My Dying Father

March 17, 2014

I have just received devastating news about my father. The end has almost come. This is on top of my grandfather who fell Saturday morning in his dining room, busted my grandparents glass dining chair, broke his leg, has to have a knee replacement, and has cuts all over his body.

Life is not fair nor is it always easy. People are dealt better hands than others. My father is one of those who were not dealt the best hand, and I wish I could understand why.

I am a Christian, but I more so believe in being a good person. I believe in loving everyone despite their flaws, always look for the good in someone, try to understand a differing opinion instead of judging a person, and letting people make their own choices as to how they want to live their life - it is none of my business. I believe in the story of Jesus and I believe he died for our sins. I believe in God, wholeheartedly. The Bible confuses me and some of the stories do not make a lot of sense. I was always told to believe it and not question it, but if I am going to believe in something, I have to know it. I have to understand it. Faith is not always the absence of logic. 

These are times when I wish I could talk to God. You know, God come over for a cup of coffee and we sit on the couch and talk about life. I pray to God and Jesus, all of the time. I feel them in my heart, but what I would not give for one solid conversation.

My dad is dying of cancer and my mother has MS. I watch both of the people that I love more than anything in this world suffer every single day. It's been this way for almost 10 years with my mother, and 4 years with my dad. Even before I was able to obtain a drivers license, I have watched my parents gravely suffer. It hurts more than I could ever put into words.

Dad grew up in a small Virginia town. His father, my grandfather adored my father's mother, my grandmother. I was never able to meet either of them, so it is hard to call them my grandparents. That is another hole. My grandmother Mary Harrison (She was named after my great, great, Uncle, William Henry Harrison the 9th President of the US - pretty cool) was absolutely beautiful. My grandfather loved to buy her nice things so she could dress up. She passed away when my dad was 14 due to alcoholism - cirrhosis of the liver. She drank while she was pregnant was my Aunt Nancy, who passed away in 2007, and it caused my aunt to be permanently disabled - physically. Mentally, she was normal. When my aunt was born and started to grow up, I think that caused my grandmother to drink even more, to mask the pain of what was wrong with my aunt. Thus when my aunt was just a small child, my grandmother passed away. My grandfather was a travelling shoe salesman and rarely home, so my dad assumed the responsibility of caring for my aunt. A travelling father, a dead mother, and disabled sister - all at the ripe age of 14. That is heartbreaking. To make matters worse, my dad's childhood "girlfriend" and best friend, Connie, died the very next year when he was 15.

I think that permanently scared my dad more than myself or anyone in this world will ever understand. I have tried to talk to him about it. I wanted to know, I wanted to understand. My dad's intelligence is mind blowing. I seriously called him in college during one of my history exams to get answers and he knew them, detailed, like he had just finished studying. However, socially, well, that is not so easy. I could never talk to him about life, school problems, self esteem issues, or anything like that. Dad does not understand that. I think a lot of that stems from his childhood and what he endured.

My mom left my dad when I was barely out of her womb, that scared him too. But there is a ray of sunshine; my step-mom. They married when I was 3 years old and have been through hell and high water, and are still madly in love to this day. I believe that my step-mom is my dads earthly angel, because it surely is not me. Their foundation is God and their church. I really admire that.

I was so close with my dad growing up. He was silly, funny, and we always had the best time joking around. I was the light of his life. He never called me by my name, it was my two nicknames, either "Bug" or "Connie Jade". You could not ask for a more involved father. I am his only child, and a daughter at that. We sang "Butterfly Kisses" everyday. He would let me have ice cream for dinner when my step-mom was away. He would let me watch bad movies, we would drive around looking at new cars. We did everything together. When I look back at my childhood, my dad was with me every step of the way.

I was not a good teenager. My parents deserved so much better than me. I had everything I could possibly need and most of whatever I wanted. I did gymnastics, dance, piano, sports, and I had a lot of friends. I think the pain of being bullied in school and my mom's then husband (my ex step-dad) ruled most of my emotions and I lashed out at my step-mom, dad, and mom. They were trying to keep me on a straight path and I wanted no part of it. I disobeyed them at every opportunity I had. 

