I received word Sunday that my father had passed away Saturday night.
I had only received word Saturday afternoon that he was terminal.
Last spring he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which was excised surgically. Last I heard various cancer-fighting therapies had his cancer in remission and he was doing well. (My sister fed me with information on a random basis.) So it was quite out-of-the-blue to receive word that the cancer had returned and he was in hospice care.
My father and I have been estranged for nearly 5 years. The reasons are particularly unimportant now. It is sufficient to say, I think, that he preferred it this way.
My father was a hard nut. He was stubborn and inflexible and always convinced that his way was right. Sometimes, of course, it was the right way. But most of the time, right or not, his prickly insistence made living with him complicated.
I met my father at the age of 18, as he and my mother parted badly and much ugliness ensued. So though I am 43 years old, I only knew him for about 25 years, and for 5 of those, there’s been no contact at all.
Why do I mention all of this? To fully explain the complicated and not thoroughly understandable nature of my emotions today.
Even with the complicated nature of our relationship, news only 24 hours later of his passing has left me not knowing what to feel.
I didn’t have time between learning of his terminal-diagnosis and his passing to decide what I should do. I have never wished him ill, nor wanted to cause him any pain. But I didn’t know how any attempts at contact would be received.
And then the chose was taken from me.
I am grateful that he did not linger any longer than he did, as I assume he was in pain and not exhibiting the quality of life that he would have wanted. This was a man determined to not rely on anyone, after all.
I do hope, as he faced his months of treatment, and eventual terminal diagnosis, that he came to understand things somewhat less rigidly. And I hope that he did not hold any lingering animosity for me or my choices. I know that he did not agree with my beliefs, nor respect my reasons. But I hope he could see past those things and die in peace.
Rest in peace R.E. Walden