My PoPs

Art Heritage

Most peoples life start when they are born mine started when my dad ( William J. Heritage ) entered my life. He was a cop for near 30 years (San Diego) and in security for near 10 ( SDG & E Co.) He showed mom and I the USA, fishing, building things, how to deal with life, love , death.

I was 3 when mom and dad starting going out. Then, I called him guy. He called me lumpy, I am not sure why. He always spoiled my mom. But one day I guess he had went out with another girl. And mom and Guy were on the phone, she was crying for a long time talking to him. Now I was in 2nd grade then, I remember asking my mom why was she crying. She said," Guy dose not want to see us". Being the shy child I was, I got on the Phone and said to him," Hey Guy, don't you love us any more?" There was silence on the other end. My dad, would many time in our life together repeat those exact words. He always said it with a smile. My first lesson in life that , you must say what's in your heart. I did and was rewarded a wonderful dad.

Dad was also the father of two other children (previous Marriage) a son and daughter, they were all ready grown when my parents got married. I was a spoiled only child and dad adopted me. We traveled around the US , Mexico , I got to see the house he was born in, Brockton, Mass. And many Places the good old USA has to offer. We had great times fishing The last time I went He had his Jack and he bought me a 12 pk. It was one of the top ten memories I had. I must not forget my girlfriend Peg, she was his best friend and he loved her more than his own daughter, He let that be known.

My dad was a builder, boats, campers , tables, lamps, added rooms. He passed this on to me along with fixing engines. Thought my dad was a great builder with his hands his choice in colors was his down side. My first car was a orange Pinto, And said " I wanted you to be able to find your car". He remodeled the kitchen with mom. He built many Boats with his first son, his dad and I. When his hands were starting to give him problems I would learn and be his hands. I saw that he was sad about this, but this bought us together and then the sadness went away.

He taught me a quick lesson on standing up to dad. 1. That you don't. 2. He is a very big man when looking at him from the ground. He was the funniest, loving ,caring person I knew. Yet he covered it up by being a tough guy. Being a cop he had to, but I knew the truth.

The last things I learned from him was about death. I didn't want to nor did he, but as he put it, "I don't have a choice, do I." Mom notice that he would be in his chair a lot. She got mad at him cause he would not do anything. She asked him to get more test. But he was done with test he wanted to end it fast. Mom one day asked me to do something that she was going crazy. I tried to ask my dad, he always joked and said it was a little back pain. I then called the his doctor. Those words he told me crushed my heart. I wanted to have a family meeting (mom, dad ,I) We talked but my dad would still just joke it off. And told me I could not handle the truth , but it will be ok. The week of Thanksgiving I called the doctor told him about how our house was falling apart. He agreed to come over and talk with us. Then the words , you have less than six months. My mom was flattened. I knew there many things to do for dad. I needed to be strong for mom and Pops. We made arrangements to meet with hospice. We all sat and planed my dads death at home. I took my vacation (3 WKS) on Dec. 18 1996 to be with dad. I was there all that time. Sometime I would get a break. I would come back and see him sitting on the chair staring. It killed me to see him knowing that he must be falling apart inside, but you never saw it on the outside. I would cry and he would just say stop that. I did get to tell him everything that most people don't. We grew closer than ever in those 10 days. He was so happy to have his lumpy and wife and Peg with him being the center of attention. His humor was there till the end, one time I asked him if he was warm . He put three fingers in the air. I said what dose that mean. He said that's how many times you and your mother asked me that questions. When I talked to much he would flap his hands like mouth talking. On Christmas eve he eat, Drank egg nogg with me and mom and Peg. Watched a movie, played checkers with Peg, got to open one present. Friends came over, he was in heaven. He told me some words of wisdom just before he wanted to go to sleep, but it was hard to talk. The 12 hours we spent were better than ever, to me it was miracle to mom it was a bad sign.

9:00 p.m. He asked my mom to read a poem that his mom read before he went to sleep, called "my shadow." Mom and I slept On the floor by his bed that night. Christmas day he slept, I said time to open presents but he wanted to wait. He didn't speak much now , I sat by his bed told him I loved him, with no response. I cried he put his hand on mine and smiled. Then he went to sleep again. On the 27th his breathing was so slow, that every time he would stop I thought that was it. But another would follow.

9:45 p.m. That night our neighbors were over sitting there in the living room. Mom went back to check on my dad. She was holding his hand and kissing his forehead Then he stopped breathing. She yelled my name I knew what that meant. We all went back there and I looked at him I touched the back of his head, a breath came out of him. I said with joy he is alive. Then came out The black liquid of death from his mouth. Then I knew that it was over for good! I feel so lost without him, but also happy, he wanted to die at home with the ones who loved him and he got exactly what he wanted. Good-bye dad thanks, For making me a man. But I'll always be your little boy. I love you. (1920-1996)

Art Heritage

You can send email to Art at: [email protected]
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anniversary date 12-27-96
date of post 3-15-97

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW