Family Day Long Weekend

Dad’s main focus when he arrived at our place last Sat was spending time with Eddy, our Chihuahua, Corgi mix. They snuggled as they always do, the whole time he was here.

We enjoyed a nice lunch together as we often do on Saturdays. I made him a delicious traditional soup made from barbecued fish and I also made what were reported to be, very delicious biscuits. He ate most of a bowl and one biscuit which is more than he usually eats.

Afterwards, we sat and visited and listened to Pavarotti, one of his favourites. When he was too tired he said he had to go. I noticed when I helped him with his coat, it was very big on him and it was missing several buttons. He reminded me as he often does, that his grandson, my son Jay, had given him that coat a couple of years ago. He never stays for more than two hours.

At 87, dad is dealing with Parkinsons, Dimentia, Arthritis, Hepatitis C, back pain, and lung cancer. His cancer is a slow moving mass that is touching a bone in his back and one of his ribs. He can’t see out of his right eye at all and suffers from headaches regularly. To deal with his pain, dad takes Tylenol 3s at regular intervals each day. The side effects though are unpleasant. He suffers more confusion and his hand tremors seem to be worse some days. It makes it hard for him to enjoy a cup of coffee without splashing it on himself or on the area nearby. It makes it hard for him to see if he is wearing matching shoes not that that should matter as long as he is comfortable.

Dad told me a couple of weeks ago that he is not long for this world and I realize that I need to curb my 12 hour days to spend more time with him. I love everything about my job including the children, but I need to strike a balance between work and family. I wonder how many people are dealing with this reality with their parents.

Dad understands and speaks the Heiltsuk language quite fluently despite being a residential school survivor. He declared bankruptcy in the 80s after a successful career as a commercial fisherman, but never lost his sense of humour or his love of music. He likes to tell stories when he can muster the energy but will quit if he can’t find his words or loses his train of thought. When he is feeling up to it, dad still plays his accordion. His memory though sometimes fails him when he tries to play an old favourite and yesterday his chest was sore from the effort it took to play.

Before I dropped him off last Saturday, we went for a drive through the village. I glanced over at him as he was speaking and was shocked to notice that he truly looks old. His eyes were droopy and watery and he talked about feeling old and wondered when the time comes, if he should be buried next to his family rather than being cremated. I told him to give it some thought and let me know.

I made an effort to see him a couple of times this week with Eddy and Vic stopped by to take him over the elder’s buildIng. I expect tomorrow he will ask me to drive him to visit his cousin Peggy’s house on Sunday. He says they talk about old times and old friends and relatives and how life used to be.  He enjoys her company very much.

I think dad should enjoy all the things he likes while he is still able to and maybe I should as well because according to him life flies by. He wonders where the time went and how he got so old. Tomorrow I am off for Family day so I will give him some lunch and maybe whip up a chocolate cake as he has a sweet tooth. I’ll make him a nice lunch and I will put on some tunes for him so that he can tap his foot while he sits with Eddy over a cup of coffee.

Poppa and Eddy



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2 responses to “Family Day Long Weekend

  1. Cousin Karen

    Thanks Jan for that very touching insight into your family … and families in general.

  2. Diane Sutherland

    Ah this brought tears to my eyes as I read it. Did you know that Marilyn’s Mom passed away about 2 weeks ago? She went to Utah for the funeral and returned this past Sunday. Because your Dad is a Heiltsuk speaker you may want to consider getting his words and stories recorded And then make a DVD disc. It would be memories for the family and helpful for those generations coming after us. I was my able to be by my Uncle’s side the last year of his life. It was really hard to see the man I had known and been close to all my life succumb to cancer. His end mercifully was not prolonged. One day he couldn’t walk any more and 4 days later he went to his maker. Striking a balance is important very much so…and healthy. Maybe at this time you are thinking of regrets …regrets you will have if …. Your Dad may not have too long. People sometimes especially older people know when the time is near…you are young and strong and will have many years yet to spend at the work you love. I think your idea of spending more time with your Dad at this time is really important to you . And to him..enjoy the short time you have left and be thankful you are there with him. Hugs to you both, Enjoy this weekend. Diane. pS So now I know where you get your love of opera! This Sunday I am off to Van to see The Florentine Straw Hat at the Chan centre an opera based on a French farce,,,all sorts of mixed up love affairs etc. should be great fun

    Sent from my iPad


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