Reuben Lloyd Castleberry 12/1/46 - 5/11/08
On May 11 2009 it will be 1 year since my father passed. First of all it has flown by. I don't know where the time has gone. I have learned a lot in the past year, about myself, my father and about life. It is not like I haven't been close to someone who has passed but this time it was just so completely different. This has completely changed the way I not only look at the world but how I see myself. . .
This was a self-portrait of himself in his hospital bed with his oxygen on. This was when his beard was still long. He was so proud of it.
I always knew that my father was a "manly man" but it become even more evident to me over this past year. I can remember a time when he rotatilled our backyard while having a "broken hip" and at the same time he also took apart our washer and fixed that. He knew that his hip was bothering him but didn't realize it was broken. How many men do you know that can or have done that? After he started having to wear oxygen pretty regularly he still kept pushing himself. This surprised me and mom. Normally when something like this would have happened it would have got him down and that would have been it. Not this time. Thank God too! I am not sure what year this was but we decided we were going to paint the inside of the house. Mom was in Erie visiting her mom during the summer so we figured it would be a nice surprise and it might be easier if she wasn't here. He borrowed an electric sprayer and a couple of his buddies came over to help and he did all of the spraying. Needless to say he did as much as he could before he had to run outside to get some air and some oxygen. Because let me tell you at this time he was not wearing his oxygen in front of his buddies! Not saying he didn't need it, he just wasn't wearing it in front of them!
Many people don't quite understand COPD which is what my father had. They think oh, he just has trouble breathing. Well, that is not it. When you have trouble breathing, it inhibits you from doing anything and everything. Not only is it difficult to breathe, but it is difficult to do minor things that most people think nothing of. Like sitting at a table or desk and putting together models, or fixing broken things.. you get out of breath before you know it. While you are having problems breathing, oxygen does not make it to all of your muscles, and they start to atrophy. You then get weaker, making everything little thing a big effort. Brushing your teeth, getting dressed, even moving in bed while sleeping takes a lot of energy and oxygen.
I have learned that life is short, unclear and unexpected. Although I have always known that you never know when you may be taken from this earth, it has really become evident to me this last year. I think not only because I lost my father, but I also lost several close friends and family members and I also have been battling with my health. I have always been the type of person that wears her heart on her sleeve (although I try not to show it). I try to impress upon everyone that I come in contact with that they should always let their family and friends know how they feel about them. You can do this by words and actions.. and it means so much.
When my father passed, I learned that suddenly it wasn't important to work 60+ hours a week. It wasn't important to make sure that everyone was happy, even if that meant that I might not be. It wasn't important that I get everything done as of yesterday. All of the strange odd little things that seemed so important before were suddenly so not important to me anymore.
However, It is important that I make sure everyone that I come in contact with know where they stand with me in my life. It is important for me to work and not work myself to the bone. I have realized that I may not make as much money as I am used to, or feel like like I should for my age, but I know that I can't keep burning the candle at both ends, or I will be burned out before my time. I don't want that.. not yet anyway.
My father helped me see these things before he passed but also after he was gone. I can't get him back. I talk to him regularly and know that he is here with me. I can feel his presence, some more than other times, but still it is always a comforting feeling...believe it or not.
He died last year on Mother's Day. So this holiday will always be a bittersweet one from now one. Although like Mom said, it was a gift that he did finally pass because he had been suffering for a couple of days/night and he surely didn't deserve that. Not that we wanted him gone but we surely didn't want him here if he was going to be in that much pain and agony. You know? So now he is in Heaven, and we say he is up there with no pain, no breathing problems and enjoying himself. He is with his buddies, golfing and having a beer and laughing.. without losing his breath! How much sweeter could it be? He died young.. but worked hard all his life!