My Dad

Some of you may be wondering why I didn't add my dad to the Who's Who page.
This amazing man deserves a full page of dedication. Here's my story about my father who has recently passed away.

Vincent Robert Maggio
July 18, 1949-October 31, 2010

I was definitely a daddy's girl from day one. We had gone to father daughter dances every year since I was a little, and were the best of friends most of my childhood. He always encouraged me to be athletic (he was a big time golfer) and be the best that I could be at everything. He was hard core in old fashioned raising (meaning wooden spoons - we weren't friends those days!) and made sure I was doing well in school before he let me go do anything! He was the greatest dad a girl could ever have.

Growing up, his favorite place to go was always to the flea market... oh such great times there. Fried pork skins, roasted peanuts...and crazy antique junk people sold :) It was always a good time! I loved the live music. We took Maddie to the Flea Market in Austin, TX last year during the summer and that was just a blast!! I highly recommend going sometime just to goof off...

My mom and dad had a long and rough divorce when I was around 12 years old, Maddie was around 2... and started to lead separate lives. I admire both of my parents so much for how amazing they handled all the pressure and still kept so positive. My dad had a rough time finding a stable job after he lost his company in 2001... He landed a job at Sears working in the Customer Care department in Austin Texas and he absolutely loved it. My mom decided to move home to Louisiana with the kids, but I stayed in Austin with my dad, as I've been working at Dell and going to school.

Dad's first granddaughter, Taylor!
 Nicks Graduation

We went to Galveston to celebrate Nick's graduation from Seaborne Academy (Texas Challenge Corps)

 He was having trouble with high school, but was still determined to graduate with a GED and we were so proud how quickly and dedicated he was for success! I even got to go visit him once!

His graduation was such a fun time, we were so so proud of Nick and his accomplishments! I know I couldn't have done that... it was like a boot camp!! We stayed at the San Luis Resort and Spa Conference Center(absolutely gorgeous and right off the beach!)

You could find us at the pool-side bar! 
My dad and I drank for the first time together. He had so much fun! We drank vegas bombs, jager bombs, scooby snack shots, and beer. Let's just say although my mom and grandparents fussed at me for it, WE HAD A BLAST! I can't tell you how many times my dad would giggle saying, "I can't feel my lips!" He hadn't had some good drinks in several several years, and being the first time drinking with his daughter, I knew it was a day he'd never forget! (Let's remember it was all in celebration of Nick's awesome graduation!)
The funniest part is Nick had no idea what dad had been up to all this time, and was surprised at how excited and giddy he was taking pictures, I'll never forget this face:

"I can't feel my lips!"

My dad was so proud of Nick, he went on and on about his accomplishments, and I just love how excited he was about anything any of us kids had ever done, we always felt so loved and cherished. I would have more picture of Jeff and Chris with Dad (his two older sons, my brothers), I will scan them soon! 

When Maddie still lived in Austin... we took one summer day, July 18th to "tag" my dad's car (wish I still had pictures of it :( ) and on his birthday we decorated his huge 1998 Chevy Suburban with all sorts of crazy "I love yous!" and "Best dad ever!" and "Honk if you think my truck is sexy!" Haha, it was hilarious... we hid behind a car a few cars away from his until he walked to his truck.... the look on his face was PRICELESS. He was stunned.... nothing like this was normal for my dad, he was definitely very old fashioned. We of course then jumped out from behind the car as soon as he stepped close enough and scared the ba-jeebies out of him! We then went back to his house with him and opened cards and let's just say I'm pretty sure his girls threw him the best birthday he's ever had! :) It was also his last.... :(

About 6 months after Maddie moved away, my dad's job started getting old, life started getting lonesome, and he started getting sad. Although I was his baby girl and he did NOT want me living in Austin alone... he felt the need to be closer to Maddie as she started getting older, and also his other 3 boys lived there as well, and grandchildren. I totally agreed with him, as selfish as I am and wanted to keep him here with me, I knew it was best for Maddie to get the same awesome childhood best dad ever experience with him. At St. Davids hospital in Austin, he was first diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which is a lung disease but is not fatal, he took medicine for it and had his coughing and everything under control so no one really worried much.

So he moved....

Off to Baton Rouge, Louisiana he went to be with sweet Maddie!

