Monday, 20 April 2009

Wilbur J. "Bill" Hudson - a.k.a. My Dad

As I write this now, my family are arriving at the funeral home for the family visitation for my father, who passed away last Thursday morning. For a variety of reasons, I could not be there with them.

Needless to say, I am saddened by this. My inability to be with my family at this time is heartbreaking. I don't like the idea of my brother and my sister saying goodbye to our Dad without me.

The last time I saw Dad, I knew it would be the last time. It's one of those things we know in our hearts, one of those things we can't deny no matter how much we want to. And so it was for me.

I hugged him, felt how fragile he was in my arms, and it was all I could do not to burst into tears on the spot. I held it together for him, though.

Then I went to the car and sat and cried until I was sure I'd be able to drive away without incident.

It took a while.

Throughout my drive home to Tennessee (five hours), I would think of him and cry. I didn't want to go. I couldn't bear to stay. I had to return to Italy, too.

I called him at least once a week, every week after that. There were times he couldn't talk. There were times he was too sick, too tired, or sleeping and I didn't wish to disturb him.

Six months ago, at Thanksgiving, while he was in a nursing home recuperating from a bout of illness, his wife told him she wanted a divorce. She refused to let him come home again, and told him he'd have to stay there for good.

His worst fear in the world was that he would die alone in a nursing home. Evidently, she was more than happy to oblige him with this, knowing he'd have no other resources to draw upon.

I was in Italy. My sister was in Florida. My brother - who had a rather estranged relationship with our dad over the years - lived with his wife and they were barely getting by as it was.

Who was going to help Dad? Are you kidding? My brother stepped up to do this duty and did a great job. He and his wife took care of my father for the rest of his days.

As rough as it could be, Dad's humor was often good. Sometimes, when I would ask "How are you, Dad?" he'd answer with "I'm dying. Otherwise, not so bad. How are you?"

I laughed every time. He wanted me to. It was only after getting off the phone that I would break down and let loose the tears. The sound of weakness in his voice was something I just couldn't get used to.

The last time I spoke to him, he was too weak to hold up the phone. My brother had to do it for him.

This wasn't my Daddy. Where did he go?

Where is the man who taught me to read? Who taught me to fish? Who used to sing and dance in the living room while I watched from the sofa? Who had dreamed of being a professional dancer?

Where is the man who built the barbeque on the back patio of the house I grew up in? Who used to go to the Eagles Club, and who played Bingo - and sometimes called it?

Where is the man who once sneaked me out of school to take me to buy a TV - a surprise gift from out of nowhere? Who taught me the right way to hammer a nail?

Where is the man who made the girls in my classes say, "That's your dad? He's so cute!" Who wrote an essay about his home town of Ward, WV, and made me feel so proud that he was a "writer" too?

Where is the man who could devastate me with a word, and lift me up to the Heavens with the same? The man who collected "Fool's Gold" and model cars and, yes, guns too?

Where is the man who took me for rides on his motorcycle and made me feel like I was the most loved daughter in all the world?

Where is the man who was a veteran, an electrician, and a volunteer firefighter who once had a child die in his arms?

I was a Daddy's Girl for my entire childhood, but as I got older, something changed. We lost each other for a long while, after he and my mother divorced. We grew apart, and it hurt him. When he was hurt, he got nasty, and mean.

And so he did with me.

Time changed things, though. Somehow, just in the last few years we reconnected. I forgave him the things he did that hurt me. He opened up to me, and once I'd worked through my own problems and troubles, he was proud of me again.

My last farewell wasn't good enough. But there are no words to convey what he meant to me.

He's still here. He's with me always.

And I'll always be proud that he was my Dad.

Because I always loved him.

Love you forever, Dad.

Miss you forever, too.

Wilbur J. “Bill” Hudson, 75, of Ashland, died Thursday, April 16, 2009, in Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital.
He was born Feb. 22, 1934, in Ward, W.Va., the son of the late Wilbur and Stella Hunley Hudson. He was retired from the Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland and was a member of South Ashland United Methodist Church, Ironton VFW Post 8850, American Legion Post 76 and the DAV in Grayson, Ky. He was a U.S. Navy veteran during the Korean War.

Dad, Mom and my big brother Chris (when he wasn't quite so big).

