Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Matter Of Time

In May 2010, my father fell down in his garage and hit his head. He wondered what might be causing this as he had never fallen before and he was, he thought, pretty healthy. About 3 years earlier he had been diagnosed with mesothelioma but it didn't seem to be progressing, or so he thought. All in all, he just didn't know why he fell.

So he went to the doctors and they found a lump on his kidneys. After a fair bit of fussing around they determined he had cancer and it was spreading. Soon cancerous growths appeared on his lymph nodes and probably other places too.

My brother Adam and his wife Lisa gave up most of their summer that year caring for my Dad and her Mom. It was a rough time for them, flying back and forth from Louisiana almost constantly. I did what I could to help, as did my other brothers, but Adam carried most of the load.

Dad did his best to carry on. It was tough to watch him slide over the summer, getting thinner and weaker all along. We did things with him, shared time with him and sometimes just watched him sleep. We took him on road trips and fishing trips, all to ensure he could spend the days he had doing the things he wanted to do. Once again Adam took the lead on this but we all took part.

As Dad dwindled, he remained at home most of the time. Then, in early September, 2010, he was having trouble and Adam took him into the hospital. At that point the doctor said there was nothing to do, it was cancer and it was going to kill him. I will always remember my Dad's angry words at that point. "So we just give up." The doctor said "No. We accept that this is what is going to kill you."

It was a terrible thing to hear. My Dad did give up at that point and lasted only a week, never leaving the hospital again. It was hard to watch him die even knowing the inevitability of death. It may not have made any difference, knowing the reality of it or not knowing. But it is a reality, I knew he was dying. Something is going to kill each and every one of us. Life is a death sentence.

I miss my Dad. I miss others who have gone before me. Others will miss me when I go. It is the human condition. I hate the idea that I will die sooner than others but I have already lived longer than some, and longer than many in a historical context. As my brother, Adam, is wont to say, "Suffering is inevitable; misery is optional." I choose not to be miserable, insofar as I can; I accept that ALS is going to kill me.

It's just a matter of time.


  1. What a summer, what a week, what a day that was. What a life. I'm glad you were there.

  2. Adam,

    I was then and yet still incredibly impressed with the care, compassion and kindness that you showed to Dad in those last days of his life. Without you it would have been a much different time for him.


  3. Rick,

    Thanks for your kind words. It was a very difficult summer, but we still managed to find joy in each day. Picking blackberries with Kate, walking with Jim, snacking on the perogies your brought, crabbing, fishing, and carrying out Mac's "project" designs.

    Love, Lisa