Blessings Recounted

It was last year, in this month of April, that I got the phone call.

My mother, trying to sound only mildly concerned, called to tell me that they had taken my dad to the hospital and they were running tests.  The catch in her voice betrayed her calm.

While working his usual Saturday morning crossword puzzle his brain had gone a little fuzzy.  He couldn’t seem to get the words to travel the familiar path from his brain to his tongue.

Don’t worry, she said, don’t worry,  I’ll call you when I know more.  I heard the phone click as she hung up, and just like the click of a light switch, my world went dark.

In 52 years, I have never known of a world without my father.  And somewhere in the part of my mind that stores all things that are unbearably true, emerged something that I had been denying since I was a little girl – that someday my father was going to die.  And now dawn was breaking on that someday.

Over the course of the next week, we would learn that my dad had cancer.  It had started in his lungs and made it’s way to the brain, which was further complicated by a multitude of other existing issues.

My parents were referred to an oncologist who laid the cards plainly on the table.  Cancer was my dad’s new landlord and this heartless landlord was serving an eviction notice.

Together my parents decided that they would not do chemo, but they would do radiation to buy some time, but whatever time they had left, they wanted it to be free of the misery that medicine often brings.

My mother asked the doctor how long he thought they might have.  Doctors don’t like to answer that question, so she asked him another way:  Could they have the summer? she asked, as if for permission.  The doctor said yes, with radiation they would probably get to enjoy the summer. But after that all bets were off.

And so that’s what they set about to do – to enjoy the last of what would be nearly 60 summers together.

As tragic and sorrowful as this past year has been, it has also blessed me in countless and unexpected ways.

The stories that follow in the coming days and weeks (or however long it takes to get it all out) are those blessings recounted.

25 thoughts on “Blessings Recounted

  1. I’m so sorry to hear this. I weep with you, for your loss and for the memory of mine–my dad has been gone 10 years this month. Can’t wait to hear your beautiful stories about your treasured, wonderful dad.


  2. Praying for the catharsis only writing can yield. My heart aches as I know I face a similar path one day. Though we affectionately call my daddy an “alien” because he is rarely daunted by human frailties, I know one day he too will find his humanness undeniable. Thanks for letting us walk this road with you.


  3. My heart hurts for you. Both my parents are waiting in heaven for me; however, my earthly self wants them here with me now. It is a journey that seems too hard, but will get easier with time. Love to you and your family.


  4. I have tears in my eyes for you – and also for my own inevitable – the moment I get that call. My father has been so incredibly beautiful in my life, and in so many other lives. Thank you for sharing this. As hard as it is, treasuring the ones we love, enriches their imprint on our lives.

    Last night, we watched Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, which I loved. I never knew it was about death, and treasuring someone up to the moment of departure. That was a big part of the movie – and it was magical. I cried and was moved and inspired all at the same time. Not that you want to watch a movie right now – but if you did – this would be a good one.


  5. You are able to tell even the toughest of stories in such a beautiful way. I so admire the way your heart works. My husband and I are at the other end of life….married almost sixty years and knowing that at any moment one of us could be gone, leaving the other lost and alone. The time flies by so quickly, that we are left wondering when did those young people suddenly get so old? But, God is good, all the time and we have enjoyed every minute of our time together. I’m sure that your parents wouldn’t have changed anything about their lives together.


  6. Great to see you in my “in” box! Dad’s are our rock, my sympathies to you. I’ve been down that road, my dad was 74 when he passed. He battled bone cancer with dignity and honor. His mission was to make the house maintenance free for mom. He got it done! Sending hugs and await your stories. Love you!


  7. I checked my reader and was excited to see a post from you, and then so sad to see *this* post from you. I’m so glad that you are taking the time, pressing through the sadness to record your father’s legacy. It may be one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever give Sean.


