It wasn't much of shock, sad to say. We, as in me and my siblings, always talked about how he would probably die alone, and be dead for awhile before he was found since he didn't keep in contact with anybody, lived alone, worked alone from his home, and didn't have many local friends. It was a sad prediction, but it's exactly how it happened. I had the awful responsibility of calling all my siblings and letting them know.
It was weird. It wasn't as emotional as my mom's death. It was complex. My father hadn't been a "dad" in many many years, and out relationship was more of cordial strangers than father/daughter or even distant relatives. He was rarely on my mind, and I have no idea how often (if ever) he thought of me. Some of my siblings had a better (although not much) relationship with him, but my relationship with him had always been strained (to say the least). In fact my last interaction with him was a year and half ago when he came to Utah for a couple days. We had gone to a BYU soccer game, and then out to dinner. Half way through dinner he got mad at me because Jared, while on a trip to DC with Carson, didn't take him to see the home he lived in when he was a baby. Seriously....dad got mad at ME for this. It was crazy. Kim, Aaron, and I thought he was kidding at first...but nope. Somehow this was my fault. And that's the story of our relationship. Some how I was always in trouble. So of course our last moments together were that of awkwardness and contention. It was fitting.
I don't why my father was the way he was, what life choices led him to man he had become, and what (if anything) could have happened to change him..us..but that's the way it was. I had come to terms with it a long time ago. I chose to move on, instead of sitting around hoping for the father that I saw others have. I think it made me stronger, in some ways, and I guess a little damaged in others. But it is what it is. Or was.
When someone with who you have a complicated relationship dies, it's hard to put into words how you feel. I guess I mourn the loss of the "idea" of a dad. I mourn his life, that it wasn't what it should have been. And i'm sad that it ended that way.
Anyway, Kim and I got together that morning to figure out our next steps. We had no clue about his life, his business, his financial status, his trailer home. Nothing. we knew nothing about his life. So we headed to Rifle, CO (about 5 hrs away) to assess the situation. We met with the funeral home and got things figured out for his cremation. But even that was hard as we didnt know some pertinent information about him. Did he graduate from college? What was his mother's maiden name? Luckily, I had some help from Minnesota Julie. It's just so crazy to know so much information about my mother (sometimes too much information) and then know so little about my father. The coroner explained to us that we couldnt go into his home until a professional cleaning crew had been in there to dispose of the biohazardous materials in the home. Yep, they had to get rid of the bed, and apparently his "remains" had seeped through the mattresses and into the sub flooring, so all that would have to be removed as well. Luckily, we could bill his home owners insurance for it (but we worried that he didn't have any...he wasn't good with paying bills) since it would be about 10,000$. There wasn't much more we could do until the cleaners went into the place so we headed home.
|heading to Rifle.|
|the death room|
|this was just one day's worth of crap|
|the storage shed!|
|Jimbo kept EVERYTHING|
|90$ in change we found in tins...what was he saving up for?|
|DONE! and ready to get home|
after exactly 2 full, exhausting days in Rifle we packed my van with photos, relevant paperwork, and old model cars (that Jared would sell on ebay for some more cash). We were so tired, but we got through it. We tried our best to make it fun and enjoyable, and I think considering the situation, we did a dang good job. It was A LOT of work.
Our facebook status updates from that weekend:
The words "Biohazard materials" have taken on a whole new meaning for me.
No one in Rifle, CO seems happy to live here - at least that's the impression I got at the Burger King.
My dad had a current life insurance policy on me but not himself. I feel like he did that wrong.
If you need a brochure to any tourist attraction in the world my dad has at least 3 copies of each.
Been cleaning this disgusting house all day but we're still the hottest people in this entire town.
My dad's water company services the hotel we're staying at. Hope they don't need to replace their filters. **SPOILER ALERT** they do
It's a sad day when siblings fight over who gets the 5 boxes of old Hot Rod magazines. These are the things that tear families apart.
You can absolutely tell how depressed a town is by the amount of camouflage everyone wears.
These two Mexican ladies have watched me walk in and out of this trailer all week wearing a biohazard mask and rubber gloves. They're probably like "¡El Diablo!"
I smell like death...literally. Where was the hazmat suit when I needed it?!
A family who handles biohazard materials together stays together!
No amount of air freshener is gonna make tomorrow tolerable.#seepingbiohazardmaterials
Sorry Scentsy, but Bath and Body works has the monopoly on "death smell eraser" products #itslikegold
My dad could have LITERALLY wallpapered an entire bedroom with the amount of business cards he had collected. Sidenote: none of those cards were for an accountant or lawyer
I'm so thankful that I have my siblings, we are a tight knit group. And it's at times like these that that becomes very apparent and very comforting. We have been through a lot...A LOT in our lives, and I think it has all led up to this. To this time in our young-ish lives when we would be without parents. on our own. All we have is each other, but I think we will be okay. We are strong.
We opted out of having a formal "funeral" for my father and instead are heading out to Minnesota to get together with family out there. We haven't been to visit since 1998, and I am excited to see everyone. My dad's two older sisters still live out there (both their spouses have since died), and most of my cousins on the Bates side still live out there as well. It'll be fun to get together and have some time with them. We are bringing my father's ashes out there and his sisters can do what they want with them. (I think they want to bury him by his mother and father in Detroit Lakes).
This whole thing has been so crazy. While my mom's death was a more emotional and life changing (and continues to be), my dad's death has been more stressful but also came with a sense of closure.
My siblings collected a bunch of pictures of him through his years and made this little video to view with the Minnesota family. So check it out.