Monday, November 20, 2006

My Dad

Almost two years ago today, I received a phone call from my brother. Something bad happened, he said. It's Dad. I more or less knew what he was going to say. It was the first time my brother had called me in Kingston, in fact the only time, and the call was at 1:00 in the morning. There was some hope that I was wrong in my guess. That perhaps something happened that merely required a hospital visit. He shortly informed that my guess was right. My dad had passed away. I frantically packed my bags in preperation to go home. There was no point in staying in Kingston for the night. I wouldn't sleep. I called a friend in hopes of having some company for the trip back. He wasn't home, so I left on my own. The trip was uneventful. I had no problem staying awake, due to a couple coffee stops. In my determination to get home safely, I barely had time to feel anything. It wasn't real yet anyway.

By the time I got home, it must have been at least 5:30 in the morning. I had hoped that everyone would still be there when I got there. All but my brother and mother had left, however. My brother had gone to bed, and my mom was still up, flipping through photo albums looking for pictures of my dad, I think. I stayed up for about an hour, and decided to try to sleep with little success. I woke up and walked to the kitchen. When I didn't see my dad, I looked out into the back yard to see if he was there, partly having forgotten, but partly hoping that somebody had made a huge mistake. That's kind of what it felt like for the next few days. Like my dad was still alive. Like he had stepped out for a few minutes, but he'd be back in a little while.

The next few days were crazy. There were tons of people coming to my house. Extended family and people from my church especially. There was a lot of running around too, arranging all sorts of things for the funeral. Visitation took place for two hours in the afternoon and two hours in the evening. There was an impressive amount of people at the evening visitation. People were lined up outside the door of the church according to some sources. Some were there to give support to me or my brothers and sisters, but most were there to remember my dad.

The funeral itself was rather lighthearted. More fun than funeral. My uncle spoke on behalf of my dad's brothers and sisters. My sister spoke on behalf of my mother and brothers and sisters. There was more laughter than tears in both cases. It might seem inappropriate for a funeral, but my dad was inappropriate at other funerals. While everyone else was quiet and sombre, my dad would act as if nothing had happened. So it seemed fitting.

It was cold and rainy that day. Despite that, it was hard for me to leave the grave site.

After that, the long slow process of grieving happens. All I can really say about it is that it wasn't what I expected. I felt exhausted physically, but I didn't feel a great deal of sadness until recently.

I miss him a lot. He had a reputation for being slow and easily confused, though I think the reputation was somewhat unfair. He would chronically forget the names of his children. Well, he'd remember them, but not the right ones. If I heard my brother's name, I was almost certain my dad was talking to me. Occasionally he'd get it right the first time, but change his mind and call out one of my brothers' names (he would always get the gender right. I was never called by my sisters' names). It was cause for concern when my dad would get our names right on the first go, without changing his mind. He could rarely understand my mom's directions for things like when the next doctor's appointment was. These things got worse as he got older. Despite all of this, even at the last time I saw him, he still had a sharp wit, and he was full of random useless facts (now you know where I get it from). He was always looking for ways to help people out, wether they specifically asked for it or not. He could often be heard scheming behind someone's back trying to arrange favours for them. He had a lot to complain about, but rarely ever did, and he was usually cheerful despite all of this. Many were unaware of the problems that he had. He would always encourage people to look at the positive in everything, and he lived by that himself. I have many good memories of times with my dad. Going for walks when we were camping. Going for bike rides when I was a kid. Spending Sunday afternoons sleeping on his lap. Making coffee. Yes. Even something as mundane as making coffee.

In some ways it was a relief for him. He had suffered from lupus for most of my life, though he wasn't diagnosed until I was around 10. It made him tired and achey. He had asthma. He had had a gall bladder operation which nearly killed him and from which he never truly recovered. Later on he was diagnosed with diabetes. It wasn't easy to deal with all of this.

Regrets. I have a few, though they are small in comparison to some others' in the same situation. He and my mom came to visit one week before he died. I wasn't in a very good mood that weekend, and I took it out on him a little bit. I wish that I didn't. I should have helped him out at home more than I did when I visited home. I would hog the tv too, even in the rare moment when something he really wanted to watch was on.

There is probably more that I could say about my dad, but I've said all that I have to say for the time being.


Anonymous said...

Hey Randy! I'm really sorry to hear about your dad, I hope you're feeling a bit better. If you change your mind and want to talk or just do something distracting with a cool "teenager" (haha) you can give me a call 613 328-0620. Talk to you later,

Moneeka said...

Hey Randy, I'm so sorry for your loss. I can imagine what it feels like to lose a family member. Reading this blog reminded me of my uncle (Dad's younger brother) who passed away on November 15, 2006. He was like a father to me, since my dad was here in Canada most of the time, while my mom, brother and I were in India. We got a call 3 days before he passed away from my relatives back home saying my uncle was in the hospital. My mom left the next night in hopes that he would get better and she could take care of him. My uncle wasn't married and chose to live his life that way. No one knew his condition was so serious. By the time my mom got to India he passed away. We got a call at 6:00 am, that my Uncle was dead. It didn't hit me that he was gone until I saw my dad break down in front of me. It's weird cuz I had no words of comfort for my dad. I didn't know how to console him since him and I never really had that kind of relationship.
Lately I've been missing my uncle a lot. He taught me so much about life. He taught me how to drive a scooter. He was a very kind soul. I don't know where I'm going with this, but it all just hit me all over again :(
May your fathers soul rest in peace.