A letter to my dying father 

[NOTE: I finished comprising this as I sat by my dad’s bedside two hours after he passed. I got a chance to read this to him, although he laid peacefully by my side, finally at rest.]

The sky only moments after you died.


I have been putting off writing this because I guess I just haven’t been ready.  My intention was to read it to you while your eyes were bright and your hand still able to grasp mine; but I wont regret that.

You also told us not to use the word ‘dead’ but ‘deceased’.  I would rather this post be titled as it is rather than past tense, so here I am.

It’s a beautiful October day.  There was a light mist in the air today as I drove into Guelph.  Walking out of my car to the front of the building, my glasses were fogged and my skin cool.  The birds were gathering by the feeders and a few people were gathered around a van as a family member was being transported to their resting place.  A week ago you told Dave and I you were stopping treatment.  I knew then it would be no more than seven or so days until we’d see you for the last time.

You have been brave, Dad.  I don’t know what you had to consider when you decided to face your death, the end of this life you have known for the last 75 years.  I haven’t been sad because of my own feelings with losing you; I have been overly emotional over what you are going through.  In my 41 years I have never seen you cry.  And seeing the tears pool in your eyes was just part of my struggle.  I can’t imagine what you have had to deal with in knowing the end is so near.

I am not going to write something cliche and say you fought the good fight, because I hate that bullshit obituary jargon.  What I will say is you faced the greatest fear we all face – that of accepting your end.  Knowing that you only have a very prescribed time to share with those you love, say what you have always wanted to say and come to terms with things in your past you desire to.

The past two months have been very trying for you, especially, but your family as well. August 11th was the beginning of the end, but we didn’t know that at the time.  A fall at home accompanied with a neck brace caused you to say repeatedly, “I just can’t catch a break” and “Life’s a bitch, isn’t it?”.  While I agreed silently with you, I told you it could always be worse.  I’m sad to say we are now facing ‘worse’.

I have no regrets with my life with you.  I, ironically, fought the good fight when you and I had a falling out six years ago.  I was hurt, mad, sad, and then grieved the loss of you.  It was a while after that you called me on Father’s day to tell me you had bad news – they had found cancer, two to be exact. That instantly brought you back in my life. You said to me two days ago “all this” had brought you closer to my kids and you were happy with that.

And then, a year later, the decision whether to go on dialysis. You agreed to it and I am so thankful I experienced that with you. 
These are the things I am most grateful for, Dad

  • Brushing your teeth
  • Cutting your fish sticks
  • Rubbing your feet
  • That terrible night after treatment
  • Agreeing to hide your pills in the hospital mashed potato 
  • Sharing KFC, Harvey’s and chocolate with you last week 
  • You agreeing to meet Phil, mainly so you could see I found happiness again
  • All the trips to the hopsitals and times we just sat in silence
  • The two voicemail messages I forgot to erase from my phone
  • Your love for my kids and telling them to call you Grumpy because that’s who you were
  • Teaching me about cars, Caesar salad and work ethic
  • Your illness because it brought us back together 
  • The love you have for Dave and accepting his family into your life
  • Your love of camping and avoidance of bills, which you passed on to me
  • You

    This has been hard on all of us but I want you to know, I am so thankful for you as my pops, Father of Mine. You provided what you could in the limited time I had you in my life growing up. 

    I will never forget that.

    This has made me a stronger yet more compassionate person. 

    I won’t miss the smell of hopsital food, the sick and dying, the parking tickets for overrun meters, the frustration of your lack of recovery, your anxiety over treatment or worry about what you’ve eaten, the stone cold medical people or not knowing what was to come.

    [Added in as I sit here alone with you, still and quiet]

    But, I would take all of those things combined thrice fold to see your eyes again and hear you say I love you very much and to feel the warmth in your hands. 

    Rest Well, Dad.


    One thought on “A letter to my dying father 

    1. I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my dad to cancer three years ago. Your dad sounds awesome, and it sounds like he and my dad would get along fabulously. Sending thoughts of comfort and peace your way.


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