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End of life, regrets, and saying goodbye.

Posted by polly929 (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 26, 12 at 13:18

I don't even know how to start this. I just know I need to talk about it with someone, and perhaps anonymously is the best way to go.

My grandfather has been on a steady decline for the last year or so. I have never been close with him and have always felt he lived his life pretty selfishly and pretty much ruined my late grandmother's life when he left her for another man.
It doesn't change the fact, he is my grandfather and I still love him. The legacy he left by leaving grandmother and how it messed up my Dad and his dysfunctional upbringing led to my own dysfunctional childhood. So many painful memories, that I thought I had left in the past just all came rushing back with one phone call to my Dad. How do you not forgive? My father is in that phase. He has always held a lot of hard feelings b/c of all that went down, but now we are faced with impending death, and my father is so very sad. He can barely speak. He went to see Grandpa yesterday, and apparently he has stopped eating, and can barely get out of bed. He can feel his bones when helping him out of bed and he says his breathing is labored.

I don't think I can find the strength to go say goodbye. I've never been to his house my entire life. I want to be there for Dad, but don't think I can do it. Nor can I find anyone to help with my kids to go out of state to go say goodbye. This is so very hard. Do you all think I will regret not going? I don't think I can do it. But I so want to be there for my Dad. I forgave Dad for everything a long time ago, and I've always been kind when it came to my grandfather when I saw him at family events, I truly felt somewhere deep down he loved all of us, he just always put himself first. My heart is breaking in pieces. I never expected to feel this way.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: End of life, regrets, and saying goodbye.

I'm so sorry for your pain Polly --

The first thing that strikes me is that he left your grandmother for another man -- not another woman. To me, that points not to simple selfishness, but rather to the depths of his pain and discomfort in a hetero marriage -- even more so given the social mores of the times. That decision must have been exceptionally difficult for him, and of course, the reverberations in your family were widespread.

Do I think you will regret it if you don't go? Yes, I do.

I say this based on the relatively recent losses of both my parents and of my husband's father. I had good relationships with my parents, and while losing them was hard, it was much less painful because we were 'good' with each other, and I was able to have a 'no regrets' mindset. However, with my husband's father, things were so much more complicated, and that changed the character of our pain. It made healing so much harder that we were unable to simply share the happy memories untainted by anger and resentment. That hurt *everyone*.

I may misunderstand completely, but from your post, I get the impression that your family considered your grandfather's decision to come out and live a gay life to be a selfish decision, and one that perhaps, your family never quite forgave him for. If that is the case, I'd urge you to try to forgive him now -- for his peace of mind, certainly, but even more, for your own. It took courage for him to 'live true' and you can be sure that causing pain to his wife and family was the last thing he wanted... The strained relationships were probably the biggest regrets in his life.

Do everything you can to repair the damage now, and don't let obstacles like finding child care stand in your way. You will be glad you did...


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Polly929, I am so sorry for your pain.

I don't know if you will regret not seeing your Grandfather (or helping (being) with your Dad). I know I would rather visit the living than the dead.

I remember my Mother's Dad (my grandfather) was slowly dying of bone cancer. My Mother wanted to see him before he passed. She left 4 young children (and one on the way) and traveled across the country (East Coast to West Coast). My Dad (and one of our neighbors) watched us kids since most of our family lived on the West Coast. My Mom spent a few months out West with her Dad. She never regretted those precious months she had with her Dad.

Moms are the strongest people on the planet, so I am positive you have the strength inside. Again I'm so very sorry.


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Polly, you love both of these men how can you not go? Yes, I think you will regret it. Your father needs your support; your grandfather your forgiveness.

My sister didn't go home when my mom had a stroke. She waited until she died. I'll never understand that.


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When we lose someone with whom we've had a broken relationship it can actually be more painful than losing someone with whom we've shared a more healthy, complete relationship. We mourn the death of the individual, but also the death of our own dreams of what the relationship might have been.

Your situation is complex, and I don't think anyone can know whether it is "right" for you to go or not to go. I would pray for clear signs and peace in my decision making.

Your love and your compassion for your father and grandfather come through in your post. They are blessed to have you. If I understand what you've written, your Dad is struggling with forgiving your grandfather. I might try to let him know that forgiveness doesn't mean condoning or forgetting. That he can let go of the bitterness without saying, "it is ok that you damaged me."

