Thursday, September 29, 2016

Remembering Pop...

There are many firsts that Phil and I have experienced together over the years.

On Sunday, September 18, we added losing a parent to that list.
And although we knew this day was coming, it sure doesn't make it any easier. 

My father in law, Harry Harsin, proved to be truly one of the strongest men I think I will ever know. His determination and "You just do what you gotta do" mentality, taking each day as it came...I have so much admiration for him. For my whole Harsin family. 

Pop got his miracle, just not this side of heaven. And while my heart is so happy for him, it's breaking for the ones left behind.
As I had time to sit and reflect over the past (almost) two years that my father in law fought this nasty disease we call cancer, this came to mind. 

I know we all are going to die, and truly cannot do anything about that, but it's true, we can do something about the width and depth of our lives.

Width - the quality of covering or accepting a broad range of things; scope.
Depth - intensity of emotion, usually considered as a laudable quality.

My brother in law posted about how Pop never once complained thru his suffering and how he's brought family back together again.
It's so true. I saw it first-hand. 

I've hated, absolutely hated that he was given this journey. 
I will never understand. 
And very much wished he received healing this side of heaven. 
But I can say I have seen God work in the midst of it all. 

Cancer just sucks.
I mean, there really isn't any better way to put it.
It literally sucked the life away from Pop.  
And as always, it's easy to question WHY?  
Why a man who was following the doctors orders, routine checkups and told you not only have colon cancer but cancer already metastatic to your liver.
A man who was otherwise healthy, out and about, golfing multiple times a week.
A man who had a wife, children and grandchildren who weren't ready for him to go.

So, instead of asking why this happened to him, to our family,  I'm working on "what" this is teaching us. 

It's taught us that time is precious.  My hubby, Phil, and his dad actually reconnected this summer.  And I will forever be thankful for the time they had together.  My hope is that they would serve as a reminder to get things right, simply communicate...because more often than not, the time you spend apart could very well be based on simply not knowing the "whole" story.

Make it a point to pick up the phone and call your family.  Send them a quick text.  Give them a shout out on Facebook.  Send a lettter in the mail.   Or flowers.  Or just spend a little time together.  And I encourage you to do this weekly!!! 

I can tell you that one day you will wish you did more.
I say this because Phil has said so many times over the past week that he really does have good memories of his dad...he just wished he had more. 
But, like the Priest at his service said...Now isn't the time for regrets.  Now is the time for remembering the times you DID have. 

I can tell you that I saw love at its best...on many occasions.
I think that when you know death may come sooner than later, you tend to live life differently.
I have learned that those "I do's" were put to the test and Rita stayed true in sickness and in health.

And let me just talk about Rita for a minute.
This woman loved my father in law.  Loves, would be more accurate.
It was last week that I saw the picture above for the first time (along with many others) and I just love it!

Don't get me wrong, what those with cancer have to endure with treatments and its effects is simply horrendous at times, but we often forget that the care giver, more often than not the spouse, is going through it all right with them. 
No, not physically, but emotionally and mentally.
They have to continue to be the strong ones when sometimes they are simply falling to pieces on the inside.  They have so many roles...on top of normal day to day tasks, they are the ones who are making sure appointments are attended, and often multiple ones at that...keeping track of medications, and helping with meals, and driving, and simply just making sure their loved ones needs are met.  They truly become part of the cancer care team as a whole. 

I told Rita that I truly appreciated her being that, and more, for Pop. 
It takes true strength to care for and watch your love succumb to such a nasty disease.  
I'm here to tell you that Pop knew he was in good hands...with his physicians and at home!
I'm thankful for Rita and the love and care she poured out during such a difficult journey.

The days and weeks ahead are going to be a huge adjustment for her, but I'm confident our family and her amazing friends will continue to see her through.

And about her amazing friends...can I just say WOW!?!

The few days that we were in Florida I saw friendship at its best!
Rita's friends and neighbors (who are also friends) are just simply wonderful!  I mean one came from New Jersey to simply be with her last week.  And then the night the whole family got in, they fed us all!  And it was delicious!

They were there to laugh with and share memories, but also to cry with and simply be.
Friends...we're better together. 
I sat around their house that night, just taking it all in.  
Thankful for this family and the friends gathered together.
This was the sunrise the morning of Pop's was also the first day of fall.  And I was reminded that we are in a time of change.  And sometimes change can be hard.  And sometimes death is hard.

Are we all happy Pop isn't suffering anymore?
Does it make it any easier that he's no longer with us?
Absolutely not!

But, like fall, death has come.  And it's going to take a while, a few seasons, for everyone to start to see the beauty that getting through this season brings.  When we'll start seeing life through the legacy Pop has left behind.  I think I've shared this before, but even in the Psalms we are reminded that we "walk thru the valley of the shadow of death" - I don't think there will be anything quick or easy about these next seasons, but we do know that we will not walk it alone.  

At Pop's service, it started with the military honors and let me just say there was not a dry eye in that chapel.   Once the flag was opened and the Taps started, there was just a still silence that overcame the room.  We were then moved into the larger area of the church because so many people came to show their respects.  One of Pop's friends spoke and it was just such a good mixture of "who" Pop was and what he did, but more importantly, the kind of man he was.  He reminded us that my father in law was simply a good man.  One who could be chatting it up with the grounds crew on the golf course one minute and then the next, sitting with the elite having a drink and talking about the game.  He didn't care who you were or what your status was - he was the same to all!  
One week to the day of Pop passing away, Arnold Palmer did, too.  Mr. Palmer was one of the "elite" my father in law knew.  When we heard the news of his passing, Phil said, "Well...I bet they are playing one heck of a game together today!" 

I learned, or more so am reminded, that is really is all about family!  We may not have it all together, but together, we have it all!

My Harsin family is a family who can go years without "all" being together and still pick right back up where they left off.  In the 13 years I've been a part of the family, that's how it's been!  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  But I think everyone would agree that despite the circumstances, it was amazing to have everyone, the WHOLE family, together for a few days.  

They ARE better together!
 And what an amazing family they are! 

There were several times over the course of our few days with everyone that I couldn't help but think that Pop would be in his glory with everyone there.  The laughter, the joking, the food, the drinks...the love!  It taught me that THIS needs to happen more.  And not just on occasions that make you have to come together.  But the coming together just because!

There's so much more I could say, but more than anything I am just so proud of my father in law. He taught me that even if you have cancer, cancer doesn't have to have you.  YOU can still choose your attitude!  For almost two years, he continued to fight, never complaining, and lived life!  
I'm proud of how he was determined cancer wouldn't win. 
And I'm here to tell you I don't think it did.

I believe love won.

I believe he was at peace and happy with the legacy he is leaving behind.
I believe he heard every word that was spoken to him before he took his final breath.
I believe he knew he was loved and prayed for.

Be like Pop Harsin.
Live a life with width and depth.

Until we meet again...xox

1 comment:

  1. An absolutely heartfelt and loving tribute! Jenny, you have the biggest heart of anyone I have ever known! I love you very much and am so very proud to be your dad!