Wednesday, June 29, 2011

R.I.P. Gigi's Dad

I know it has been a long time since last post. As my last few entries have stated, we were nearly at the end of my father's life -- and to be blunt, I just didn't have it in me to write about chocolaty goodness. Hell, I haven't even been up to moderating comments (which are all still waiting for me, and I promise they will be published eventually).

I am still somewhat in shock that I even have to type these words, but my father passed away on June 24th at the age of 65.

I really wish I could tell you that in the couple of months while he was in the hospital leading up to his death, that we had some major breakthrough in our relationship, or that I at least got some window of understanding into the reasons he did the things he did. But that didn't happen, so I can't. I probably don't even have the right to feel the numbness and surprise that he has actually died. After all, we've known that this day was coming since his first night in the hospital when we found out how far things had already gone.

What I can tell you is that even when you know it's coming; even if you were so mad at the person that, had they been in good health, you would have killed them yourself for what they had put you through; even when you know that death was a mercy because the suffering was far crueler than what was deserved -- it still socks you in the gut.

And in his case death was a mercy. No one, his doctors especially, have any idea how he lived with the sheer amount of cancer he had for as long as he did, and without pain medications at that. But by the last week of his life, he would have sucked morphine out of the bag with a straw if they'd have let him. And no one, regardless of their age, should have one of the last memories of their father's voice be his literal screams of pain as he begs for someone, anyone, to help him because he can't take it any more. I know he is no longer in pain and I am glad for that. I hope that I can someday say the same for my siblings and I.

In some ways it is almost easier to hold on to the anger that became the main feeling I had towards him over the last year. Anger for things he had done in the past. Anger for the way we were treated, and for the way he treated himself. Maybe even anger that there was no Hallmark-like deathbed moment. That feeling was the main one that resonated with both us and him. He was mad at us for making him go to the hospital. In denial to the very end, he swore until his final day that if he could just go back home, if we would just stop getting in his way, he'd be able to get his strength back and be fine again. That he would have been puttering around his apartment chain smoking, watching his conspiracy TV shows, and bitching about the neighbors whose cooking odors always wafted into his apartment and irritated the hell out of him. And we were angry in turn, because all we were trying to do was take care of him and he wouldn't let us. And that back in the days when he was in better shape, before the cancer went supernova and invaded his entire body, it seemed as if we weren't important enough to him to stay healthy for.

Maybe it's also because there were no last I love yous, there were no parting hugs, and because no one really knew how to say it, no goodbyes. But then again, that's how he always was. He was an emotionally remote man, mostly unapproachable, both in life...and in death.

The day he died he'd had a really bad time of it. It had gotten to where we had to decide how medicated to keep him (answer being, make sure he is not in pain even if it meant staying "asleep"), but he kept waking up. His nurses would hold his hand when my sister could not be present to do it herself. And at some point in the early evening, he went to sleep for what would be the last time. At around 11:30 PM the hospital called to tell us he had stopped breathing. By the time my sister arrived, just minutes later, he was gone.

Even though we'd all known that phone call was inevitable, and even though we knew it really was for the best, it still hurt -- and it still has altered the rest of our lives. He will never see my brother get married, he will never see his only grandson grow up, nor will he know any other grandchildren that may eventually come to be. He won't be there to make his chestnut stuffing at Thanksgiving, nor even to just drive us all insane with his wacky (but firmly believed and endlessly repeated) conspiracy theories.

He may have been a lot of things, both for good and for bad, but he will always be the one who let me watch Star Trek for the first time (for which my mother stills holds a grudge). He took my brother to his first baseball game, and he spent hours watching Disney cartoons with my sister. And no matter how old you are, or how far you think you have moved on, how do you ever really move away from those moments? You don't.

I would further like to tell you that he has at least had a nice service and has been laid to rest. Except there has been no service, and he has not been laid to rest.

Unfortunately, his three adult children were basically supporting him financially, and he hadn't put anything away for when this day would come. But the three of us live from check to check, and everything extra that we had is long gone, having been paid towards his medical care. Funeral services -- even absolute bare bones, pardon the pun -- are incredibly expensive. If you have ever seen a local family doing a car wash or other fundraising for one, I completely understand why, because that is pretty much what we are having to do now. My father died penniless and deeply in debt, with no cash, no savings, no property, and no insurance.

My sister has worked tirelessly since his death, and has singlehandedly raised roughly half the cost via various Catholic church groups and organizations. But we are still nowhere near being able to lay him to rest. I normally would not have a Paypal button on the site, as I think the cost of my vittle reviews are mine and mine alone. But I am putting pride aside now. If anyone out there would like to help and is able to donate even so much as a penny, we would all be eternally grateful. I hate to resort to begging, but anything that can be sold has been sold, and every other stone has been turned...hell, even the sofa cushions have been overturned (and have yielded only cat fuzz). You are thanked for even reading this, and I swear we WILL get back to food reviews one of these days.

Thank you again for bearing with me all this time.

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