Archive for ‘daddy memories’

December 16, 2010

>sponsored post: the best gift I give

>

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THE BEST GIFT I GIVE
Gifts, for any occasion, are difficult. Especially when giving to adults.  And it would be really easy to write about the wonderful Keurig that is still getting use that we gave my mother last year. 
But I’m not going to write about that…
In the spirit of this post, I am going to write about the annual gift my brother and I make to Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado. A wonderful organization, whom I not only do business with on a professional level, but did business with on a personal level.
In September of 2007 my father was diagnosed with late stage, Non-Hodgekins Lymphoma. And after a grueling five month fight, shortly after Christmas, his hematologist told him there was nothing left to do. He was sent home with this horrific news and hospice was at his home with in hours.
This incredibly kind, dedicated team spoke with him about his wished, and educated my brother and I about the process that was about to take place before our eyes. They were not only a phone call away, but provided us with multiple visits, making sure my father’s needs were met, coaching us on how to keep him comfortable, providing all the equipment necessary and making sure that we, his caregivers, were OK. 
The afternoon of Sunday January 27th, he passed peacefully, listening to Van Morrison, with my brother, myself and three of his close friends by his side. After I watched in disbelief his final exhale of breath, and I told him that I loved him a million and a half times, I phoned the hospice, frantically, to notify them of his death. With in 30 minutes, his nurse was at our door, did the necessary things in this situation, and offered to stay with us until the mortuary arrived. Fortunately, we were surrounded by friends and didn’t feel the need to have her there.
And while this is my only experience with a hospice situation, I just know that any person who works in hospice care is an incredibly special person. But because of the tender care we received from them during his final two weeks of life, we make an annual donation in his memory. To me, this is the best gift I give every year during this time.

In loving memory of my father, Kern Hadley Copeland III.
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September 11, 2010

>9.11

>I know every other blogger is writing on this subject today. But I feel the need to write about it too. The day that changed the country we called home. The day it occurred to me that evil does exist. The day so many lost their lives. And others risked their lives to save them.

It’s a day to reflect. Remember. Thank. A day to count blessings.

I remember this day vividly. I was working on a television show that filmed in Los Angeles. I was up bright and early to make my 8 a.m. call time. As I did every morning, I flipped on my television to catch the weather on the news and was confused as to why an action film was on every station.

Then I realized that what I was watching was real.

Not knowing what else to do, because really, what could I do. I got ready for work, glued to the television and arrived on time to a set of people in tears. Within an hour of my arrival, the Executive Producers sent us home for the day since there was so much uncertainty.

We returned to work the following day having to go through extensive security checks to enter the studio. Including bomb sniffing dogs.

The world as we knew it changed.

But September 11th marks another day in my life. In 2007 my father got his grave diagnosis of stage four Non-Hodgekins Lymphoma. My brother was with him when he received the news of his serious condition and I feel like such an asshole for not being there too because I was overly concerned with being at work. It was so ironic, for lack of a better word, that he received this news on such a dark day for our world.

While I can’t help but reflect on this day for dual reasons, I have to look at my baby girls and remember how blessed I am. I was lucky to not know anyone in the 9/11 crashes, but I know others who did. And my father’s diagnosis (and final outcome) would not have been any different had I been there or not.

I’m not being very articulate here, and I am sorry.

Today Hadley received a balloon at a fair that she accidentally let go of and it blew away. She started to cry. While I am a skeptic when it comes to our after life, heaven and hell and all that jazz, I told her she sent the balloon up to Grandpa.And for some reason when I told her that she settled down. She never met him, but somehow she knew that the balloon was going to be OK because it went to someone she loved.

So these are the things I think about on this day. What was your experience on 9/11?

August 4, 2010

>"cancer sucks" blog hop: my dad

>I discovered a Cancer Sucks Blog Hop hosted by http://www.StraightTalkJess.com that http://www.RaisingMadison.com participated in with her moving story of her bout with NHL. I was thrilled to read that she recovered beautifully.

Three years a go, almost to the day, my 59 year old father was sick. “I think it’s bronchitus” he told me on the phone. I didn’t think it was any concern as this was something he got once a year or so. I talked to him a few days later and he was still quite under the weather, complaining of sweating and that his glands were swollen. He checked into a hotel in hopes that the central air (vs. his swamp cooler) would help him sleep better. I thought this was strange, but maybe it was just the ticket.

