The Club

He was not at my birth and I was not at his death. This must have been some karmic decision we made before arriving into this life, because I know neither of us was okay with how this worked out – yet there was no changing it. The “he” I am speaking of is my father Randy, also known as “Grandpa Ran”. He died 3 months ago from Lung Cancer, “self induced, honey” is what he would say. He was the king of one liners injected with Johnny Cash tones and Chris Rock shock. I should have been prepared for his death from the amount of jokes he made through the years about “taking his dirt nap” and “circling the drain,” but I was not.

He was diagnosed with cancer in October 2010 and never told a soul until July 2011 when he moved into an assisted living home that welcomed hospice patients with loving hearts. I got the call from my brother while driving. He said I need you to pull over. His words were: Dad has cancer and they are moving him into hospice. Those two words are suppose to come years apart, not in the same sentence. When my father was asked why he kept this from his family and loved ones he said, “I wanted being a sick person to be the shortest part of my life.” Words I chose to honor. What happened from there is a whirlwind, but within days my brother and I were on an airplane flying to be with our father for the last time. I had never lost anyone close to me and I was feeling a little pissed off that I had to begin with my father…the man that had loved me most and the longest and was the one person on this earth who I felt loved me unconditionally. One by one, as my lifelong girlfriends found out that Randy was dying, I started getting the messages of how they had witnessed his love for me and how they had always been envious of how close we were. I sat in his hospice room, staring at his emaciated body, and I would think of all of my friends who had lost a father. Had I done a good enough job supporting them, or telling them how sorry I was that this was happening? Had I expressed how scary it must be, even at our age? I was joining “the club,” the club of girls who have lost their dads, and I did not want to be a member.What followed during this time period was magic and beautiful and only those that were there will ever understand. I heard one of his Marines buddies say, as he left for his final goodbye, “Thank you for showing me how to die Randy.”

My father left for the next part of his Journey on August 10, 2011. He went peacefully and willingly. He had been traveling back and forth to his next destination and was amazed at what he was seeing. His words were that he was shocked at how vast the place he was headed was and the amount of support waiting for him. These words are comforting to me now that he is gone.

I miss him, and I miss Us, and I am doing my best to learn the club rules and be a good member.

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About the Author | Tracy Joy

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