Today seems as good as any to write the tough stuff. The sun is shining and I'm all by myself in the house. I should be baking a cake, but I have all day to do that.
My dad found out he was sick in 2002 I believe. He hadn't been feeling well for a long time and finally the doctor figured out what it was. We found out that he had cirrhosis of the liver caused by hepatitis C that he must have gotten from a blood transfusion in the 1970's. It was really hard to hear that he had something serious like that. I remember crying the day that I found out. Everything sounded so manageable then though. Anything major seemed so far in the distance. So life kind of just went on.
Dad had to go into the hospital on several occasions. His belly would fill up with fluid and he would have to go in and be drained. My dad was a pretty big guy. He was 6'1" or so and muscular and kind of chunky. I always felt like he was the strongest man I knew and that he could always protect me. As time went on and his illness progressed, he started wasting away. He lost a lot of weight. And when his belly filled up with fluid he looked like he was pregnant.
It's kind of funny. It took him losing all of that weight for me to see just how much I look like him. Now when I look in the mirror, sometimes I see him looking back at me.
Dad had to stop working because he was getting so weak from everything. By the summer of 2003 he was admitted to the hospital and after a lot of tests and things, he was put to the top of the liver transplant list.
I remember going to City Hospital to see him and he looked so weak and frail in his bed with his belly all full. I remember he cried. And we all cried together. We were all scared. Even my big strong dad.
Shortly after that visit, he and my mom were flown to Edmonton where they have a fantastic transplant team. Dale and I and Trevor and our friend Sven drove there several times to visit on the weekends. It was all a waiting game. Kind of a sick waiting game of perversely hoping someone would die so my dad could get the liver he needed so badly. My mom was fortunate to have family in Edmonton that she could stay with. I think they were there for two months total.
We had gone up to visit for my dad's birthday on October 5, 2003. We had a good visit and dad seemed to be in good spirits. When mom's birthday rolled around on October 14, dad was not doing so well. But she said that he made his way down to the hospital gift shop and got her a little wooden box for her birthday. I believe it was late on the night of mom's birthday that she got the call. Dad was going in for surgery because they got a liver match.
She called me around 10:00 the next morning and told me he was in surgery. I was at work and I didn't quite know what to do. I wasn't sure if I could sit and work while I knew my dad was in surgery. So I stupidly ran out the door and jumped in my car and drove home with tears streaming down my face. I got to my apartment and didn't quite know what to do there either. I remember calling Dale to tell him. And I remember cleaning the bathroom because I couldn't just sit and do nothing. I ended up going back to work and trying to keep busy until the end of the day. Mom called later in the evening and told me that everything went good and that dad already had his colour back.
We went to visit them again that weekend. And indeed dad did look a million times better. He was released from the hospital that weekend and he and mom stayed at her cousin's house for a while until he was able to come home.
When dad came home, he still wasn't able to work, but he was home and that was great! Dale and I went over to the house every chance we got and life started going back to normal. We started planning our wedding and sending invitations.
As if mom didn't have enough to deal with, she got a call one day that her 93 year old father was in the hospital. He had been taking care of her mother who had altzheimers and he just couldn't do it anymore and he collapsed. He passed away a week after that. So mom had a funeral to plan and a mother to look after. She brought her mom to Saskatoon to live with her and ended up moving her to the nursing home.
We had a great bright spot in the middle of everything. Dale and I got married September 5, 2004 and dad was able to walk me down the aisle and was able to visit with all of his family that came to the wedding and it was a fantastic day. The best day of my life.
And then the hepatits C came back and started attacking dad's new liver. The doctors put him on all kinds of medications, but nothing was helping. One day my dad called me and asked me to go over to the house for supper. It was strange. I knew something was up. If my parents asked me over, it was always my mom who called. I stopped and grabbed a pizza on the way over. When I got to the house, a feeling of dread came over me. My dad sat me down and told me that the doctors said there was nothing more they could do for him. That they could give him medication to keep him comfortable, but nothing more. I remember crying so hard and holding my dad and telling him how much I loved him.
Things were kind of normal for a while after that. We had Christmas together. Nothing fancy. Just spent time together.
