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Thursday, August 6, 2015

The cycle of life keeps on turning

Dad and Annie, 2007

The August long weekend will forever remind me of the day we found out my Dad was really, really sick. He had apparently been eating Advil like TicTacs all summer but finally gave in to the pain in his back August 1st and let us take him to the hospital. Of course, few doctors were available. The one that examined him told him he likely had a tumour on his pancreas. Then he left for the weekend.
Dad said, “well, that’s it, then,” with a note of finality. He had just seen a friend die of cancer and that experience, combined with his extensive knowledge as a science teacher, had him diagnosing himself within minutes. Pancreatic cancer. He said he wasn’t interested in chemo, and fell asleep under the cloud of painkillers.
The rest of us stood around his hospital gurney, in shock.
The next few months are a bit of a blur. We were trying to get used to our strong, infallible father being ill, recovering from surgery, and undergoing cancer treatment, which he eventually agreed to. The Farmer and I were planning a wedding at the same time. Two weeks before the date we visited Dad in hospital and said, “We will videotape the whole thing for you.” He replied, “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m walking my daughter down the aisle.” Well, he did. He had to go home and take a short nap after our photo session and dinner, but he returned to dance with me, for half a song. My new husband took over when it was clear my father needed to sit down.
All of these memories come rushing back, this time of year. Joy mixed with pain. We had Dad for just four months after his terminal diagnosis. The end came quickly, but we had time to say everything we needed to say. He held on for two hours as we stood around his hospital bed and shared memories, our arms around him. Blessings and loss.
How wonderful it is to turn and see my daughter now, swelling with pregnancy, pride and excitement. She keeps saying “it won’t be long now.” She is just seventeen weeks. I hate to tell her she has another twenty-three to go…
She really, really wants to know the sex of this child. Anastasia is used to getting what she wants. I think it will be absolutely hilarious if this unborn son or daughter of hers refuses to reveal its gender before birth. Ha! She has an ultrasound scheduled for next week, followed immediately by a “Gender Reveal” party. This is the new thing. You arm your guests with sticks and have them circle a huge piñata that is hanging from a tree in the yard. Obviously you need to adapt this plan if it is in winter. Everyone bashes away at the piñata until it rips open and the candies pour out. If the treats are blue and green, it’s a wee lad in her belly. If they are red and purple (Annie hates pink), it’s a lass. I don’t think she has a preference. She is just so, so ready to be a mama. At 23 she has been married three years already, a young wife. But she has also looked after children and worked in a nursery school for years. She is experienced, prepared, and ready.
Pregnancy has created a calm over Anastasia. Ever anxious and energetic, now she favours naps and takes her time. She seems to have grown up over these past few months.
Now when I think of the August long weekend I will think of Anastasia, in her billowing sundress, staring at the sunset. She is daydreaming of things to come. What will her life be like next year at this time? She will have a little crawler by then.
Anastasia and her grandpa were very close. She spent more time with him than any of his grandchildren. They respected and loved each other, without words. They just knew. And they loved spending time together.
I like to think that my father is somehow involved in this. He is watching over or looking down, or his lingering energy and presence is somehow forming the way Annie will be raising this child.
It just seems right. It’s the cycle of life.


Matt McKechnie said...

Nice post, D. Blessing and loss is a theme that surfaces in a lot of my songs, and in my life. I can relate. I didn't know that story about your dad - pretty amazing that he walked you down the aisle after all that. Sounds like a great man. You have provided blessing to many - I hope you know that.

All the best today.
Your prodigal son,

S.J. White said...

Birth, death, life cycle. It's what life is all about.