My Dad, My Best Friend

My dad died a couple weeks ago on November 14th. He was 55 years old; celebrating his 55th on October 9th. I’ve been putting off writing about it. I guess I wasn’t ready to really get into it online. Not sure why, perhaps fear of losing myself again.

Before he died, in the post below this one, I’ve gotten numerous people giving me support and kindness, and many more through emails and phone calls when they had heard my dad was in hospice. One of the prevailing statements through it all was, “It’s going to be hard on you, but hang in there.” I didn’t fully understand the tough part, I thought I was doing well and I’d handle it alright. I was very, very wrong.

It hit me while at the hospice. I got there in time, too, because the day I got there was the last time he was able to talk, open his eyes, and tell me he loves me. The tumor was right under his eye, in front of his ear, and it was extremely painful for him. So he was on heavy pain medications. As a result he could barely stay awake for longer than a minute. He’d sleep, then wake up an hour or two later for a minute, then fall back asleep again.

During those precious minutes, I would hold his hand to let him know I was there. Everytime he’d manage a smile as best as he could, his eyelids half open/half closed as he made an effort to stay awake and tell me he loves me. He did this for my sister, Amanda, as well. He would grab her hand weakly, kiss it, tell her he loves her.

The next day the doctor told us that he could pass away any hour. We knew it wasn’t going to be long, but it was still a painful thing to hear. I was given a chance to talk to him alone. Even though he was asleep, the doctors said that he can still hear me. Walking in the room alone with just him and I, no family around, I let my guard down.

As soon as I came out with something to say, I just choked up. I felt my entire chest clench up, I couldn’t breath, and then it felt like I was about to burst. It was so painful sitting there next to him. A whole year of knowing he had cancer and was going to die still didn’t prepare me from such an intense feeling. I had no idea it can be that painful. That’s when I finally understood when people who had gone through a parent’s death when they say, “it’s going to be hard.”

When I was finally able to calm down enough to say something, I started off with thank you. Just thank you. You know — for bringing me into this world, for trying to be the best father he knew how even though he made mistakes, for giving me a beautiful and wonderful sister, and for loving me. I didn’t have to say all of those, because he’d know what the thank you was for.

I promised him that I am going to be a good man, and someday a good father and husband, the best I can be. That I’d look out for my mom and family. That I forgive him for all the wrongs he has done, and I hope he forgives me for the wrongs I’ve done. I kissed his forehead and told him I love him, very much.

The next three days, he never opened his eyes again. My uncle was there when he took his last breath. He said his face, filled with pain and weariness, then had a look of peace on him. He said he looked like he was on top of the world in his final two breaths. Like a signature of Heaven.

A month before he was admitted into the hospice, I spent a week with him, caring for him. As I was leaving to go back home, I knelt in front of him as he sat in the recliner that was also his bed. I hugged him, and I told him, “Thank you for being my father, and my best friend. I love you.”

Dad


Away From Home

Just to let everyone know who email me why I haven’t been responding as quickly as I normally do, I’ve been in Jacksonville with my family taking care of my dad while my grandmother is in the hospital. My grandmother had major colon surgery to remove nearly 50% of her colon due to a section of it being bad. She is doing fine now, and recovering, but won’t be home for a week to 10 days.

My grandmother normally cares for my dad, who has throat cancer. The tumor has swelled up under his jawline so bad that they fear it may cut off his ability to breathe. He is in pain a lot, but hospice come by to make sure he is as comfortable as possible. The doctors say that he has only two months to live. I’m taking this time to care for him and spend time with him.

Yesterday I cleared his apartment, and it was not only physically draining, but emotionally draining, as well. His entire life was accumulated in that apartment; photos, clothes, memorabilia, rings, and his entire business he has worked out for nearly 20 years. He wanted me to take anything I could use, and then whatever is not taken, a local church would go in there and take the rest.

It was especially painful as he told me to throw away all his files and paperwork. So many years of work. A dream he once had, cut short and thrown away. It’s too painful for me to contemplate too much.

