The beginning of the last days

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2010 was the only time in 33 years I was able to see my father and embrace him.  It’s been 4 years since that photo was taken…but it doesn’t seem that long ago.  You can see all the pictures of my daughters and my sisters’ children, and a wedding photo of my husband and I in the background.    Including my three daughters, my dad has 9 grandchildren.  My daughters are the only ones he’d seen in real life.

That’s me, my stepmother Gail, my daughters, and my father all on a little train ride around a pond at the Pueblo zoo.  My stepmother and dad always knew how to have fun with kids.

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I spoke with my stepmother last night about my father and the prognosis is not good.

I just wanted to share what she wrote on her facebook page today:

Just an update on Danny’s condition. he is in stage 4 of lung cancer, which means I have maybe I have 6-9 months left with my gentle, beautiful husband. We have had almost 42 years together, good and bad, but the majority has been good. He will be starting chemotherapy next Friday as a course of palliative care. The Dr. explained that it will be just to try to give him a better quality of life so that he’s not struggling to breathe and try to kill any more cancer cells that may develop. We are going to need a lot of prayers.

In one of our recent phone conversations, my stepmother told me that she met me when I turned 3.  In fact, I am pretty sure I met her on my birthday, or on a day I was celebrating it with my father, who had already been divorced from my mother a year by then.

I tearfully wrote this response on her update:

Mom Gail, I know we talked about this a long time last night. It’s really hard to see it in writing. Sometimes it feels like it was only yesterday that I got you and my dad back, even though we’ve been in phone/letter/email contact for many years now. I’ve shared the news with my sisters, though I know they don’t feel the same way as I do. I think what is so hard for me as he transitions to the next realm, is that I can’t be there to be with you, and he. Is it selfish of me that I want to be there, with you, when he draws his last breath? I feel in my heart I should be there with you, standing beside you, being your support as you have been mine all these years. I know he’ll be watching over his grandchildren from above. And me, too. Please ask him, if you can, to come visit me in my dreams. No matter how old I get, I’m always going to need my dad. Please let him know how much I love him and how grateful to know that you and he loved me and my sisters so much.

I’m not so much afraid of death or dying.  I know it’s a part of Life.  I also know that the end of the physical body is not the end of the soul, it’s not the end of the connection we have to our loved ones.  I’ve dreamed before of my friend Barb, who died, more than a few times since her death.  I’ve dreamed of people who’d left my life who were still alive but we’d departed for one reason or another.  I know the dream world is the place where I have been able to see and hear and touch those I’ve loved deeply.

I think it’s time for me to revisit a film I have really come to appreciate a documentary by Tim Wilson called Griefwalker, about Stephen Jenkinson, “the leader of a palliative care counselling team at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital.”

 

 

 

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About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
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8 Responses to The beginning of the last days

  1. ptero9 says:

    Sorry to hear about your dad Casey. My prayers go out for you, your dad and your family.
    Debra

    • Casey says:

      Thank you Debra.

      It’s going to be okay.

      I hope he doesn’t have to feel too much pain or fear.

      I have been blessed with a relationship with them and I cherish every moment I’ve had, even in this long-distant way.

      I never really felt all that far from them. It’s only now, when I want to support my stepmother and say goodbye to my dad in person that I feel the distance greatly. If I could predict exactly when, I’d be planning my trip now so I could be there with them. As it is, I’m not sure when and I can’t be away from my daughters for months, otherwise I wouldn’t mind spending a few months down in Colorado. It’s some beautiful country out there. I think it would be medicinal for me in many ways.

  2. Dearest Casey,
    I feel for you so much, and I want to reassure you that the heartfelt prayers of our two suffering souls from halfway around the globe are with you.
    I have long known about and been praying for your father, Casey; since the first article in which you honored him, the one with the photos from the seventies, in which you were not mentioning the fact that he is so seriously ill and still living so far away from you. You posted this information just as I was about to publish my article which you liked so much that you even printed, and to hear of your ongoing physical separation saddened me so profoundly that I decided to leave a whole paragraph out.
    So I am telling you now. These photographs have forever been printed in my memory. You were the most beautiful and glowing with happiness of your dad’s little girls, and the way he held you in his arms makes my heart melt. That letter was not ending with Robert Frost’s poem; it was ending with me asking you to give a warm hug to that angel of a father who forever taught you the meaning of love.
    And now I see this timeless, divine love here in this photograph, and the tears are streaming down my face again.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your father, my star sister Casey, as strong and warm as anyone else’s standing there beside you.
    We love you so much.
    Leon and Plutonia

