Thank you, Dad: A Tribute to Glenn P. King

 

I can’t remember the last thing I said to my dad before he died. I’ve replayed the day many times in my brain. To the best of what I can remember, I think I said “thank you.” I’d tried to build a pool ladder and assembled the parts backwards. He fixed it for me. “Thank you,” I said in a monotone voice. “No problem,” he replied, giving a light squeeze to my right shoulder. This is the last time we ever touched. 

 

We had always been extremely close. He was chatty, especially when you got him talking about a subject he was passionate about. We spent many car rides together to and from college, talking about nothing and everything all at the same time. I didn’t have many friends at university, and even less individuals that I frequently caught up with when I came home. He was always my go-to man to “hang out” with. We would ride around different towns looking at antique shops and record stores, perusing different Goodwills (the “GW” as we would call it, so the rich snooty folks wouldn’t catch on to our thrifting ways), sometimes metal detecting or hiking at local parks, and topping off the afternoon by trying to find the grungiest looking convenience store or cafe. Because, duh, they usually had the most amazing food. 

 

On these adventures we deliberated everything: music, movies, politics, sports, history, nature, religion, ancestry, spirituality, friendship, core values, life's hardships, and so much more. Sometimes he would tell me the same story or we would discuss a podcast he had listened to ten times before. I didn’t care. I am so glad I have these memories. I feel as though I truly did know my dad on a deeper “soul” level, one that transcends the typical “father/daughter” relationship.

 

 Most people knew his standard outward persona: the hardworking family man who pulled graveyard shifts to make ends meet at a local textile plant. Maybe they saw him as the man who was stocky and STRONG, and who liked to flip cabers at highland games on the weekends with his buddies. But how fortunate am I to have also been raised by the man who bought a ukelele on a whim so he could learn to play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” the one who knew every word to the soundtrack of Tarzan and The Greatest Showman, the one who sewed in his free time, even making his own Halloween costume to go trick-or-treating with my little brother? I got to experience all those versions. 

 

But near the end, he became quiet, nervous, and subdued. This was a version of my dad I had never seen before. We’d discussed mental health in our carride chronicles. He had told me there were times in his life that he felt sad, who hasn’t? “You always have to keep pushing forward and focus on the good”, he would say. So when things began to change, I didn’t understand what was happening. I did not respond with the amount of grace or compassion I should have. I wish so badly that I had expressed my love, or reaffirmed that everything really would work out if he could just. hold. on. Instead, I was silent. This will forever be the biggest regret of my life. All the words I should have said to my dad when he was alive, were in turn spent pleading with a 911 operator for help, and eventually eulogizing his funeral. 

 

Every day without him has been a struggle. But for all the pain my family and I have endured, we would be doing my dad a great disservice if we only remembered those final days. A few months before he passed, he was asked to sing at our church (another one of his hidden talents). He sang “Then Came the Morning” by Bill Gaither, and an excerpt of the lyrics are below:

 

Hope rose with the dawn

Then came the morning, shadows vanished before the sun, 

Death had lost and life had won, for morning had come

 

    My dad physically passed over on May 21st, 2020. In the Christian faith, this day is recognized as “Ascension Day,” commemorating when Jesus entered Heaven after being Resurrected. I know for a fact that death LOST that night, and Dad is in Heaven as I type this. 

 

In the past six months, there have been so many days that I come home and crash. It’s exhausting trying to keep it together and put on the “I’m fine” persona that society so readily expects from the bereaved. But for all the times I feel like I’ve failed, every time I don’t think there is an existential -point- to anything, I try to remember that hope rises. Every morning we have an opportunity to make a difference. I made myself a promise that I would seize every opportunity to discuss and bring awareness to mental health. This year, my sister and I raised over 2,000 dollars for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. My mother and I recently attended a Loss Survivor Day of Remembrance together, and she plans to create an organization in memory of my father named “Hope Rose.” We are fortunate to have family, friends and community members that support us. Not every day is good, but we are truly trying to find some good in every day. 

 

    In closing, if I could “redo” the final words to my father, the inflection would definitely change, but the meaning stays the same. I would say thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for all that you did to raise and support my family and me. Thank you for instilling the 

values that I will carry with me forever. Thank you for the memories that I will cherish until we meet again. It is the privilege of a lifetime to be Glenn Patrick King’s daughter. May he rest in eternal peace.

