The Circle is Complete

The Circle is Complete

My father was my Prince Charming and I adored him.  On November 10, 2010, my precious prince quietly left this earth to spend eternity with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And he was welcomed in the arms of my mother, the reigning Queen of his heart, who passed away 15 months ago.

Daddy treated me like a princess.  He did things a prince would do for his princess. He bought me a horse when I was just 6 years old, built my brother and I the best puppet theater any child could ever want.  He loved us.  He hugged us and he told us how special and gifted we were.

He made sure we had cars to drive and he sent my brother and I to college and paid for Graduate School too.  He actually did more than many princes would do.

He was a  teacher, a mentor and a friend.

I had decided early on that I wanted to marry my prince like most little girls do. I was determine Daddy was the man for me!  When my mother broke the news that I couldn’t marry him, I was pretty devastated.  I think right then and there I made up my mind I wanted to marry someone just like the first prince charming I ever knew.  Thank God “Winters” finally came along.  (There was no pressure on him at all)

Daddy was serious and yet he was funny.  He was smart. Actually, he was really wise.  He loved music.   He loved the theater and musicals.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen Paint your Wagon, Hello Dolly and Calamity Jane.  He loved hot tea every morning and his favorite candy was licorice, circus peanuts and orange slices. He enjoyed one nice glass of wine straight out of the box with Fritos every night after work while he read the paper. Funny what you remember.

He was indeed a man of wise words and he imparted one of those wise words to a boyfriend of mine once – as said boyfriend sat in daddy’s favorite chair. When dad arrived home from work and saw my boyfriend, he said, “Son, do yourself a favor and remember you never sit in a man’s chair or park in his parking place.” That boyfriend flew out of the chair and never sat there again.

However, once “Winters” came along he was the only man in my life daddy allowed to sit in his chair.  He never once asked him to move. “Winters” always offered, but daddy always said “sit, you’re fine”.  That was his seal of approval and need I say more.

My dad was a man’s man, but had such a tender side too.  I can see why my mother fell in love with him and how they made it 50 years.

Mommy said that during the Vietnam War everyone was buying shelters, but Daddy came home with a new station white wagon instead.

He also loved good music and good food.  He loved steak. That was until he had two heart attacks and he decided he loved life more.

He was a gift to me.

For some reason when I was little I loved to call him, Dr. A. Carlin, but his middle name was Owen.  Mom said I just made it up one day out of the blue.  She said he loved it.  I have  little notes telling him how much I loved him addressed that way.  Funny what you hang onto isn’t it?

Daddy was raised in Tulsa and did not have an easy childhood. His father was an abusive alcoholic, but it did not stop daddy’s drive and passion to find God or his desire for a happy family of his own one day. I believe he choose as a child to be a different kind of man. He struggled in school academically and failed the fourth grade.  But that too did not stop him from fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian.

He was not perfect and in fact he made some pretty big mistakes in his lifetime.  But he worked hard to make up for those mistakes. He worked too hard actually and did not retire soon enough, but that is just the way things go sometimes.

After one of those big mistakes in 1979, which nearly brought him to ruin, and after several years of working almost day and night to make this business decision a good one, Daddy was at the end of his rope. While driving home he was plotting how to kill himself.  The only caveat was he was trying to figure out how he could still take care of all of us with the insurance.  The irony is that the worst decision of his life became his best, because on that May 11th day daddy wrote in daily journal, “that he gave his life to Jesus whole heartedly without any reservation to the Lord”.

I had a bible and he took it and dove in.  He marked it up and studied it up one side and down the other.  I wish I had it, but somewhere along the way it was lost.  He loved the Lord and teaching God’s word.  He even pastored a church for about 6 years while he was still running his veterinary practice at the age of 63.

Daddy did love to travel and would load us up like the Grizwalls in the motion picture “Vacation” every summer.  My brother, Scott  and I could have written that movie hands down. ” Winters” loves to tease me about the great ball of string and the corn palace. I think he is just jealous.