A week or so later, his friend called me. I didn’t know her well as my father lived out of state, but I certainly knew of her. She was concerned of his health and asked me to help her to convince him to see a doctor. My father refused to carry health insurance, not that he couldn’t afford it, he just took his chances. And because of this, he didn’t go to the doctor often enough. So the persuading began. And eventually we got him to the doctor.

The doctor tested for all kinds of stuff, including the Bubonic Plague. But it seemed that they were settling on “cancer.” My father shared this with me casually, as his health was declining by the minute without us knowing. My brother jumped on an airplane to see what was going on and I was scheduled to travel there a couple weeks later.

During my brother’s visit, the doctor’s felt that dad had lymphoma and sent him to see a hematologist. They were giving some rough news. Stage 4, Non-Hodgekins T-Cell Angioimmunoblastic Lymphoma. A rare form that effects 2% of all NHL sufferers and one that really has no known, exact cure. He was to start CHOP immediately to see what happened.

And, despite the chemo, he seemed to be doing better. Until I arrived after a business trip. The day before I was scheduled to arrive at his home I talked to him on the phone and he said he wasn’t feeling well. I was worried and had no idea what was ahead of us.

I arrived to find him extremely lathargic, barely waking for any length of time. Not eating. Barely drinking. He insisted on sleeping in the basement and nearly fell coming up the stairs. It frightened me so much that I started to move him to the main level so he would no longer have to navigate the stairs, especially if he was alone. While I was moving his things up the stairs, I saw his hair all over the bed. I fell apart. I knew this was a side effect of the CHOP, but it was devistating to see. I started to cry. I knew something just wasn’t right and I called my mom for support. I knew he needed to go to the hospital, but I couldn’t convince him of it.

My mom called and insisted he go. They have been divorced for 18 years at this point, but she can certainly set him straight. He let me take him. And it was discovered that his body was backed up with toxins as he wasn’t taking the “gout” medicine properly and he was operating on 1/4 of his blood supply.

Once he was admitted, he seemed to slip into a very sleepy state. The doctors were pumping him full of fluids and blood. The put in a PIC line. Did lot’s of exrays and scans. It was frightening and the first time I was able to speak to his doctor. Who pulled me aside and told me things were not good. But to get through this crisis and plug forward.

And he did.

He seemed to be responding well to CHOP as we headed into the fall. He even made a trip to his vacation home in Las Vegas to pick up his beloved Porsche Boxter and drive it back to Colorado. It looked as though he was on the mend.

And then one day he got bad news.

The CHOP really wasn’t working. And they needed to try a new treatment. He was devistated. As was I. I took the opportunity to share with him some news I was saving for my next visit. He was going to be a grandpa. He was thrilled and I think (and hope) it made that day a little better.

The new treatment was extremely rough on his system. He seemed to deteriorate quite a bit, but his glands seemed to be decreasing in size. This was good, and the hematologist seemed hopeful at his visit the day after Christmas that I attended with him, though she suggested we look into clinical trials (which I was in the process of doing). Her treatments could only keep the disease at bay as they just don’t know much about it.

But we enjoyed that time together. Talking about babies. Getting to know his friends. It was a lovely holiday. And as I left for the airport in the taxi cab, him waving to me from his doorway, I wondered if that would be the healthiest I would ever see him again.

And it was.

A few weeks later, I got a call from a friend of his saying he was not doing well. The details he wouldn’t share with me. I was backed up with some prenatal testing, so my brother jumped on an airplane to be with him. And they went to the doctor immediately.

And the doctor told them that there was nothing else that could be done. A hospice referral was made, I was on an airplane and we were by his side, caring for him. Talking with him. Reassuring him that we would be OK. Saying our goodbyes.

And two weeks later, he exhaled his last breath in the company if his children and dear friends in his cozy home. Van Morrison playing in the background shortly after we opened a bottle of his wine. It was how he wanted it to be. I know it. It was a privelege to be a witness and to tell him I loved him as he passed.

When they took him away, it started to snow. A friend of his commented “It’s just like Kern to take off before the snow storm.” And that night there was a magnificent storm.

Cancer sucks. Period. And I would give anything to have my father back. It took him entirely too young, as it does with much younger victims. It’s not fair. To anyone.

