My Father’s Final Journey
In 2002 my father required triple bypass surgery. My father had severe heart disease, and his heart muscle was fragile. My father’s surgeon was extraordinary! In fact, my father and President Clinton had the same surgeon. My father’s surgery was a success. All his doctors called my dad the miracle man. My father’s doctors thought his life expectancy would be five years. My father’s team of doctors was so wrong. The doctors had no idea the will, fight, and determination my father had to fight for his life.
In 2011 my father was diagnosed with metastasized prostate cancer which metastasized to his bone. My father told his family the doctor said his life expectancy was two years. But, again, my father beat the odds. For years I have been in denial about my father’s health and decline. In fact, I am just realizing now how sick my father was all these years. He always seemed to beat the odds, and I, too, like his doctors, believed he was a miracle man.
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In early September of 2016, I went to Florida to visit my parents. I was so excited to spend a week at their home, enjoying our time together. My parents and I had fun trying new restaurants; we enjoyed going to the movies, playing cards, and most of all, we enjoyed talking with each other for hours about anything and everything.
This time when I arrived, my father was not feeling well. In general, my father had a lack of energy, and it was difficult for him to move his body freely. Additionally, he was suffering from severe back pain. I believe my father might have suspected his cancer was progressing by the amount of pain he had in his back. My father did not want to take any additional tests for his prostate cancer since he was told that his Zytigra medication was his last hope.
I asked my father on several occasions to let me take him to the hospital, but he refused. I didn’t stop; I begged and pleaded with my father to let me take him to the hospital. As usual, my dad refused and said, “Let me see if I am feeling better in a few days.” My father was a tough, stubborn, and strong man. I think that is why he beat the odds and was known as the miracle man.
I asked my father to go with me to pick out a computer I was buying him for his 81st birthday. When my father said he did not want to go, I knew something was wrong. He loved computers. He was one of the first people I knew who bought a PC to surf the internet. My dad was always ahead of the times; he was a true visionary. When the internet first launched, my dad predicted the internet would be huge, and technology advancements would change how the world would conduct business.
I went to Best Buy alone to buy my father an all-in-one computer for his birthday. The experience was not the same without my father. We would have had fun learning about new technology and selecting his birthday gift. I brought the computer back to my parent’s home and set it up in my father’s man cave, his den. He was so happy and thankful to have a new computer with all the bells and whistles. Still, my dad was not himself; he hardly surfed the internet or played internet games. I was sick with worry.
The next day, I finally convinced my father to spend some time together; we went to his favorite Jewish Deli in Delray Beach, Florida. On the drive to the deli, my father hardly spoke. This was highly unusual. My father was never lost for words. We always enjoyed interesting conversations and could talk about anything. When my father finally did speak, he said, “I wrote my own Eulogy, and I want you to promise me that one of my children or all of my children read it when it is time.
My father told me he did not want a Rabbi who was a stranger to talk about him and his life. My father tried to comfort me and said, “Now I expect to be around for quite some time. I showed little emotion while my father was talking about his Eulogy. I did not want to show my father how deeply heartbroken I was at the thought of his passing. It was something I thought about often and was stricken with anticipatory grief for many years.
My father and I were very close; I truly cared for him. He never judged me. I thought that was amazing, especially since I am gay (I don’t like the word lesbian). I am in a 15-year relationship with a woman. My father loved my partner and treated her like a daughter. The truth is, I am fortunate; both my parents accept my relationship and treat my partner like a third daughter. My partner treated my parents very well and had a great relationship with my mom and dad.