Archive for October 8th, 2010

08 Oct 2010

Daddy

7 Comments Family

My father passed away July 14th, 2010 after a three-and-a-half-year struggle with myelofibrosis and three different bouts of leukemia. He got sick right about when I got pregnant, and we used to joke about how our symptoms were so similar: nausea, a pit in our upper stomach, exhaustion. I would say, “Are you sure you’re not pregnant, too?”

My dad and I spoke on the phone every day, at least twice a day. He was what every little girl dreams of: attentive, loving, there to talk to, home for dinner, in love with my mom. He was so positive and happy and brilliant. He never had a huge career because it was more important to him to be an active member of our family. I really don’t remember a night when he wasn’t at the dinner table, asking about my day… And listening to the answer.

When I got my period at the age of 12, I called my mom at work but she was in a meeting. Without hesitation, I called my dad’s office number. As soon as I told him he said, “Oh! Good for you! Do you need anything?” I said no.  “Okay”, he said. “Make sure you don’t tell mom that you told me first! She’ll be so disappointed. I love you.” How many girls do you know that could have called their father with that news?

I loved everything about my dad. He was stubborn and opinionated, soft and loving, handsome and strong.  He was in love with family.  And his nearly 44 years of marriage to my mom were filled with such beauty and laughter. It’s been almost three months since he passed, and I still can’t believe it.  I’m not sure how to go about accepting the fact that he’s gone. He should be here, watching Garrett grow up. He should be here watching me be a mom.  He should be here with MY mom.  He should be here.

My dad died a week before he was to turn 70. For a little over three years, he fought his ass off to get well.  He survived a splenectomy, a bone marrow transplant, and several rounds of chemo and radiation. When we got the news that his latest cancer was terminal, none of us believed it. He was Superman. He wasn’t supposed to die.  I was at the City of Hope with my parents when the news was given: A month to three months, they said.  My dad looked me straight in the eye and said he wasn’t scared. He said it was pain and suffering that scared him, not death.  I believed him. I knew he meant it.  And I didn’t want him to suffer anymore. Selfishly, I wanted so desperately for him to keep fighting.  I wanted him HERE. I would drive to the hospital every fucking day to see him, or quit working to care for him with my mom.  I would do anything. But I saw a resolve in him at that moment.  The same resolve he had in fighting for his life, he was now going to use to die.  He and Mom shared several kisses, giggles and a few tears that day. Mom cried harder away from him.

It was July 1st I believe, when we got that news, and my dad was being admitted for further testing; he might even be eligible for a clinical trial, they said. He happily went along with the blood tests and poking, making the nurses laugh and smiling at me whenever he could. Dad told his doctor he was leaving the hospital the next day, no matter what. He wanted to be at his friends’ house for the 4th of July and he had had enough of hospitals.  He came home the next day, sat with all of us in the living room, joked, laughed, ate a decent meal.  Then he went into his room.  That was the last time I really talked to my dad. After that, I told him I loved him a lot.  I got him ice chips and drinks, helped with his medication.  Read while he slept.  I did as much as I could for him and my mom while being a mom and tending to my family.  I was with him when he died.  My mom and I were each holding one of his beautiful, loving hands.  I’ll always be grateful.

There was nothing left unsaid.  There is nothing I regret.  I always told my father how much I loved him, how much he meant to me, how grateful I was for him and how he was the reason I married such an amazing man.  I don’t know how long I will hurt like this, or if I’ll ever stop thinking I’m going to see him again.  I wish so many things.  And when I see really, really old men, I wonder why they got to live so much longer than my dad.

When people die, everyone says you should live life to the fullest! Live every moment like it’s your last! That’s hard to do. Little, stupid things get in the way. So as a tribute to my dad, I just try my best.  I try to be the best mom, wife, friend, person that I can be. And I try to always tell the people I love how much I love them.  That’s not a hard thing to do.  And it leaves you without regrets.

I love you, Daddy. Forever and always.

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