During the last week of this past August my Dad found out he had Colorectal cancer. But as he awaited treatment details in the subsequent month and a bit since being diagnosed, the less dire everything seemed to be. His doctor’s weren’t rushing back to him with any news. And when they finally did, they were pretty confident their prescribed treatment — being major surgery — while still very serious, would eradicate the issue. I gathered he just wanted it over with. Dare I say it, we all did?
Then along came the day prior to Hallowe’en, the day of his surgery. While it ran long, it was successful. However his initial recovery was slow. And the following Tuesday morning, while involved in his “physio,” if I may label it as such, he had what his doctor labelled a “cardiac event.”
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to place blame on anyone. But everyone involved in his care after this occurring wasn’t entirely clear on what had happened. Or what was continuing to unfold. His doctor being chief among “everyone.” Point being, “why” is no longer a question I’m particularly interested in asking anymore. I’d much rather focus on the way in which my Dad handled things which he was dealt. Whether it was how he immediately put his entire life on hold when I needed an advocate, or how he passed from this world.
It was later that Tuesday evening, as my Sister and I sat by his bedside holding his hands, that he squeezed my hand one last time. Not only did he squeeze my hand, he did it like he did everything else. The only way my Dad could have. Characteristically. Enthusiastically. Almost awkwardly. Not so much in a pattern, per se, but so methodically there was no mistaking where it came from. He was still there. Fighting like hell.
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t come to realize just how special those final three days really were. Not until I wrote these very words, in fact.
He passed away precisely how he lived his life. He fought like I’ve never seen anyone fight for anything before. And when it was time to go, he bowed out as gracefully as anyone possibly could have. It was the perfect metaphor.
Being a man of few words, he didn’t need to say anything to sufficiently communicate what he needed us to know. And yet, just stubbornly enough to amaze the shit out of everyone around him, the hospital staff most definitely included. We had everything to hope for going forward. And we still do with his memory.
I’ve never been so proud to have been his kid for what he did for us in his last days. Never. Which is saying a lot. Much more than I’m prepared to write right now.
I will miss him dearly. Much more than I’m sure I even realize at this point. Let’s face it, he is the main reason I’m still here annoying the absolute fuck out of all of you. I owe him my life. I just hope I’ve instilled even a fraction of the amount of pride in him that I’m feeling for my Dad right now.
Thing is, I’m certain I did. That was my Dad, you just knew how he felt without needing him to say a single word.