PawPaw had chosen.

Next. Seeing his name in stone. This was by far the worst and still is the worst thing for me. I put it off for as long as I could but my Mom wanted me to see if it was OK, otherwise I may have never seen it. I had to force myself to look at it. I glanced quickly , then cried harder than ever. I haven't went back and don't care to. That was it for me. I refuse to think of him as there and when I go I feel as if I am confirming he is. My Mom feels the same way and neither of us feel guilty about it. I will go back, eventually, to aknowledge his passing from this life to life eternal but not anytime soon.

As anyone who has lost a loved one knows, some days are OK and some days really stink. I don't pretend to be the only one who has ever lost a dear Daddy, there are many who have lost family members in a lot more tragic ways than I have and I can't imagine their pain. It is a sad thing and even sadder is watching my mother who has lost her mate after so long and at such a young age. Time does teach one how to handle the changes more appropriately but the ache to me increases with each day. I am grateful to have experienced a loss such as this and do not count it grief but a blessing. I had a great relationship with my Daddy and through his life and death I have become closer to Christ and I can now genuinely sympathize with those experiencing loss and I am much better equipped for service to the Lord and others.

Thank you, my sweet Daddy.


  1. oh Jami...what a sweet and very fitting tribute to your daddy.
    I did not know him, but through this post, I feel I got to know a little more about him...
    thank you for sharing your heart. You have such a way with words.

    love you!

  2. That is beautiful Jami. I think you have done a wonderful job telling your father's story. Your Daddy was a sweet man, an I miss him for you all. I did not know about Tonja and Dwight's baptismal story! How beautiful. God is an awesome God. :)
    I love you.