His last day at hospice was a very special day. He was surrounded by all three of his children and my mom all day, we listened to Beatles songs with him all day and we discovered that the deacon who worked at the hospice was a childhood friend of my dad's whom he hadn't seen in 30 years! My dad wanted to see my sister get married. She had just recently gotten engaged. And this deacon made that happen. It wasn't an official wedding, but he had a ceremony in his room where my sister got to hold my dad's hand the whole time and have a wedding blessing with her fiancee surrounded by the whole family, fresh flowers from my garden, and a soundtrack of beatles love songs. He couldn't talk or move much at this point, but it was obvious he was touched and moved. That day was a celebration, not a day of grieving. We couldn't have asked for a better day with my dad and I know he was at peace on his final day on this earth.
We miss him so very very much. My dad was one of those people who put a smile on the face of everyone around him and lived (sometimes to the detriment of himself) to make other people happy. That's where he found his happiness and fulfillment in life. I'm going to miss his warm and caring spirit. I'm going to miss our late night talks. I'm going to miss sharing recipes and food ideas. I'm actually going to miss all of our doctor's appointments believe it or not. These last 10 months became such a gift that was so unexpected. It's truly irreplaceable and something I could never put a price on. I gained a certain deepness to my dad's and I's relationship that I never thought in a million years I would've achieved. I'm going to miss his hugs and kissing him on the top of the head every night and his smell. Because of the chemo and his weakened immune system, we weren't supposed to kiss my dad, so I'd always kiss him on top of the head and that became our thing :p I remember his head smelling like a baby's head all the time and I grew to love that smell as odd as that sounds.
His struggle became so apparent and started to get to the point where it was apparent that things were aggressive and moving too quickly towards the end. My dad knew it, though he insisted on fighting all the way up until his speech was taken away the day he passed. It was hard to watch. I don't think he ever accepted that death was an option. It certainly wasn't something he was ready for and my heart breaks for him more than anyone when it comes to that. He had many rough journeys throughout his life. We always called my dad a cat with 9 lives because he fought his way back through many things. He said, up until his last day, that the most frustrating part of this was that he couldn't get under it...meaning that he couldn't figure it out. He couldn't heal himself. After major surgeries, he'd bounce back in the past...even when he wasn't taking the best care of his body. He made major lifestyle changes with this diagnosis, yet cancer is a different beast. You don't control it, it controls you most of the time and I know that frustrated him.
I need to end this post by thanking each and every person that has ever read this blog, shared it with anyone, anyone who ever sent my dad anything, be it a card, a token of support, some of the beautiful handmade things that he cherished so much, or any other thing that helped him get through. I want to thank anyone that knew of my dad's story or who knew my dad who kept him in their thoughts, offered prayers if you're the praying type, offered words of hope or encouragement or just understanding, or anyone who helped in anyway. No matter how big or small, it made such a huge difference...more than each of you will ever know.
My dad was more moved by this project than anything else in his life. When he first learned of it, he was literally left speechless. As it sunk in, he just became more speechless, knowing that there were so many people out there...people that he knew and people that he didn't, that were offering him support and encouragement and cheering him on. He fought for himself and his family, of course, but a huge part of him fought for all of you as well. He knew every one of you who left a comment, sent him something, sent a card, a postcard, etc, by name. He could identify you by handwriting and what the card looked like!! He could tell me details about each one of you. Plenty of you had nicknames that would crack you up I'm sure. That's who my dad was. He loved people. He had every intention of writing thank you cards to everyone. I told him I sent some cards, but he wanted to write his own. The day before he passed, he mentioned it to me again....that he wanted to write thank you cards to everyone and maybe we could get some printed and he could sign them. He never got around to it because his handwriting got worse and worse and he was embarrassed. But know that you were all in his heart all the time and he was so very thankful for you all.
Like I said, I'm going to miss the ever living hell out of him. I don't know what's going to become of this blog yet. I have some ideas and I'm going to see where they lead me. Right now I have to get things together. They say things happen in threes and I've had my three things! Though I'm glad that the three have come and I can move forward now. The day before my dad fell, I resigned from my job of 8 years after realizing it's not a place I could work for anymore. The good thing to come of it is that I was there for my dad for those last days. This will also allow me to now focus on what I've always dreamed of doing with my life, which is working as a full time counselor in private practice. It's just going to take a lot of work to get things off of the ground! But it's work I'm excited about doing. Then my dad fell and went downhill quickly. The day after he passed, I was side swiped by a truck that destroyed the side of my car. Thankfully I wasn't hurt! If I can make it through all of this in a week, have faith that you can make it through rough times too. There's always a silver lining to the clouds if you look for it and I know mine's coming. I'm at a stage where I get to completely reinvent my life and I'll take all of the changes and courage and strength that my dad has shown me in the last year and carry it with me and carry him with me as I move forward.
His services are tomorrow morning with a reception following and they'll be at the church at his childhood school which we thought would be a beautiful way to say goodbye to his physical remains. He had so many wonderful memories there. His burial will be private on Thursday. I'll see you all again hopefully sooner than later. Thank you so much for the amazing support that you've given us. *hugs, love and peace*