Topic: My dad is gone...

The words do not seem real.  It's been almost a week now and saying it out loud has been unbearable.  Now I realize that writing it is not any easier.  Doing either makes me cry, and right now it's hard to imagine the day that it won't.

At 1:21 AM on December 26, 2007 a concurrence of events changed things forever.  My mother Amy whispered into his ear as she let go of her husband of 35 years.  Charlie and I held our father's hand for the longest and final time of our lives.  Linda said good-bye all too soon after saying hello to her new ba-ba.  Friends unknowingly lost the most loyal person to enter their lives.  And the world we all live in became a little less special of a place as Bill Fei took his final breath.

Dad was a unique person.  In many ways he was unlike any person I've ever known.  Truth be told, many of his actions were both puzzling and often times frustrating to me (and I'm sure to my mother and brother as well).  Why did he insist on doing things a certain way even if it did not benefit him or his family?  Why did he push and prod to the point of conflict until things were done his way?  Why did he make up his mind on something and then not budge?  Why couldn't he be more flexible and reasonable and be a bigger person in the process?

Unfortunately, it took nearly 33 years and a terminal illness for me to realize that it was precisely that inflexible nature that made my dad not only the bigger person, but a man of the highest quality of character.  He did things a certain way NOT because it was HIS way, but rather because he genuinely believed it to be the RIGHT way.  All too often we (and by "we" I mostly mean "I") are guided by a Machiavellian motivation to act in a manner that is most advantageous to our own cause.  Dad, however, did not succumb to moral flexibility.  To him, if it was right, it was right, and if it was wrong, it was wrong.  He lived his life with a clear conscience and was at peace with his actions.  No wonder he slept so well all the time.

Dad certainly had an uncanny sense of timing.  It was on Friday the 13th of January 2006 that he was admitted to the hospital for the first time and the dreaded word "cholangiocarcinoma" entered our vocabulary.  Then, it was late in the evening on Christmas day 2007 that Dad told Mom that he wanted to go to sleep and did not want her to wake him up.  Along the way, he defied the "6 to 8 months" prediction and fought to maintain his strength up until the day of my wedding, 21 months after his diagnosis.  There was a significant deterioration in his condition right after the wedding day, but Dad still made sure to be with us for another birthday for each of his sons, one more Thanksgiving, and of course a final Christmas.  He also met Charlie's girlfriend Julie for the first time just 4 days before passing and left us the exact week of the annual memorial service at the Hsi Lai Temple.  Personally, I also think that Dad held out until the 26th so that Christmas would not become a day of annual mourning going forward for his family and that he left us before the end of the year so that we could start 2008 as a truly new year.  I guess this could all be coincidence, but once again when Dad believed something was the right thing to do, he definitely did it.

Mom, Charlie, and I decided early on that we wanted to protect Dad and not let him think about the fact that he had an incurable cancer with a life expectancy of less than a year.  As such, we spent the last 23 and a half months shielding him from the sadness and depression of his condition and his impending death.  We passed along a filtered, rosy picture of what doctors told us.  We never allowed ourselves to shed a single tear in his presence.  Even on Christmas day when he suffered a heart attack and vomitted blood, we told Dad that things were ok.  We would carry the burden and sadness for him.  We were being brave so that he would not be depressed and give up.  We were the strong ones...

...Or so we thought.  In hindsight, Dad knew all along - he had to.  He was in the doctor's office when they talked about his cancer.  He was there when they said his liver was failing.  He could obviously see the deterioriation of his own physical appearance.  We thought we were being brave for him when all along he was the one who was being brave for us.  He refused to acknowledge his diagnosis and prognosis because he knew that our happiness or sadness were based on his outward emotion.  He knew that if he became depressed we would be distraught.  If he was sad we would be inconsolable.  He willed himself to be strong up until September so that we could celebrate at my wedding.  As usual, Dad did what he believed to be the right thing to do.  In this case, it was deceving himself and his family so that we could enjoy and cherish our remaining time together instead of merely waiting around until his passing.   

I miss my father very much.  Little things make me think about him all the time.  I am so thankful to him for who I am and the life I have.  Whether I was 3, am 33, or will be 83, Dad will always be my dad.  I love him so much.  I wish I hugged him more when he was alive.  He was a special person, and I didn't fully understand that until recently.  I wanted to share this so people would know the person Dad was.

My mom is simply the best.  I feel so bad for her that it literally hurts.

Richard

Re: My dad is gone...

Oh Richard, what an absolutely beautiful, poignant post, it brought me to tears!  May you find comfort and solace in the days to come as you remember who your father was and not what the disease did to him.  He is in a far far better place than he has been and a far far better rest than he has ever gone to

Barb

Re: My dad is gone...

