Something lost from my dad is returned to me in his last hours.
|Disclaimer: Please respect these raw feelings as I struggle to process my dad's death.
December, 3rd 1926 ~ February 10th, 2014.
We were five siblings. The first born was a son, and Dad nicknamed him Chip, as in chip off the same block. (No surprise there) Sometimes Dad called him LJ.
The second born was another son. Dad called him “Warch,” pronounced Warsh, a shortening of our last name. I always thought it sounded detached and cold.
Two years later, my sister. He called her “Sis, but never “Sissy.” Typical and not extraordinary.
Four years later, me. My nickname was buśka, pronounced Bushga. Or shortened to Bush. It’s a Polish endearment.
Five years later, a third son. Nicknamed “Tiger.” The nickname sounds boring.
Obviously, I had the best nickname. One I cherished.
My sister joked with my dad. “When Anne grows up will you call her a tree?”
My memory is mostly black holes, but it must have been around the year 2000. Maybe Dad was already slipping into Alzheimer’s disease. However it came up in conversation, buśka was spoken of.
My dad said, “I don’t remember calling you that. And I don't know what it means."
"You always told me it meant darling or sweetheart." I struggled to calm the quiver in my voice.
Dad said, "I don't know why I ever would have called you by that name."
And he crushed me. My dad was stoic, and displays of emotion were discouraged. The one special oddity between us was my nickname. And he forgot it?
On his death day, he gripped my hand with surprising strength and called me buśka.
So, in the end, I have something returned that he took away. And, in all my 56 years, I had one tender moment. Don't tell me to remember that moment. Don't tell me how to grieve.