My dad is gone…

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My dad, L. Ray Waller, died last week on September 17. My sister Heidi called at lunchtime to say one of the nurses had called her because he really wasn’t eating anything, he was making noise when he breathed, and they were having a hard time waking him up. Heidi said she was on her way to see him. I said I had an appointment with my oncologist to go over my recent CT scan the next day, and I would likely leave from the hospital for Stratford. She called me five hours later and said he was gone, in his sleep.

One of the reasons I never wanted a big wedding was that I knew I would cry all the way down the aisle walking on my dad’s arm because I couldn’t stop thinking that he would one day die and leave me forever.

I took a university psych course on death, dying and grieving, because I knew I had a problem if I couldn’t even handle the thought of it.

I visited my dad at every hospital stay, staying overnight a few times so there would be a family member right there to advocate for him, went to specialist followups, visited him in his nursing home. I told all my family NOT to mention my cancer, because I couldn’t bear the thought of him thinking that his “baby Jackie” was sick with this f’ing disease. I wore my wig religiously every time I saw him.

Ed and Heidi spoke at the funeral for themselves and for Juli and me, two chickens who have never been able to speak publicly. They made me cry. The mayor spoke as well—my dad lived in Stratford 52 years, yet when the mayor added up my dad’s years of public service, he found that my father put in more than 140 years of public service. The city flew the flag at half-mast the day of his funeral, out of respect and gratitude and mourning his loss.

I drove back home today for a test, and have spent the last four hours in my room, trying to cry it out. So far, it’s fresh tears every time.

The flag flies at half-mast in Stratford on September 22, 2014, in honour of our father, Leslie Raymond Waller, November 12, 1929 – September 17, 2014. Photo by Juli.

The flag flies at half-mast in Stratford on September 22, 2014, in honour of our father, Leslie Raymond Waller, November 12, 1929 – September 17, 2014. Photo by Juli.

Heidi made a website for dad, and if anyone would like to read about an amazing father and man, please visit. She did a great job on a great man.

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3 Responses

  1. Beautifully done Jackie! This is a great tribute to your Dad. He was a wonderful man–a great “guy” who always made his friends welcome and special. I have been hearing his voice in my head ever since he passed away and this has been a good reminder of many fun times! Your family did a stellar job of the funeral which was a wonderful tribute to a fine husband, father and friend. It was really special to see the whole family together and especially to see all of the Waller grandchildren approaching adulthood! Your dad is now at peace but your mom will need lots of special attention so I shall try to call and see her more often. I will visit her in mid October for a lunch “date” when we return from our conference and mini holiday out west. “Your man” seems like a very sincere, nice man –a real keeper!! Once again—my deepest sympathy and condolences to all of you. With deep respect, Grace n 2014-09-23,

  2. Jackie, I’m heartbroken to hear about Uncle Ray. He’s always been one of my favourite people. I have such awesome memories of when we were all kids and Stew & I would stay with your family during summer holidays. I loved his hearty laugh and beaming smile. RIP Uncle Ray. You’re very missed. Hugs and love to you Jackie ❤️

    • Hi Jen,
      I know, he was always bigger than life to me, and the more I hear from people, that was how almost everyone saw him. I thought it was just me and the Daddy-adoration thing that so many kids have—you know, “My dad is bigger and handsomer and tougher and smarter and funnier than your dad!” But through the visitation and funeral and reception, I heard that many many people saw my dad that way too. I’m still not through that any-little-thing-that-reminds-me-of-him-makes-me-cry stage yet. Sad on top of sad. Hugs and love to you too, Jen.

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