When I started this blog, the goal was to share the grief journey of losing my precious daughter Leah to cancer. I wanted to invite you, my family and friends, into the experience with me. Little did I know that the next 11 months would bring compound losses. Just two days ago, my loving, 91 year old father went to be with Leah and my mother. My fourth major loss. Joan, my mother, joined Leah in heaven in March. In November, I was laid off my seven year job at Awana-leaving behind many dear friends and a role I loved. It is truly unusual to have so many dramatic losses in one 11 month time period. I will share more about complicated grief in another post. Many of you are probably concerned about me and my family.
For today, please join me in honoring my father and the legacy he leaves.
Joseph Michael Buscaglia was born in 1923 in Louisiana to young Angeline. His family immigrated from Italy and in his young years, his parents led a strawberry farm that also had animals. When he was five years old, his parents divorced which was very unusual for that time. Some of his childhood years were spent in an orphanage. The stories shared about my dad’s childhood reflect a season of hardship, but I heard of his gratitude in spite of the hard times. Dad loved his mother Angie and was a devoted son his whole life. He has two younger brothers, many cousins and loved them all deeply.
My dad served in both World War II and the Korean war. He served in the Pacific on B29s as a navigator and radar observer in the US Air Force. Receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross award for one specific mission over Japan, he must have other recognitions that I don’t have names of at the moment. My dad was a loyal veteran. His commitment to his fellow crew members was solid. One of his responsibilities was to call the families of men who died in battle. I cannot imagine.
After the war, my dad lived in Chicago and worked in retail at Hudson Ross and Wieboldt Department stores. He met my mom Joan at Hudson Ross, got married after knowing her for many years, had me, moved to Morton Grove and became father again to my brother Joe and sister Kathy. As a Roman Catholic, my dad was devote. We were in church every Sunday. Dad had a strong faith and believed that prayers saved his life in WWII.
My dad retired from Wieboldt’s and moved to Crystal Lake. He got severe dementia in his 80s. When he was moved to the nursing home, the doctor gave him six months to live and he lived six years. Just like my dad, very strong willed and not succumbing to adversity.
These are his facts….
All our lives have facts….interesting facts. But each life brings so much more than where we are born, our family, what we did for a living, or sadly, where we will die. Our lives connect to a deeper story. We are part of God’s bigger plan.
So, this week as I prepare to honor my dad, I will be dwelling on the gifts of the heart that he gave me. I can tell you the primary one: love. I know without a doubt that my dad loved me. In my imperfection. In his imperfection. He loved me and that is an incredible gift any father can give his daughter. He loved in words and actions.
I look forward to sharing more about his legacy later this week. Appreciate your prayers.