Today, I'm taking some time to remember my dad, Charlie Rush. He died in his sleep 10 years ago yesterday. It was Easter morning when my mother called me and told me she couldn't wake him up. Although I knew instantly that he was gone, I raced to their house in my nightgown and robe in hopes that she was wrong. I was able to have a few minutes just sitting with him before the ambulance arrived and all the official activities of dealing with a death began.
As I've written before, he was a cigarette smoker all his life, and although he tried to quit every way imaginable, he was never able to overcome it. After his death, his doctor told us that Charlie had congestive heart failure. He had just decided to keep that information to himself, to spare us the concern and worry, I'm sure. I hope his shortened life can be a message to others, because I believe he would still be here with us today, were it not for the damage that smoking did to his body. I often think about all the wonderful times we could have had together over the past 10 years, and how sad it is that he missed the creation of Scrapbook Generation by his daughters, that he missed the weddings of his granddaughters, and that he missed the births of his two great-grandsons.
Many of you have seen this layout I made about him, because it's been on display here in the store since we opened. I wrote the journaling the night he died, April 4, 1999, and it was included on his funeral program. I wanted to share it with everyone today. How fortunate I was to have him as my father.
For Charlie, from Debbie
"On Sunday, my dad died. He was 71, so it doesn't seem right to say it isn't fair, but that's how I feel. I wanted him to be around forever, or at least a few more years. Maybe by then I would have been able to tell him all the things I never said out loud.
Like how it lifted my spirits just to know he was in the same building I was in. At church, all he had to do was cough 15 rows behind me and I'd know he was there without turning an inch.
Like how I was so proud that people in the community respected his business skills and his character.
Like how much I enjoyed hearing about his basketball glory days and how I wish I could have seen him play.
Like how much I appreciated his constant help and encouragement over the years.
Like how his approval meant everything to me, and how I hope that once in a while, in my crazy life, I made him proud of me.
Like how wonderful it is to not have one bad memory of him, but to have a mental storehouse of badminton games, hula hoops, sparklers, cookouts, and trips to the creek.
My family will miss many things about Charlie, including his wise advice, his even temper, and his good nature. We won't have anyone to tease about having "bug eyes" the next time we take pictures, or anyone to buy jigsaw puzzles for next Christmas, or anyone to laugh at when he says "hell's bells." We won't have the guy who loved playing golf, or who on Saturday, brought my mother a wildflower he found growing in the yard.
We didn't get to tell him goodbye. I never told him how I felt.
Charlie, you were the greatest."