So much has happened and I’ve written about none of it. I suppose I’ve been busy. Busy being a daughter, a lover, a friend, and a worker. Life like it was ceases to exist. I had time before. So much time. Now, time seems to be a hot commodity where my goal list is longer than my “I’ve done it” list. So I’ll start from the end and work my way back. My Father passed away on October 13, 2022.
I was the fierce defender of my Father for so many years. He was the one who could do no wrong. He was the one who didn’t defend me in order to stand by my Mother. He was the one I respected and hoped for when I eventually met my life partner. I wanted someone just like him. 100% committed and family oriented. That said, what we see as children or young adults isn’t always the truth. That said, a lot of lessons I have learned from my Father. A lot of things he said, I’ll use in my life going forward.
The Beginning of the End of my Father’s Life
The last few weeks of his life were brutal. He fell on September 17th, 2022. A day after my dead brother’s 60th birthday. We had a gathering the night before as a family. He didn’t feel well at all. Hence, the beginning to another tragedy that started on September 16th.
For three weeks, my partner and I lived with my parents. We got him up in the morning, took him to the washroom, and put him in his chair. I fed him. I saw parts of him I never wanted to see, but out of sheer desperation to help, I did it. Until, I could do it no more. My body was tired. I too am going on 50. I couldn’t hold up a six foot 85-year old man for any length of time.
The absolute worst thing I had to do in my lifetime was to state to the hospital that he could never come home again. We were exhausted ,and without any support, it was an impossible feat since he had no function of his arms or legs.
Not once did he complain. He was high maintenance, but he never complained.
The Journey of Life Lessons
While he was physically down, mentally he was on tap! Dad and I had many a discussion. One being that of his sister and their estranged relationship. He wanted to talk to her so I gave him the opportunity to call. He explained to me that it was a sin to leave the World bitter. My response to him was this.
“I will always respect your wishes, however, time always heals all bitterness. You can forgive a person and choose to never have them in your life again. That’s not being bitter. That’s respecting yourself and your need to have only those who you 100% trust in your life. The choice is yours”
He didn’t make the call that day. I knew in my heart he felt that he was being bitter by not calling her though.
When I told the hospital that he could not return home without sufficient support, the hospital moved into full gear. The MRI results proved that he was palliative enough to recommend him to the local hospice in our region. He was in the hospital and we needed him out of there too. He was quickly approved and moved to Sakura House in Woodstock. A wonderful place where people go to spend their last days.
The staff there were amazing. Whatever he wanted, he got. He was a very high maintenance palliative care patient and we’d often joke about that.
His sister visited and I knew he was at peace.
I don’t think he realized that he was dying even though he was told that numerous times. One evening, he was told by the doctor, after asking to get up and sit in a chair, that he would never walk again. I have never seen my Dad so distraught. He got me to call my Mom so he could tell her. He also had me call his Sister. With that, I just know that he wanted love and support from all.
Am I dying?
Dad improved tremendously when he arrived at Sakura, until he didn’t. It wasn’t long before you could see the slow walk to death happening. Once he was on stronger pain meds, his voice started to weaken. I had to put my ear to his mouth to hear what he was saying. One day out of frustration, I said “I can’t understand what you’re saying!” I bent down again, he snatched a kiss on my cheek. My Brother and I both laughed.
The next day, my Mom and I arrived. He said “Something’s happening to me.” I asked him what he meant.
He asked, “How’s Mom?”
I said, “Well she’s ok but very worried about you.”
He responded, “I am too. Am I dying?”
I was stunned. I didn’t know what to say. If I said yes, would it tear him apart. If I said no, I’d be lying and I wouldn’t do that. So my answer was that he was being well taken care of and we hope that he will be with us for a long time to come.
However, silently I prayed he’d be taken out of his misery.
Take Me Outside
Two nights before my Father died, he pretty much yelled, “Let’s go!” I asked him where.
He said, “Outside.”
So, we took him outside. My Parents, my brother, and myself had such a nice time outside. I fed him some soup, but he wanted the sun. Until, the sun was too bright for him to bear.
He was thirteen days at Sakura House and I was in production at my job. I went to work for two miserable days since September 17th. That Thursday, I arrived at work and 40 minutes later, he died with my Brother and Mother by his side.
I quickly drove to the hospice and sat with my Dad for over 2 hours. He lay still, we kept talking and memorializing him. It was beautiful. Mom, Father, Son and Daughter, the holder of all family memories and one has passed who takes with them family memories and family secrets that maybe we will never know.
The Last Goodbye
When the funeral home arrived, my Mom walked beside my Father as they wheeled him out on a stretcher. His face out, he was ushered out the front doors. As we walked the halls, Love Me Tender played and the staff at Sakura all stopped and honoured his last mile. When we arrived outside, it was chilly. We all gave our final kisses before he was put in the van. A single rose laid on his chest.
I looked behind me and saw the staff standing alongside the sidewalk. Arm in front, with deep respect in their eyes. It was a moment that I’ll never forget.
Mother, Son, Daughter, and those who looked after him in his final days saying goodbye and honouring him one last time at his final resting place.
Lessons Learned From My Father
There’s a lot of things that were revealed over the years about my Father. Some that diminished my views of him, while others made me realize that he was human, gentle and kind.
I do know that he didn’t want to leave the Earth bitter, and he didn’t. For that, I’m so proud of him. His version of being bitter and my own are completely different perspectives. For him, it was never let a person in your life go without saying Goodbye, no matter how much pain they caused you. For myself, it was don’t be bitter, always wish them well, and carry on with your life and embrace those who embrace you. But who knows, maybe when I’m as close to death as he was, I’d think differently too.
Age changes us. It makes most of us softer, wiser, and kinder people.
My Dad had a joy of life. He loved his kids, his grandkid, and his great grandson. We all brought him so much joy. He was worried about my Mother and how she would fair once he passed. She’s not doing well, and I think he knew that is exactly what would happen. They were life partners. They invested in each other til death do them part.
That’s the greatest lesson I’ve learned from my Father. He wasn’t going anywhere. He was going to rekindle his relationship with his sister at the time of his death. The things him and my mom went through, they forged ahead. He made decisions in life as we all do. He wasn’t perfect. I won’t call his decision mistakes. People who make decisions that affect others know exactly what they are doing. However, he had a good woman by his side who forged ahead and who loved him more than life itself.
Family, his wife who assisted in the creation of his family, mattered first, no matter what family secrets still are left untold.
That’s the partner I aspire to have….if not, I’ll fly solo and make myself the best partner one can hope for.