You may have noticed that my blog has been in recess for the past couple of months. This is because I have been fully absorbed over the past 3 months by my Dad’s on going battle with cancer. He has been fighting for three and half years.
Dad’s dance with cancer has taken a toll but he has never doubted that he would beat it. The doctors gave him six months and told him to go home and say his good-byes. He was told to put his affairs in order. He didn’t.
Instead, three and a half years ago, he went home and researched and changed the way he lived his life. He ate better, designed a potent daily drink for himself that was designed to stem the ability of the cancer to create it’s own blood supply. In my Dad’s words, “I was dangerously close to having a severely shortened life before I took control of my own health”
Success, Hawaii trips, trips to see his kids, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Christmas traditions were observed and the celebration of his 84th, 85th and 86th birthday, were properly observed. The 86th, followed by another trip to Hawaii along with the renewal of his passport for another 5 years.
One of my good friends described Dad as one of the most positive people on the planet and though I hadn’t thought about him this way I suppose that the description fit. Others used words like “character”, “brainiac”, eccentric. To me though, simply Dad is the best word. It describes what this odd and interesting fellow means to me.
June 4, 2012 (overnight)
There’s lots of time to think in a hospital room while sitting watching a dynamic and complex man slowly fade away. There’s lot’s of odd and different thoughts that cross a persons mind. Things like:
- can he feel himself slip away?
- is he conscious that with each breath now he comes closer to taking his last?
” Dad, please stop breathing so many breaths, please take fewer breaths, don’t waste any.”
If I can just stop you from taking every breath, you could take every second one, perhaps then I get to keep you just a little longer. Just a bit more time please. I’m sure there are things we haven’t been able to say to each other over the past 60 years Dad. I’m absolutely sure of it. Just save a breath or two so that we can.
No matter how much time we have it’s never enough. A lifetime of knowing you, of you discovering the me that evolved after you watched me take my first breath. There is no way to express what I feel now. It’s too painful to think of being without you. You’ve always been here. My one constant, the distance between you and me always so short, the life between you and me so long and so rich.
I’m watching you lie in your hospice bed. The only light in the room is the one shining back at me from my computer. It’s peaceful here just watching you breath. I feel your presence and I know you can feel mine. I hope that this brings you comfort Dad. This quiet time we are spending together. It is some of the most precious time we could spend together.
Do you love me or do you not? You told me once but I forgot. The poster that for some reason you gave to me so many years ago is still in my possession. Mom said something about how it drew you to it and that you were determined to buy it and give it to me.
I hope you know that I love you. I think you know that I do. The love won’t stop Dad even when you’re gone. My love for the Dad you’ve been to me will live on far beyond your leaving.
“I’ll love you for always, I’ll love you forever, as long as I’m living my Daddy you’ll be” (Oh The Paces You’ll Go.Dr Suess)
June 03, 2012
You ask me to bring in you’re computer.
I ask: what do you want me to find?
You say: I-Tunes,
I ask: what on I Tunes?
You say: Abba
I say: Abba (now I’m smiling).. What do you want to hear?
You say: Dancing Queen
I play it and I dance around the room. You make us all smile. You have a way of doing that Dad.
June 04, 2012 (early evening)
I see that you have even more labored breathing now. I want you to wake up, just for a minute and suddenly, with no warning, you do. You look past me and look at the clock on the wall of your room. You say with certainty, “it’s 8 o’clock already duck!”. I reply “yes it is.”
I expect you to explain but you have slipped back into a deep sleep. The rest of the night you only wake up to ask for a drink or to be turned in your bed.
You only talk when asking for small concrete things. It leaves me wanting something more profound and meaningful. I go back to watching you breath in the low light of the hospice room.
June 05, 2012
You made it through the night. You’re still breathing. You seem to become more aware when “Mrs Belong Me” comes into the room. This second love in your life came without warning and has lasted eighteen years.
Your time in New Guinea left such an impression. Looking back, I think it was your best and greatest adventure and Margaret immediately took on the moniker of a tribal wife. You were lucky Dad or perhaps it was that you never closed yourself to opportunities.
After a long and difficult day my brother and I sit and watch in silence as you breath. We know the end is near. Suddenly, you heave forward, your breath more deep and then you take 3 long last breaths. It looks like you are drowning. We are holding you and then you’re gone.
I say: Mike look at the clock
He says: Oh my God, it’s 8 o’clock
I say: I know, how did he know and what does it mean?
It’s over now. You’ve left the planet Dad but not my heart. You weren’t perfect. You were human. You were my Dad and you made me feel safe. You were my oldest friend and you knew me better than anyone.
I realize now that my Dad succeeded in his dance with cancer. He lived, as his doctor said, well beyond his diagnosis. He took in every moment of the life he had left. He had faith in his own ability to take control and create his own path.
Venus traversed the Sun on June 05 at 8:00 pm. It won’t happen again for another 117 years.
So did my Dad.