I'm doing something a bit different this week and using my time here to pay tribute to my Dad. Last Thursday, was the four year anniversary of his passing.
Not a day goes by, that I do not miss him.
My father was diagnosed with Central Nervous System Lymphoma in December of 2006, and most of the following year was spent going thru surgeries for his brain tumors and various forms of Chemo treatments. There were good days and bad, but never once did he complain. He kept his sense of humor intact, as well as his love for others around him. By late December of 2007, various complications caused him to be rushed to the hospital. That night in late December, I was sitting in the ICU watching my mom hold his hand, and candidly snapped a photo of them with my cellphone.
We truly did not think he was going to make it, and I wanted to capture that moment of love between he and my mom. He pulled through, thanks to the attentive care and decisions made by the doctors on duty that night. I spent the next night alone with him in the dark talking to him, not knowing if he could hear me, but he indeed heard my life stories. I kept looking at that photo and not knowing what the next days or months would bring, decided to start a photo journal of his hands and those holding them. It helped give me strength during that time as well.
Throughout that following year (2008) he continued to fight the battle, and once again, there were good days and bad days, all without complaint, but during that time we all continued to make memories together. I kept taking photos using only my cellphone as it was with me at all times. During that time, my Dad and Mom taught me so much, and proved to me that true love does indeed exist. His last words to my Mom were, "Goodnight My Dear", the same thing he told her every night for 57 years.
He truly made a difference in my life, with his caring, giving, sense of humor, and putting others before himself always.
Keeping that quick wit and dry sense of humor (which I personally try to keep alive) was with him until the end. During my time alone with him while saying our last goodbyes, I said to him "It's going to be OK." My dad whispered back, "Convince me.” I was at a loss for words, which is indeed rare. There was nothing I could say, and finally just laughed, he saw that, and chuckled softly as well and squeezed my had a bit tighter.
Sadly, he lost the battle on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 11:05 am CST, at home where he wanted to be, in his own bed, with my Mom by his side. After his last breath, I looked at my Mom and said "You know there is one more photo to take", she looked at me and said "Absolutely.”
We all sat in that room and started sharing stories, almost in a “big fish” manner and even shared a few laughs as well. Dad would have wanted it that way. At his funeral, my mom, who always was one to put a few things in with loved ones to take with them on their journey, included (among other things) a TV remote control, as our own personal joke. She later said, she had not seen a TV commercial in many years, as Dad would always flip through the channels when one came on. That too brought some laughter during that time of sorrow to the crowd that came to pay their respects.
A few days later, my Mom said she had something she was wanting to show me, but had waited to do so. It was a photo of their hands taken on the day of their wedding. Those hands held on to each other for an entire lifetime.
I returned to school (after a 36 year career) two years later, and one of the classes I took was an art class, I always loved to draw, but never had a “real” class. My final project was a work in charcoal. I had never done one before, and chose to do one of my Dad's hand from one of those photos I had taken. It was as if he was guiding me while I was doing it, and I felt an incredible peace within me during the entire time I was working on it. I completed it in April of 2010, almost to the day of his passing.
My Dad loved nature, rainy days and sunny ones, the words he wanted on his headstone were to read, 'Warm Summer Sun Shine Kindly Here,” and it does.
I am deeply grateful for the memories we were able to create and share together during this time, and I will cherish them forever. My sincere and heartfelt thanks to all of you who were with me on this journey, and still are, as the healing continues. For all of your thoughts, your Prayers and your sincere words of love, I remain forever grateful.
I want to end this by including something he wanted, but never got.
A few weeks ago, we were going through his desk and on a folded piece of paper in the back of a drawer, in his handwriting, was a traditional poem he loved, and kept, and we assumed wanted read, with the final sentence being his words. We never had the chance, so I will include it here.
I Wish You Enough
I wish you enough Sun to keep your attitude Bright.
I wish you enough Rain to appreciate the Sun more.
I wish you enough Happiness to keep your Spirit alive.
I wish you enough Pain so that the smallest Joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough Gain to satisfy your Wanting.
I wish you enough Loss to appreciate all that you Possess.
I wish enough Hello's to get you through the 'Final Goodbye'.
My Family and Loved Ones, I Wish You Enough.