My dad loved the ocean. I think it was one of the few things, if not the only thing, that brought him true peace. He used to be an avid scuba diver & dove many of the wrecks littering the bottom of the sea around New Jersey & New York. He gave up his flippers, however, after a close call beneath the surface of the waves. My dad said he knew he’d been a lucky man & wasn’t about to tempt lady fate twice. But that didn’t keep him away entirely. He owned several boats over the course of his life & loved to fish, loved to sail. Loved the ballad the high seas strummed in his ear. He told me once, long before he’d gotten sick, that when he died he wanted to be cremated, his ashes spread at sea. It wasn’t something I took seriously.
How could I? I’d waited all my life for my dad to be there for me. As I grew older, we finally grew together. The childhood I’d been deprived of was finally achieved as an adult. Once we both left the family business, things blossomed. My dad became my buddy. Sure, we clashed heads at times, but friends often do. Strange as this may sound, I saw a lot of myself in my dad, & by recognizing that, I learned a lot about myself as well. I realized we were very similar, & not just in a father/son way. It opened doors for me I never knew were there. In many ways I guess an innocent child with wide-eyed belief still existed within me – I thought my father would be a permanent fixture in my life, much the way I’d faithfully left cookies & milk for Santa, remained adamant that the New Orleans Saints would win a Super Bowl, & believed by the passing day that my father led a double life as a superhero.
Faith. It’s an intangible, invisible beacon that guides me. Nearly every decision I’ve made has been based on the blind notion it will lead me where I’m meant to be. My faith, at times, wavers. My faith, at times, has crumbled. But always, I follow.
I never lost my faith even when my father’s chemo stopped working.
I never lost faith after he required a wheelchair for lengthy walks, & his muscles began their slow descent into atrophy.
I never lost faith through his first stay in the hospital, as the days dragged into weeks & weeks, & the doctor’s only offering of solace was a meager there’s nothing left that can be done.
I never lost faith as his stomach swelled hideously with cancerous fluid, & he was forced to breathe with the assistance of a tube.
I never lost faith during his second stint in the hospital, when eventually the doctor released him into a hospice, near death & a forgotten man.
Never drop the ball, I’d say aloud to my dad. Never drop the ball, I’d whisper into his ear.
And I certainly didn’t lose faith after my father figured it out as he always had in life. Figured it out & battled his way from hospice to go home. To keep fighting.
“Your father told me that if it wasn’t for you, he’d be leaving that hospice in only one way,” his neighbor & good friend Danny told me.
I refused to believe that. My father rose twice after all had buried him not because of me, but because of the man he was.
There are many aspects of my father’s suffering I’ve suppressed. Many steel doors have slammed shut inside my mind, trapping horrors within. I don’t wish for them to escape. Scotch & wine tempers them sufficiently, until the next time they shriek & pound their fists. I witnessed my father agonize slowly from the inside out. No man or woman should endure such a fate. And yet through the suffering, beyond anything I can ever hope to articulate, I witnessed a transformation.
I learned the truth behind everything I’d ever wondered about him.
His identity would be revealed…
(Part Five: My Saint Goes Marching In soon to come)
If you’d like a chance to make a difference in the fight against pancreatic cancer, then please purchase my novella, “Dusk and Summer,” written to honor my father. I donate half of all proceeds to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Dusk and Summer is its own story, completely apart from my blog. You don’t need to know me or my father to enjoy the book; I wrote it as a source of faith & inspiration for all, regardless the circumstance. I only ask that you would be kind enough to help spread my message to others, & to kindly review my book once read. Further details about Dusk and Summer & the story behind it are soon to come.
If you order a book (whether paperback or Kindle version), please leave me a comment here on WordPress, Facebook, or at my personal email with your name. I’ll be giving away signed copies of Dusk and Summer to randomly picked names. I will also match donations & hope to have a final tally on books sold through this month.
You may purchase Dusk and Summer in paperback form from Amazon here: http://tinyurl.com/7ft8zns
You may purchase Dusk and Summer in Kindle edition from Amazon here: http://tinyurl.com/7lrg9rl