My father’s cancer journey and death instantly opened my eyes to the countless sacrafices both my parents continuously made for my sister and I our entire lives, even when my Dad was dying.
My Dad was the one who taught me how to throw a baseball, taught me how to dance while standing on top of his feet, took me out for chocolate ice cream on a hot summer day, and always made sure I had fresh parmesan cheese on my pasta…I’m Italian so that’s important! My Dad held my hand my entire life and always had his white handkerchief available to wipe my tears. My Dad was my real life super hero.
During my teen years my Dad spent many nights on the couch pretending to watch TV while waiting for me to come home from a “late night” out. I still remember the look of relief on his face when I would walk through the front door. During my college years, he tolerated my obnoxious need to challenge everything and my independent behavior. When I came home one afternoon and declared my desire to smoke cigarettes he smiled and said “Ok, but we smoke the first cigarette together.” I tried one cigarette and quickly decided that wasn’t for me.
I can still hear my Dad laughing in disbelief at some of the boyfriends I would bring home. I had a strict curfew, and he made sure every single date that stepped foot into our home knew it. He proudly informed my dates, “She has to be home at 12:00, NOT 12:01, 12:00, I’m a nice guy so don’t make me angry. Have fun, but not too much fun. Remember 12:00 on the dot.”
During my college years, he built a strong foundation of encouragement, love and support. When I spread my wings and went into the “real world” looking for my first real job he was always available for advice or to just listen, regardless of how trite my issues were. I remained his baby while growing up into a woman that quickly realized I would always need my father by my side.
Throughout my entire adult life my father was my confidant and best friend. Despite the fact that my father’s cancer eradicated his body, cancer was never, ever able to rob the magnificent father daughter relationship we shared. Despite how sick and frail his body became, in my eyes, my father always remained a larger than life, super hero.
Like many fathers, my Dad lived for his wife and children. Lately I am beginning to think that there was a greater reason for his cancer journey and his death. My mother was my father’s caregiver for seven years. They would have been married 43 years this past May. My father’s dying wish was for the world knew how fortunate he was to have a wife like my mother. Family was everything to my father and he was eternally grateful for the selfless acts of caregiving my mother provided for him throughout their marriage and his sickness. Even now, in his death I have vivid dreams of my Dad asking me to tell my mother how much he loves her, and even now in his death, we are finding love notes my father left behind for my mother.
Two days before my father died, he held my hand looked at me straight in the eyes and said, “Always remember I’m alive because of your mother. She has dedicated her life to take care of me. Now I need you and your sister to look out for her. I will always love you and I will always be with you.” The love my parents shared was a once in a lifetime kind of love. I believe my mother was able to provide the type of care she did for so long because my parents had a marriage that fostered true altruism and unconditional love. Throughout my entire life, including my father’s cancer I was given front row seats to see what true, unconditional love is. Now in my father’s death, I am seeing, every single day that love never dies.
As I walk my grief journey I am evolving into a stronger person, a more patient person, a more compassionate person. My father’s death has taught me that the simple things in life — a cup of coffee with a loved one, a daily phone call just to say hello, a walk on the beach, a sunset, a sunrise, even a rainstorm — all deserve tremendous gratitude.
Life is too short to waste time on the trivial matters.
As we expereince the ebb and flow of our grief, despite how much we are drowning in our sorrow, we should not hinder the legacy of our loved one.
My father is forever a part of me and lives on through my actions.
Love is stronger than death even though it can’t stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.
– Author Unknown