There is something burned in my mind for the rest of my life. No matter how I hard I try, I will never forgive myself. When I was sneaking out, lashing out, and breaking my dad's heart, I used to tell him, "I hate you so so much, I wish you would die". His reply? "That's OK, I love you anyway". I will never get over that. I deserve to live with that pain because I was an absolute monster to him. 

We did not speak much for 3 years. When I was 16-19 we barely talked and I never saw him. I broke him. I moved out of his house and told him I wanted nothing to do with him and I turned away. I did not think about him and I turned my focus onto finally becoming pretty, getting attention from boys, and partying. I do not know if during that time period I even had a soul.

When I was 19 years old and I started my weight loss journey for the first time, it was like I snapped back to the person I used to be. I focused on college, working, and losing weight. That somehow taught me to be a good person. That is when I realized what I had done to my dad and I panicked because I needed to try and fix it. I wrote my dad a long letter, I sent him gifts, I sent him a poem, I called and to let him know how sorry I was and how much I loved him, and I offered to see him as much as possible.

He was hesitant, and very distant. He would see me, but I could tell I killed a part of him. It was never, ever the same. My dad has been through so damn much in this life he has been given, and I, the one person he loved more than life, made it even worse. After all of the pain he endured growing up, my mom divorcing him, and then me as a teenager - I don't even know how he got himself out of bed in the morning. For years, I tried and I know he tried too. But things were so different. I knew they would never go back to the way they were, and I could not blame him. I was the only one to blame.

In September of 2011 I was at my previous job, at my desk. It was a Tuesday afternoon around 3:50 PM. I had this sudden pain in my stomach and I looked up at my then co-worker and good friend Lauren, and I blurted out "something is wrong with my dad". She looked at me like I had 3 heads. She said "how in the world do you know that?". Not even a minute later, my cell phone rang. It was my step-mom. She never calls so I knew that feeling I just felt, was right. It was.

The doctor's initially thought my dad had a stroke, but it was cancer. A brain tumor. I thought he was going to die then. Thankfully, he survived surgery, and the battle has been fought by him ever since. I think cancer is what finally made my dad open up to me again. I did the same. I think it brought us much close initially. Ever since 2011 we have been up and down on this absolutely mind numbing roller coaster. Good news, bad news, good news, bad news. I keep myself distant from him, but always close enough so he knows how much I love him. I think internally, within myself is where I closed up. No one could tell, but me. Well, my mom also. She knew what I was doing and it pissed her off.

A couple of weeks ago, I stayed with my dad and step-mom and that was when I opened my heart up more than I ever have to them. I saw them in a different light. I felt more love for them then I ever have. My step-mom and I have always been estranged. However, she was so loving to me. I was diagnosed with RLS the day I stayed with them and she wanted to cater to me. She was so loving and kind. As was my dad. They wanted me to be happy and I felt so nurtured. That night I felt like I was 10 years old again. I felt a way that I had not felt in so many years. That night I realized how much I loved them. I always knew I loved them, but that Friday night just opened me up more than I could have ever imagined. My step-mom has saved my fathers life. She drives him to Duke constantly, for every single appointment. She never misses one, ever. She caters to my dads needs every single day. She has been by his side through this whole battle and still keeps a smile on her face and thanks God for the day. 

Wednesday, March 12th, my dad was rushed to Duke due to severe, unbearable leg pain. The doctors were going to try and operate, but they couldn't. They were going to try to radiate, but they couldn't. Chemo was not an option. The cancer is eating away at his bone. They sent him home with a morphine drip. I think the time is getting closer.

As I feel time getting closer, my regrets and pain surface more and more. I try to always put my selfishness and pain aside, because it is not even an ounce of what my father feels, but it is very, very hard. My heart is so heavy. I carry so much pain. I just wish so much God would have just given the cancer to me instead of him, or just given him cancer that could have been curable. My dad has been through so much bad in life. He has been dealt more than his fair share of pain, why did this have to happen? He told me over Thanksgiving, he did not want to die. Those words eat away at your soul because there is nothing I can do. Because of my teenage years, I carry the ache of telling my dad I hated him. I was such a piece of shit. I just wish I could go back and take those words back. I try and tell my dad constantly how much I love him and how I did not mean those words, but I feel like they will never be enough.

