The beginning of the end…

PART 1 of 3

This. This blog post right here is taking A LOT of me. The emotion, energy, and pain that it’s taking me to finally put fingers to keys is is a lot. This is me. My thoughts. My feelings. My memories. My past. My present. My future.

It has been exactly one month since my father left this earth. Something that I was not ready for, but I had to force myself to face the facts in regards to his diagnosis and prognosis. On February 8th of this year, I found out my dad was sick and in the hospital. Didn’t know any details, and was told on a whim. He and I had a falling out over 11 years ago. And I won’t even get into why because it’s honestly the dumbest reason. But I will tell you that a large part of us staying apart for so long was because we are very alike. Stubborn as an ox. Both of us. Not only that, but each of us believed that we didn’t want one another in our lives. I stayed away because I didn’t think he wanted me around, and vice versa. Eleven years! Before those 11 years, he was my best friend, and I was his brat. The baby of the family so needless to say, I got whatever I wanted, when I wanted when it came to Dad.


That evening when I was made aware of him being admitted to the hospital, Nick asked me if I was okay. I said, “well yea. Why wouldn’t I be?”. At this point we’d lived separate lives for over 11 years, I had 3 healthy babies whom he had never met, and he had his own life that he was living without me and my family. I had a lot of resentment toward him for that. Not being around while I was raising my babies. Not being a grandparent to them. No birthday phone calls. I had written him off. And for what? Because we got into an argument over the phone when I was 20 years old? Over the years I slowly let go of that resentment and he turned into a figure of my past. Someone who I loved, but also someone who I needed to “get over”. Not forget though. Because like I said, he was at one time my best friend. Numero Uno would ask who my dad was for years. I pointed him out at my brother’s wedding and at any family gathering we were both at, but there was never a formal introduction. At this point I had also pulled away from his side of my family. Not because I didn’t love these family members, but because I knew he didn’t want me around. So I thought.

That night when Nick asked me how I’m feeling. I told him that if my dad asked for me, then I would be there in a heart-beat. The very next day at almost exactly 9:00am I got a phone call from my brother. A. I knew something was up because it was a phone call. We rarely ever have phone calls, they’re usually FaceTime calls. B. That’s early in the morning. Something was up and I had a pitt in my stomach when I answered that call. Dad had been asking for me, talking about me, and wanting to see me. I immediately called my sister-in-law, let her know the situation, and off I went to drop the numeros off with her so I could go up to the hospital. Talk about an emotional roller coaster! Phew! That was an intense car ride. Those 11 years plus the 20 years of my life I had with him, all racing through my head. What was I going to say? Would I cry? What was he going to say to me? Was I gonna get in trouble as if I was a teenager again? Ha!

After lots of crying and almost 2 hours in the car, I finally parked my car, walked the huge hospital until I reached his room. My sister and one of my brothers was sitting there along his bedside. They looked, Dad looked, I probably looked as white as a ghost as I walked in. I remember hearing him say, “My Cassy!”. He was hooked up to so many machines, breathing tubes, IVs. Everything you could think of so what words he was able to get out through his crying, were very faint. But those words, “My Cassy!”, those are the words that will forever be with me. I leaned over his bed rails to hold him. Somehow I was able to keep myself composed. While I hear my brother and sister behind blubbering like fools (love you’s). Dad kept holding me, repeating those two words, “My Cassy”. All while telling me multiple times that he wants to meet his grandkids. That’s all I’ve ever wanted Dad. Is what I really wanted to say. I reassured him that we were going to get him well, break him free from that hospital so he can meet his grandkids! All the nerves, the resentment, it all disappeared. I knew I needed to be there. Not only for him, but for myself. I needed him in my life even though for all these years, I didn’t think I did.

