9 Years – aka, Remembering My Dad
Those who have read my blog for a while might recognize this post. Today it is 9 years since my Dad died from lung cancer at the age of 51, 2 days after my 17th birthday.
My Dad loved dogs:
Especially Irish Terriers
, so I grew up with Kitty and Jolly (pictured). It was his dream to breed them, but unfortunately that wasn’t meant to be.
My Dad always said, when I was born, he worried there was only black hair coming out:
Though that didn’t last long, by the time I was one it was brown:
And it’s only gotten blonder ever since.
My Dad said my sister was born with no hair (I just called her chubby and struggled to get my arms around her):
My Dad had Asperger Syndrome
(I’m borderline Asperger, right on the edge, but my emotional intelligence is too high), which, in his case, mainly manifested in his great dislike for most social gatherings, difficulty in handling emotions, keen interest in specific topics (such as computers), literal interpretations of conversations (e.g., “Hey Dad, don’t you like my drawing” – “that’s right, I don’t like your drawing” … but, had you said “hey Dad do you like my drawing”, he would’ve said “yes, I do like your drawing”, but he was a stickler for interpreting things literally and teasing you if you didn’t pay attention to what you were saying). When my sister was a few years old, we lived in a house where my Dad’s office was upstairs, one day, as he was going up to his office after dinner, she asked my Mum “Is Dad going home now?”.
My Dad was opinionated (as am I), and taught me to be able to explain why I believe in something, what are my reasons and where do I get them from. He taught me to think for myself, and to not just accept mainstream ideas without questioning them first.
My Dad smoked since he was 14, and I watched him try to quit so many times throughout my childhood. He always told us never to start smoking.
My Dad was diagnosed with lymphoma when I was 15 years old, through chemotherapy and radiation therapy he was cured. Then 9 months later he was diagnosed with lung cancer (separate counts of cancer, it was not the lymphoma that had spread). He was lucky, they said, it was located in just the lower third of his right lung, they removed the cancer and the lower third of his right lung on my sister’s 14th birthday. The previous picture and the following are from the celebration of her birthday a month later.
They said the cancer was gone, they said he just had to recover from the radiation therapy and the chemo therapy. They were wrong. He never recovered. A year after his surgery to remove the lung cancer, the summer of 2004, they told us the cancer was back. That my Dad most likely wouldn’t live to Christmas. I watched my Dad get more and more sick. I watched him fade away as he was in and out of the hospital. I watched him get so weak, he needed oxygen pretty much 24/7. I watched him no longer able to help do the dishes for 10 mins. I watched him as he got pains so strong he needed to be on morphine. I watched how it pained him that he was no longer able to drive because of his pain killers, not even the 5 min drive to pick me up at the bus stop on a day when it was raining heavily. And then, exactly 8 years ago today he passed away.
It’s been 8 years today, and I still miss him every day. It gets easier, but it never gets easy. Some situations and periods are harder than others. I sometimes forget that I cannot just pick up the phone and call him, or email him. That it’s not just because I haven’t talked to him for a while, that he’s really gone.
It hurts me that he’ll never get to know the important people in my life. That if I one day choose to have kids, they’ll never know their grandfather. That he did not get to watch my sisters and I grow up. That he didn’t get to know my nephew. I know that he’d be proud of me, of us, but it doesn’t make it easier. It doesn’t make up for getting a hug from your Dad, and hearing him tell you he loves you. It doesn’t make up for not being able to ask for advice, or discuss important issues – even if you know you’re going to disagree on them.
Please, don’t forget to hug your parents and your loved ones and tell them how much you love them. Don’t forget to treasure every day you get to have them, nothing lasts forever so make the most of every day you’re given, so that if you, should lose someone at a young age (or even at an old age), you’ll have no regrets, no what-if’s, and I wish I’d…
This is a translation of a poem I wrote for my dad, back in 2007:
Part of Me
And are you gone now?
Cannot see you
Cannot reach you
Appearances were seen
in a never ending score
And I can make it on my own
would’ve liked you to be here
taking my hand
showing me the way
– one last time
And are you still here?
A part of me
A part of you
Make It Go – Kina Grannis
“Oh, no, I never showed you all my tears
’cause I don’t want it to be something that’s real
And I hoped that somehow my love might make it go
And I apologize for never showing I cared
But with all the fear and pain, I felt no words could compare
I was so wrong, it wasn’t strong not to share
The feelings in my heart, my nightmares, and the dreams that I bear
How could I, how could I go
Go so long and not let you know
That I’m so scared and so angry, too?
It’s so unfair, why did this happen to you?