  8. Love and prayers to you.

    I am looking forward to reading of your experience and to hear your insights and wisdom. 16 years ago my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at age 62 and died 3 weeks later. It was enough time that I got to fly to see her and say goodbye for now. It left me with a knowledge of the uncertainty of life and an acknowledgement that our lives down here are not lived in a fair world. Thank you for letting us share your life with you.


  9. May 19, 2005 5:48pm The Call came. On my cell. As I was driving home from work.

    After all these years, Daddy finally got an MRI to figure out why his back hurt so much.

    Cancer. Multiple myeloma. Most likely, it had been at work, spreading it’s evil tentacles throughout his spine and extremities for more than 5 years.

    Chemo would give him another 6 months. But a lousy 5 months. Nope. He was 82, had lived an amazing life.

    He would take the 90 days the Dr. estimated, be surrounded by his family. No chemo, just pain management.

    We dropped everything. I gave notice at work, we gave notice on the house, were packed and on the road with what would fit in a U-Haul trailer (the rest is still in storage all these years later) and we lived in my parent’s attic for a glorious, rough, almost unbearable 95 days

    In that time, everything needing to be said was said, 2 birthdays and one wedding anniversary were celebrated, my parents renewed their wedding vows. And we were just there, day in and out even after July 7, when the morphine basically kept him out for the pain management.

    He would ‘wake up’ a bit during my ‘shift’ late at night, and ask me about my day at work. He though I sold fish, for some reason. Do, I made up stories every night designed to make him laugh (rather easy when you are ‘selling fish’, in my oponion_ I purposefully wanted him to laugh. I loved the sound pf his laugh, a rich, deep baritone that resonated in every fiber of me.

    He died in his sleep. Just after 1am on August 22, 2005.

    I miss him every single day.


  10. I’m so sorry…so very sorry.

    Last Friday marked five years since my father passed away after a nearly five-year battle with lung cancer. I tried to deny the inevitable up until the very end. Living in a world without him was never something for which I could quite prepare myself. Plain and simple, losing a parent is hard.

    You are in my thoughts.


  11. Your daddy is leaving a fine legacy with a daughter who loves him so well. I know you will be blessed to record these final months, and we’ll be blessed to read it.

    I’m so very sorry, my friend.


  12. At 50, I know I am blessed to still have both my parents. My father has been living on borrowed time with a heart condition for over 2 decades now. It appears that his journey is taking a turn down a road I’m not sure I am prepared for. I will look forward to reading how you have walked this path. I want to do it well. I know you will help me look for the lessons and little joys that can come during a time such as this.


  13. Daddies are supposed to be invincible, immortal! But we find out too soon that they are human just like the rest of us. Mine has been gone for 34 years, and I still miss him. But the memories are sweet. May yours be also.


  14. “And somewhere in the part of my mind that stores all things that are unbearably true, emerged something that I had been denying since I was a little girl – that someday my father was going to die.”

    You got me with that one sentence.

    So grateful you will be taking us on this journey with you.


  15. I’m so sorry. It can’t be easy to live without your dad.

    You have such a way with words. It is a gift that I am grateful you share with us.


  16. No matter how much time you have to prepare–It is never enough. There is always a hole even though we know we should be joyous that they are in heaven.

    May the healing be quick and easy but the memories only turn to gold over and over and over.


  17. I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure that as you work through the stories that you share with us – you will be helping all of us deal with those days we all know will come for our families. So let me say in advance – Thank You


  18. Wow! It is always touching to hear these stories, no matter who the family is. Life stories need to be told before those who remember them are gone. I’m trying my best to write some of them down.

    Mom will soon have been gone 10 years. I still think of her daily & often talk of her. Springtime is always special as she died a week after Mother’s Day in 2003. It just happened that Spring that year was especially beautiful & I’ve always thought God let it be that way so she could enjoy it as much as she could.

    Blessings on you for sharing.


  19. There is certainly tragedy and sorrow in losing a parent, but I am thankful for a God who provides blessings in the process. As my dad said throughout my mom’s last, difficult weeks, “God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.”

    * * *
    “God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.” – lovelovelove, so true.


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