My father is dying.
There. I said it. And it can’t be unsaid.
Dad took a nasty fall a couple of weeks ago and it took five stitches to close the wound in the back of his head. While at the hospital, a CT scan revealed an aggressive tumour deep inside his brain—too deep to get at surgically. For various other health reasons we were told his body is too compromised for chemo, and radiation was neither recommended or offered. So, my father is now in palliative care with a life expectancy of less than six months.
Mom and dad both took the news rather well. Dad, matter-of-factly. Mom, with the bowed acquiescence of one who has lived long and lost much. Mercifully, the care-home that Mom has already been in for some time quickly made room for Dad to spend his last days, and so the transition was quick and uncomplicated. We’re so grateful—Dad already knows the place, the staff, and many of the residents. Happily, he’s gone to live and die where he is already known and loved.
A Different Kind of Grief
I don’t know what else to say right now. Recently, I told a friend that it feels like someone has opened up my midsection and is manually removing a vital organ… in slow motion. I thought I was familiar with grief. But this is different from previous experience.
Our Christian tradition recognizes several kinds of love. I think there must be several kinds of grief as well. To know one is not necessarily to know the others. One suspects that, like love, only God can bear to know the fullness of it, and yet it belongs to the mystery of our humanness to know something of it. If it wasn’t so particular and personal and awful, it would be objectively curious.
No doubt, in the coming months I’ll write more about my dad. If you’ve seen me in concert or listened to my music much, you’ll know how large he has loomed in my life. He is a very good man.
Perfect? Of course not. But that has never been his goal anyway.
Good? Yes indeed.
Wise? My friends have affectionately called him Yoda.
Selfless Living and Prayerful Study
Recently I wrote about Dad in comparison to the elderly priest Simeon of the New Testament who waited his whole life to see the promised Messiah and recognized him in the child Jesus (Luke 2:25-35). Of Dad I wrote:
“I wish you could meet my father. If anyone looks like I imagine Simeon to look, it would be him. Dad’s body is worn out from years and illness. His eyes are failing, his hearing is shot, and he can only move about slowly and carefully. But he, like Simeon, has been a righteous and devout man, who has served God and neighbour his whole life with
It is rare that I go to visit him and don’t find him in the company of others who have stopped by for wise and loving counsel. But if you do get him alone, Dad’s eyes will start to shine as he is likely to want to tell you what new glory he has beheld as a result of his prayerful meditations.”
An Adorable Tenderness
Just so you know, as of today Dad is
I miss him already. And so will many of you. Dad has spent himself on others and I suspect a few of you might want to get a message to him. I’ve set up an email so you can do so. I’ll print off any messages and make sure to read them to him. Or, if you’d like, feel free to use the comment feature below. I’ll make sure Dad sees those as well.
You can email Dad at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please don’t expect a response. But he will get it.
Recently my younger sister Dodi and I went to Dad’s apartment to start the work of clearing out his stuff. She had been there the day before and found his passport from when he was a kid. I had never seen it before. You might notice where he was born. That’s a whole other story I’ll tell you sometime.
More to come I’m sure.