I have tried to talk to him but he not been awake much. I am typing the the words that the time is getting close, but they do not feel real. This feels like a really bad dream, but this is life. This is what is going to happen in the near future. My father will never walk me down the aisle. My father will never see me have a child. I was just a kid yesterday, it felt. How did time go by so quickly? How could I have taken all of that time for granted?

I am battling this huge, non-fillable hole in my heart on a daily basis. I have never experienced a loss of a love from death, much less a parent, nor did I ever expect to encounter it at my age. I was hoping and praying to at least be in my 40 or 50's. I know I do not have it as bad as other people in the world, I know that. But this is my personal pain.

I just hope and pray my dad knows how much I love him. And I hope in Heaven, God will tell him how much I do, because God knows my heart more than anyone. I hope my father dances with his mother, father, and sister. He has had to mourn the death of them all. I hope he has a brand new, beautiful body that goes through no pain. I hope he knows that if I could go back in time, I would take away every mean comment I ever made. If I could give my life for him right now, I would. I would do anything to be able to fix all of my wrong doings because I just had no idea what I was doing. I was such a lost, sad person.

Dad, you deserve so much better than what you are given in this life. The Bible promises perfection in Heaven, but not in the physical world. Thank you for loving me as much as you did. I was your only child and I managed you hurt you more than you ever thought possible. I am sorry from the pits of my soul for making you cry and all of the mean things I ever said. You went through more than anyone should in this life, but you still kept a positive attitude, and fought every single day of your life. And you never complained. I never ever, ever hear you complain. You love my step-mom like I can only dream of being loved by from a man. You are a true God-fearing, hardworking man. You came from nothing, and worked your way through college and had to pay for every single item you have had in this life. Nothing was ever handed to you. Nothing was easy. But you still smiled. Thank you for being the best example of a man.

I am going to miss you more than you will ever know. 


  1. I send lots of courage and strength your way! This post made me cry! Hugs darling :)

  2. My heart is breaking for you. Share this post with him - you will never regret doing that. Say all the things you can, create as many experiences as you can at his bedside, and record his voice. He has always known those words you said as a teenager were young, bratty comments and he has never believed that you meant them, I'm sure. Don't focus on that. Stay strong!

  3. I am so sorry hun... sending lots of thoughts and prayers your way *hugs*

  4. Not sure why my post didnt work. Ugh.

    Anyway, you and your dad are most definitely in my thoughts. I am on the opposite side from your experience with your dad dealing with my very own 19 year old daughter. I hope that you will be able to use whatever time your dad has left to help finish mending those fences with him and showing him just how much he means to you and you to him. (((HUGS))) to both of you.

  5. Wow, this made me cry. And I can't help but adore you for how open and honest you are. I can't imagine what you are going through, but it is so brave of you to be so critical about yourself and admitting where you've gone wrong in the past. So hats of to you! I know it is hard going through all of this, but from your writing I can see that you are a strong woman so I am positive you'll get through all of this!

  6. Oh Liz :( This makes my heart break for you and your family. Just spend as much time as you can with him and let go of what you can not change in the past. You cant be angry with yourself anymore. You have expressed to your dad how much you love him and how sorry you were for what you did. I am sure deep down he knows you didn't really mean a lot of what was said...a lot of us say stuff like that growing up. Sending thoughts and hugs your way.

  7. Tears! My heart breaks for you! I am sorry you are having to deal w. all of this! sending you lots of love and prayers to get through this time!!! xoxo

  8. It’s really sad to read this. It’s never easy to lose someone you love and I can never imagine the pain you are feeling right now. I hope you find the strength and peace as you go through this trying time. My thoughts are with you.

    David Munson

  9. I am crying reading this. I am so sorry for your pain and understand it all to well. My dad passed away in January of last year and it was the hardest thing I ever had to go through. Thinking of you. XOXO


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