Marking five years since Dad’s death

It’s hard for me to believe that five years have passed since my father’s death. So much has happened in those five years that I feel almost like a different person, or that I experienced December 20, 2011 in a different lifetime.

Little did I know at the moment I learned of my father’s death, in the newsroom of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on a cold and rainy Tuesday, that six months later, I would become caregiver for my mother. Even at that moment, the colon cancer was likely growing inside of her, waiting to make its ugly appearance in our lives. I thought I would spend 2012 grieving for my father, but instead, I had to shelve my grief in order to care for my mother.

I never expected to be virtually unemployed for well over a year after my mother fell ill. It was my father’s death that allowed me to pursue new career opportunities, as I had not wanted to take a new job when I knew he may pass at any moment. It turned out to be a bad move, and when Mom required emergency surgery, I was forced to quit after just two months, to go tend to her in New Mexico.

If I had guessed what my life would be like five years from that dreaded day in December 2011, I would not have imagined my mother being dead for a year and a half. She was 74 at the time of my father’s death, and appeared to be in good physical shape. I was most concerned about her loneliness and depression after Dad’s death.

Sometimes it all seems like a bad dream, but of course, I know all too well that it was real life. Good things have happened over these five years: my writing won an award, I secured full-time employment again, I’m slowly but surely crawling my way out of debt. I’m using my experiences, both positive and negative, in the caregiver advocacy role that I now cherish. The past five years have been turned into essays that have touched people and generated conversation around the topic of caregiving.

I certainly would never want to live the past five years of my life over again, but I am a better person for surviving them, and for taking the lessons my parents taught me to help others in a similar situation.




Filed under Memories

5 responses to “Marking five years since Dad’s death

  1. It is admirable that you have been able to put these experiences into a perspective that is helpful to you. Nobody wants to go through something like that, but you are a stronger and wiser person, as a result. Good for you.

  2. Okay, now you’ve done it, you’ve messed my makeup from tears before I have to make an appointment. LOL. What a treasure to have that recording of your dad singing to you. He has a wonderful voice. My dad used to sing to me, too.

    I know your struggles have brought you growth, and you are in a better place now. But, I also know these anniversaries are hard and lonely. My heart goes out to you. Sending warm hugs.

  3. P.S. One of my other blogger friends wrote a lovely piece about missing people who have passed on. I think you might find it interesting and wanted to share. It’s not really sad so much as a validation about their absence from our lives. She’s a beautifully poetic writer.

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