May 21st is slowly approaching. It is such a significant day in my life. My daughter was born and my father passed away. My daughter’s birthday has forever changed, but I feel in a good way. You see, my dad was the first person to hold her, and he was the first person to say goodbye at 10 years old. Sadly, he didn’t know any of us when he passed, because Lewy Body Dementia stripped him of his memory, his dignity, and all that he believed in. I remember visiting him on May 8th, 2008. I had just come from the Newport court house after receiving some long awaiting good news. My first thought was that I had to go tell my dad.
I entered the private nursing home in Fall River, MA and used the stairs to get to my Dad as fast as I could. He was sitting at the nurses station, hunched over, frail, unable to feed himself anymore, walk, and even have a sensible conversation, but I had to tell him that his little girl was coming home.
I wheeled him down the hallway to his room. I wasn’t able to take him out of his wheelchair alone anymore so I pulled up a chair, put my head on his lap while he actually stroked my hair.
And I cried, oh how I cried. I told him how sorry I was for all the pain I caused him in my lifetime. I was now forty years old. I told him I would make him proud one day. I told him how much I missed painting with him and sweeping his shop. I told him his little girl was coming home. I told him we won dad, we finally won.
He had a flat expression. The illness had taken away my dad right in front of my eyes. I tried to wipe my tears as best as I could and I wheeled him back to the nurses station, as he was too confused and frail to be left unattended. I gave him a hug, kissed him on the top of the head and said, “I love you dad.” To my amazement, he lifted his head and said loud and clear “I love you too.” I cried all the way down the hallway. I didn’t turn back and I whispered to myself, “my Dad is going to die.” As a nurse in geriatrics and being around so much death and dying my whole career, I knew at that moment he was waiting for my daughter to come home so he could leave in peace.
That was my daughters tenth birthday. My life would never be the same.
May 21st is right around the corner. My dad has been gone for 7 years, and as my daughter turns 17 she is now back living with her dad and we haven’t spoken since November. This is why I ask, “Why didn’t cancer take me, I feel I’ve been nothing but a thorn in my family of roses. My son is now in Korea. My daughter, sadly, is not as prominent in me or my life as I would love her to be. As well as in my mom’s life, who is approaching 86 years old.
As I said, life changes in the blink of an eye. Do not take anything for granted. Forgive those who have hurt you, ask for forgiveness to those you hurt, and mostly never forget to be real. My life of trying to be something I was not ruined me.
Yours in good health,