While resting on the bed, I smelled that familiar smell of my dad. Not a stench, just a personal smell, something that is created from luggage, using a particular type of cologne all the time, clothes you’ve had for so long, and so on. Every single one of us has our own smell, and everywhere my dad goes, no matter where, he has that particular smell in every house/apartment he lives in. I realized that’s the last time I’ll have that familiar feeling of my dad.

I think that’s when it all hit me, that I finally realized that my dad is dying and that I’ll have to live the rest of my life with just memories of him. Now I have to hold on to as many of them for as long as I can.

Here’s a rare picture of my dad and mom together, taken recently:

Mom & Dad (Mike & Deborah)

Cloud Gazing

Recently I’ve taken to noticing and appreciating the sky, especially clouds. Not exactly sure why, really. Maybe it’s the preliminary sign of mid-midlife crisis? Yesterday while walking the dogs, it was sprinkling, the whole sky as far as the eye can see was filled with rainclouds. Except in one particular area, where there was an opening.

It was getting close to dusk, and the sky was bright orange, the clouds were dark orange filled with rain. But where the opening is, you can see a clear blue sky through it, even though everywhere else it was overcast and burnt orange. Through the opening, I could see the top of one of the rainclouds, illuminated in bright gold due to the sun shining on it. It was really neat, I wish I had a picture of it.

However, I did get a picture of today where the clouds were silver-white, tiny hints of rain in them, but not enough to dark them too much. The picture:

A Silver Blue Sky

My Top 10 Most Listened Songs

My Last.fm profile is now over 2 years old, meaning it has collected my listening habits for the past 2 years every time I play a song. The grand total, as of this writing, says that in that 2 year span I’ve listened to 20,657 songs. I put together a list of the Top 10 Most Listened Songs based on this information, and I’m glad to see how it illustrates how broad my listening taste is.

  1. The Shins – Phantom Limb: This one surprised me, because even though I’ve liked a couple of Shins songs before, their newest album just blew me away. It came out of nowhere and dominated my playlist, and this song rocketed to the top of my most listened to list. I swear, my liking this song has nothing to do with the subject matter – two lesbians. Honestly!
  2. The Hold Steady – Banging Camp: This was a weird one. I had not realized that I listened to this song so much until I saw it at the top of my list. “Huh.” I said. It’s a great song, and the fact that it has an AC/DC-like riff probably has something to do with it, as I always enjoy some good old AC/DC.
  3. Neko Case – Hold On, Hold On: Another weird one for me. Seeing a pattern here? The thing is, I’m not big on country, but Neko Case’s voice latched onto me when I first heard her, and I was hooked ever since. In fact, Last.fm lists her as my most favorite artist. Oh, and she’s a sexy redhead, to boot.
  4. Art Brut – Moving To L.A.: Like The Hold Steady, the lead singer doesn’t really sing, but talks in a conversational tone in their song. Art Brut is full of tongue-in-cheek songs dripping with irony, which is right up my alley, and Moving To L.A. is solid proof of that. And if you ever want to hear a humorous take on erectile dysfunction, their song “Rusted Guns of Milan” does just that.
  5. Muse – Feeling Good: A great cover of Nina Simone’s song, Muse does it in their usual style of falsetto rock. I love the original, and I love this cover, as well.
  6. Postal – Angel Pumping Gas: The lyrics is so utterly simple, yet perfect. I can vividly imagine myself taking place, a beautiful woman pumping gas, swooning you off your feet, even though it was such a brief encounter. I always play this when I’m feeling whimsical.
  7. My Morning Jacket – Gideon: The best live band today doing the best live version of the best song to do live. Got it? Good.
  8. Kamelot – Farewell: The song to rock out with your … err, well, yeah, you get it. When noone’s looking, I pretend I have long hair again and bring out the metal in me to bang my head to this song.
  9. Band of Horses – Funeral: It starts off soft and mellow and then wails into an angry anthem, with the lead singer’s strong voice carrying you into the song.
  10. The Postal Service – Such Great Heights: A timeless song that is bloody difficult to get tired of. It fuses electronica with pop so good, that it feels pretty natural, and it does it with a feel for the 80’s style of synth music.