Be sure to hug each other tight everyday. No matter how angry you might be. Cancer takes people fast. It’s an unfortunate part of life. And it sucks.

April 16, 2010

>hadley quip

>”Thank you, Big Daddy.”

We’re not sure where she got “Big Daddy” from, but it offered a good laugh.
January 27, 2010

>daddy memories #10

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Dear Dad,
Today is the second anniversary of your death and the day of your passing is still so fresh in my memory that you would think it just happened hours a go. The smell of the candle burning in your room. The bustle of people. Your last breath. All burned into my brain, even though that day was 730 days a go.
But a lot has happened in that 730 days.
Hadley, your first grandbaby, was born over 18 months a go. She is now a bubbly, giggly, busy little girl who is growing like a weed. While you never met Jonathan, she looks a lot like him in her coloring, but the shape of her nose and eyes and her scowl are all Copeland. As I watch her now on her rocking horse, wearing her rabbit sleepers and purple tutu while she watches Sesame Street, I just know that you would have been absolutely delighted and in love with her.
And as our good fortune has been with children, we are expecting another little girl. In 11 short weeks. Her 4D scan showed that she was growing well and looks a lot like her sister, however, hair could be seen. Maybe her coloring will be more like ours. We haven’t sorted out a name yet, but I am certain you would have been just as thrilled with this new bundle as you would have been with Hadley.
I talk about Grandpa Kern often and mom makes it a good point to spoil Hadley for the both of you. Your memory will live on in our house and your little grandbabies will know so much about their Grandpa, I promise you.
Another happening in the last year is that I sold the Vegas and Colorado houses. You probably would have had a small heart attack about what we sold Vegas for, but bottom line is that market tanked and will likely never rebound to where it was when you bought that house.
However, I was able to take my 50% of the proceeds and purchase my first home. In Minnesota. Crazy as it seems, Minneapolis is a thriving city and our location puts us in a public school district that ranks in the 90% of the nation. Your grandbabies are sure to get an excellent education in a safe place with lots, and lots, and lots of snow! Regardless of the weather, I think you would have been proud of my purchase and the good decision I made.
Dad, there is so much to share. I still have the days where I think, “I should give dad a call right now” and boy would we have so much to talk about. But then I remember that isn’t a possibility. And sometimes I feel angry, that you left us too soon. But I also know that you were so unbelievably ill that you are resting more comfortably now. I find comfort in knowing that.
Anyway, I guess I could ramble on forever in this small little corner of the internet, knowing full well that you can’t even read this. But if you can, know that you are never far from any of our thoughts. We talk of you daily, remember fondly, and love you dearly.
Lot’s of love,
Camma Sue
January 27, 2010

>daddy memories #9

>Today I loaded up Hadley and drove 15 minutes south to visit my mom. A good rainy afternoon activity. In the city my mom lives in there is a second hand baby/children’s goods store. It’s hit or miss when I go in there, and while they didn’t have what I was specifically looking for, my mom stumbled across a treasure. “The Velveteen Rabbit” on CD, narrated by Meryl Streep and music by George Winston. The same recording I listed to over and over and over again at bed time when I was a kid. It was a find my father made and introduced to my brother and I shortly after a big, the first of our memory, earthquake struck. For some reason, this recording at bedtime calmed and soothed us to sleep, almost as if it was an earthquake repellant.

“The Velveteen Rabbit,” also known as “How Toys Became Real,” was written my Marjery Williams and was first published in 1922. The story is lovely… The journey of a young stuffed toy rabbit as he is forgotten about by his owner, then remembered and loved so much that he became real.
I loved stuffed animals and baby dolls. I had a bedroom full of them. I would spend hours upon hours in my bedroom playing school, or doctor or any other make believe game that struck my fancy.
Every so often, usually in the morning, my dad would wake me up and tell me that he caught my teddy bear, Sampson, running around the house at night. That he was “real.” And let me tell you, I believed him. Sampson was a loved teddy bear – matted, a missing mouth, filthy. According to “The Velveteen Rabbit” rules, he was real. I still have that bear, he is packed down in storage for the moment. And while he doesn’t run a muck like my father had my little brain convinced of, he was my loved teddy bear.
As I mentioned in previous posts, my dad was a pack rat and had three garages and two houses full of stuff, including books. I let a lot of the books go, but I did find an old copy of “The Velveteen Rabbit” to save for my children. It’s a little ratty and brittle, so it’s tucked safely away. But it’s a nice thing to pull out, remember and share with my daughters about their grandpa who they were never able to meet. His memory will be kept alive through that story because of the make believe he encouraged in me.
January 26, 2010

>daddy memories #8

>How many kids had a zip line through their urban forest? That’s right… In addition to our farm and orchard, my dad put up a zip line contraption that ran from the back of the property almost to the back door of the house. Only problem was that it sagged miserably and was never really used. But he thought his contraption was pretty cool!