Dear Richard, you and your family have continued to be in my prayers.  I just don't know what to say...I'm so sorry.  You articulated so well what your Dad's life was about.  It was beautiful and your Dad has a wonderful family who took the absolute best care of him.  The physical ache that grief brings - I pray you get relief from that soon.  When I lose someone close, that ache wants to tear my heart out...it's really hard to bear.  Take care of yourself.  I know you'll be the best support for your Mom.  Wish I could give you a big hug. 

Prayers and love,
Carol

Re: My dad is gone...

Richard,
Sending my heartfelt prays of condolances to you and your family.  It is so very hard to loose a loved one through the holiday season.  Your father is now at peace.
Karen

Wishing all God's blessings!

Re: My dad is gone...

Richard,

I am so sorry that you have lost your Dad. The story you told about him was very touching indeed. I haven't been able as yet to post the story of my Dad's life, as I just lost him on the 17th. I know how you are feeling, and I know that no matter what anyone says to you, the pain doesn't stop.
I chose to start a Memorial Site in his honor and rememberance, where I can share photo's and stories of Dad's life. It has helped me grieve, and recall the wonderful person he was. You can go to, http://jamesjholden.last-memories.com.
Please know that you are in my thoughts, and I as well as everyone here on this board are wishing you comfort and peace.

Hugs Lisa

Re: My dad is gone...

Dear Richard,
That was a moving tribute to your father, a truly great man. He had great courage and withstood so many setbacks and beat the odds against him as much as he could. Of course he reminds me of my mother, with her stoic spirit - we also tried to shield her from the truth, but she knew it all along and didn't want to upset us by acknowledging it. I guess that's what love really is.

I know how much you and your mom and family are hurting right now and I offer my sincere condolences.  I've followed your posts and was struck by your father's strength, and YOUR strength, in these harsh circumstances. I hope you find the vestiges of that strength now to help you through. And some relief from the pain.

Wishing you some peace and solace,
Joyce

Re: My dad is gone...

Thinking of you and your family in this time of sorrow. You were lucky to have your Dad and to have each other.   Cherish your memories and hold tightly to one another.  It was your love that kept him alive and will help you all to survive this horrible time.
Patrice

Re: My dad is gone...

Dear Richard,

My heart aches for you as you are mourning the passing of your dear Dad. 
Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute to him.

To you and your loving family my deepest sympathy
Love
Marions

THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

Re: My dad is gone...

Richard,
I read your post a couple of days ago, but I needed time to digest what you had written. It is beautiful and I am sure your dad would be pink if he read it! We are the same age, and despite the fact that I will most likely die before my parents, when I think of the time when they will  not be here, I get terrified. So much of who we are and what we become is directed by our families. To lose that tie, no matter what your age, has to be devastating-even if it means that the person is now pain free and at peace.

Your dad sounds wonderful and much like mine. The complexities of your dad made him who he was and no doubt you share some of those traits. I hope you find peace with the knowledge that you finally "saw" your dad and recognised who he was and most likely he did the same.

I have been praying for you and your family for weeks and will continue to do so. I am so sorry for your and your families  loss and I know it will be a difficult period ahead. Your dad sounded like an incredibly strong and couragous man, and I am sure you inherited those qualities, but remember we are here.

Kris

Cancer is a word, not a sentence.

36 year old patient with buckets of hope

Re: My dad is gone...

Dear Richard, I am so sorry to hear that your Dad has died. Your post was very moving, and it is very obvious how dear he was to you all. All I can do is send you lots of love and hugs, and wish you and your familywell in the coming months. x

Re: My dad is gone...

Dear Richard,
Such a loving tribute to a man I wish we all could have known.  His spirit clearly lives on in you.
I can only send my love and prayers to you and your family.  Your help to me will never be forgotten and I think of your Dad each I meditate on the characters you helped me to find and get right.
-Peter

Re: My dad is gone...

And mine as well. Five months from the diagnosis of cc. It all slipped by so fast, especially the last week or so with some hope he'd make Christmas, but to fall short by days. We were all there, held his hand, laughed when we could, listened to him talk, breath, and when he could, smile.  His eyes were clear, shining, and strong.  but his body simply went away. His wife of 60 years is now ours to protect.  there will never be another like him...

J

Re: My dad is gone...

Richard,

My heart goes out to you and your family.  It is such a difficult thing, trying to go on living a life that feels empty after losing such a light in our world.  It was one year this January 13th that my Dad passed into Spirit and I miss him so.  Your dad sounds wonderful, I can tell you and he had a special bond and I pray that this bond will in time comfort your heart and bring you peace of mind and spirit.

Missing U