On January 14, 2010, around 5:30 am, my father passed away at home from a relatively short bout with a very aggressive cancer. He had just turned 59 in December.
We first found out in May 2009, and, as these these things often do, it looked like it would respond well to treatment.
Treatment took a lot out of dad, but he held up well.
We all thought there would be more time, but the cancer that had started slowly in his pancreas earlier this year, and which seemed to be responding to treatment, very quickly spread over the last week or so.
Just a few days before he passed, it took very hard turn for the worse, and my dad stayed in a bed (the couch, and then a hospital bed the hospice sent over) since then. My mum and sisters and I were all able to be with him at home in CT, and while he couldn’t talk to us, you could see that he heard us and understood what was going on around him. When he was still able to move his arms a few days ago, he’d ask for hugs from us by raising them up. My mum was a real saint, staying by his side 24/7 for a week, getting almost no sleep in that whole time. My youngest sister too helped arrange everything and stayed with my mum
I’m thankful that the hospice nurses provided my mum with everything she needed to make his passing go smoothly at home.
My father did not drink or smoke. He was active outdoors, especially skiing, and was otherwise in good shape. He wasn’t overweight. His only vice was Coke and Popcorn. (Diet Coke and popcorn over the past decade as he got older). Don’t even think of giving him a Pepsi :)
When I visited my family for Christmas this year, my father was able to get around just fine, but was having real problems with memory and being able to think clearly. Unfortunately, he had to be admitted to the hospital just before Christmas, and had to stay until New Years Day. We feared the worst. It turned out it was a secondary infection, and had responded well to treatment.
Since I couldn’t talk to him when we were up, I was very grateful that we had a long phone conversation on New Year’s Day, right when he got out and the infection was cleared up. At the time, I didn’t know that would be the last time I got to have a two-way conversation with him.
My family lives in CT (I live in Maryland), so they weren’t really grandparents we’d visit on a whim. We did make trips up, though, and in 2006, my dad did one of the crazier things he’s done in a while: he bought a motorcycle (he had one back in the 70’s and 80’s, and had me ride on the back of the bike seat with him to Cape Cod (a 3 hour highway trip) when I was 5 or 6 years old – something that might be frowned on today <g>) He then rode the bike down to Maryland to see us all, especially his new grandson. (When Ben was born, there was a terrible snow storm, so no one could make it down to see him right then.) The ride took him 12 hours to do, and was the longest he’d done on the new bike.
My dad always loved babies, especially his grandchildren (my two children), nieces and nephews. I’m glad he had the chance to spend time with us, and I’m glad Ben is old enough to remember his Grandpa when he gets older. I’m glad that I got to spend some more time with him this week, and that he got to see his grandson one last time.
I’ll close with this picture, taken in 2006 when he took that long motorcycle ride down to visit us. It was a crazy thing to do, and I love him for it.
Good bye dad. I miss you.