- Kayley 

Glenn Patrick King 

07/16/1974 - 05/21/2020

Joseph Patrick Togger
03/02/1980 - 08/16/2004
Loving son, grandson, brother & friend, he is greatly missed by all 💗

- Elizabeth Teague, In Memory of Her Brother

A little over three years ago on June 6, 2017, I lost my husband, the father of our kids, and undoubtedly one of the most selfless people I have ever known. Tony was smart, witty, and had a dry sense of humor. He constantly had us laughing with his one liners and his quick comebacks. 

 

Tony had what I liked to call a quiet presence. He was the guy in the room sitting and observing. We would often have get togethers at our house, and he would be the one making sure everyone had what they needed...and then would just sit back and enjoy others enjoying themselves. You didn’t always know he was there, but his actions spoke loud and clear. 

 

He was a devoted father. He spent countless hours taking kids to practices, games, and competitions. He liked to call our house “Chaos Central” because there was always something going on-he never complained about it. He was fiercely protective of his family. He loved us with everything he had. 

 

For a couple of years before Tony died, he struggled with a variety of health issues. His diabetes worsened, and it caused a condition caused gastroparesis. In short, his stomach wouldn’t digest food properly. Anyone who knew Tony knew he loved to eat.  The treatments for gastroparesis had significant side effects, so he opted not to do them long term. He lost quite a bit of weight. His diabetes worsened and caused him dental issues, and the combination of that with his stomach issues made him quite miserable. He was still working without complaint, but he just didn’t feel well on a regular basis. He talked to his doctor, tried a variety of medications, but nothing long term. 

 

Looking back, over the six months prior to his death, I could tell he was unhappy. I never imagined he was feeling the way he did, and we had multiple conversations where I said “You can talk to me. I’m not going to judge you. I can tell you’re struggling, just talk to me.” Today I think about those conversations and there was never any indication that he was considering harming himself. He was working full time as a successful systems administrator and taking part in the kids’ activities. He was fixing dinner for us, taking part in family events, and generally going about life “as normal”.

 

The weekend before he died, he helped a family member move furniture. He had made a friendly bet with a coworker about the Stanley Cup playoffs. The morning he died, he talked to our boys about dinner that night. He dropped them off at summer camp and went to work. Somewhere around lunchtime, he left work, went home, and succumbed to his thoughts of suicide. Prior to this, he had not mentioned suicide, not acknowledged depression, and had never given any indication that he was even close to that. We had multiple conversations, but there was never a time where he admitted he was struggling. I knew he was struggling somewhat, but he never let on that it was as bad as it was. To this day, I feel like he didn’t want to burden anyone. 

 

I’ve thought long and hard about what we could have done differently. The answer is not simple. I could have pushed for him to talk to someone, but I don’t think he would have. He never really even acknowledged his struggles to me, and we talked about everything. 

 

Hindsight is 20/20. I think a lot of “what if’s”, but in the three years since his passing, I’ve learned those “what if’s” will consume you if you let them. They lie to us and make those of us left behind feel guilty for something that we were blindsided by. 

 

When Tony passed, a part of us passed with him. I don’t think you can lose someone in this manner and be the same. We refuse to give up, but we are not the same people we were on June 5, 2017. My children had to grow up faster than they should have, especially my older two. My youngest has very few memories of his dad, as he was only 6 when Tony died. My older two were 17 and 10 when he died. We have all had a rough three years trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense. Tony was the most logical and rational person I knew. This was totally out of character for him. He loved us. I can only believe that his pain was so intense that he was blindsided by it, and could not see past it. 

 

If losing Tony was hard, the new normal after losing him is just as hard. Friends, family, and coworkers don’t know how to interact with you, and a lot of times they drop off because of that. You lose people in your life that you never imagined losing. It’s not negativity towards those people, it’s just a statement of fact. The beautiful trauma in that is you also find people who you may never have crossed paths with, and who have similar experiences. You find your new tribe. Life looks different now, but I definitely breathe deeper, smile more, love harder, and appreciate every opportunity for happiness I can grab. I am quicker to show grace to the people in my life, and my kids have a sense of compassion they did not have before. 

 

I do believe we have to find a way to normalize mental health concerns, specifically suicidal thoughts as well as depression and anxiety so intense that it’s uncontrollable.  We have to find a way to make it okay for people to not be okay. It’s more than just a slogan for mental health-it’s a mantra we need to live by.  

 

Tony is not defined by his death. I don’t consider his death a choice. To him, it wasn’t. He was trying to relieve his uncontrollable pain, and he could not share that pain with anyone, even those closest to him. That is the real tragedy-the world lost a good man because he didn’t feel like he could ask for help. 

 

- Kristin Dillard 

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