    • Casey says:

      Leon and Plutonia,

      Thank you so very much for your kindness and prayers. I don’t suppose I had mentioned his serious illness in that post. I don’t recall if I was told at the time I posted if he was seriously sick. He was just recently diagnosed a few weeks ago. It may have been about the time of that posting, or shortly thereafter.

      My father lives four states away – it’s about a 15 hour car ride (about 18 by train). I am afraid to fly now (have been since a shaky flight I took in 2000), so taking a flight whenever I want isn’t so much of an option. He’s been afraid to fly as well…so our relationship has been by letter and phone, mostly.

      Please don’t be too sad for me. I’m very much all right. My tears were the gentle kind. They were like a soft summer rain, not a raging thunderstorm.

      The thing, for me, is that I have spent a lot of time in my life separated from people I love and have learned to make the emotional connection strong with letters, emails and phone calls. I have had long-distance pen-pals since I was 13. I have had a lot of practice staying emotionally close despite great distances. There is no distance too great that Love can’t reach.

      I love my dad’s voice – it’s so sweet and gentle – that I felt warmed by that contact. I also have spent many hours talking to my wonderful stepmother and she’s just the sweetest.woman I know. Maybe I don’t get a physical embrace, but I’m very much embraced on an emotional level, I feel just as cherished, maybe even more so, in some ways, than if I could see them all the time. Things have a way of taking on more value the more rare it is, no?

      The relationship I do have with them has been very precious to me.

      The absence hurts me now because I want to be there with my stepmother. She’s going to lose her best friend, and she’s being incredibly strong at the moment, but it’s got to be intensely difficult for her. I want to help her and I can’t. I want her to be able to get some more rest, and I can’t help her. I want to look my father in the eye’s and tell him I love him and be with them during this transitional time. That’s the part that pulls at me.

      My stepmother tells me that my dad wants people not to cry when he goes, but to laugh and have a big party. He also wants his ashes released over a gorge in Colorado – so he can “fly with the eagles”.

      I have never heard of anything sweeter than that. He’s an amazing man.

      “That letter was not ending with Robert Frost’s poem; it was ending with me asking you to give a warm hug to that angel of a father who forever taught you the meaning of love.
      And now I see this timeless, divine love here in this photograph, and the tears are streaming down my face again.”

      My friends, I am deeply touched.

      I am convinced now that my father and my stepmother both taught me the meaning of love and were deeply nurturing to me as a child and that was my saving grace. My stepmother said we were very emotionally deprived in my mother’s home and that when I was in the presence of my father, I clung to him a lot. When I got to know her, I was always wanting hugs and to be held – and they did just that. She could tell that we had no love, no touch, no nurturing in my mother’s presence. She and my father did her best to give my two older sisters and I as much love and nurturing as we needed. My father relocated to Colorado where his family and my stepmother’s family were from) from the Midwest, and then my mother moved to New Mexico. I was about 6 at the time. We had gone from weekly visitations to visiting only a few weeks in the summer (I think, I’m still unclear about how much time we were able to spend together). Then, when I was 11, my mother moved us back to the Midwest. Our contact was limited to letters and phone calls, but as I grew, those stopped. My mother succeed in preventing contact between us. I don’t know if she’d ever intercepted letters coming in then, but I know, for a fact, that she had intercepted letters from my first love when I was 18 (so I had to get a post office box just to keep her away from my private mail).

      I felt the absence most profoundly during milestones – my high school graduation, my college graduation, and most especially my wedding day. I almost sent him an invitation, but I didn’t have an address. At the time, I wasn’t as internet savvy as I am now, and i’m not sure they even had online address search engines back then like they do now.

      Thank you both for your spiritual presence right now. I do feel your presence. I appreciate you both and am so grateful for your kindness. Please know that it means a lot that you care.

