|Our last time together on the deck, September 2013|
|Dad Circa 1960|
My sweet and loving dad died on November 19th. The last six months are a blur. We first knew something was wrong in late spring/early summer. He wasn't quite himself, and was weaker and less able to get around. He stopped texting and communicated less than he had before. Then, a dramatic change occurred toward summer's end, which made it clear he could no longer be alone. Dad was diagnosed with a fast moving lymphoma in September and, after reviewing his options, decided against aggressive treatment. Instead, he just wanted to go home, convinced that if he could rest and regain his strength, he would live longer than the 'weeks to months' we were given by his oncologist. To fulfill this wish, Baby sis and "T" moved into his home to care for him, coordinate with hospice and make his remaining time with us the best it could be.
Dad was home for 23 days before he died. Part of me is stunned and can hardly believe it's over. Another part of me is relieved for him, that his suffering was brief and that he was able to die at home like he wanted. Most of all, I am heartbroken. Dad wasn't just my father, but also my friend, my laughing companion and a confidante since my mother died over three years ago. He and I were able to reconnect and enjoy the chemistry we always shared, rediscovering the many ways we are alike. How I will miss talking with him in the mornings (he would answer the phone with 'Hi, Peppy Jo'). We shared the goofiness that only true morning people share by comparing peppy scores with each other (on a 1-10 'Peppometer' scale) and trading one-liners until each topic was exhausted and we were forced to move on to the next. Dad was fun and easy to be with. At family gatherings, we always somehow ended up together - the comfort between us was a magnet for guaranteed laughter and good conversation.
And of course, we loved to smell things. Dad read this blog faithfully and it pains me to write this post, knowing he will never again visit these pages. He would comment on everything, both the perfume and the life experiences. Rants were his favorite. Often, something I had written would prompt a memory or a thought he wanted to share about his own life. We came to know each other better through Notes From Josephine, and I realize now how much his encouragement to keep writing - and write honestly - meant to me. Once, after I had written what I thought was a controversial post about my mother's death, he called and said, 'I don't think you were being totally honest.' He could see that I had soft-pedaled an issue we had openly discussed, and he felt comfortable saying so. Dad and I agreed many times that we would be ourselves with each other and speak the truth even if we didn't agree.
I will forever miss Dad's kindness, his readiness for fun, his quirkiness and his love. He thought I was a beautiful, smart and funny daughter, and told me often that he was proud. Knowing this gave me confidence and courage I may not have had otherwise. In our last conversation, I thanked him for all he had done for me and assured him of everything that I would carry forward because of his influence in my life. I said those things one last time for me. His eyes told me he already knew.
Pictures my own