This photo was taken over 20 Father’s Days ago. Photos and a few old home videos are now the only way for me to see my dad. It has been seven months since he lost his life to non-small-cell lung cancer, and I still haven’t been able to watch any of the home videos, though. Today would not be a good day to try. This is my first Father’s Day without my dad.
It was one year ago this month that we learned of the cancer. Five months later, he was gone. I was able to drive from Denver to St. Louis just after the news and to be there when he had his partial hip replacement. I stayed for two weeks and saw him come home and get around with a walker. As we drove off to return home from that trip, he was outside standing in the driveway. That was the last time I saw him standing.
The cancer was already in his lungs, liver, and bones. Dad went through chemo and radiology for a few months. We learned in October that all of this had done absolutely nothing. The cancer had continued to spread. My whole family had already planned on driving to St. Louis the last week of October, and this happened to be when my dad ended up entering the Hospice program. We were there to help with the transition from the hospital to home. Greg had to return to work and the kids to school the next week, so we had to leave knowing that any day could be my dad’s last. We were prepared to make a quick turn-around at any time.
Every day I waited for “the call”. Every day I learned that he continued to hold on. The nurses didn’t understand it and commented that he must be waiting for something or someone. Two weeks later, I felt very strongly that I just needed to go and be there. Once more, I dropped everything and made the drive to St. Louis. The morning after I arrived in St. Louis, I made it to the house in time for my dad’s last breath. My sister had been on the couch near him when I knocked on the door. She saw that he was breathing. I came into the house, and my sister and I started talking. We thought dad was sleeping, but my sister looked over and said, “He’s not breathing.”
That’s all I can write about that. After some time, we both started making phone calls. Greg pulled the boys from school, and they were there by that night. I went through the rest of the week half numb and remained that way for several weeks it seems. Dad was only 59 years old. Too young.