JUNE 24th, 2016
By LANA CARBON & JOHN LILIES
[Lana] As some of you have probably noticed, it has been a while since we have written an article for Carbon Lilies. Even our online presence has been reduced to a minimum lately and that has been my fault. I am usually the one that you are chatting with when you see us on Twitter or Facebook. I am not the social butterfly in every day life but put me on social media and I can share a funny meme or interesting tidbit or two (at least I find it interesting). Over the last few months that has fallen a bit by the wayside. This article should explain why.
This past Sunday was Father’s Day and it was one that will forever stay burned into my memory. My father was the kind of guy who never wanted to have a big deal around these types of occasions. Birthdays, anniversaries, when he retired…if the family came to spend the day with him, he was happy. It would give him the opportunity to tell all his old stories that we had heard a few (hundred) times over again. John and I always tried to do something special even if it was just a heartfelt card.
The day was approaching fast, just over a week away. We came up with a wonderful plan to take John’s father to the Museum at the Trenton Military Airbase. I was planning to spend the weekend and week leading up to Father’s Day at my brother’s house so I could visit my dad every day. You see, he had been in the hospital since April and we had not really had much of a chance to visit him. We thought this would be our gift since what he seemed to enjoy most was our time and we would both spend a full day with him before visiting with John’s father. When he heard the news he sounded like he was really looking forward to it.
The night before we were scheduled to pack our stuff for the weeklong visit, I received a call from my brother saying that we should come out right away. We left as soon as John came home from work but we lived too far away. We didn’t make it to the hospital in time. By the time we had reached his bedside, he had passed away.
I wish I had that one more moment with him to say goodbye and to tell him I love him. I have the solace of knowing that I emphasized how much I did love him every time I saw him in those final months, so I know he could see how deeply I cared about him. I also wish that I could have that one last Father’s Day but that is just me being greedy and wanting more time with a man I loved. I know that he is out of pain now and in a better place.
[John] Father’s Day became very bittersweet for me when we lost Pa Carbon. We were supposed to see him for the day before Father’s Day and spend that day teasing him and taking his jokes and his own teasing of us all day. We were supposed to hug him and tell him to be nice to the nurses, to drink his fluids and to try to eat something. We were supposed to tell him how much he meant to us and I wanted him to know how grateful I was that I had gained him as my Pa Carbon… how important he was to me and how much I truly valued him.
Father’s Day suddenly became really hard because Pa Carbon wasn’t here anymore. Pa Lilies, however, is thankfully still around and still needed to be celebrated. So, leaving Lana with Ma Carbon & Brother Carbon to spend time together and grieve, I made the trek to the Lilies homestead and drove Pa & Ma Lilies along the long path to the National Air Force Museum in Trenton, Ontario.
Knowing there isn’t much time to be had in this life, I’ve always made an effort to celebrate those I love and not waste time sitting around. Losing Pa Carbon made it that much more important to get Pa Lilies out and take him to a place he had been longing to visit.
The National Air Force Museum is owned and operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force and they have done a spectacular job bringing to the public some incredible history we otherwise would have no opportunity to experience. We stood staring up at the Halifax NA 337 2P-X, an incredible machine with an amazing history. We spent time learning the real history behind The Great Escape and being up close to numerous aircraft too large to otherwise experience so closely. It was interesting to realize just how much Pa Lilies knows about the different planes and war-time craft, as he marveled at the different versions of airplanes he knows. I’d had no idea.
This was a difficult day; deeply happy to be with Ma and Pa Lilies and deeply saddened to be without Pa Carbon… an uncomfortable duality to be sure.
Our hearts ache from loss and are filled with gratefulness for those whom we have here and hold dear to our hearts.
Thank you Pa Carbon and Pa Lilies… for being the fathers we have had the great opportunity to learn from and to love sincerely. Here and beyond, our hearts are always with you.