For the past couple of years, along with me fighting cancer, my father was also fighting B-Cell Lymphoma.
He went through two rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, and at least one round of radiation.
For about six to eight months, he seemed like he was doing better. Getting stronger, gaining weight, feeling better.
Then, about three weeks ago, he started not doing so well. On the 4th of January, 2020, my mother took him to the hospital because he was dehydrated and hadn’t been eating. She told him that either he went with her to the hospital, or she was calling an ambulance. Ever the penny pincher that he was, he chose to go to the hospital with my mother and not risk a large ambulance bill.
He was in the hospital for five days. They did CT scans, and an MRI. Turns out, the Lymphoma was back, with a vengeance, spreading throughout his body and into his brain. One of the struggles with Lymphoma is that it is a blood cancer. So where the blood goes, the cancer goes too.
The decision was made on the following Tuesday that we would bring him home and he would be place in hospice care. It was a heart wrenching decision.
He came home that Wednesday. He hadn’t really been with it all day, but in the cabulance, he told the driver that she had made a wrong turn. My brother was with him and had a good laugh about that.
We set him up at home, and he had caregivers that came and helped take care of him. I stayed at the house after my brother went back to Maine for a trial that he had coming up.
Saturday morning, I awoke at 4:25am. I could hear my father breathing, which was a good sign. The furnace kicked on and I couldn’t hear him breathe anymore (loud furnace). The caregiver got up about that same time and went to the bathroom. While she was in the bathroom, the furnace kicked off. I couldn’t hear my dad breathing. The caregiver then came out to the living room and said “John, your father is not breathing. You need to get your mom.”
I went downstairs and got my mom, and at 4:33am, my father was gone.
It’s both a blessing that he is gone, as he was in extreme pain, and a sadness. My mother no longer has to worry about him, and he is no longer in pain. But he will be missed by us all.
My brother was here, and we were all able to say goodbye to him before he passed. We stressed that we loved him, and he asked my brother and I to make sure that we took care of our mother.
I have many good memories of him. I remember driving to Colorado in the back of a Pinto Station wagon and having him tell my brother and I to lift our feet so we could get up the hill to the Continental Divide.
I remember going to Disneyland with him, and getting stuck in Carmel, California when the car broke down for several days. Swenson’s Ice Cream, especially the bubble gum ice cream, and the Moonies kept us occupied.
We had many adventures. He always supported my brother and I. Be it sports, or events, or whatever.
We learned early on, never park in front of the mailbox. Also, if you leave a room, turn off the light. Also, turn the heat down when you go to bed. Were you born in a barn?
All I wanted was for my father to be proud of me. I hope he was. I’ll try to be a better person, husband and father moving forward to honor my father’s legacy.
He was my friend. He was my hero.
Rest easy dad. We’ll take care of mom.