Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spiritual Sunday - thoughts of Dad

Warning - very long journal post. Feel free to click "mark as read"

Jose Isauro Ramon Ferran Jr

August 7, 1944 - March 29, 1981

Yes, you read that right, my dad died at age 36. Myocardial infarction. Or in regular people terms, a heart attack. He had had one about a month earlier, and was to be taking it easy, but this one was a big one. They don't even think he had time to take a pill or get to a phone to call for help.

A little background. My parents had been separated for several months and their very ugly divorce was final that January. I was 14 years old, my brother was 17, my younger sister was 3 and then baby sister was, well, a baby, not a year yet. We came home from a visit to Springville and Mom's parents to a phone call. Wow. How does one prepare for that? I had just spent Saturday with him. Our weekend visit. He mentioned he wasn't feeling well, but when you're 14, you don't really pay much attention to anyone else, so I didn't even process it or think about it. A 14 year old is thinking strictly of herself. And I was still emotionally wrapped up in the divorce, losing our home, moving to a new neighborhood,new ward and still adjusting to the fact that my parents were really divorced. Not the best mentally. Am I thinking about anything else? Nope.

We were told that it hit hard and fast. There is comfort in that. He went quick and likely without pain. What's not cool is that no one found him until Sunday night. Not cool at all. My brother freaked as any 17 year would do, and headed out for a walk. At night. In the dark. In the now snowing cold. My aunt (Dad's sis) came to get me and we went to Dad's apartment. Just sitting. Numb and in shock. And cold. Lot's of crying. Dad had recently returned to the religion of his childhood and was a very devout Catholic. His priest, Father Mearsman, was there. I remember him talking to me, but not what he said. The coroner is there and they are going to take out the body now. Father Mearsman suggests I be taken home before they do that.

Aunt Rosie takes me home, brother still not there. Now concern for him. Where is he? His best friend is called and he and his dad found my brother at some baseball fields. Dad and he spent a LOT of time at the fields. Dad loved it, brother hated it. But somehow, that is where his walking took him.
Now have everyone home. It's snowing and cold. I have begun shaking uncontrollably. I think shock and cold core body temperature have now overcome me. I get a priesthood blessing and immediately, the shaking stops.

Next day, we didn't go to school, instead a lot of sitting in the living room watching the snow fall. And on the TV was the attempted assassination of President Reagan. Over and over again, the footage. Who freakin cares? MY DAD IS DEAD!
Funeral plans are made, but since Mom and Dad are divorced, Grandma F and his siblings are making the arrangements. Probably just as well.

March 31st, there is a viewing in Springville. That's where Mom and Dad grew up. They allowed us kids to go in alone and see him before everyone else. Some time to adjust and be alone. He looked exactly as he did when he was alive. EXACTLY. My Dad always had a stray eyelash on his cheek, and he did lying there in the casket as well. Brother pinned a boutonniere on Dads's suite lapel. His hands were wrapped around a rosary. I didn't understand that, but it seemed to fit with who Dad was the last couple of years. Didn't bug me. Family starts coming in. Lot's of crying. My Uncle gives my brother a bullet. "Bite down in this, and don't cry". They're a tough breed, those Ferran's. I have learned alot about them since Dad's been gone. My Grandmother had been through more than a good little Hispanic catholic girl ever should have been, and I respect my family heritage. I now understand the "bite the bullet". I didn't then, but I do now. I love them.

April 1 is his funeral. A regular Catholic mass administered by Father Mearsman. He happened to be the priest for the Utah State Prison. Dad was serving on the Utah State Parole Board and so they were close working friends as well as Father Mearsman being Dad's spiritual advisor. I didn't get any of it. It was in Latin for most of it, so not only did I not understand the language most of the time, but the ceremony itself was a completely foreign. I just knew that MY DAD WAS GONE.

Limo ride to the cemetery. I don't particularly care to ride in limo's any more. No allure for me there. Cold at the cemetery, but Father Mearsman points out a very interesting thing. The cemetery where my Dad was buried overlooks the valley that he grew up in. And to the south is the mouth of Spanish Fork canyon. At the mouth is a cross monument dedicated to Father Esclanate, the Spanish Priest who traveled/settled this particular area. That would mean a TON to my Dad. He was proud of his heritage, he was proud of his religion. Every time I visit the cemetery, I look towards the canyon and find the cross.

Don't remember much after that except that when we got a box of his stuff, and I could smell him, the pain cut right to my very core. Unless you have lost a close one, it's hard to explain or define that feeling that simply smelling them again can have.

It's been 28 years today. I still miss him. For awhile, I deluded myself that he wasn't really dead. I built an entire fantasy that he faked it, and went into hiding because of mounting debt and some shady clients (he was an attorney). I fantasized that when "all was safe" he would find us kids and come out of hiding. It wasn't for several years that I learned, that my fantasy was just that. A fantasy. A way for a child to deal with trauma.

