I had been cleaning up some previous post on, 6/24/12, and was really in the groove! There was one, however, that I had inadvertently submitted which I wasn’t ready for. For those of you new to this blog, it is important to note that reading, Found part 1, is key in understanding Pt 2. I mean, right? I wrote pt 2 not to long after pt one, but was procrastinating editing pt 2 for release. So while I was in the groove of updating my post, adding picture, and tags, I “hit the wrong button”, and submitted Pt 2.
I caught my error (wanna bet), in releasing the 2nd part not long after submitted, and discovered that I had to send the story to the trash to get it removed from the blog site. I did so thinking that I could retrieve it sometime in the future, when I was ready to face some things, and most importantly, no one would see the story. Yet. Because even 1.5 years later…
Imagine my surprise when I got a text from my little sister, say that she liked my story, Found 2. My stomach churned, my heart sank; you know… all the real terrified emotions, because I wasn’t ready yet.
Sometimes things are an accident, but then again… There will be errors, and they are mine. I will do a quick edit to catch what I can, and will continue to rinse it out over the weeks. To the folks named in the story. I hope you are not offended; and I just want to say, thank you for the part you played. You all are my heros….especially my wife, son, family, and friends; who have always been there.
I had thought about how I would feel about this moment for decades. Now it was finally here, and I wasn’t sure what to do, or how to feel. Hollow, was what I felt, but it was not how I had envisioned this moment to be. Previously when I had considered the years lost, the anger, and frustration was overwhelming. I found I had thought about this topic often, and considered the “tell-all” story that would reveal my pain and bitterness. As if I was the first person to ever feel pain.
It was a sunny day out on the ice in Michigan‘s lower peninsula, the ice was tough, the snow was crunchy, I had fish in the bucket, and a short walk to the house after my gear was put away. So, after sitting in my ice shanty for a few minutes; allowing these new feelings to wash over me. I did not have long to sit and contemplate, because the holiday season was in full swing, and the next party was not far away, and new plans had to be made. This being the case; I sought out my wife to break the news, and seek her comforting words. I had called my Aunt who lived nearby, and we could only feel shock together. My wife asked what I would like to do.
“I feel like I need to be with a group of people mourning, this guy’s passing, but there is nowhere to gather. And maybe I can find out some answers that I have never been able to find out. Like who was Ron Hill?” The next morning found me calling the man who become the executor, and my step-brother, Mike. “You don’t have to come down, there is not much here.” Mike responded when I asked if he needed me to come down. After an hour or two of planning, and preparation. I left for a little town in Ohio, called Miamisburg. On my way down I talked to Doug again, to discuss possible arrangements, of places I could stay.
“I’m sure you could stay at his apartment if you wanted.” Doug had said. “The rent is up to date.”
“Didn’t he die in there?” I asked hesitantly. Not sure why I was feeling awkward. Maybe because I thought there were rules or laws preventing people from crossing the tape after a death occurred in an apartment. “Just on the couch.” Doug said. “You don’t have to sit on it if you don’t want to.” My eyebrows lifted VERY high, and I nodded in understanding, but I don’t think Doug heard me over the phone. On my way down to Miamisburg, I was in conversation with Mike, and Doug periodically. Each cautioned me that care be taken on the trip, and that we would work together once we had arrived. The place I was driving to was a sports bar named “T.J. Chumps”.
“Why am I driving here?” I asked Mike.
“It’s right across the street from where you dad lived.” He answered. “In fact you can see it his window, here.” **Insert picture here**He continued. “I might just go across the street and get a beverage. Have myself a break.” We shared a laugh over that statement, which helped break the tension.
“In four more hours, I’ll have one with you.” I said. I will just follow the GPS and see where it leads me.” I finished before breaking the connection. Then I turned up the music and rolled on down the highway. Road trips have always been a good way for me to let my mind work through problems. And the relationship Dad and I shared was one topic of focus whenever I had the opportunity to drive long distances. These thoughts were continually broken whenever my Torch would light up indicating that someone was looking for me. this phone was turning into more of a blessing then I ever could have suspected. Family, and friends were now able to reach out and touch me like never before. All of them expressing concern, and condolences. To also receive them from my 11 year-old son in the form of a personal call, or text was very special indeed.
As I neared the destination, Mike advised me to look for a guy wearing a faded blue jean button down style shirt.
“Great, I’ll be wearing a brown button down shirt with blue-gill embroidered over my heart.” It was funny, but I thought I COULD hear Mikes’ eyebrows rise.
Finding the place. I pulled in, killed the engine, and walked across the lot while looking around trying to imagine where my Dad had lived. I entered the bar, and spotted Mike, right away. Not by his shirt color, but by how much he resembled his mother. It was amazing to me that I could even remember Mary. I met her upon my first visit with my Dad, and then again when I had gone through Texas a couple of months before I was to be inducted into the Army. She was a very sweet woman, who had died unexpectedly from an aneurism of some kind, at an early age. Leaving my dad, completely lost and without a reason to be.
My wife and I were on a vacation when this happened, and didn’t know it occurred until our return. Once I knew, however, my wife helped me pack for about a weeks stay, and I went to spend time with my Dad. It was during this visit that he first shared with me his thoughts on death.
“I’m ready, anytime.”
He also shared with me one of his greatest hobbies. Pistol shooting. When we found ourselves at the shooting range, I thought it funny in a weird twisted way that he shared his desire to die, the day before he handed the guy a pistol who has spent the last 20 years bitter, and angry, at abandoning him. I have punched him a thousand time, and killed him hundreds, but I never saw him put the gun in my hand. I could only smile at the humor of it as I squeezed a few rounds into the target.
