About my Dad, for those who asked.

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    Jul 01, 2008 4:38 PM GMT
    My father passed away of prostate cancer last week. I read a lot about peoples stalled relationships with their own fathers on a thread here and thought I would share my experience to give a little perspective.

    (It’s funny, you survive tragedy and death by the little bits of kindness provided by the people you would least expect it from. The unexpected flowers or the little anectdotes about a man who was a stranger to me lately. I never know the right things to say in this sort of situation but this weekend taught me that no one does. Just saying something, anything, helps.)

    I was never really close to my father. He said all of the right things like “I love you” and “I’m proud of you son” but beyond that, we really had nothing in common, especially after my parents divorce. Whilst I could share the every day comings and goings on of my life with the rest of my family, my father was always last on the list. I didn’t dislike him, he just hated discussing the trappings of real life. If it wasn’t about the weather or his latest golf game, he really wasn’t interested.

    It is amazing how difficult it is to do the simplest things when you are hours from burrying a parent. It almost seems as if I had spent the entire week sleep walking , afraid of waking. Choosing a suit in between breaking down in tears, just to make it to the church early to meet everyone who wanted to share their condolences. I could see it in their eyes how uncomfortable it is to be face to face with someone who is drowning in their own sorrow. Also unnerving to people, I'm sure, is how much I resemble my father. I am not sure they knew what to say or do other than to just stare at me. I , on the other hand, couldn't take my eyes from my fathers remains and the flag folded in front of them. I felt all this pressure to be cool under pressure or to have a perfect one liner to make people feel better ...like he would, but I just couldn’t muster the words.

    The tears had become painful, burning my cheeks (that were already raw from all the shitty ply tissue provided by my hotel). I had been touching my foot into the abyss of emptiness my fathers death created but I hadn’t fully allowed myself to feel it as much as I needed to. Walking into the church and down the center aisle to be confronted with my devasting reality and the shape of my fathers ashes , I could no longer hold any of the raw emotion back. My 5yo nephew hadn’t let go of my had the entire morning and I think that is the only thing that kept me from running out of the church to get some air. When the opening notes of my fathers favorite song began to play , I had to bury my face in my hands at the total devastation of having to say goodbye way too soon to someone I really didn’t even understand.
    I wish I could go back and be more forgiving, have more patience. All the peace I thought I had made turned out to be a castle made of sand, crumbling under my feet. I should have been there when he was scared those final nights. I should of sucked it up and been the man I thought I was. Regret is a bitter pill I didn’t have to swallow if I had bothered really thinking things through. Instead , the damaged young boy who held a grudge won out and the grown up me has to deal with the repurcussions.
    If it is not to late to make peace, do it. I wish I had a chance to know my Dad for who he was, not who I wanted him to be.
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    Jul 01, 2008 5:29 PM GMT
    Jeffrey,

    Thanks for sharing this thought provoking piece, and please accept my condolences for the loss of your father. This piece you've shared with us should cause us all to give thought to forgiving our fathers (or mothers in many cases) for their flaws and for some of the ways they treated us sometimes (or for so many years). Your father knows how you feel, I think. In Heaven (which I believe in) I think they have a new found understanding of things that were not apparent to them down here on Earth.

    I have a father who sounds a great deal like yours. I send him kind, appreciative birthday and Father's day cards, and I say those things to him in our brief phone conversations. I know that at 80, I won't have him around for too much longer, so I'm letting him know that I appreciated all of his integrity, responsibility and other attributes.

    Jeffrey, you are so bright - I'm sure your father was very proud of you even if he did not articulate it...I can imagine how I'd feel with you as a son. Best of everything to you!
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    Jul 01, 2008 6:03 PM GMT
    What a sad and deeply emotional note. Your thoughts were beautifully written and the sincerity in your words show through... in time, your feelings of regret will be replaced by happier memories of your Father. It should be those memories that you hold onto... I am sorry to hear of your Father's passing...

  • HndsmKansan

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    Jul 01, 2008 7:13 PM GMT
    Jeffrey,

    Few words can be said about what you just wrote.
    As someone who lost his mother at 24 years of age, I can absolutely appreciate your words and know what it is like to walk in your shoes.

    I appreciate your taking the time to share your feelings with us. Just know you will be in our thoughts, I'm very sorry for your loss.

    Chris
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    Jul 01, 2008 8:59 PM GMT
    wow. that was one of the most beautiful, heartfelt things i have ever read. i am thankful that you wrote that and hope it gets others to think about what's really important. your last three lines are the perfect summary...

