I’ve been quiet for a while because the difficult time that I just went through was impossible to capture when it was so emotionally gut wrenching.
A few years ago, my father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He battled his way through each round of treatment, always with his trademark dignity and good humour intact. Somehow I thought he would live forever – he was still golfing right up until last year.
I went to visit him the week after Father’s Day. He had started to fail and was losing quite a bit of weight. We all knew the end was coming, but I was still in denial until I saw him in person. He was down to 140 lbs and didn’t look like my dad. He said his stomach was bothering him, so I got him some Maalox (I am not in the least medical – my cures run more to herbal remedies) and hoped that would help. The next day he said that he couldn’t go to church because his stomach was too sore. That was Red Alert. My father never missed church (or hockey games). I called my sisters (who are medical people by trade) and they agreed he needed to go to the hospital.
It turned out that the medication he had been taking for pain control had eaten a hole in his stomach and caused an ulcer so bad that the contents were sloshing around his abdominal cavity. He had to have 1/3 of his stomach removed, and at age 81 with compromised lungs, it looked grim. I went back and forth many times over the weeks following. Sometimes he’d have good days and sometimes we barely made it through.
Long hours were spent in the waiting room and at his bedside. Each sibling quietly telling Dad what they needed him to hear. I spent the time quietly knitting and sending him healing thoughts. He passed in and out of consciousness and at the end, slipped into a coma. He passed on July 18th at 4:15 with all of us at his side. I have never felt closer to my siblings than I did at that time. When one of us failed, the other offered a quiet hug or a pat on the back.
I am blessed to have had such a wonderful supportive man in my life. He is the man that all other men in my life are compared to. He showed us all that living with little money didn’t matter as long as you had family and faith.
He is now “up there” with my mom, arguing about wallpaper, eating cream puffs and shooting holes in one.