Then in January, dad's brain started to become a little addled from the medication and from his liver not being able to filter properly. He would say strange things and he started to need help eating. I remember him trying to eat an orange that mom had peeled and cut up and he was shaking so much that the pieces kept falling off of his spoon. And he was angry because his body wasn't working. His friend Roger was over and Roger went over and fed my dad. That was one of the hardest things I've ever had to see. I had to leave the room.
That night I went out for coffee with Sven. No sooner had we walked into the coffee shop then my mom called my cell phone and said that dad had fallen down and was on his way to the hospital yet again. Sven drove Dale and I to the hospital to see him. He was already on morphene and the doctors decided to just keep him comfortable because he had broken his leg, but his liver was failing and they didn't want to put him through a surgery to set his leg when it wouldn't do him any good. That was incredibly hard to hear because it meant that he wasn't coming home from the hospital.
They moved him to St. Paul's hospital and put him in a private room. My mom stayed by my dad's side constantly. We were there as much as we could. I don't know how much he could hear or understand, but we tried to make sure he knew that we were there and we loved him.
One of my parent's friends gave mom a break and stayed with my dad through the night. It might have been the only sleep my mom got that week. She went to the hospital again early that morning.
Oddly enough, I had booked the day off months ahead of time for an eye appointment. I was supposed to have drops put in my eyes and for some reason I had just decided to take the entire day as a sort of vacation day anyway. Because my dad was not doing good, I had called the clinic the night before and cancelled my appointment. Dale and I both got up early and we were getting ready to go to the hospital for a visit. Dale was so good and even though he was supposed to go to work, he was going to take the morning off to go see my dad with me.
Just as we were about to go out the door, my mom called my cell phone. When I answered, it was quiet for a minute and then mom said "daddy's gone". It was January 27, 2005. Dale held me for a minute. I had known it was coming but it was kind of a shock. I remember I didn't cry the whole way to the hospital. I remember just staring. I remember walking up to the room and I remember he was still on the bed. Finally at rest. I looked at his face. And I looked at my mom. And we all cried together.
So many people came to the room that morning. Sven and Dickson and lots of mom and dad's friends. I remember just staring at dad's face. The picture is burned into my brain. The staff at the hospital were so fantastic. They let us stay with him as long as we wanted. Friends came in and out. Dale and Sven stayed with me the whole time. I called Massiel and told her. I seem to remember she already knew because her mom works with my mom and news travels fast. I remember she called all of my friends so I wouldn't have to.
I went with my mom to make the funeral arrangements for February 3. The week was kind of a blur. Lots of family came in. Lots of friends stopped by. Lots of flowers arrived. I remember going shopping for something to wear to the funeral. It was surreal. I picked a light blue sweater. For my dad's blue eyes. Didn't want anything black.
I remember making a cd for the funeral home to play before and after the ceremony. I still have it. I can't listen to it.
I don't really remember the funeral itself. I remember that it was packed. I remember Dale did the eulogy. I don't remember what was said. I don't remember where anyone was sitting. I don't remember the songs that were sang. I just remember staring and the picture of my dad that was at the front of the room. It's kind of funny that my dad gave me the strength to sit through his funeral.
I remember talking to lots of people after the funeral. And I remember I just wanted to get the hell out of there. A bunch of us ended up going to Boston Pizza. I don't remember too much about that either. I just remember laughing a lot. It was so good to just go somewhere and pretend everything was okay for a couple of hours.
I think i cried or at least teared up every single day for a year afterward. On the first anniversary of dad's passing away, I arranged for Dale and I to do something fun that dad would have enjoyed. We went out and test drove a Dodge Charger Daytona edition. We somewhat recklessly took it up to 200 kilometers per hour outside the city. It was a rush. Blew off some steam. Then mom and I went to a concert for a group I used to work for. They are very funny and we had a really good time.
Over the years the tears have slowed down a little bit. I don't cry every day anymore. I think about my dad a lot though. I am sad that he is missing out on the good things that have happened in my life. But I'm usually able to think about it without crying. It's just when I sit and REALLY think about it like today that I cry so hard that it hurts. Sometimes I just think about the good things though. Like the fun vacations we went on as kids. And the fun things my dad did with us. And things he taught me.
I love my dad. And I miss him. I am glad that I started this journal to keep my memories. Thank you for reading. I hope you didn't cry as much as I did. I promise I will put happy things in here too later on. :) I just thought I'd start with the tough stuff.