After my parents divorced when I was 14, my mom remodeled the back yard and the zip line went away. I don’t think it was ever missed, really, because it never ended up being as fun as my dad intended. Or it was just that I was 14, a freshman in high school and not interested in “playing” in my backyard anymore.
Just another fun contraption from my father the handy man!
January 25, 2010

>daddy memories #7 (Sunday’s post)

>Today I spent some time in our garage preparing for our move. I acquired several things that belonged to my father, but certainly not everything as he was a pack rat.

Today I sorted through his cedar chest that was packed full of my brother and my baseball/softball trophy’s, random jewelry and toys that have long since been forgotten about, and even the “labor and delivery instructions” and “how to care for baby” pamphlet from when my mom delivered my brother or I.
I also found our family’s china (fittingly, Copeland Spode). Some vintage hood ornaments. Old t-shirts of my dad’s. Locks of my brother and my hair, neatly placed in baggies and tagged. And our baby clothes, which we salvaged our first pairs of shoes and my mother promptly dressed Hadley in my Osh Kosh denim overalls.
Fortunately, my mother was there to help me determine what to keep and what to part with. I’m not a pack rat, but knowing that my father cherished these things was making me want to keep the 34 year-old locks of hair that is all dried up in a brown baggie.
So I parted with lots of things, comforted with the thought that I have so many great memories of my father that I didn’t necessarily need these tangible things to keep his memory alive. I put a “free” pile in front of our house and posted it on Craigslist. Of course I did not include the china or the brittle hair, but someone else found interest in my father’s treasures.
I’m sure, if he is up there watching me (because, really, who knows…) he was either saying “that’s valuable” or saying “let it go.” Something tells me, because that was just the kind of fella he was, it was the first comment.
But I feel freed from the stuff… Someone else is enjoying them because in my possession they would go to waste in a box in the garage, as they have for almost two years now. While I haven’t parted with all that was my father, and this certainly was never my intent, I have memories that I need to place into boxes and fill my garage of my own children. I think my father would ultimately agree, even though he was probably shaking his fist saying “THAT’S VALUABLE!”
January 23, 2010

>daddy memories #6

>

The house I grew up in Whittier California was situated on almost an acre of land. The house was toward the front of the property and the backyard was a grove of various fruit and nut trees, black berries, a bee hive, sheds and of course the chicken house.
Yep, farm animals right there in the middle of a LA suburb.
Chickens were not the only creatures my father would bring around. Rabbits, turkeys, dogs and cats also grazed our pastures. But these were not the best of the bunch…
One day, while my mom was at work, my dad brought home a goat. A goat! Clarence the goat. Clarence was the typical goat. Running a muck. Chewing everything in sight. My dad even concocted a harness that hooked to our wagon and he dragged us around the yard (poor goat).
My mother was not happy with this new member of our family, but my brother and I were smitten. However, Clarence’s stay was short lived when my mom came home from work, found that he had chewed his way threw the screen door on our backdoor and found him standing on our kitchen table.
I don’t know where Clarence went. But there isn’t a whole lot of time that passes that we don’t talk about the goat incident.
January 22, 2010

>daddy memories #5

>Another one of my dad’s fun concoctions was the pulley system in our tree. He tied a pulley at the top of our front yards very large trees (I don’t know what kind they were) and put a rope through it that reached a foot or so above the ground. At the end of each side of the rope, he looped motorcycle straps to make seats.

My brother and I would sit on each side and jump up and down. Or one of us would walk back to lift the other really high off the ground, then let go and we’d go flying up and down.
All was well and good until my brother’s buddy came over and didn’t follow the safety precautions, falling and breaking his arm. No more pulley after that incident.