This last year and a half has been somewhat of a rude awakening. I think I have been a little bit in a dream land. What I mean is I didn’t really realize I may have a limited time left with my parents. I was taking for granted the fact that they have been here and relatively healthy, not really believing or wanting to believe someday they might not be in good health or worse not even be here.
What brought me into reality? It was like a slap into reality really! The news that no child, brother, sister, parent, aunt, uncle, friend…pretty much no one wants to get. Cancer…my Dad has cancer. He actually had cancer years ago, prostate cancer and they took care of it with a prostatectomy. I have to say I kind of expected one day that my dad would be diagnosed with cancer. You see my Dad has a lot of cancer in his family. His father and three sisters all had cancer, three of those four died of it. So when my Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I thought “okay, this is going to be Dad’s cancer”. He had the surgery and went back for all his subsequent tests and it was gone. We were elated to say the least. The worst was done. He hasn’t had any problems with the prostate cancer since that time and still doesn’t.
Unfortunately the prostate cancer was not “Dad’s cancer”. He has a new and entirely different cancer, its far worse… stage 4 lung cancer. Just writing that makes me want to cry. Stage 4, no cure, just containment… I know there are a lot of you out there that can relate to this.
The space of time since my Dad was diagnosed in August of 2013 has been painful to say the least. My Dad has always been the strong one. I know most children feel their father is tough. But I am telling you this man was tough. He has been like a tree rooted deep in the ground when the storm is raging trying to tip him over. He has been the one keeping his own siblings together when they went through the loss of parents and siblings. He is a strong advocate of family. No matter what the issue, you work through it and keep the family close. That’s one of the many things I love about him. But watching this strong man deteriorate physically and see his own emotional struggle with the future has been heart wrenching. My Dad has been the voice of reason, the parent I came to when I needed some strength. I only found this side of my Dad later in my own adult life, although it’s been there all along, I just never realized it. I have always been close to my Mom and have pretty much gone to my Mother for everything so it has been a bonus to finally have that close relationship with my Father too. Fathers can be the voice of reason when your emotions are trying to rule your actions. I do believe men have this quality, my own husband is much like my Father in that way.
This new chapter in our life has been the rude awakening I talked about. It’s made me more aware of how time is precious and I need to take every opportunity to spend as much time as possible with my family, especially with my Dad and Mom. My parents live in Oregon, so I have to plan my trips in advance. I can’t just up and drive to see them like I used to when I lived in Oregon, only 2 hours away from them. I really enjoy my visits home. We spend quality time together, sometimes just sitting in the same room reading etc… It’s nice. It’s an added bonus that I am able to see my younger sister, her family & my younger brother on these trips home.
I encourage all of you to not take for granted the time left with your loved ones. Take the time now to spend with them. I am thankful my Dad is still here and no matter how much time is left with my parents, I will try very hard to not waste one precious moment of it.
The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.