13 June 2012

Motherly advice

My father hadn't been feeling well for many months but chalked it up to stress since he just opened a new restaurant. He started drastically losing weight and finally decided to check into a hospital on May 24 to determine what exactly was going on.

On May 25 the word came back to his family of the diagnosis. We were pre-warned that it was going to be bad. Pancreatic cancer, late or end stage, and not operable. My father is not telling us what his expected life expectancy is but from a quick Internet search it is easy to see that he may not have long. I am not saying that to be pessimistic, but realistic. I hope and pray every day he will surprise us and live for many years.

1970 Tisdale, Saskatchewan
He opted for a clinical trial and has had the first round of chemotherapy. He is exhausted, very nauseous, and I believe, becoming depressed. The same man who a month ago was flying to and from Thunder Bay, launching a restaurant, preparing for the opening of his fishing lodge and planning his next adventure overseas is now stuck, sitting, helpless, unable to stay awake and frustrated by his body telling him his time is coming.

Since the diagnosis, well-meaning friends and relatives have been offering advice and words intended to comfort me. Some of the words do help, although I find that I feel the most helped when the person simply lets me do the talking. Remembering this I have been talking to my children about the possibility of their beloved grandfather (the only one they really have in their lives) not being able to see them again.

My children are 20, 17 and 13 years old respectively.  Last night I blurted out to "prepare for the worst, but hope for the best". And then I listened. And cried. And listened some more.

When I hung up the phone though, I wondered how I could follow my own advice. How do you "prepare" for the death of your father? Should I write, scream, cry, rail at the fates, what? There really isn't anyway to prepare yourself other than to feel it and try not to let it overwhelm you.

Me and my father have always had a rocky relationship. Neither one of us likes to be told what we should do, even from someone with the best intentions. My father wasn't always present in mine or my children's lives and I used to carry resentment that my sisters and brother's families had him to themselves mostly. I used to come to town with my kids for a visit and he would be there for a big family gathering one day and then flying out of town the next for a business trip. We very rarely had any one-on-one time with him; handfuls of those moments over the years would not add up to much. But those times were still precious and my children are better off.

2010 Cruise
Because that's who he is. I love him and have learned to accept him for that over the past couple of years. I've let go of my resentment. I just remember how I felt when someone told me that I was crazy to quit my cushy government job and go back to school or that I should have stayed married to a seemingly good man instead of divorcing him. No one really knows what happens behind closed doors. No one really knows what one can live with or what one is capable of doing.

Except for you.

I've made mistakes, I've thrown alot of baggage away and I've learned that, like my father, I can't live my life for my children, my parents, my siblings or anyone. I live it for me and I love my father for living his life for himself. He has created a legacy in the businesses he's built and they will live on long after he's gone. I know he always wanted me to be more of a part of them but I learned from the master. I follow my footsteps to where I need to be. I hope my children do too ♥