Wednesday, September 30, 2009

End of September Contemplation

Okay. So life has changed, and my body isn't sure what to make of it. My mind thinks I've gone crazy. I left the north nearly a year ago, after finding out my father had stage 4 cancer. I wanted to spend more time with him, and help them out, now that my father was unable to drive. I don't know where the months went. I arrived on the east coast in January. When I looked at the months ahead I would have with my father, it felt like plenty of time. October begins tomorrow and he has already been gone nearly a month.

The time went fast because I was so busy I reckon. I feel like I looked forward to spring and summer for so very long after such a cold winter spent travelling from coast to coast, only to have it pass in the blink of an eye. I had so many plans for my time in this warmer weather part of the country. I planned to hit as many music festivals as I could. I didn't attend not one camping festival. I went to local concerts instead. I envisioned paddling day after day in the many lakes in this well-known paddler's haven. I went once on my own, and once in New Brunswick at Hopewell Rocks. I planned on camping every single long-weekend, and some others inbetween. I went camping once in New Brunswick.

It was a very different summer. I wish I could say I spent every spare moment with my father. I didn't. His health had started to fail and he was very tired. Often while I was there he would stay up for a short while before heading into his room to sleep for several hours. After awhile, I felt like I was keeping him up, as he struggled to stay awake in his chair, so I didn't stay as long on my visits. It became increasingly harder to see his body fail him so. I think what bothered my mother the most was that she could find very little to cook for him that he could tolerate. It had been her primary role for my father for so many years, and as much as she may have grumbled about having to do it, she sure missed it when she no longer had to do it. My Dad was a very complimentary man, and frequently complimented my mother on her cooking.

So now that Dad has passed, my next goal is to get my mother settled into a more suitable apartment. Then it's time to think about me again. I've had my mind set on travelling once my student loans are paid off. There is a strong possibility that I may actually reach that goal if all goes well with my student loans. I may be ready to travel by April. And with my current health, that scares me. How can I ever be ready and fit enough to hit the road long-term, indefinitely by April? I am feeling my near worst ever, between back pain, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, and now a high sugar reading, I am worried I won't get to pursue what I have been after for so long.

All these many years I have been serving someone else's purpose, taking care of business. At first it was to be a good mother and wife. Then I was single parenting, and needed to be a good student, mother, and shit job employee so I could get a better job and provide for my daughter. Following that I had to seek a good paying job with benefits to continue on being a good mother, and to pay student loans. Now that my student loan debt is nearing the end, my daughter has been living on her own for years, I may finally be able to pursue my own dreams. My daughter is out living her own life in the Yukon. I have so many things I wanted to pursue and I fear I won't get to do them all due to poor health. And that just plain sucks.

I need to take control of my life or this body won't make it through. Any chance for a rehaul?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And Life Goes On

I haven't said it to anyone yet, but I just know it's coming. "After Dad died..." or "When Dad was still alive..." or "When Dad was dying...". I think then it may begin to feel real, when it is slipped into the conversation, and not the focus of the conversation. I guess that is a sign that life goes on.

I have spent a fair bit of time in the last few days helping Mom sort out the paperwork that is associated with a death. So far things have been ticking right along, with only minor hiccups along the way. It would be a real chore for my mother alone though, with her limited sight as there are forms and fine print everywhere.

We've also been checking out apartments for Mom as well, with some interesting prospects. There is much to consider for her needs, and I want to be sure she is as independent as she can be. The ones we looked at today would nearly accomplish that as they are right amidst a fair sized shopping area, with two grocery stores, and 4 drug stores. Yes, 4 drug stores. I believe there may even be more. I am beginning to feel like I am in Mexico with all these drug stores in town...there are 4 very close to my apartment as well. Weird. Her hair salon, doctor, and several restaurants, including Tim Horton's, would all be just a few steps away. She is living alone for the first time in several decades. As much as she will miss Dad, I think she may be able to enjoy having a life of her own in the city with old friends and family. She used to live up here in the city many years ago, before she married, and treasured her time here. There are many lovely tree and flower filled parks in the twin cities, so we are hoping to find something near one of them.

My dad's urn has been relegated to the lower tier of a plant stand for now. We are packing up his clothes later this week. I wonder what will find their way into his chest of drawers then? She hasn't decided just what to do with the computer. I have to clean it up first, and format the hard drive.

I head back to work on Monday. I haven't been in my office much this summer. I was on the road a bit, and then I was off work for the past several weeks. It's all a bit of a blur at the moment. It will be good to get back to some kind of routine, as this past few months has been anything but routine. I could however, easily get used to keeping my own schedule.

Life goes on...

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Weight of Legacy

My father died this morning (Friday) at 5:27am. It was not unexpected. He was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer last fall. He died peacefully at home with his family. I was there for his last hour. I am thankful for that. We wrote the obituary tonight. How do you capture the life of a man in such a small paragraph? My father led a busy and fulfilled life, married to the love of his life, and died holding her hand. Sigh. My dad was a class act.

Now that he has passed on from this world, reality sets in. My dad taught me more about life, and the world in which we live than any school could hope to. He was such a well-read man and instilled this deep into every one of his children. We are all very avid readers today, and struggle with the same challenge he did, where do I put all the books? Most homes had one set of encyclopedias. We had several, along with several book series about a variety of topics. He had such a thirst for knowledge. Anyone who knew my father, likely saw him with a book, magazine, newspaper, crossword puzzle, or map in his hands. There were plenty of each in every house we lived. Occasionally the mess of daily newspapers would overwhelm my mother, or the 10 pound hardcover book that my father would fall asleep with in bed, next to my mother who frequently caught it with her head. Yet she never asked him not to take them to bed. She knew the enjoyment he extracted from each new book as they arrived in the mail. Every book was read cover to cover, and often discussed around the house. As topics arose, maps would be swiftly withdrawn from the closets or trunks that stored them, and the storytelling would begin. Topographical maps, marine charts, gas station road maps, National Geographic inserts, and a Reader's Digest globe taught us all logical awareness of how our world was structured around us. No topic was too big for our father. What he didn't know he would find out. You might not hear about it for a while, but at some point, he would bring it up again and report what he had found out.

Growing up with a father who never tired of answering the questions of his inquiring children was one of his greatest gifts to us. Now that he no longer walks this earth with me, who will answer my questions now? Or is it my turn to begin to share the knowledge he has entrusted with me?

The light of the September full moon fills the sky outside, shining brightly. I always wanted a telescope. Perhaps it's time I bought one, and learned all I could about my night sky as I continue to travel this world so that I may share it with others. Often locations found on a map were destinations, which was a large part of living the military life in Canada in those days. Here we are heading out for a skidoo journey with Dad on his Elan while he pulled a small caboose he had fashioned for us wee ones. We loved the ride, and wore our helmets believing our father would never put us in harms way. He towed us gently along the soft snowfall of the northern Ontario wilderness. In the summers we paddled the red wooden canoe I went with him to buy from some northern Ontario craftsmen.

There may be weight for a child to carry her father's legacy, but I believe he only gives her what he is confidant she can carry. My father had confidence in me, and knew I would do my part when he left this world.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Catching Up

I have been pretty busy and stressed out lately, so though I should catch things up here in Dartmouth Cove. My Dad has taken to his bed, and is no longer able to walk. He is in his last weeks (days even) of stage 4 colon cancer. I have been over there every single day for the past two weeks. I stay for at least 6-10 hours, finding it hard to leave, and sometimes hard to stay. And then I read this. Dad already has the mottling of the lower extremeties, and now it is starting on the upper torso. We are probably looking at him not lasting the week. Now I can't blog because I feel like I need to go right over.