The last words my father and I spoke to each other were, "I love you". Kind of an appropriate punctuation on a wonderful friendship. I'm glad we got that last chance.
In the last two years, my father and I have grown closer than ever. We fought so hard to get him back to health and walking again. The broken hip and the infections were scary, but we plowed through those. My father and I were a team. He had made so much progress, and I was happy for him. He became my life
What's happened since the cancer has been a sucker punch. Barely a month and a half after diagnosis, I'm sitting in a hospital room, squeezing his hand, feeling each response get weaker. My job was to get him healthy again, and I feel like I failed him.
I'm probably just beating myself up, because there are thousand different actions that, had they been taken, certainly would have prolonged his life, or even saved him. As I drift in and out of coherent thinking, I see that some things couldn't have been avoided, as they would required clairvoyance to avoid them. Other things, though, will surely haunt me for years to come.
The coming of the bladder cancer is one that I feel so responsible for. He was already on blood thinners for a different ailment, but we kept having problems with blood in his urine. We couldn't figure it out. His blood thickness was right, but the pee kept coming out red. Cancer was the absolute farthest thing from my mind, and I kick myself every day, knowing that it should have been so much more obvious.
Hopefully, when I get my mind clear, I can sort through these feelings a little more rationally. When I'm not a sopping bag of goo.
I just miss him so much. The way we'd joke and kid each other all the time. We'd holler and argue all the time, but then one of us would make a big bowl of popcorn for the other. I'd constantly borrow his tools whenever I needed them. In fact, I have his can of WD-40 on the desk right here. I don't even remember what I was using it for. Something needed to stop squeaking, apparently.
We had so many plans for the year. We wanted to go traveling. I don't know where, but I really wanted to get him out of the house and get him some much needed scenery. We were going to start a business together, and we talked about going out for breakfast more often. We got a new riding mower, and I was in the process of showing him how it works before winter set in.
Most importantly, the plan was to restore his freedom. I was taking him out for driving in the evenings. The great thing about my dad is that he knew where to go. He'd treat me to a Blizzard from Dairy Queen. And I laughed, because it was just like being in the passenger seat of the pickup truck when I was little.
My dad knew how to make me laugh, too. Whenever we'd get into a play argument, he'd tell me that he'd put me into the "double butt lock". It always amused me that not only was there apparently some wrestling move in which on could lock the butt, but that it was somehow a double lock. Maybe it employed both cheeks.
Speaking of butts, his was quite lethal. I never knew someone who could so consistently clog toilets. He also could clear the room with a fart. When he had SBDs, we took them literally. One time, when I was young, we were all shopping together at the grocery store. My mother and father were alone in an aisle with another customer. My dad let out this horrible silent fart and then jumped around the corner, leaving my mom to take the blame.
He also had a knack for mixed metaphors, but we'll burn that bridge when we get to it. Needless to say, my father was second only to the great Yogi Bera when it came to saying unintentionally amusing things.
Talk about burning bridges, we wanted to put him on a stake by the time he got to the bridge of a song! He was a terrible singer, and he never got the words quite right. It's hard to say what was more intolerable, the horrible butchering of popular songs or the ear-defecating caterwauling. My father had a lot of Homer Simpson in him.
The great thing about Dad was that he was like a big kid, and he also liked to put me on his lap and tell stories about the way things were. I never had a brother or a grandfather, but my dad made sure to fill both of those roles while simultaneously being a father.
My father's greatest fear toward the end was being a burden on his family. While I often became impatient and exasperated, I made sure that he knew that his burden was one I was willing to bear. Whether he knew it or not, he also carried me. And now I sit here scrambling for something to hang onto. He was my anchor. Oh jeez, now I'm mixing metaphors.
I guess I'm lucky that I got the chance to say the things I wanted to say to him. My father was such an important part of my life, and I know I was the greatest part of his. I'm going to miss his occasionally gentle voice, his laughter, and the way he'd crush my little hands whenever he'd squeeze them.
My dad was my big buddy. The best one I ever had.