Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Dad

Dad 1943-2009

This is about my dad. My hard working, strong (fighting cancer), funny, loving, dad. He died on Tuesday, May 5th 2009. I was totally shocked. Even though he had been sick with terminal cancer since January 2007, I was completely caught off guard. I knew he was riddled with this horrible disease, I knew he was severely de-hydrated, I knew he was in renal failure, but somehow I thought he had more time. Probably because every doctor that spoke to us said he had like one or two weeks left. I knew it wouldn’t be that long, but I really thought I had more time. More time for closure. More time to say the things I needed to say to him my whole life but never could. But I didn’t . It never happened. The beautiful moment I envisioned of me and my Dad apologizing for all the terrible things we’ve said to each other our whole lives then proclaiming our love for each other, and him passing painlessly into eternal peace, did not happen. I had been planning what to say to him for a long time now, and I feel gypped... We (my Mom and I) left him alone at the hospital, for what was supposed to be just overnight, Just a few hours, to get some much needed sleep, and he slipped away. Why? That was my big question that night/morning after the 3am phone call from the hospital telling me he was gone. Why? Why wasn’t I given the chance to say those things? Was it because he already knew them? Was it because I said them too late? Or was it because I was too chicken to tell him when I had the chance? I will never know. I only know that I have regret. When I was an adolescent, or a bratty young adult, for that matter, I never pictured this day. The day when every thing I ever wished I hadn't said comes back to haunt me. I remember him working hard driving a taxi in New York to provide for our family and me being terribly ungrateful and embarrassed of it. I try to forget that I ever made him feel less than totally respected or completely loved. I try to forget that we disagreed on almost everything political or financial. And focus on the present. But here I am in the present, never having confronted the past, with no future to speak of, as far as a father/daughter relationship is concerned.
I hear from everyone that I should cherish the 2 ½ years that I had with him, on borrowed time. I kinda don’t. I know that is sooo wrong. But the last 2 ½ years have been HELL. We worried about and cared for him every single day of that. Our whole family’s existence became “Daddy has Cancer” 24/7. He was in terrible pain and miserable about 2 of that 2 and a half years. We saw him deteriorate from this baby faced, fun Grandpa, to a 98 lb broken, sad, old man, who couldn't eat or drink and was in excrutiating pain most of the time. It was heart-breaking to watch. And even more torturous to see my mom try and take care of him when we all knew what the outcome would eventually be.
Granted, we were lucky to have vacationed with him, (Leucadia, Ca for a week in a Beach House and a ten day trip back to out hometown Harrison,New York to see family and friends), he was able to see his grandson be born (Sep of 08) after having only granddaughters for 12 years, he saw the Giants win the Super Bowl again (in AZ, I might add) , he saw the Sopranos series finale (big deal, if you‘re Italian) , he saw our new president (although, he was not too thrilled about it…) and got to see the “new” Yankee Stadium, but he said they (the Yankees) didn’t deserve it (I totally agree!). I just wished he had lived long enough to see Adam Lambert lose American Idol, because that would have really made him happy.
I guess I have to believe that one reason we got those extra years was to reconnect, because I think I spoke to my dad more in the past 28 months than I did the whole rest of my life put together. It seemed as if we (me and my Dad) never really had much to say to each other before I had kids. And then he became someone that I never knew. He adored those children. They really and truly were the Light of His Life. I saw a side to him I didn't know existed. He didn't have to say it, but I knew, he loved them with all his heart. He was a man of few words, my father. Before he had cancer, we could sit in the same room for hours without barely saying a word to each other, and then all of that changed. Maybe it was because he had nothing but free time now, since he stopped working but, I had actual conversations with him. We discussed politics and child-rearing and pop-culture, everything but the elephant in the room. Oh Well...

I can’t believe he is really gone… What are we gonna do without him? How is my mom gonna live without having someone to take care of every second of every day? How are my kids gonna handle not being totally spoiled and unconditionally loved by someone that can teach them long division? How are we all gonna get through Father’s Day this year? How am I gonna go on knowing that my Daddy is not there to always protect me? IT SUCKS! I miss him so much already and It's only been one month...How are we gonna handle FOREVER? But, I guess, if that’s how I feel, he already knows what I wanted to say so badly, and I don’t have to worry. I just wish I had the chance to tell him. “I Love you Dad. And I will ALWAYS miss you, every day. And, even I if you didn’t know it or believe it, I am very proud of you and honored to be your child”.

(PS sorry for the sappy post, I will post a funny one soon, as Mel Brooks says Tragedy + Time = Comedy)