      Please know that I am quite certain that while this situation is frustrating and sad, I’m holding this time of transition as precious. I know that the same Higher Power that has shown Itself to me, is present for them as well. I trust that it will cradle his spirit in love, even if it creates great stress on his body.

      I know that the spirit of my father will live on. I know his legacy to me is the gift of his gentle, compassionate, loving heart. I would not be who I am were it not for his gentleness and his love and the unconditional acceptance, deep compassion and kindness he and my stepmother showed me many years ago and now.

      Thank you so much for reaching out. You are a blessing in my life.

      And I, too, love you both.

      Be blessed,

      Casey

      • Thank you so much, Casey, for all these wonderful stories you are sharing with us.
        We are so uplifted with all this gratitude of yours emitting from your writing, it shows that you have been practicing since such a young age; you really make us feel like we are physically there with you.

        We are so relieved and grateful that you are not suffering all that much, and for your dad’s approach to his transition. Such a loving, spiritual man! We have no doubt he will soar straight to heaven and that will be watching over you and your loved ones and keeping the whole balance of our world with many other angelic souls.

        Only with Plutonia’s maternal grandmother have we ever known such unconditional love, Plutonia during the first three years of her life and then only during a few summers from her teens on, and Leon was blessed to get to know her and hold her in his arms even if only for a few days, just enough for her to be reassured that her beloved grandchild would continue to be equally loved and even more fiercely protected from her toxic parents, even though he never had any material comforts to offer her, himself coming from a very destructive family; you can tell by the way he is writing and still suffering so much, on top of our material deprivation. If you would take us to those favorite places of yours, we could be talking for hours with you about letter intercepting and all sorts of relentless, evil sabotage from both our families of origin. And your traumatizing maternal experience is so similar to Plutonia’s. Actually this monster of a mother is even worse: she has been succeeding all her life in poisoning contacts between all loving people she has come in close contact with, with the two of us being the only exception. It seems a higher power insists that we have some purpose to fulfill in this world together, but we are so harshly bombarded with hatred and so deprived materially and with a genocidal tax season approaching fast, that we honestly have no idea for how long we will be here and what exactly we are doing, besides spreading a little love and strength to some suffering people if and whenever we can.

        Thank you for keeping us such loving company, Casey, even if not as often as we would all like. “Things have a way of taking on more value the more rare it is”, yes. But we see your titles in our Reader, you know, and a lot of unbelievably relevant to our lives material that you are offering, and we sadly cannot sit and study. And the Internet is our only input source, no money for books here or for much of anything else. We do feel, though, that these connections of ours in our short-lived presence here in the Web, are already attracting some higher attention. Our whole lives are a prayer, we have already made it thus far against unheard-of odds, so maybe we will be able to continue for longer than it seems feasible.

        Please express our gratitude to Gail, too, from the bottom of our hearts, for taking such good care of Danny and emotionally protecting and cherishing you.

        We love you.
        Immeasurable blessings,
        Leon and Plutonia

        • Casey says:

          You are so very welcome.

          Yes, I’d been this way since a young age. I’d been pretty much a sensitive, empathetic person since a small child. I had no love coming in from my mother and stepfather, and no friends and I was chronically bullied both inside and outside the home. I’ve always had compassion for others because I have known what it was like to be belittled, abused and cast out.

          I will soon be seeing my father. I am planning to visit in the next week or so, just by myself. I am sad about this. I’m not quite ready to say goodbye, but, on the other hand, I know that death does not end a relationship, only a life. I will cry more, I am sure. But I do know that he is suffering a great deal right now. He’s on a strong dose of pain medication to keep his as comfortable as possible. I know otherwise he’d be suffering terribly.

          I’m saddened to hear of Plutonia’s mother’s viciousness and the strangulating financial situation you both are in. I am glad Plutonia had that a little bit of gentleness and nourishment from her grandmother and that Leon had been able to get to know her and embrace her, even for so short a time.