I will pray for your family.


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This is one of those life's can't do-overs. Go. You won't regret going, but you may definitely regret not going. Death is final and you will no longer have the choice of "settling up" nor will your grandfather. Your father will be so grateful to have you with him. But, this is mainly for you, and your future peaceful state of mind.

My favorite aunt recently died, and even though we weren't estranged, I kept putting off going to see her. That regret is so painful to me that I can't think about it without crying. I did make it to her funeral....

If his breathing is labored, your time to decide is probably short.
Dee


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What Sweeby said. She took the words right out of my mouth. I don't see what he did as selfish. Living that kind of a lie is too much to ask of anyone. I also think G/L is genetic and tends to run in families. Accepting your grandfather for who he is may help your family in the future.

Go. Be present and free yourself from the old voices that planted ideas in your head.


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I think you are all right. I don't view his decision to be true to himself selfish, but rather the way he treated my grandmother and father (and aunt and uncle) before and after he left her. There is so much more to the story. With that said, what I am most afraid of, is that he pretty much how he led a double life. I am afraid of the other man in his life and his judgement on me for never have accepting him. That leads to my own feelings of wanting to be accepting of him, but being afraid of betraying those in my family who didn't. I have cousins who till this day do not know the truth. So for all these years, I buried my head in the sand, and just ran away from it.
I really think I have to go, I am going to contact Dad later today, and see if I can go with him. I don't even know where they live. Like I said- there is so much more to this- I could easily write a soap-opera, only it's real life, with real feelings. I am so torn. I never thought I'd feel this way, but hearing the pain in my Dad's voice is making this so much harder than I thought it ever would be.


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Polly, I don't "know" you, but can relate to your situation. I think we can only do what we can do. If your dad really WANTS you there and you feel you can be helpful to him and he has expressed that to you, then you would be going for him and probably be glad you did. I also think you can decide to NOT have regrets. Make the decision recognizing what's best for you and your family and make an agreement with yourself that you won't second guess yourself after he's died. No regrets.

I'm all for healing rifts, saying sorry before it's too late, but it doesn't sound like that's what's going on here. It sounds more like you don't really like your grandfather...you didn't spend time with him when he was well. Just because we are related doesn't mean we have obligations that go against our own best interests. What would you hope to achieve? If it's just to be there in person for your dad, then you should talk to your dad about what he wants you to do. And make your decision based on that conversation and your own desires (to be good to yourself and also help your father).


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Life does have a way of becoming extremely complicated. All yur past feelings are rushing up at you all at once and you are over whelmed by it all.
I think that you have made the decision to be there for your father.
When you go, try not be have any expectations. Go with the intention of being in a supportive role to your dad.


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It's not that I didn't like him. I actually did like the "grandpa" I knew. He was full of life, and loved to sing and he sang at my wedding. We just weren't close. He wasn't the type of grandpa that would tell you stories or come bearing gifts when I was a kid. He had his other "life" and the 2 worlds never collided. Ever. We saw him at family parties, and Christmas and that was pretty much it. My parents separated when I was 9, so if Dad got together with Grandpa, my siblings and I weren't really a part of it. But when I did see him I always kissed him hello and he would smile and be affectionate back. When I had my first baby- he didn't visit- which I thought was strange. And then when I saw him at her Christening he was very distant. This all came so close after I lost my dear Grandmother who I was so close to, I suppose I expected him to make a fuss over her the way I knew she would have. He did the same when I had my second baby- didn't visit until her Christening. I've had several serious health issues over the years, and he never called or sent a card when I was in the hospital. He didn't meet my 3rd baby until he was 6 months. So maybe I was very hurt by his disinterest in me- but I've always held an affection for him.
I just got off the phone with my sister. We are going to go see him together and say goodbye. She made me see clearer that out of all our cousins over the years we have been the only ones who have actually made any effort with him. He has had several open heart surgeries, and I always visited him when he was recuperating. And when he was in a nursing home because he broke his hip, I went to see him and brought him some peaches from my in-laws peach tree. I saw the "other" man on all those occasions. We were always cordial. But 2 years ago he meddled in a lot of family issues through facebook and it made everything so complicated. Then when my brother was married last year Grandpa refused to come without the "other" man. So he missed my brother's wedding. My Dad handled the whole thing with him, but it wasn't fair for my brother to have to have the first family function that Grandpa brought "E" to be his wedding. It's all just so complicated.