Anyway, the introductions out-of-the-way, we grabbed a table out-of-the-way, over to where, “Ron liked to sit.” Mike had said. It seemed appropriate. And began discussing the progress he had made in the task at hand.
“There is not a lot there, so this shouldn’t take to long.” Mike had said by way of indicating the amount of stuff in his apartment. We were just about through this portion of the conversation when Doug had arrived. Upon first appearance, Doug looked to be a powerfully built man, which from what I learned later was from extensive time in the gym he owned not far from “Chumps”, and pleasant as could be. It wasn’t long and we became fast friends, laughing and sharing stories, as I knew they had with my Dad only days before, because this seemed to be the way of this group of friends.
It wasn’t long, and people began to come over and express their condolences to Doug; who had asked for my dad to be in his wedding as best man, and to Mike who all the group of folks had known was Dad’s step-son. In this first instance the person was one of the wait staff who took great joy in serving Dad iced tea, because he gave up drinking long ago. I forget who introduced me to this particular waitress, but with the surname, “Hill”, she took a risk, and asked if I was related to Ron.
“He was my Dad.” I responded simply.
“Your $h!@#$^& me? He had a son?” She asked, clearly surprised. The response caused quite a deal of mirth around the table, and generated a lot of interest. So, for the rest of the evening, people would swing over to the table Doug, Mike, and I occupied, and sat in on the tale that was unfolding. The question; “You’re $@#ttin’ me?” Rang out many times that night. With many folks asking if I was going to be around for a bit. Because they wanted to hear the story.
I did stay on for a couple more evenings, and whenever I walked into, “Chumps”, I never paid for anything. Every member of the wait staff had a favorite story, some of them quiet personally inspiring.
“He got me this job.” One woman had said. “It was such a perfect opportunity for me.” She continued. Then she told me the story about his Facebook profile picture, and her part in it.” We had such good times here. He was like the “Norm” of “Chumps.” Leyata even gave me a nice framed photo to take home with me. A simple caring act, that I hope never to forget.
“Your Dad helped me get elected to my job.” One man said. I will make some calls, and hopefully get this process sped up for you. I enjoyed your Dad’s friendship.”
Stories such as these were exactly what I was looking for. I could feel my heart start to swell with pride at all of the good stories I was hearing. THIS was why I was here. To be healed.
Doug took me across the street to Dad’s apartment that night, and said we would meet for breakfast in the morning. After saying our goodbyes, I just walked around the apartment…looking at my Dad’s life like a spectator. I walked from room to room. Trying to hear the ghost of my father. To feel his presence. I walked to the couch on which he died. I sat on the chair next to it. Listening. Feeling. Smelling the cologne scented room fresheners that he had in the apartment.
The last conversation I had with my Dad, was just before the November election. He was all fired up about the direction the country was going. So when I looked at the book on the kitchen counter, I wasn’t surprised to see the newest book by our former President. Next to it was a magazine with the former President face on the cover. I opened each of them up and thumbed through a couple of pages. The act of touching his belongings was not going to bring him back. I had no misgivings about this for sure. I enjoyed hearing the good stories about my dad. Stories I would expect his friends to carry with them; as my friends about me, as I carry with me. I thought about legacy. And what it is we are meant to do on this Earth. I thought about one of my favorite book in the Bible. Ecclesiastes. And how everything is just toil, and the only thing we can do is give glory to God, because without which, our work IS pointless. So to find God’s fingerprint, is to find the point.
I wish I could say I had that conversation about Ecclesiastes at that moment. At the time however, I was lost, and staying up to late looking for answers. Or more specifically, hoping the answers would find me. I had my Torch. But I fell asleep before I could light it.
After that first night, I paid attention to how my dad’s friends talked. And I discovered that they really respected one another. They cared about one another’s opinion, and they used words that honored one another. I honestly felt I had been transported to another time… like knights or something, because of the way they referred to each other. And they included me into this group. These people genuine cared for one another, took care of each other, looked out for each other. Being included in a group like this…my dad’s group. Hearing his stories, or stories involving him, by his people gave me the greatest gift I could have ever expected to receive. To know what was like to be a “Hill”. To have an identity, that was steeped in history. My father’s history.
The pastor of the church I attend gave a sermon in february, in which he was asking “Where are you?” To Adam, and Eve. He made the connection to parents and their rebellious children, and the tendency to try reaching out, to find them. Because after all, isn’t that all we really want; to be found?
I was talking at the table my last night in Ohio, and spoke of the happy ending to a long, sad, tale that I had never expected to find. The role, these people; Doug, Mike, Terry, Anna, Gavin, Leyeta, Kelly, Andy, Jim, Chris, Jaime, Gonzo, Fred and the many others whose words, and prayers, and thoughts helped write the last chapter of a story I can finally close, and move on. I just need to keep in mind that I need to live a good life so I can go to heaven, so that I can get to know him as we are really meant to be, without all the hang ups we aquire in this life. Because if we had a thousand more years together in these lives, we would never have become closer than we had a week before he died. And, oddly, I have never been so close to him, or learned more about him than these weeks since he died.
GOD is GREAT!
Pastor Jim Walker sermon of date?
Big idea is that God wants a personal conversational relationship with us.
Where are you?
Rebellious children leave their parents, and the hurt that is associated with the absence lingers, but the love is still there. I had a rebellious parent leave, the hurt of the absence lingers, while the love had to be built, but is there.