12 years ago today my Dad would have been 78 and was diagnosed with a glioblastoma. Easy day to remember – it would have also been my late Grandma’s birthday. Life changed that day, drastically. I went to the appointment with Mom, Dad and the neurosurgeon.
They called it a young man’s cancer when giving us the details and prognosis as it was usually found in men between 40 to 65. They gave Dad about 6 months or could do surgery to remove the tumour and perhaps some extra time. Dad opted for the surgery right away, but a day or two after surgery (as sometimes happens with neurosurgery) he had a mild stroke and we never did get him back fully before he passed away March 15.
He turned 79 in February, and I have a very vivid memory of an afternoon in January that still plays in my mind. We had a calendar in his room and would cross off the days, and even though he wasn’t at his full mental capacity, when looking at the calendar one day Dad got very upset with us. His face suddenly contorted into one of mild anger as he exclaimed “you missed my birthday”! We had to explain that it was January, not February, amd we would never make him lose out on celebrating, cake and ice cream!!! (Perhaps that is where I get my “birthdays must be celebrated” from). He certainly did get cake (actually, a couple of them) on his 79th birthday.
Dad had always been the healthy one of my parents so everyone was shocked when he went first. He golfed at least 18 holes every day (or every day it was possible in Alberta), walking and carrying his clubs. When I would go out with him I had a hard time keeping up to a man 45 years my senior. Often he showed up at the golf course before the staff. We used to tease him and ask how he even saw his ball some of those early mornings and he would giggle a wee bit and say he would just take off in the direction he think it maybe went. But that was Dad, there was nothing stopping him. Apparently as a young man he played hockey (left wing) and had a bit of a reputation that if he wanted to score he was coming through – didn’t matter who was there. I can imagine it was a reputation well earned – kind of how he lived his life I think.
When he was in hospital for surgery I got a peak at his chart (until the nurse caught me and snatched it away). In it the surgeon had noted something along the lines that the patient was physically much younger than his stated years. Now Dad wasn’t the healthiest of eaters by today’s fitness standards to be sure (ate at auction markets every day, tons of red meat, and the kind of guy that would eat ice cream with his ice cream), but he was always active in some way. During the winters when golf wasn’t on the table he would head out for long, brisk walks.
Upon his diagnosis the roles between Mom and I began to shift and she in turn began to rely on me more. As difficult as that was it was also an honour to be able to give a little back to this woman that had always done so much for me throughout my life.
So why this “upbeat” post today? Because as I sit and reflect with my coffee in hand this morning, not living in the past but acknowledging the lessons it taught me, I reflect too on how very important our histories are in making up our selves today. The expression “you can’t live in the past” has always grated on my nerves a little bit. I agree that we can’t wallow in it, continually punish ourselves for some choices we made, what ifs and if onlys we didn’t follow, but golly, without looking at our past how can we recognize the strength within us to get through some pretty serious shit and the love that we found to give us the hope to push through it!
Wishing for you today that you can always find that hope within you, that even in your dark times you can recognize your strength to let nothing stop you and push through to score your own goals in life, and may you always top it off with your own ice cream!
With love, Glenna