Survivors include his wife, Jackie Doss Hudson; two sons, Chris (Lisa) Hudson of Grayson and Aaron M. (Valeria) Matthews of Ashland; two daughters, Lisa (Michael) Herbst of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Kimberly (Alessandro) Hudson of Reggio Emilia, Italy; a sister, Patsy Tucker of Cedar Grove, W.Va.; and five grandchildren, Charles Hudson of Westwood, Ky., Audrey Hudson of Coeburn, Va., Ethan Matthews of Ashland and Kelsey Herbst and Jordan Herbst of Port St. Lucie.

Graveside services will be at 1 p.m. Monday, April 20, 2009, at Golden Oaks Memorial Gardens by the Rev. Raymond Stephens. Burial will be in Golden Oaks Memorial Gardens.

The family will receive friends from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday at Miller Funeral Home in Ashland. Military graveside services will be by Ironton VFW Post 8850.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

One Week Later...

Some of you may have noticed that I didn't do a Thursday Thirteen this week. Some of you already know the reason.

I had been told Wednesday morning that the family were being called in after 9:00 a.m., as the prognosis wasn't good. I spent the day in a fug, yet I managed to finish a chapter, make phone calls, and drag myself out for a dinner which I wound up enjoying quite a lot. (Thanks, Laura.) When I got home, I called back to the States and asked how Dad was doing.

"He's fine. Resting well, sleeping."

I tried to do the same. I finally got in bed around 1:30 a.m. or so, cried, and wondered when "the call" would finally come. I dreamed about my dad, and I dreamed a little about a student I had who passed away suddenly last year.

A strange combo, to say the least, but Luca was the closest I'd come to losing an actual friend. I like to think he was, in a way.

This morning, at around 9:45 a.m. (GMT+1), I sat at my desk trying to distract myself from waiting for "the call." I surfed the 'net. I posted on Romance Divas. I posted on various Thursday Thirteens, trying to think of a topic.

Suddenly, my cat had a strange fit. She flung herself at my closed office door - or more accurately, at the glass panel of it - three times. Three solid hits, hard enough to shake it and scare the heck out of me.

I thought: "Either we're about to have another earthquake, or Dad just left us."

I calmed my heart down, went back to reading and writing and all the rest.

My cell phone rang at 10:18. My mother's number, in Tennessee. It took a moment to register, and once it sank in, I answered (almost). My stepfather was on the other end.

After a few consoling remarks, he said, "We just wanted to let you know as soon as possible."

"What time did he go?" I asked, already knowing the answer.

"3:43 this morning."

This evening, I went out with my husband to run some errands. Nothing vital, but I needed to get out of the house for a few minutes. I was in the car while he was doing something, and I felt a presence next to me, sitting in the driver's seat.

Thanks for coming by Dad. You made it to Italy after all.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Head Down, Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard

Make it all go away.

This is the underlying thought I have in mind nearly every time I sit down to write, recently. The universe has an impeccable sense of timing, no doubt, as my distractions outside my office reached a peak on April First, this year.

The days are longer, which means my output is suffering. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I write better at night. Now nighttime is farther away, so I'm writing less. But I keep plugging away, trying to tamp down my hatred (yes, hatred) of Spring and Summer long enough to get words on the page/screen/whatever.

Make it all go away.

On April first I got an email stating that my father wasn't expected to make it through the night. He'd been rushed to the ER after the home health nurse discovered his heartbeat was erratic and his breathing was insufficient. He's been sick for a long time, but this was the second time in two weeks he'd been taken to the hospital. The diagnosis on top of his COPD was Congestive Heart Failure. He was treated and sent home the same night. Unbelievable.

The end is coming. We've known that for some time. Still, I felt guilty the next day when I sat down to write and allowed myself to feel, you know, good. But I needed it, and I reckon on some level he'd understand (though I'm sure he'd complain. He always does).

The weekend was okay. He couldn't talk on the phone, but he knew I'd called. I took solace in that.

Sunday we talked very briefly. He was too weak to hold the phone, so my brother held it for him.

I got off the phone and cried. Went to spend time with my husband. Came back to my office a while later, and...?

Make it all go away.

Monday morning I woke up to my husband telling me about the earthquake in L'Aquila. That's about four hours away from here. I had no idea how bad it was, though. I spent the morning online, viewing photos, reading the Italian news for more information.