After a good while, we were able to let each other go long enough for me to grab a chair and bring it to his bedside. I sat next to him while he just smiled at me. Staring at me. Looking at the 32 year old woman I had become since he last spoke to me 11 years ago. We immediately started talking. What I’ve been up to. What he had been up to. I told him all the goofy stuff the kids do and say. Showed him photos of them. And so on. Once Nick left work, he met me at the hospital. Mind you, Nick and Dad had been buddies during his and my separation. My brother would orchestrate events that both Nick and Dad attended so they met, became friendly with one another, and grew a bond. All while I hadn’t had contact with him in years. Yea. Weird. Right? I was fine with it and happy that Nick was able to have those moments with him even if I wasn’t able to. At least someone was. And my gosh the bond he and Nick shared was great! Side note, they’re both named Nick! Dad is Nick, I have a brother Nick, my husband is Nick, and one of the numeros shares the name. They were bound to be pals! Dad was so proud of Nick. He always told him that, and made sure I knew it too. It was Nick this, Nick that, you got yourself a good husband Cass, Nick needs a break, give that man a day off. Nick, Nick, Nick! [insert eye-roll here] From that day on, I was with Dad every second I could. He had multiple hospital stays those few months between he and I reconnecting and his passing. We had many heart to heart, deep conversations. Tons of funny talks. Jokes. My way of coping and just getting myself through difficult times is to laugh and make the people surrounding me do the same. Life is too damn short to be sad and have a frown all the time! Can I get an Amen?

I immediately took charge or caring for him as soon as we were able to take him home from the hospital. My sister lives a few hours away and my brother has his career and a family. My uncle who lived with dad had been going above and beyond for him too. And just like my brother and sister, he has his career and own life as well. I hated to put any burdens on him or anyone else. He would also never look at Dad as a burden, but I knew I needed to up my daughter game and dive in. I’m a stay at home mom juggling to keep the numeros alive, getting them to their activities, managing a household, and being a semi-decent wife. What was one more appendage, right? I will never take those few months with him for granted. I don’t care what doctor appointment we were at, which hospital we were frequenting that week, those moments are forever. Dad started calling me his coordinator. I coordinated everything that needed to be. I was a strict coordinator too! I had to be I guess considering there was so much going on. I somehow had to keep all of our ducks in a row.

In February during that 7 day hospital stay, we found out Dad had stomach cancer. Ugh. That word makes me cringe every time. We didn’t know what stage yet because he had MULTIPLE other severe health issues that needed to be addressed before we could even cross the cancer staging bridge. During this time, he met my babies! My dad met my babies! I never thought the day would come but my gosh I was so damn happy for it! I explained the situation to Numero Uno in its entirety since he was old enough to know and fully understand. Numero Dos gets it, but I think she’s still too young to process it all. And Numero Tres was just looking for another person to call his friend. He enjoyed their company SO much! I know for a fact that my numeros being around during this time was therapeutic for dad. He was a different person when my little persons were around. They kept him in good spirits. And they were good sports too! Numero Dos and Tres were at most of his doctor appointments with Dad and I. They would just hang out while we talked to doctors and ran around picking up prescriptions and medical records.

It wasn’t until the beginning of April when I noticed some changes with Dad. I didn’t put it all together at the time, but now looking back, he was dying. His body started the dreadful process weeks before he actually passed. He started pulling away from us. Myself, Nick and the kids. He started getting depressed. It began harder and harder to get him to eat. Not to mention the excruciating pain he was in due to the cancer pressing on majority of his organs and bones. It wasn’t until April 17th that we found out the full scope of his cancer and overall health.

By this point, he could barely walk let alone sit up from the pain. There he sat, his head hanging down chin to chest, sunglasses on, body looking so weak and frail that he could collapse at any moment. The oncologist that we had been working with walked in to give us the grave details. Dad knew what was coming, yet he accepted it.

The last photo I had with Dad.

Author: Cassy

I come from your average blue collar, working class family from the South Suburbs of Chicago. Once living so close to the city that I could take a 5-minute bike ride in, to now building a family and home in the far reaches of the burbs. I have worn a few hats in my day: retail, health and fitness, salon and spa, investments, and my most important career as stay-at-home mom. I have most recently become an independent Maskara Beauty artist. Feel free to browse my website and contact me with any questions. Thanks for stopping in!

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