As I sit here and wonder how to begin this post, debating between, “It’s been a tough 18 months…” or “It’s been a tough decade…” or “The Day my Dad passed away…” none of those sounded right or appropriate or were just too darn depressing. Through the worst of times, there must always be times that you spend in utter happiness, gratitude, and joy. And, I always have and I always will. Tragedy cannot change your happiness in whole. Maybe at times and in part, but never the whole.
Listen, I have struggled with some form of anxiety, depression, sadness, melancholy, OCD…all sorts of mental health issues for as long as I can remember. But nothing, not getting a divorce that cut me to my core, not being diagnosed with heart disease at 32 years of age and having a small heart attack, not having a sister go through cancer twice, or both of my parents go through heart issues, not the 10-month long break-up with the love of my life, not the last 15 years of my life that I’ve struggled painfully with infertility, not my lifelong battle with being somewhere in the range of overweight to obese and all the pain, humiliation, and torment that goes along with that. None of these things have come close to the pain I have felt in the past 19 days. Yes, today is January 13, 2017…so 19 days ago was Christmas Day. The day I lost my Dad.
After an almost 2 year, incredibly courageous and awe-inspiring run with some awful cancers, where my Dad never gave up hope for his recovery, never behaved in any other manner than with bravery, strength, and amazing determination, my Dad chose to move on from this world. I say, “chose”, not like he took his life. But we believe, he had had enough. The cancer had spread for the second time from his esophagus & stomach to his liver & abdomen. He was suffering through his second round of chemotherapy, he hadn’t eaten much of anything in months, he was a shell of his once larger than life self, both physically and metaphorically. Even before he passed, I already missed him. His spark for this life was close to gone and it was painful to see. He had always been such a huge presence in our lives. Hilarious, bossy, thoughtful, adorably childish, full of love for everyone.
I remember being at the hospital one time, maybe a couple months ago, he was getting some hydration, I believe. I always did try to stay upbeat, positive and just “act normal” as much as I could around him because who wants someone that’s crying all the time and just constantly asking you, “How are you feeling??” But, this day, I said to my Dad, “I just want to see you smile…” and he replied, “I can’t, Ab.” I’ll never forget that. This man, who was once full of all sorts of smiles, had none left. At least that day he didn’t. I would see his smiles again in the coming months. But that day, and other days towards the end, he was fresh out.
So, why am I writing this sad story about the passing of my father on Christmas Day? Because writing has always been therapy for me. Because my Dad loved this blog. Because my Dad would want me to remind people about what life is all about. Because I want people to see that this process, otherwise known as “life”, is damn hard. It is. I know. But like my Dad, I will never give up hope. All the terrible things that go on in this world, from disease to politics to mean people to wars and on and on, that my hope and belief in good will never be compromised. Maybe I will falter here and there, I’m only human, but I will continue to rise and rise again. To trust that love, fairness and kindness do always win. Sometimes we question that. I know I have, especially the fairness part, but I do believe that there is a reason. Maybe a reason I’ll never know, but I have faith that there is some higher reason for why things happen the way they do. I’ll always choose to the best of my ability, to be kind to others, forgiving, positive, generous with my love and with hopefulness, I will do my best to continue my Dad’s legacy of courage and strength.
I will carry with me his love of life, his ability to find funny everywhere, his motto that he always told his girls, (my two older sisters, my Mum & I) he’d always tell us not to stress about everything and just always, “Assume the Best.” I’m really gonna try, Dad. For you.
I’ll miss you every single day for forever and I hope you heard me say to you, before you left for that Happy Hour in the sky where I know so many amazing people were so excited to see you, that I was so grateful for your love and for all you did for me in my life. You were one in a million and I am so blessed to have called you mine.
I love you so much.
P.S. Below I have pasted the eulogy that I read at my Dad’s Celebration of Life last Saturday, January 7th, as I’ve had people ask me to make it public. It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but there was nothing that could stop me from telling the stories about my Dad. It was a post that I had written for him in 2014 for Father’s Day, I loved that he had already read it and it wasn’t just a bunch of nice stuff about him that he never got to hear.
Click the link for Original Post“ My Sweetie: His Name is Paul. But Please, Call Him Skip.”
Loved your wonderful piece, Abbe. “If you were lucky enough to know him, consider yourself lucky enough.” Yes! I feel most fortunate to have known your dad for 55 years. And the wisdom and simplicity of the advice to choose to “Assume the best” is inspirational.
My dad died on Christmas Day, too, in the year 2000. By the way, he was a doctor and thought very highly of a young nurse named Judy Virgin.
I loved reading your blogs and this one on your dad was amazing, such talent and such a grand dad you had, hang on to those wonderful memories. My mom is 101, such a long life and it will be hard to not have her around in the future.
I read this with happy tears in my eyes.You write so beautifully Abbe. Your Dad must be so proud of you.Skip was our Elder cousin and one I was always proud to say “Skip is my cousin!”,when ever his name came up- I loved him very much!
Johnny brought me Grammy’s silver grandchildren charm bracelet and as I was polishing the charms- 13 plus 2 great grandchildren-( it must be over 80 years old)I came upon the boy charm with ” Skip” etched on it.I am going to cherish this bracelet and wear it in honor of all our family members on the bracelet who are no longer with us.- my brother Ronnie, sister Sylvia, her son Ronnie Hall and loves me irreplaceable Skip! Thank you for sharing Abbe. Sending you all much love and hugs!💜
Thank you so much Abbe. Your Sweetie was truly the sweetest and will be missed every day by all of us who loved him. We were the lucky ones; we had him in our lives. And, personally, I am so thankful for you, your Mum, Leigh and Sara. 💕💕💕💕💕
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So sorry for the loss of your dad.
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He heard you my love, and just know that he would want you to take that legacy and continue. You are strong and will get through this, he is guiding you. 😘😘
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