I Don't Call Him Daddy
- November 2001 just a month after 9/11 while the nation was still in shock I was sitting on the back deck of my parents house with my father trying to absorb what he was saying to me while still in shock myself after learning in late September that the man I thought would never die was doing just that. He was diagnosed with stage 3/4 lung cancer aka mesothelioma and was given 3 months to live 6 if he was lucky with treatment.
My father being the way he was surprised me when he came to me and asked if I wanted him to have the treatment if I needed him to live longer he was worried about my feelings about everyone but himself.
He was asking almost begging for my permission to die looking him in the eye I could see how weary he was. How old he looked at the young age of 56 as if he had lived two lifetimes and wasn't ready to live a third. I said to him almost without hesitation don't you for one second feel guilty about leaving me behind you raised me to be strong and that is what I will do I will be strong for you whatever decision you make I will support it! He let out a long sigh and said he would think about it.
He later decided against treatment after talking with the doctors and coming to the conclusion that he was going to die it was just a matter of when. He didn't want to die like that. So we called hospice and made him comfortable and did our best to make what little time he had left the best it could be.
As we sat on the deck on that fall morning sun beating down on my back taking the chill off my bones the smell of freshly lit fireplace in the air his eyes slowly scanned the yard looking for my daughter who was now knee deep in leaves carefree and happy. Guilt again washed over his face he turned and looked at me his eyes were the softest I had ever seen no anger, no hate, no hostility a calm washed over him. He then says to me that he worries about Mercedes how it will be for her to loose him she is so young!
My words to him were that little girl thinks you hung the moon and stars and in her eyes no matter how old she is you will forever be her Papa and just like you raised me to be strong I have done my best to raise her that way she will be okay don't about her don't worry about anyone but you. He took a few minutes to think about what I said and then just as calmly told me you know you were that little girl once the one who would coming running the minute she saw me throwing her arms in the air saying excitedly daddy, daddy look what I found did etc. The little girl that hid behind my leg knowing I would protect her from every thing and anything the little girl that wouldn't leave my side almost to the point of making your mom jealous of the love you had even though you were only 4 same age as Mercedes.
She reminds me so much of you so pretty so smart so ready to take on the world I was your daddy and then one day it stopped I was just your father! Before I could utter a word he said to me it wasn't your fault I wasn't the best father in the world I let my problems consume me! I stopped being your daddy long before you stopped calling daddy. I want you to know that I am sorry I have always loved you. I couldn't have asked for a better daughter you have made me proud so many times I just never knew how to tell you. I found it so much easier to tell the world when you the one person who mattered most I never told.
You are stronger than most you have what they call a fighting sprit so please take care of your mom and brother and especially Mercedes never discourage her from anything and maybe you won't loose her like I lost you. Tears flowing down my face I said you never lost me I was just misplaced in this crazy thing we call life. I love you always have the words are just hard to find sometimes. At this point Mercedes came running up the steps papa papa look what I found come look it's a big spider and he slowly rose from his chair happily followed her to see this big giant huge spider she had found. The next day his mind was gone he could no longer speak coherently it was like he was a child. The day after that he was gone forever but I always knew after that the day on the deck I may have lost my father but I got back my daddy and wanted more than anything to hide behind his leg and hide from the world
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