My father could be a really mean person. I mean REALLY mean. I'm not going to go into details, but my childhood was less than stellar to say the least. My earliest memories of him are not good ones. It took many years for us to reach a place where we both came to understanding each other, at least I did. As I got into my 20s, I started to really see my parents for the people they were. Not as my parents, but as singular humans.
It couldn't have been easy for my dad when he got my mom pregnant. I was not planned, and neither were any of my three older siblings. My parents were only 22 when I was born. I was my father's first child and my mother's fourth (she had been married twice before my dad). My dad, feeling that he had to do right by my mom, decided they would have a shotgun wedding and he would move her and the three kids out of Florida and up to South Dakota, where he grew up and where his family were.
I can't imagine what it must've been like, 22 years old with a wife, four kids and a mortgage. I think of myself at 22 and it just amazes me. I think he held a lot of resentment towards my mother and her three children. Not that it was her fault and not his, but I think he resented her for simply being there.
Don't get me wrong, my father loved my mother very much. There were many happy times as well. Unfortunately, the bad eventually outweighed the good and they separated after ten years.
Without going into detail, I know that my dad felt bad about how things had turned out between them. I think he had wished that I could have had a more traditional style family life, for whatever that means. I know that he had been worried about how their divorce would affect my views on marriage. At the time, I didn't think much of it, but as I look back on my own relationships, I see the damage that it had done. How my parents' relationship had affected how I would view the dynamics between a husband and wife, or two partners.
I think it took a long time for him to come to terms with who he was and where he was at in life. I think he had finally been able to find happiness with his new wife and his job and what his life had turned out to be. We had finally been able to put aside all the bullshit from our past and become friends.
On October 14th, 2003, my dad had woken up having trouble breathing. His throat was swelling closed, so he was rushed to the hospital where they admitted him. I happened to be in town at the time, so I stopped up to see him at the hospital that night. He told me that he had been bitten by a spider in his sleep and he was more than likely having a reaction to the venom. He said they were keeping him there to do some testing to find out what it was.
It was a strange site, to see this big man lying there in a hospital bed, being vulnerable. I had never seen him in such a state. Our roles were now reversed, and it was MY turn to visit HIM in the hospital. I wasn't ready for that.
They tested him every which way they possibly could. Finally, the results came back that he had AML. Acute Myeloid Leukemia. And it was too late for my father.
They attempted chemo to induce remission, but he was so far gone that his body was now only producing leukemic blood cells. He died November 12th, 2003 at 10:30am. He was aged 48 years and 5 months to the day.
Everything afterwards is all a blur anymore, but I remember it well. I felt bad because I didn't cry. I couldn't. It was all so surreal, it didn't feel like I was awake. I wanted it all to be some horrible dream that I could wake up from.
It doesn't feel like it's been almost ten years since his passing. I was only 25 when it happened. I feel like he and I had just gotten to a great place in our relationship and then he was gone. He was always a voice of wisdom for me. I could talk to him about anything and he always had great advice to give. I so wish I had that now because I could really use some good sage knowledge right about now.
Before I start to ramble, I'm gonna cut myself off and head to bed. Dad, I love you and miss you and think of you every day. Always will. Until we meet again...