My dad

I got the phone call I did not want, but was expecting. My father passed away.

He was diagnosed with acute leukemia last November. He tried chemotherapy but it had little effect. He had many blood transfusions (thank you donors). More recently he developed congestive heart failure, pneumonia and a subdural hematoma from falling out of bed.

It was time and he was ready. We all were, but it is still really fucking hard.

My dad was 84 at the time of his passing on Sunday May 11th. My mom is 82 and they celebrated their 63 wedding anniversary in March. I am the youngest of 4. I have a brother and two sisters. They were all amazing during this whole process. My sisters both took time off work to take dad to chemotherapy and other doctors appointments. My oldest sister handled dad’s meds, grocery shopping for mom and dad. They have shown me what family is. True heroes. My brother flew his family in from California and was there holding dad’s hand when he took his last breath. My dad was preceded by one of his sisters and is survived by another sister and a brother.

Most of my dad’s life was spent making custom cabinets and woodworking at a small business he shared with a partner. I remember going to work with him many times when I was younger. Helping sweep the shop, installing cabinets and being an extra pair of hands when he needed them. I will always love the smell of fresh cut wood.

Dad was a story teller and had a wonderful sense of humor. It was this that led to my first realization that I was like my dad. When I was in my early teens, this thought terrified me. Now I understand how lucky I am. The day before he passed away he pulled a joke on the four of us by pretending to be dead for a few moments. We all laughed and cried.

About a week ago, we were visiting my dad and he was telling us some stories from his Air Force days. He mostly did wood working while in the service. He was stationed in Chicago and has a picture of the Enola Gay when it was there. Some of this stories I had never heard before. It made me so happy to hear them, it also broke my heart that these stories would be gone. I wondered what other stories we had not heard.

Dad would give you the shirt off of his back and then anything else you might need. Like my sister said today, he was a simple man that had an extraordinary life. He was deeply loved by all that knew him.

I was very fortunate to have some time off between jobs and get to spend extra time with my dad during this time. Before I left him at the hospice for the last time, I told him he was an amazing father and thanked him for everything. The last words I said to him were “I Love You”

I am lucky to have had him as a father and luckier still to be like him.

Doug

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Mom & Dad

Today is my dad’s 84th birthday. On the 16th, my mom turned 82.

I can almost remember the first time I realized I was my dad, or close enough to make a teenager sweat. At a young age I already had his mannerisms, speech patterns and sense of humor. His ability to tell the same story over and over again without noticing.

The first few times I knew I was becoming my father, I was very unhappy. What teenage boy wants to grow up and be his dad?

As I got older, I understood how much I wanted to be like my dad. Now, as I understand how finite my father’s life is, how happy I am that I am like him. I got the best parts of him.

A few months ago, my dad was diagnosed with acute leukemia, ten days earlier my mother under went surgery to remove a non-aggressive lymphoma. She has since recovered. He has had three rounds of chemotherapy. The chemo he is on has a 40% success rate. It is starting to look like he is in the 60%.

When you are young, you never think of your parents dying. As you get older, you start to realize it will happen some day. Some day has become very real.  For me, I now understand, that as the youngest of four, I might be the last to go. My eldest sister is 15 years older them I am. The last few months have been very sobering. This is starting to feel like the balance for being the spoiled youngest to be the one that might have to see the rest pass before you.

What do I say to the man who has given me so very much? How do I even start to say goodbye while he is still here? I know I can never express it properly, I can never show enough gratitude.

I gave my dad a Superman themed birthday card last Saturday. I wrote in it that he has always been my hero.

Happy Birthday Dad.

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