My sister and I are trying to contact Dad. He never answers his cell phone or checks the messages. If we don't catch him at home we don't talk to him. We have decided to go. My brother may come as well. This is very hard from every angle.


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Good for you, Polly. You have made the right decision. You really have nothing to lose by going. You may feel some discomfort, but in the end you will be so glad you did it. If you don't go you will always wonder if you should have gone. Let bygones be bygones. I hope you feel comforted in the end.


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I agree with dedtired. Go.

The fact that you where even questioning if you should go or not would mean (to me) to go. To not go may always make you question your decision.

ML


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Polly; I'm so very sorry. I'm sure this is one of the most difficult decisions you've made. I can't say that I know what this is like because I do not; but I do have a "mother" I do not speak to. An old neighbor of mine had a gay son & while I knew he was gay; I never said anything. As close as were were; he never told me until recently & we really did not talk about it yet. I know it was very hard for him to even say the words to me after 10 years.

Times were different back then; being gay was a huge shame to the family. I hear of the shame my neighbor had even though he's never spoken it (others have). He didn't speak to his child & the child died without him. It's a pain he will now carry.

The best advice I can give would be to try to think of your grandma in these times; not being brought up when she was & think of how their marriage would or wouldn't be. Without him; you would not be here. I can't imagine how hard it was for him to think about going to the wedding with his partner after living all these years the way he has. For him to not contact you after births & illness; my guess would be that he was afraid to because of how close you were to your grandmother. It's easier to go to a larger function where there is less chance of a one on one confrontation.

It sounds like there is a lot of pain & going may be a chance to heal some of it. It would be nice if he's able to speak when you see him. Even if he can not speak; he can listen.

~Hugs


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I'm very sorry you are going through this Polly. I think you made a good decision and you won't have to worry about regrets. I also think it's good you and your sister will go together - you can support each other. Take good care of each other. I wish you comfort and closure during this hard time.

tina


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RE: End of life, regrets, and saying goodbye.

What a difficult situaton. Ira Bylock, An MD who has done amazing end of life work says that the four most important things in life, not just at the time of death is the ability to say: "Please forgive me," "I forgive you," "Thank you," and "I love you."
I am now a therapist, formerly was a Hospice Social Worker. If you haven't already, do get a Hospice involved. The work we did with familes in situation like yours was amazing. To this day, it changed me in ways I cannot describe. I saw some beautiful healing occur at the end of life....some ugliness, too, but more healing and coming together. Good luck and take care.


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Polly, you are doing the right thing. I am not Christian but I was raised as one, and I think of this:
"We confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone."

It's the undone part that gets me . . .I have plenty to regret about what I've done, but maybe more of what I haven't done. Riosamba said it so well: "We mourn the death of the individual, but also the death of our own dreams of what the relationship might have been. " You can't control what your grandfather did, or mostly did NOT do, but you are choosing to be there for your family. You will not regret it.

Lynndale, I never thought of death as a time of healing but it makes so much sense.

Thank you to everyone on this thread for so many powerful words.

Have a safe trip, Polly. I will be thinking of you.


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"I am afraid of the other man in his life and his judgement on me for never have accepting him. That leads to my own feelings of wanting to be accepting of him, but being afraid of betraying those in my family who didn't. "

Poly everything is different in these types of situations, I don't think anyone would judge you for going even if under normal circumstances it might have had that type of reaction. When it comes to death and dying, it just surpasses everything else and all of that other stuff just doesn't come up under these circumstances.

as riosamba said above "When we lose someone with whom we've had a broken relationship it can actually be more painful than losing someone with whom we've shared a more healthy, complete relationship."

This is so true and even for your dad, this is going to be a really difficult time and much harder than if things were good between them so I think he could use someone to talk to and lean on right now.


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I know you've made up your mind and I think you're doing the "right" thing six ways to Sunday.

