The 6 Words That Would Change My Life

Today marks exactly one year since I heard the most dreadful 6 words…

You have stage IV lung cancer

My dad and I sat in the oncologists office anticipating his biopsy results. The doctor walked in, sat down, and wasted no time informing us of my fathers diagnosis. I can’t blame her for being so direct. I would have rather heard it immediately vs. having more time to hope and pray for good news.

As soon as I woke up this morning, I thought about what this day meant. What this date exactly one year ago did to my family. I mentioned it to no one today. I sat silently thinking about my father’s reaction to the news. He simply put his head down. I can only explain it as the way someone might do when they have been defeated. I tried to be strong in the office. I tried to hold myself together, at least until I could get home and cry silently.

The oncologist explained to us that chemotherapy would allow my father more time. She never gave us false hope, we knew that he was terminal from that point on, but he decided that he wanted as much time as he could get to spend with his family. I still had not cried. I almost feel that I was frozen, like I was in shock.

She led us to the desk where there was a very friendly nurse who would schedule dad’s first chemotherapy appointment. As we stood there waiting for her to make the arrangements, I broke down. I could not hold it in any longer. I was going to lose my dad and the ocean of tears began running down my face until I found myself struggling to gain control.

Today, my daughter and I were in the car. She looked at her phone, and all I can gather is she had a memory come up from one of her social media accounts. She said to me:

My daughter at miniature golf

Mom, 3 years ago today we were in Florida with grandpa playing miniature golf.

I said:

Honey, 1 year ago today grandpa received the news of his cancer.

It’s almost surreal to me that on this very same day 3 years ago, my daughter and I were in Florida enjoying time with my dad. Playing miniature golf and going to Wahlburgers for lunch.

That’s my dad eating his burger

She asked me, “do you think it means something”?

I said to her that anymore I think every little detail means something. I think that the praying mantis that rested on the outside of my kitchen window for an entire day the day that we sold my father’s house meant something. I think that the penny I found underneath the recliner where my dad spent most of his final days meant something. I think that the white feather that landed on my windshield a few weeks ago when I was at a stoplight meant something. Everything means something to me, I just don’t know what that is. Maybe it’s me just trying to hold onto any shred of my father.

I don’t know. All I know is that I miss him more now than I ever thought possible. There is no such thing as preparing for a loved one’s death.

 

 

 

A Year Since My Father’s Anticipated Visit to Ohio

Today marks one year since I received that call from my dad. He was in Pennsylvania for his cousin’s daughters wedding. He was not feeling well since leaving Florida when he drove 1,000 miles for his semi-annual visit to Ohio, but first he made a pit-stop to PA for the wedding.

His cousin took him to the urgent care center in Pennsylvania where they recommended he go to the emergency room. He told them that he would be heading to Ohio in the morning and he would have his daughters take him.

He never even made it to the reception.

Looking back on it now, I cannot help but think that my Dad knew something serious was wrong.

When he called me and explained how he was feeling and that the urgent care advised him to go to the ER, I offered to come to Pennsylvania with my sister, and we could bring him and his car home so he would not have to make the drive. He declined.

He arrived at 12:00pm almost exact on Monday, October 8, 2018, and by 12:15pm, we were headed to the emergency room after stopping to pick up my sister.

We waited 8 hours in the ER waiting room. Little did we know that this 8 hours would be the last time we would spend with my father without the loom of cancer over our heads.

I remember the doctor saying that he doubted it was cancer because my father quit smoking 25 years before.

Unfortunately, the doctor’s doubts were wrong.

Happy Fathers Day in Heaven Dad

I woke up early this morning to the realization that today is going to be a very difficult day for me.

I think about you every day, and sometimes all day. I laugh, I cry, but I always try to end with a smile. Maybe about something that you said or did, or just the sounds you would make when you ate a good meal. Those memories never fade.

I know that you are at peace, and I think it is great that you have your father in heaven with you. Have a beer and catch up.

I am thinking about getting the truck out today and taking it for a spin. I know, the tags are expired, but there is nothing I can do about that right now, so I think I’ll take my chances. Both of the kids have a part of you in their necklaces, so maybe I will borrow you for a bit so you can ride along.

I miss you so much, but I am trying to stay strong because that is what you would be telling me to do.

So for you Dad, on this Fathers Day, I want you to know that if every child in America had a father like you, we would have a country filled with love, laughter, and strength. That is what you have always been to me, and will always be.

Happy Fathers Day Dad! I love you!

 

 

Papa Joined Nana in Heaven Today

For those of you who may not be familiar with my blog posts, on October 24, 2018, not even 2 weeks after learning about my fathers lung cancer diagnosis, we lost my husbands grandmother Lorraine (Nana). Today, we lost her husband Mike (aka Leo, aka Papa). Mike was my husbands step-grandfather, but if you wanted to remove the “step”, it would be appropriate. Mike was a great grandfather to my husband for the majority of his life, and was a very big part of my children’s lives as well.

He owned and operated a body shop for many many years, and enjoyed his spare time at Lake Erie with Nana, and anyone else who was able to make the trip for the weekend. As a family, we spent many weekends (but not enough) at the lake where we enjoyed summer days on the boat while I tanned and my husband and children fished.

There is something to be said about a marriage that lasts 50+ years, and Mike and Lorraine spoke volumes about love and commitment. They laughed, they fought, and they loved. Papa, I am sad to lose you but I am happy that you and Nana are united once again. In less than 6 months, your love for Nana won, and you joined her in heaven to fish while Nana drank her Vodka on the rocks.

We will miss and love you both, and we are so happy that we were able to tell you good-bye last night. May you both rest in peace, and enjoy one another for eternity.

2 Months Since I Lost You

Dear Dad,

I cannot even speak your name without emotions creeping up one me. I can’t watch a commercial without emotions creeping up on me. I can’t hear of someone else who has a terminal illness without emotions creeping up one me.

Honestly Dad, I just can’t think of anything at all without emotions creeping up on me. But you know what, I would not have it any other way. If I have to cry every day for eternity I am good with it. If I have to cry for every person that I know who is diagnosed with cancer, I am good with it.

I know that I will forever be grateful that I had you as a father, and I am convinced that you are watching over me, us.

As I type this, once again, I am listening to Pandora through your waterproof Bluetooth speaker that we got you for your 69th birthday last year. I am balling my eyes out right now to Tuesday’s Gone by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I can’t help it. When I hear a song you liked, I like it even more. I feel at peace when I listen to music, even if it means that I cry.

Although it has been a little while since I wrote, this blog is my therapy. It allows me to cry, scream, smile, love, and every emotion in between because no one else is watching.

I love you so much that I can’t explain it. I never thought about how much it would hurt to lose you because I never had to. But now I have to think about it… every single day.

All I know is that I love you more than words can say, and I miss you dearly every single day. Please keep watching over us and know that you are loved unconditionally by everyone who ever had the pleasure of calling you their father, son,  grandfather, brother, relative, or friend.

You were one of a kind!