I missed him when I got married. He needed to walk me down those steps in the backyard to Splenda. He needed to help me with school and decide a career. I needed to work for him. I needed him there when my sons were born. I needed him there when they played ball. I think that has hurt the most. My Dad LOVED sports, and was quite the athlete himself. To see all three of my boys play sports at the levels that they did would have THRILLED him. I needed him there. I needed him when we struggled with our children. I needed his advice, counsel and smart mind. I needed him when Sissy was born. I needed to see the joy on his face of being a grandpa and a great grandpa. I needed him when I got sick last year. I need him now.

Many times in the past 28 years, I have moaned and complained of life not being fair. Poor me. My poor kids. Poor Splenda who never met him. But the truth of the matter is this: Life isn't fair. It's never going to be. Each of us have hands we are dealt, and we decide how to play the cards. Do I fold, or do I strategize a way around the crappy hand, knowing that next deal, I'll get something different?

My comfort is my knowledge of forever families. A few years ago, all us siblings got together and did Dad's temple work. It was an amazing experience. We are now in the process of getting his Mom's done. It's actually sitting in my court right now, I need to get a move on. What would I do without the knowledge that not only will I see and be with my Dad again, but so will my children? So will my Splenda? Knowing that my children likely spent time with Dad before they ever came to earth is an amazing thought. To feel him here sometimes and know that he is nearby when I need him is a blessing that I do not take for granted.

So yeah, life sucks sometimes. You get a crappy deal of the cards. But somehow, ALWAYS, it will be for our benefit. I see lots of things in my life that might not have happened if Dad had been here after all. I rely on the faith that things happen for a reason and are ultimately for our good.

Yay for Forever Families. Yay for the Gospel, and Yay for personal testimony and conviction to see us through this challenge we call life.

And Dad, while I love you and miss you and still feel gypped at losing you too soon, I also know you are nearby, and watching over me. You were at my wedding, the ball games, the births, the graduations, the missionary farewell, all the special occasions. Albeit, in different form and unseen to me, you were there and I know it. I love you.

PS - on August 7th, we share a birthday. I'll be old, you'll still be young and it will be a blast!


Becca said...

That was so sweet and touching. I can't imagine the pain of loosing my dad, even now, but I love your perspective and the peace you have found in it. Thank you for sharing.

rychelle said...

what a beautiful post. i love how you know he has always been there for you in spirit. there is peace in knowing.

O.G. said...

That's very touching and beautifully written. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post and thank you for sharing. I can relate my Dad's passing will be 4 year's this Sunday. So, I feel you and I can sympathize with you. My heart goes out to you!

tammy said...

This was truly touching. Thanks for taking the time to share this. Another reason I am thankful for blogging.

tiburon said...

What an awesome post about your Pops! Such a sweet tribute. I am sad you lost him when you were so young :(

He was a mack daddy P-I-M-P in that suit though!

Omgirl said...

I hate to tell you this, girlfriend, but it's been 28 years, not 18! I only noticed this because I lost my dad too, 16 years ago, and wondered how close to the date of my loss yours was. Only then did I see that mine was in '93 while yours was in '81. And you know what? I know that it feels like yesterday, no matter how many years it's been.

I related to your post SO MUCH! Seriously, a lot of your thoughts could be word for word mine. My parents had also just divorced, we were also teenagers, he died from heart problems, I was so mad that he couldn't be here to see me get married and meet my husband and be a grandpa.... Even down to the part of imagining he might have secretly been a spy or had mafia after him and had to go into hiding. For a long time I looked for my dad in crowds and imagined him showing up one day when it was safe. LOL. I laugh, but half crying. Anyway, I can relate so much. That was a beautiful tribute to your dad. Thank you so much for sharing it. (Even if it did make me bawl ;)

Kimber said...

Melissa, I just stumbled upon your blog, very entertaining. Your post about your dad is wonderful. My mother passed away almost six years ago and there isn't a day goes by that I don't think of her. I was 33 when she passed away and I feel very fortunate to have had her in my life for that long. I still remember, vividly, the day that she died, after reading your post I realize that's not a memory that fades much. I compare my grief to a wound that heals over until somebody picks at the scab (gross but true). Anyway thanks for sharing and for letting me share.

Cadance said...

the fantasy you imagined sound like a John Grisham novel...=)

I'm so glad for you that you have a Father that you miss & love so much....I'll never have that and it's hard....I envy people who have parents they actually's something I hope to have with my are very LUCKY!

LaurieJ said...

We have a lot in common. I lost my dad in 83 when I was 7 and you nailed it.
There are so many feelings that you expressed that made me nod and cry at the same time.
Beautifully written...

Trevor, Brianna, Alivia, and Tayvree Hansen said...

can't wait to get her pink card when you are done!!! then to my part! yay! good job on the race btw, and chloee is too cute, and i'm proud of luke, and too bad i never had a chance to get to know gpa Joe. :( thanks for your memories though. that is good to hear. :)

MelBee said...

My Dad was 42 and I was 15 when he passed. Way too soon. Just the morning I was thinking about him and I said to myself "I miss my Daddy." It's been 20 years.

Not to bash on your memory but you said 1981. That's 28 years right? :o)

If you were 14 and it was 18 years ago, that makes you 32. Stop trying to lie about your age.


The Faulkner and Wanlass family said...

Wow, thank you. I probably should have asked you about this years ago.........thanks for bringing me some peace....I love you.