Still here, still voiceless and still dealing with the lingering effects of the flu from hell. I am not that sick but my days revolve around inhalers, hot drinks, and trying to keep active enough to keep my lungs clear and as strong as possible. Not exactly the lifestyle that inspires read worthy blogs. On the bright side, I have hacked off a few pounds in the past month so – YAY ME!
Anyway, today is December 17th and that means it is a day that holds special meaning for me. It seems impossible, but it has been twenty-nine years today since my father passed away.
My father and I were always close. He was quiet and peaceful with a quirky sense of humor that never failed to amuse me. He was extremely intelligent with a keen interest in anything mechanical or technical. But mostly, he was just a really good man and a really good father. I was always fortunate to have him in my life, but especially so in the last five years of his. They were difficult years but I learned so much the value of dignity and compassion and strength and unwavering faith from my father in those years.
My father lived with sinus cancer for the last five years of his life. Cancer is merciless at the best of times, sinus cancer particularly so. It was heart wrenching to watch my father go through all that he dealt with. But it was inspiring and amazing to see how he never wavered. When there was virtually nothing physically left of him, he was stronger than most of us ever are.
During those last five years with Dad, my own life was on rocky ground. My first marriage, which had always been dysfunctional, had reached its breaking point. It was bad enough that my father, who seldom if ever told us what to do as adults, took me aside one day and told me that I had to get myself and my children out of that situation. I knew he was right.
Having seen someone you love suffer for five years, you think you are ready. On December 17th, 1993 – I wasn’t ready. I got the call from my mother and I was in shock that it was over. I fumbled through the motions and headed to their home two hours away to be with my mother until the rest of the family could join us.
The next morning, I went to the hospital to pick up my father’s personal effects. As I got out of the car, the cathedral bells were ringing out joyful Christmas carols. As I stepped into the hospital, I was surrounded by Christmas greenery, poinsettias, and glittery and glowing Christmas decorations. As I began climbing the stairs to Dad’s room, the carols suddenly stopped and the cathedral bells tolled out the sombre notes to mark my father’s passing. It was one of those moments in life that one never forgets. My soul shattered. It was over.
And with every step upward and forward, I began to heal. I made it through the arrangements, the wake, and the funeral. A few days later I went home to set up our Christmas tree, wrap presents, and finish the meal preparations – to provide the best Christmas that I could for my children. After Christmas, I focussed on wrapping up my marriage and moving on. In July, I took my children, my dog, and my plant and I moved us out. I was run down and starting off on a wish and a prayer but I knew we would be fine. And whenever I faltered, I knew that Dad was there with us. His faith and strength carried us through, as it always had.