Often I'd get solittle jealous of the fun things they got to do like starbucks dates and always shopping!.... but I'd remember she is the baby of the family... and she was always nice enough to at least send pictures ;)

But that is how Dad was... I knew he had become closer to God.  Back when he was a huge business man, he was extremely stern, stubborn, and sometimes outright mean. We had a lot of fights, he always "held my feet to the fire"... and always preached like an Italian mob boss, "100% of the truth, 100% of the time". Oh man, the phrases and lectures I got I'll never forget...... but sometimes wanted to! When he lost his company things got really difficult for our family, but never once did my dad leave our side. He was there to protect us. Things brings up a shoutout to my mom who went from housewife to a big time regional sales manager for many hotels, as she provided for a household of 5 people through all of this, my dad had been jobless for almost 9 years. I could tell it took a huge toll on my dad for being the old fashioned man he was, not being able to support his family. He had fallen into a depression for quite some time. We grew closer over the years because I started to understand and talk to him, and I'm so grateful he took me as an adult, and we became very close friends.

After the job loss, and the struggle for him to get back to success, he realized that money was not all that made you happy. Without the golfing title (He won state at LSU multiple times, he was a golfing pro!), the golf cart, the big home, the expensive Cadillac, and the nice clothes.... He was just, Rob.... Rob Maggio. Father of 5, and that's all that ended up mattering. He didn't make much at Sears, so there were often times where I'd have to tell him to stop buying me stuff! He just wanted to give his everything. He spent every last penny getting the nicest biggest apt available for us kids, whatever food we wanted, whatever clothes or toys Maddie wanted... even though he probably couldn't afford the spoiling. Even though Maddie didn't mind ;)

After he moved, we talked on the phone every day at least 3-6 times. He was always worried about me and if I was safe and okay! It was too sweet, but for me I always got something out of it. No matter what I was going through with work, home-life, working on my goals -- he'd be the first one to tell me he was proud of me. No matter what! Kept me going on bad days, gave me that extra umph on my good days.

The 6 Week Diagnosis 

My dad then fell into a black hole of health problems. His appendix went out, he stopped eating much because it hurt going down his throat, his cough came back more painful, and he lost over 40lbs in two short months. Something was really wrong. He of course was stubbourn and always said he was okay, but he didn't want us worrying about him. So here I am in Austin worried about him, and can't do anything about it!

My brother Chris brought him to the Oschner Hospital to find out why my dad was having all these troubles. He was always sick, and whether he admited it or not, something was seriously wrong with not being able to eat and swallow.

Finally when he went to the emergency room, he was diagnosed withEsophageal Cancer
and was put on a eating diet to get his nutrients, and several medications. He continued to work at the little Cracker Barrel close to my sister's house, and lived in a little trailer also close to my mom's house so he could see Maddie as much as possible.

I felt like he knew he didn't have much time left, because he got to spend that quality time with Maddie he needed before he got really sick. It was perfect timing.

Unfortunately his sickness got worse and worse. Without the nutrients he could be getting from food, he lost even more weight. I was not aware of most of the weight loss, and I didn't think it was as serious because my dad kept assuring me it wasn't.  Until I went 2 days without hearing from him and got really worried.

I thought about calling Chris and tried to get some information about was going on, but my mom beat me to it. She told me to take my first flight to Baton Rouge, because things were serious. I couldn't breathe for a moment.

Was this seriously happening?

I immediately left work and took the first flight to Baton Rouge to see my dad. He was in ICU. He had fallen in his home and had a seizure. (Although I was always his caretaker and took care of him, I was glad I wasn't there for that.... too hard for me.) I was freaking out though. I immediately thought of all the times we fought and I was rude or took him for granted. He was such a giving person... I thought about through my struggle with drugs and my fallen apart life last year, and the judgement anyone put on me or shame I had in myself, I could go to his house at any hour of the day, morning, night, no matter what, and he had a bed ready for me. He would never ask questions, but he would always try to feed me lol, but the only thing he ever told me was how much he adored me and wanted good things for me. I immediately felt like a failure for a daughter for even having messed up. Though I was so glad he had influenced me to turn my life around, and was grateful he knew Scott would take good care of me.. I had already gotten my job at Dell and gone back to school. He knew I was back on the right track.