Then I got another email. My father was in the ER again. He'd fallen and hit his head, was disoriented and unclear. My brother was wracked with guilt for not having noticed sooner the bruise on the back of Dad's head.

They admitted Dad to the hospital, finally. I talked with my brother's wife and she told me Dad was perking up - according to the nurse, he was "his old self again - joking and complaining."

Make it all go away.

This morning I find out that my father is joking and laughing, yes. But he thinks he's at work and doesn't know who people are. (He's been retired for nearly twenty years.) He's talking to people who aren't there, and making references to things no-one can see.

He's in Kentucky. I'm in Italy. Do I go there and see if he pulls through again? Do I stay here and wait to see if he dies? Which is the option I choose?

I close the door and cry. I shower and I cry. I feed the cat, and I cry.

I go in my office, sit at my desk...

It just won't go away.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Don't Let it Become "Yesterday's News"

As promised, I've sought out the best source for helping the victims of Monday's earthquake in L'Aquila, Italy.

Please go here:

The Italian Red Cross (Croce Rossa Italiana) works directly with the public services to give assistance. This is the fastest way to get aid to the people who need it most.

The instructions are in English, and you can donate through PayPal, too.

At 7:45 tonight, an aftershock of 5.4 shook the area. This time it was even felt in Rome. These folks really need help - and anything will do.

Grazie in anticipo,

Thanks in advance,

Kimberly Hudson-in-Menozzi

Monday, 6 April 2009

We're the lucky ones...

Some of you have asked if I'm close to the site of the earthquake here in Italy and are wondering if me and mine are okay. We're fine. We live in the northern portion of the country, and haven't been affected. Some of you recall my excitement/fright last Christmas time when Reggio had its own little quake (5.4 on the Richter scale, lasting about 5 seconds - which felt much, much longer).

That was nothing.

The folks in and around L'Aquila are hurting in a big way. Many of the homes and buildings in that city were very, very old, and this was a big blow to absorb.

So they didn't.

Being a mountain town, L'Aquila doesn't have much room to shake and settle, and this is the end result. There is no way to predict such an event, and the first tremors around Midnight last night gave no real indication that such a powerful follow-up was in the works.

The tremor was 6.3 magnitude. It came at 3:30 a.m., while people, naturally, slept.

At the time I write this, more than 70 people are known dead, thousands injured and homeless. The Italian government has declared a state of emergency so as to free up money to get help to the people that need it most. It's not going to be easy.

That said, this is a country which has grown somewhat accustomed to the possibility of such events. Italy rests in an unstable area, geographically speaking. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are not uncommon, though not exactly a part of daily life, all over the country.

This is, as far as I know (and I admit I'm not exactly well-versed in Italian history), the largest disaster to strike here in nearly thirty years. In 1980, il Terremoto dell'Irpinia killed nearly 3000 people, injured 10,000 and left 300,000 homeless. That event was 6.8 on the Richter scale.

Keep today's victims in your thoughts, please. If you pray, I ask for your prayers. If you prefer to send positive thoughts, love, vibrations or what-have-you, by all means do.

If/When I have information on how others can help, I'll post it here.

Thank you for your thoughts, concerns and prayers.

Kimberly Hudson-in-Menozzi

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Thirteen Things Which Make Me Laugh


Okay, y'all - I'm about to redefine "Random" here!
Today's Thirteen is:
Thirteen Things Which Make Me Laugh

Let's go...

1) This is in Italian, but I think much of the humor shines through. The general idea is this: An English language lesson, with translations in (Southern) Italian, which keeps going horribly wrong.




5) Another English language lesson video. It (literally) speaks for itself.


7) Cumming: the Fragrance


9)The Llama Song!


11) My Kitty Sophie, Sleeping (turn volume way up on this - no, it's not one of those stupid vids with a cheap scare)


13) Another Italian one - A Southern Vampire in the home of some Sardinians (Transylvanians) but you need to go to about 3:28 to see what makes me laugh hysterically every time.

And now you've gotten through all that...

I hope you found *some* of it funny, too.

Or else I'm just weird, eh?

I can live with that.

In the meantime, here ya go!

Julien Arias - Rugby player