It is funny, I rarely if  ever heard my father swear, instead he would say “fooey”.  It was quit funny coming from a big old guy like him. He tried very hard to be a man of bravery, chivalry and honor.  Daddy was like an old sage.  He was full of knowledge and wisdom about life and all its particulars.  I looked to him for years for guidance and advice again until I got married. But he still had a wise word when the princess needed a bit of encouragement and direction.

I loved to work at his veterinary clinic as his “assistant” from the time I was just able to walk.  I helped him put on his sterile gloves right before surgery once.  I was not so helpful that day but I did deliver a kitten and I even organized a burial for one of his former cat patients after daddy went to the nursing home.  That is a story in itself…..

Daddy was an inventor.  The Sons of Thunder have his gifts. He made a rope swing for the Sons one year.  They thought he was so cool and he was.

When daddy’s memory started to go it was so unbelievable to all of us. We lived 1,000 miles away and really couldn’t gauge the situation nor its full impact.  We simply couldn’t wrap our heads around it.  One conversation I had with him in June of 2008, I told him how concerned I was about his memory loss.  I explained that he was simply not remembering and how this was affecting he and my mother.  He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said “You are describing a man in trouble and that man is me”.

So wise he was, yet moments later he could not remember our talk at all.  In fact I believe it was that same trip he asked me to leave his home and never come back.  The princess was being banished, of course moments later he had forgotten  all that too.  But not the princess.  With all his knowledge and wisdom, he could not save himself and we couldn’t  save him either.  Sadly, he was much sicker than we knew.  The effects of  dementia and mini strokes  or what ever else it was had completely impaired his short-term memory and  had taken hold.

My father and I rarely had cross words over the course of my life, but in the last three years that changed.  We had many sad and very difficult conversations. My friends would always remind me it was the “disease talking.”  I knew they were right but that didn’t really make it any easier. In August of 2008 we basically dismantled my parents’ lives together of 50 years. And we did it in less than 24 hours after getting emergency guardianship.

Putting my father in a psychiatric ward was incomprehensible to me, but that is what we had to do.  We then got dad and mom transferred to an assisted living facility for full-time care.   When the princess must lock away her prince there are really no words that can describe the grief and pain that brings.

In “the moment” he was  good!, but only  in the moment.”  Talking to him would break my heart and not talking to him broke my heart too. So a part of my heart was broken all the time.  Life is hard and in one of those ” in the moment ” conversations with Daddy, he reminded me that our “struggles make us stronger.”  My brother and I and our spouses and our children have indeed struggled this four years, but I am indeed stronger.  So if my story will bring some comfort to another then I pray God will use it.

I will so miss daddy saying “How is my girl”  and  “I am so proud of you” – his words spoke life and encouragement.  My parents sweet words of encouragement were  like a cold drink of water for a thirsty old soul

The loss of my sweet Prince Charming –  my sweet Daddy, is really unbelievable as it is for any princess.

Daddy was great with “Winters,” they had a mutual respect and appreciation.  Daddy was great with the my boys “the Sons of Thunder” and dinnertime was always very memorable.  He made them laugh and he loved to share his wisdom.  When “Winters” finally decided to write his book “Everyone Needs  A Sam” about seeking wisdom, Godly advise and being a mentor, I knew he was certainly on to something.   It seemed like a the perfect thing to do because I had been in the presence of these “Sams” since the day I was born.

To know that the “Sons of Thunder” will no longer have this man they called Papa in their life or this women that they called Mi Mi is just more than  I can bear to think about. They are simply too young to know what they have lost and maybe that is a good thing.

As “Winters”  so beautifully put it – ” The circle is now complete”.  This is a milestone in the life of  daughter and every princess when she must say goodbye to her prince forever.

But my sweet Prince Charming  is right where he is supposed to be in the arms of my mother dancing away in Heaven!  And I am certain they are busy about the work of the Lord.

So one prince is gone and one remains

And I am certain I am right where I am supposed to be with the prince that said “I do”  22 years ago. We continue to dance through the trials of life and sometimes even step on each other’s toes. The princess has no castles, no horses, no fleet of ships, not even one sailboat.

Yet we have each other and we have the Sons of Thunder.

And the legacy, and life, goes on.


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