    'Instead , the damaged young boy who held a grudge won out and the grown up me has to deal with the repercussions. If it is not to late to make peace, do it. I wish I had a chance to know my Dad for who he was, not who I wanted him to be.'

    i'm so very sorry to hear of your loss and hope you will be able to let go of the regret you are torturing yourself with. i'm sure he knew you loved him and he, you. thank you again for sharing.
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    Jul 01, 2008 9:04 PM GMT
    I am sorry to hear of your dad's passing. And doubly sorry to hear it was from prostate cancer.

    My dad died 19 years ago, but I still miss him. I always miss his advice...WWDD?
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    Jul 01, 2008 9:57 PM GMT
    Beautiful!

    As I sit here having read your thoughts that were so articulately placed on this post I had to wipe away the tears to write back. Thank you for bringing the pangs of reality to the forefront of my thoughts. I think about the time I will no longer have my parents and really try to make a concerted effort to tell and show them how much I appreciate them. Your post makes me realize that I need to try harder.

    I want to express my deepest sympathies to you and your family. This is a difficult time, but take some solace in the thoughts of your fathers great and good energy joining a universe that in these days and times needs it so badly. I don't know you at all, but this would be the time in which I would hug and hold a friend so that they could emote with all of their being. Know that I am sending this out to you in your moments of grief.

    Brian
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    Jul 01, 2008 10:01 PM GMT
    My condolences, mn. I hope you can find peace in short order.
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    Jul 01, 2008 10:06 PM GMT
    Jeffrey,

    My deepest sorrows for the pain in your loss and in the personal struggle that hurts so deep. I'm all too familiar with the loss, I just buried my dad too. A beautifully written message to remind each and every one of us how precious people are to us and yet how hard we sometimes work to keep them so far away.

    Blessing my friend, you have a lot of guys thinking and praying for you.

    Don
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    Jul 01, 2008 10:14 PM GMT
    During our lifetime we face many trials and tribulations that, initially, may seem unbearable; yet, somehow we always find a way to keep moving. Losing a parent has to be one of the worst experiences we ever feel, especially when we consider the unique bond we share with them. While words can never truly heal a broken heart or express one's sorrow for another's loss, I would like to express, to you and your family, my deepest sympathy. Seek solace in knowing your father is now in a better place where he is free from suffering. He has been called by God to join Him! This was your father's homegoing! He's probably looking down on you and still saying "I love you" and "I am proud of you son."

    - The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

    - ...Weeping may remain for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5

    Best wishes!!!!


    P.S. I hope the biblical references and quotes did not offend you in any way. What I wrote is just a reflection of how I deal with loss. Cya around!
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    Jul 01, 2008 11:58 PM GMT
    I am very sorry to hear of your loss. I went through the same experience in October 2006, what made it harder was the fact that I was in Italy at the time and had to scramble to get back before he passed away.

    We were not close when I was growing up, but became closer when I moved out of the house. I still miss him because we were a lot alike in terms of personality and interests. A part of me died when he died, it is hard to explain but that is how it felt.

    Don't be surprised if you think of him out of the blue years from now. I think of my Dad anytime I see an exciting sporting event like the European Cup Soccer that just finished. He loved watching sports and we used to talk about it in our weekly calls.
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    Jul 02, 2008 10:23 AM GMT
    My condolences, mnjock.
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    Jul 02, 2008 2:41 PM GMT
    To all the guys who sent their condolences on this thread or via email, thank you.
    I really can't express what it means. Your ability to be kind to a stranger and to try to make me feel better means a lot to me right now.
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    Jul 02, 2008 3:17 PM GMT
    We were so close to loosing my dad twice in the last year, I can't imagine it actually happening.

    My heart goes out to you and your family.
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    Jul 02, 2008 3:30 PM GMT
    I'm so sorry for your loss. I truly hope that you can soon find the peace that you are looking for.