So I got to the hospital and couldn't see him until the morning. I was pissed! Pacing and trying to take my mind off things, Maddie and I get ourselves into shenanigans with our cousins and their neighbors. I ride a four wheeler for the first time. I know, right?  I was totally deprived it was the most fun thing ever!

We get to the hospital and I am pretty sure my dad had no idea that I was coming because his face lit up with so much joy I immediately started crying. He was thinner than I had been when I was my skinniest (around 100 lbs.). It made me sick to my stomach to see him in so much pain. He had lost most of his muscle mass, and could barely talk. It made me sad to think he would still pick up the phone and call me 4 times a day with almost no strength. I loved him so much! Reality was starting to hit.

After only 3 days in ICU, the oncologists tells us his cancer has spread, and there's nothing they can do. He's too weak for surgery and also too sick for radiation. At first my family felt like they were just rushing him out the door because of his insurance, but we prayed for him... and realized we just want him to be happy. No more tests and uncomfortable hospital settings and rude nurses. He was admitted into the Carpenter Hospice Center. To be honest, the place scared me. So I knew it scared him. Until I met his doctor there. He was the most gracious person I've met through my dad's process, and he cared for his patients. We were blessed. My dad finally was out of pain with all the pain medicine they gave him and I stayed with him every night he was there to spend his last days.

That Friday night we had family night.

They allowed us to have movie night where we watched my dad's favorite movies, Chicago, and Annie. He got really tired through Chicago so we didn't get to the Annie musical.... but it was the best night ever! Maddie, Chris, Jeff, Nick, and I all spent some great quality time playing around, joking, and making my dad laugh.

October 31st, 2010

Saturday was a rough day so we stayed quiet and rested throughout the day. My dad loved having me there. I would spend all hours of the night laying in his bed with him and watching freaky sci fi movies (his favorite).

He was up all Saturday night and starting having very severe symptoms like throwing up blood, his feet were completely swollen, and he would not eat or want to drink much at all. My brother Jeff and I watched the Sunday service with him via internet, and held his hand through it all. My dad always had such a strong firm relationship with God, and you could see it as he was mouthing words to songs and it definitely made me tear up. I realized these were the last few hours with my dad. His older brother, Tommy (it was his birthday) came in after attending church in his hometown, Lafayette, and spent some quality time with dad while I grabbed lunch at Whole Foods with my mom.

We got back to the St. Joseph Carpenter Hospice Center where my dad was dozing off and on. We had our priest, Father Mike, who baptized all of us kids at Most Blessed Sacrament Church (that also was my school growing up - oh, the Catholic Private School days...). He prayed for my father and it was such a pleasure to see him again after so many years!

My dad had a few visitors from his past, some of his best friends he'd known all his life came to see him and pray with him. I just felt so blessed all day to be able to meet the amazing people who shaped him into the amazing man and father he was. Around 4pm, he finally fell asleep with pain medicine, and was breathing hard. The nurses checked on him frequently, and it was just Jeff (my oldest brother), my mom, and me. We chatted together and Jeff had a few moments with my dad alone to pray with him and say all the unsaid. He then had to run an errand, and then it was just my mom and myself.

The last few moments my dad passed away, I was holding his hand, and he had already stopped breathing a few times but started up again. Once he stopped and it didn't start back up, I panicked. I had my mom go get the doctor to check on my dad. Once he checked his heart, he gave me that look. His heart was still beating very slow, but for sure would stop soon. He told me to give my dad a big hug, tell him that I love him, and that it is okay to let go. He passed away at 5:15pm, in my arms. I am so truly blessed to have spent that quality time the last week of his life up until the last very few moments. 

Rest in Peace, Daddy.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Psalm 23:1-6

This is the song we played at his funeral. I've learned so much from my dad. How to love unconditionally, how to expect nothing, and appreciate everything. To be my own person, and to stand up for myself. To always tell the truth, and to forgive easily. Through the unreal difficult obstacles in his life, he dedicated his heart to his kids. Even though he fought up until the last breath to be there for us, I am so glad he is in Heaven, and is not in any pain anymore. He will be forever missed, but I and my siblings know he is with us every day, keeping us safe from harm. I know he is proud of me, and I only hope I can keep making him proud every day of my life.