Just a head's up - if you haven't seen him in a long period of time (years) be prepared for him to seem indifferent, sometimes those who are dying do that or seem to act that way at first meet if you've been estranged.

You are most definity not alone in the pool of bad family drama. I could write a best seller, but I won't OT your topic. You mention the FB issue, everyone I know has had some type of duke it out with family/friends as a direct result of FB. DH hates FB and thinks its nuts that people put their stuff out there. I have an acct., however I, really don't use it, save the friends whose children suffer the same condition as my own DD and we share information thru private messaging and sometimes communicate a "way to go" if something good happens, which is very rare. Easier that way to gain information. However, I know so many who are angry about this or that on FB. Makes for an ever more complicated life.

Blessing on your trip, I hope you will find the peace of mind you're looking for. I do think you may.


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RE: End of life, regrets, and saying goodbye.

Thank you all for your kind words of support and encouragement. I had a long heart to heart with Dad last night. I think it is going to be tough for him to see his daughters say goodbye to his Dad. He couldn't even bring himself to go back yesterday, and I was sure he was there, but I was wrong. I will have to just brace myself and do it. I'm going with Dad today, and my sister.
The conversation Dad and I had last night was deep. There were so many things that occurred I didn't even know and a lot of the complicated story now makes so much more sense. My Father has now completely forgiven, he feels he had a better life than his Dad had and accepts that as humans we are all flawed. It was so therapeutic to speak with him.
Lynndale, I am familiar with Ira Bylock, I work in healthcare myself. Thank you so much for the suggestion and your kind words. When I learned yesterday that my Grandfather had taken to the bed and stopped eating, I suggested to Dad to get hospice involved. My dad was under the impression he would have to leave his home for hospice, but I explained the nurses can come to the home to help everyone involved. The hospice nurses that were involved in my Grandmother's passing were all so kind and compassionate. Anyhow, Grandpa is a veteran, and his partner was able to get his doctor to get them involved. I believe the hospice nurses are coming today.

I just want to thank everyone who commented in this thread. IRL it is so much harder to speak about, and many of my friends do not even know my grandfather is gay. I am not one to talk too much about my personal life, or what has gone down in my upbringing. Doing it here makes it so much easier, and the kind words you all offered mean more than you know.


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Polly, you are managing this all with such grace. Best wishes for your trip. Try not to worry about the partner's judgment. Your worry has no power over anyone but you. You have lovingly navigated a difficult, complicated situation and you've sought to do what is right for all involved.


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One more thing

WIP08- we must've posted at the same time. I saw him last on Christmas.

And yes- the FB issue. Never thought it could happen, but it has. I post a lot less frequently now, it's mostly about my kids and funny things they do. Nothing too personal. I saw a funny thing on Pinterest that said, "It's a status, not your diary." LOL'ed at that one.

Thank you so much for your kind words.


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My prayers go with you Polly. It is not easy but it sounds like the healing is already beginning for your family. I'm glad you talked with your dad. I'm also glad you will be involving hospice - they are wonderful! So compassionate and good support for the family as well as the patient.

tina


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Sounds like this is going to be sorrowful, yet wonderfully healing experience for your family. Best wishes.


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Polly, I wish you well. It is a difficult situation and oh-so-complicated.

If I may be so bold to mention, your grandfather's partner is also suffering a big loss. That doesn't mean you need to embrace him as the replacement grandfather but keep in mind his actions and reactions will also be made out of grief and pain.

Being there to support your Dad is a wonderful thing. I hope you all find peace and understanding.


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If he's in this area; Samaritan Hospice is highly recommended. They came right in a few days before he passed with my dad.

I'll be thinking of you today.


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As I sat there today I realized I was not saying goodbye. It was so much more. He was so surprised to have us there. His memory is not what it used to be. He lives in the moment. My Father said he was so happy. As we were leaving we all sat and hugged and kissed him. He told me how much he loved me and we hugged. I have never felt so at peace. All the stuff in the past did not matter. It was just our love for each other. After we left, my Dad, brother, sister and I all hugged in the hall. My father looked at me and told me how much he loves me. He was so happy we went, as was Grandpa for the "surprise" visit. Grandpa was having a really good day. My Dad and I both think it's the rally before the end. I am so glad we were all there for my Dad.

