A year ago today my Dad passed away from pancreatic cancer. The last few weeks of his life were the only time it seemed like he actually suffered from it. He was diagnosed a year and a half earlier and went through chemotherapy and radiation treatments as well as a whipple procedure surgery which is a significantly invasive surgery. He never complained. He just continued to thank God for the time he had remaining on the earth and spent his time enjoying being with the people he loved.
My sister spent the entire summer by his side taking care of some of his medical needs and helping out in more ways than I could ever describe. I made the trip almost every weekend that summer to visit, often bringing one or more of my kids along so that they could spend the maximum amount of time possible with their grandfather. We all knew that his time was short, but it was hard to tell just how short until the very end.
This past year has been difficult without my Dad around to talk to. He was always willing to listen and provide his opinion when asked. I can remember so many times throughout the years that I just wanted to complain about work and he would listen to me. He was always willing to listen. He always said he would pray for me. After he passed away I found notecards going back for years with the things I had said to him. Things he had said he would pray for me about. They were notes for him so that he would remember specifically what to pray for. He was a wonderful father who practiced what he said.
There were times as a child that I was upset when it seemed that work came before me. As a father myself I know that there is never a time when a good father chooses between family and work. Work supports the family, and if the two are incompatible then a new job has to be found, but in any case food still has to be placed on the table and the bills still have to be paid. Dad balanced his work life as well as he could, but he had a wonderful wife in my Mom who was always able to be at home for me when I needed the parenting. I can remember times even as I got older when I felt that my Dad had promised me something and then forgot about it. He was not a perfect man. It says something that one of the worst things I can remember about him where that he sometimes forgot things. He was a man striving for perfection and enduring to the end, and he did both amazingly well.
I was visiting the weekend before he passed away, and that Sunday I was able to tell him goodbye. I told him that I loved him and he whispered that he loved me. I know he blamed himself and second guessed himself for certain decisions that I made, but they were my decisions. I told him that there was nothing he had ever done that I hadn’t forgiven him for. He was going to have to get used to hearing that where he was going. I know that my Father is in Heaven with my Heavenly Father and that some day we will see each other again. In the mean time I hope I can be there for my children the way he was there for me.