Losing Our Leader

Last Tuesday 4/24, I lost my dad. He was 92 years old on 4/16. Dad aged but never got old. His mind was sharp and in total, still the head of our rather large family. There are 14 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren from his four children, two girls and two boys. I am the youngest.

In 1999 he was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer and we thought we would have lost him during those years but he wanted to get better. Part of his liver and colon was removed and he received chemotherapy. By 2002 he was considered 'cancer free'. We rejoiced and he regained his strength to become an even bigger hero to us all. Our leader beat the odds of Stage IV cancer. Who does this? We considered ourselves and him lucky. He considered himself destined to do something good because the good Lord spared him again as he spared him during World War II when he was shot in his fighter plane. Again who lives through WWII as a fighter pilot and tells their story. Okay not only did my dad live to tell the story but he wrote a book starting in January of 2010 and finished it a few weeks before he died. My dad is a determined man.

In 2008 the cancer returned starting in his lung moving back to his liver. He agreed to pulmonary surgery removing a tumor, then received more chemotherapy and by July of 2011 his lung and liver were radiated in order to alleviate the pressure from the tumors. We could have lost him then but did not. His determination to live happily was stronger than the disease. It was not until his last 3 months did we see signs that he was declining. First shortness of breath, tiredness, loss of appetite, and then 3 weeks before his death he could not live alone. The four of us needed to be with him at night and an aide during the day.

I doubled with the aide under the guise of working on the book but really it was because I wanted to be with him as much and as long as I possible could. It made me feel good to see him every day. He felt good too that I would be there. I made a promise to him in 1999 that I would take care of him and I am proud to say that I managed to keep it. But I am exhausted, sad, and lonely.

His funeral was amazing surrounded by 75 of his closest friends and his family. He died with his children in the room and as a matter of fact once admitted to the hospital we did not leave his side. We were his loyal followers not wanting to miss one last minute with him. I think he knew how much we loved him even though while alive it's not something he liked to hear or say. I love you's were only shown not spoken. We all knew we were loved.

Today is the first day after his funeral which took place yesterday. My routine for the last 6 months has been to drive to his house arriving around 10;00 to work on his book. We spent so many hours together editing and positioning pictures in the book. There were days that we fought about silly things such as picture position or even fonts. It was all in order talk about anything but the fact that he was dying. He did not talk about it until two days before he died. His only reference was that he was sad. No goodbyes except the babbling at his that we all did while he was pretty much sedated from Morphine and anti-nausea drugs. We weren't sure

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