          Yes, I sure do understand the maternal poison. And I know how long and arduous a journey it has been for me to get free of her and my sisters’ sociopathy. My mother raised two daughters very much like herself. My sisters continued the abuse on behalf of my mother. I have been screamed at in person and on the phone, had vicious letters and emails sent to me, and character defamation. There was a LOT of triangulation going on. I’d say something relatively harmless to one sister, and it would soon become very blown out of proportion and my mother would get so incensed. Then, when my grandfather was alive, she’d drag him into it. It was wretched. If I ignored them, it only got worse. They would call and leave messages until I dealt with them.

          I was a wreck most times after interacting with them. I don’t really talk about those details much on the blog…because it doesn’t happen like it used to anymore.

          It was absolutely debilitating, not just emotionally, but physically as well, because you can’t separate the two.

          ***

          I pray you both find peace and financial security. Sometimes, when we are extremely emotionally stressed, we can’t see options that might be available to us in otherwise clearer mindsets. I am still underemployed, but I am feeling less upset about that fact and more certain that I will be able to find a solution, now that I’m not chronically exhausted from worry and upset. My mind doesn’t feel so clouded by doubt, anxiety, depression and fear of the unknown.

          I feel more hopeful than I have in a long, long while.

          I will let my stepmother know, too. They are both the sweetest people I have ever known. I realized that I have not known too many people that have had such gentle souls and so generous with their Love.

          I wanted to share something with you.

          “AN ECHOING PLACE
          The world is an echoing place. If we throw anger, anger comes back; if we
          give love, love comes back.
          Love should not be demanding; otherwise it loses wings, it cannot fly.
          It becomes rooted in the earth becomes very earthly; then it is lust and
          it brings great misery and great suffering. Love should not be
          conditional, one should not expect anything out of it. It should be for
          its own sake-not for any reward, not for any result. If there is some
          motive in it, again, your love cannot become the sky. It is confined to
          the motive; the motive becomes its definition, its boundary.
          Unmotivated love has no boundary: It is pure elation, exuberance, it
          is the fragrance of the heart.

          And just because there is no desire for any result, it does not mean
          that results do not happen; they do, they happen a thousand fold,
          because whatever we give to the world comes back, it rebounds. The
          world is an echoing place. If we throw anger, anger comes back; if we
          give love, love comes back. But that is a natural phenomenon; one
          need not think about it. One can trust: It happens on its own. This is
          the law of karma: Whatever you sow, you reap; whatever you give,
          you receive. So there is no need to think about it, it is automatic.
          Hate, and you will be hated. Love, and you will be loved.

          ~Osho, Everday 365 Daily Meditations for the Here and Now.

          You can find a free pdf of that book online here:

          http://www.baytallaah.com/bookspdf/186.pdf

          Many blessings to you, too, my friends.

          In love,

          Casey

  3. I’m very moved by the story of you and your Dad, Casey. That you could embrace each other after 33 years, and experience love and gratitude without bitterness and resentment is a miracle. How generous. Your dad knows he is loved and knows you know he loves you. That’s what matters.

    • Casey says:

      Narelle,

      It was after 29 years in that photo. Four years have passed since then. It did not ever occur to me to be bitter. It was very hard not to have him present at my wedding, giving me away. But I knew my mother would have created a huge scene.

      When I garnered the courage to call up my father (after getting his telephone number from my oldest sister and after attending the Landmark Forum), that I was afraid he’d reject me. I never had any bad feelings towards my father. All the bad things my mother said never felt true. She was trying to alienate us from him since we were very little, but it never seemed to stick with me (my sisters, yes, did happen to have bitterness and resentment). Maybe it was because I was the baby and I have always looked for the good in people. And I always have gone with my experience of a person, not what someone said about a person.

      And, by the time I met with my father, I had a 10 year letter and phone relationship established. When I miscarried my child before my eldest, my father called me up every day for 3 or 4 days, just to check up on me. My DAD did that. He wanted to make sure his baby was OK. I was floored by his caring about my emotional well-being. My stepfather, who I see all the time, never said much about it at all. I don’t even recall if my mother did much.

      Anyway, I’ve seen the damaging effects of holding grudges in other family members and I always thought it was dumb to hold on to resentment. It’s not that I’d never had resentments, just that I saw no reason to hold onto them for long. I always wanted quick resolution to conflict.

      And yes, that we both feel that love is present makes all the difference in the world.

      Thank you for reaching out…

      Warmly,

      Casey

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