    Best.
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    Jul 02, 2008 4:47 PM GMT
    I can truly understand what you are experiencing. I lost my father suddenly in March, and only just returned from his wake and the scattering of his ashes this past weekend.

    for me, i thought i was always the disappointment. I felt like i let dad down because he was this athletic hero, enshrined in all the local sports hall-of-fame organizations, known and loved by everyone, the life of the party...and i was his first born, the oldest son, the heir apparent - with limp lungs and no early interest in sports at all. gay to boot, but that came later.

    it took many years for me to come to terms with the feelings i had regarding my father and actually talking to him about it. the amazing thing was...i was wrong. he did not feel let down at all. he was not disappointed. i can still hear him say "it's just a fuckin game, boy! it's not important at all!" fortunately, both my parents are (were , not used to it yet) very intelligent, and evolved a great deal during my lifetime. they accepted my sexuality as just something that they would not have chosen, but they wanted their child to be happy in life, whatever that took. they also shrugged off their conservative upbringings and learned that the world is not black-and-white, and that consideration and respect belong to all.

    so, my dad had become my best friend, we could and would discuss anything...and in march i found myself, like you, walking in a surreal dream not knowing what had happened to my life. the needs of my mother helped me not focus on myself so much...but those quiet moments when the reality sneaks up on you are tough. you are not alone in that.

    all i can suggest is that when it gets too much, wrap yourself in those that love you and take strength in knowing that life goes on, (like the death grip from your nephew, the next generation) ...and our loved ones who have gone before are never forgotten if we don't let them be.

    at my dad's funeral there were a few smiles, lots of tears, and an overwhelming sense of loss. this past weekend at the wake...there were stories...laughter...reaffirmation of the life and love that my family shares...and closure of a sort. his ashes are now in his favorite fishing hole...the cove where he taught me to catch and release indian painted turtles..."blondie point" - where the blond in the bikini sunning assured that one of the poorest areas in the lake was going to be fished all day...and in the swimmin hole where he dove in and hauled out a 25lb snapping turtle by the tail one summer afternoon a million years ago...all smiles and laughter...

    no matter your relationship with your dad, don't beat yourself up! i can assure you that the bond was there, even if neither of you was ever able vocalize it or express it the way you want to now. i do agree with you that we all need to take time to look at our lives with the people we love and make certain that if it all ended today - you said and did everything you would have wanted.

    i don't know what else to say except i feel your loss. you have my very best thoughts and wishes!
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    Jul 02, 2008 5:28 PM GMT
    I won't claim I understand what you are feeling now because I have never lost a parent or anyone close to me for that matter but I was moved by your words and I felt your pain. I guess lossing someone is something we will all have to face if we don't die first.

    My love goes out to you. Stay strong.
  • joggerva

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    Jul 03, 2008 2:52 AM GMT
    Mnjock, I can only imagine what you are going through, and I am so sorry for your loss and your feelings of regret. I hope that, in time, the positive memories and connections that you did have with your father will shine through.

    Your description of your relationship with your father really hits home. Like the first response said, your father loved you and was proud of you and probably had difficulty expressing it. I don't know if it is a generational thing - or a straight guy thing - or both - but getting my dad to open up is like squeezing water from a rock.
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    Jul 03, 2008 4:26 AM GMT
    That was a very touching story. I am truly sorry for you're loss.
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    Jul 03, 2008 4:27 AM GMT
    Sorry to hear that.
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    Jul 03, 2008 4:28 AM GMT
    I'm so very sorry to hear that Jeffery. There isn't a whole lot I can say other than truly recognize and appreciate every little moment of happiness breaks up your time of grief. Eventually the happy moments will begin outweighing the sad ones again. Losing our parents is a sad, but inevitable part of our lives and we all must take our own path through it at our own pace. Just remember that grief can be a very tangible living thing with its own moods and will rear its head wherever and whenever it sees fit. Allow yourself to be inconvenienced by it at inopportune moments. The more you do that the less frequent those moments will be.

    be well and big hugs
    -robby

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    Jul 03, 2008 4:29 AM GMT
    I read your post the other day and I've been mulling it over. I'm very sorry for your loss.

    Thank you for posting this. It was very thoughtful and powerful, and I definitely learned from it.

    Fabio
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    Jul 03, 2008 4:35 AM GMT
    Jeff...

    Thank you! You're AMAZING!!

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    Jul 03, 2008 4:41 AM GMT
    Sorry to hear about your loss.

    You did good. There's no right or wrong when it comes to things like this. You just have to be yourself and it sounds like you did ok.



    Hugs man.
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    Jul 03, 2008 4:46 AM GMT
    I read this and nearly started to cry...

    I am terrified of living a similar scenario with my own father. I've been trying to break through some barrier between us...but I've yet to find the words. Your message provides me additional motivation to act sooner rather than later.

    Please accept my most sincere condolences for your loss.

    Thank you for being so open and for sharing so much.

    Cheers,
    Carl