Daddy’s Resting in Peace
October 4th, 2011 I became an orphan. It sounds crazy to say I am a 47-year-old orphan but it’s how I feel. My dad lost his valiant fight to remain alive while cancer cells ravaged his body. At his service I told all in attendance my first thought when dad passed was, it’s too soon. Carol passed too soon, my mom passed too soon, yes I feel cheated, yes I am feeling sorry for myself. But when I got over myself and looked more closely at what my dad accomplished during his time here it shed’s a different light. My dad in his lifetime raised two responsible, compassionate human beings, (if I do say so myself?!?!?), he had a great love of his life – Carol, my parents loved each other, I know that, but they were not compatible, he was surrounded by family and friends that adored him. He had an incredible network of people who would do just about anything for him. So while I feel he left us too soon he lived a full, beautiful life.
My dad was actually fortunate to live this long. When he was three years old he was struck by a car, and subsequently pronounced dead at the hospital. As the story was told to me, there were two children that died that day, my dad and a young girl, and both were covered with sheets, a curious medical student pulled back the sheet on the little girl, then my dad, startled he announced dad was still alive. I told my brother not only does my dad owe his life to that student, so do we. Dad’s left leg was pretty severely damaged and he had to be put in traction. The medical care he received was pretty poor and the traction device was left on too long and actually grew into his skin. Dad bore very prominent scars of that until his last day.
My dad’s life with the medical profession has been precarious since the very beginning. He is pronounced dead prematurely, and in his recovery was scarred for life, but after all of that he did heal enough so he could walk again. My dad has been tough his whole life. But this latest mistake he could not bounce back from, by that I mean the missed diagnosis of his prostate cancer. The doctor we went to for a second opinion said “this is a very sad case, normally I have men that avoid going to the doctor and that’s why the cancer is not discovered until it’s too late, but you did everything you were supposed to, and you were let down.” When the doctor said that I felt like someone had knocked me in the gut and I could not get a gasp of air at first. I tried so hard to keep my composure I did not want to show my paralyzing fear in front of my dad. That doctor told us he has seen patients live 10 years with metastasized prostate cancer. I remember thinking 10 years geez is that all we have left! Little did I know it was actually 2 years not only with dad but with Carol too.
So here I sit with all these emotions, sadness, anger, bewilderment, love, gratitude, fear and the worst feeling of all is when I go numb and feel nothing. Depending on what time of day you talk to me I may be feeling one or a combination of these. When my mom died I would forget she was gone, sounds crazy but it took a while for me to stop thinking, oh I need to call mom and tell her this or that, and then quickly reality would set in. I have not done that with dad, maybe its too soon or maybe I am becoming a seasoned mourner, maybe after all these deaths I am no longer afforded the distraction of denial.
When I was with my dad late one night and the reality of his situation was becoming apparent to both of us I asked him, “dad, are you sad, mad or scared?” he wept and told me “mostly sad.” I told him I was sad too, but very proud of how hard he fought this, I told him I am not sure I could have fought as hard as he has, actually I know I couldn’t. I want so desperately to be one of those faithful people who celebrate the passing of a soul to eternal life, and don’t get me wrong I am grateful dad is no longer suffering , but I don’t feel like celebrating, I am – mostly sad.
My brother said at the Rosary that he always felt safe with dad, we both used to ride with dad on his patrols, but Robert spent many more hours on patrol, so when he says he felt safe it has a little more meaning to me. Robert was speaking for me too, I also always felt safe with dad, he also said dad was superman to him, me too. However, even superman had his kryptonite, dad’s was prostate cancer.
My dad taught me so many things; discipline, loyalty, always dress impeccably and root for the underdog. Being lifelong Rams fans we covered loyalty and rooting for the underdog in one fell swoop. I miss talking to him, critiquing the Rams games, letting him know my latest harebrained scheme, telling him what the kids were up to, and mainly just hearing his voice.
Well dad, your work here is done, enjoy your eternal rest, you’ve earned it and you deserve it. Rest in peace knowing I love you.