Thank you all for all your encouragement. I am so glad I went. All the other stuff just doesn't matter in the end. It truly doesn't. I am glad Grandpa felt our love.


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What a wonderful outcome of your decision to go. Now you KNOW you will have no regrets. Glad it was good for all involved; what a gift.


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Oh my goodness, that hit me hard! I'm so happy for you and your peace. Carry it always.


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What a wonderful story. I have tears in my eyes. I'm so happy for you, and for the rest of your family, who experienced some unexpected healing. I'm also sure this will make you grandfather's passing easier for him and all of you.
Dee


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A visit you will always treasure. I'm so happy for you.


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I'm so glad it turned out well for you all. It will make everything so much better for everyone --


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I got goosebumps reading this. I just knew it would turn out well. I'm happy for all of you.


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How beautiful. I am truly so happy for you and your family.


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Thank you for your report. So glad to hear how well it went.


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Thank you. I have my peace. The memory of holding him and hugging him that last time will be with me forever.
My Dad's brother is refusing to go. And so are a few of my cousins. It hurts me that they won't go, for Grandpa, especially after seeing him light up when he realized we were there. But it's not my place to make them go. They are all adults.


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I am so proud of you. You have shared life lessons so beautifully. What wonderful memories you will always have and you now have an experience that you can share with your own children. I hope your renewed relationship with your Dad continues to grow.


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Polly,
I'm so happy that your visit to your grandfather worked out well. Thank you for sharing with us.

Beth P.


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I was touched by your story, and am glad you went and did what you did.


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Polly!!! Hugs all around. I am so proud of you right now. Sounds like you had an awesome day. Congratulations on doing the right thing. I also got teary eyed reading your post.


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I too am glad that it worked out for you and your family. You and your dad are examples of how cathartic forgiveness can be and I'm thrilled for you. The one person that I am the most glad for is your Dad. Your grandpa will be gone but your dad will be able to carry this moment for the rest of his life and that, I think will mean everything to him. It's too bad that his brother can't do the same.


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peace for him and peace for you...!

in the end, it's really our relationships in life that matter... glad to hear you made that visit. i'm sure it meant a whole lot to him!


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Polly... I followed the posts but everyone else said, so eloquently, what I would have said, so i did not comment. I had nothing further to add, but I want to tell you I admire your strength for coming here for help from the KT friends.
I checked back tonight and was so happy to see that you went and saw him, and that the visit went well. Good thoughts and prayers sent for you and all your family during this tough time.


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Late to this thread, but Polly, I just want to tell you that you have demonstrated such grace. I'm so glad you went to see him, and I too wish you and your family peace and comfort.


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Just wanted to update you all. Grandpa held on for a good month. My Dad was able to get him hospice care and Dad was there every single day with him. Finally my Uncle went to see him this past weekend. He passed on shortly after. I am glad my Uncle went, I believe that was why Grandpa held on so long. I think we are all at peace, finally. He is surely in a better place.

Thank you all for your kind words.


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I'm sorry for your loss Polly. I am glad to hear you feel at peace. My thoughts and prayers are with your family. (((Polly)))

tina


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Oh Polly! I'm sorry about his death but so happy about the resolution. There is a strange beauty to death.


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Polly.... so sorry for your loss. I truly believe that our loved ones sometimes "hold on" as you said, until they can have that last goodbye. My prayers are now for your family as you cope with his loss.


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Thank you all. We are all ok. Although our relationship was quite rocky during my teens and 20s, my Dad is my hero. He is truly the strongest person I know with the biggest heart. The way he saw both his parents through their deaths is a true testament to his character. I hope to do the same for him someday- and hopefully no time soon.


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Thanks for the update, Polly. I'm happy that things worked out for you, your grandfather, father and uncle.
Lynn


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I am sorry for your loss and wanted to tell you that
you are an amazing LADY. I followed this thread when
you first posted a month ago and just revisited today.


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So sorry for your loss Polly, I too am glad you feel at peace. I'm glad you're all okay and your father had an opportunity to spend the time with him that he did.


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I am so glad you have a lightened and happier heart now, this was a wonderful read. Forgiveness is generally the way to go. Best wishes Polly and I am also sorry for your loss.


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