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Missing My Dad

Man wearing glasses blowing out a candle on a slice of tiramisu.
My dad celebrating his 70th birthday.

Many people mistakenly think that because I lost my father when I was in my forties, and he was already older – in his early seventies – the loss was less profound. Many also think that because I was married, that somehow softened the blow of losing him. “At least you have your husband to lean on” and “At least you’re not alone” were comments often heard.

The truth is that as an only child and the remaining survivor of a small family unit of three, I was alone. And, it did hurt and still does. Losing my father was heartbreaking. It was expected yet unexpected. Watching him waste away and die before my eyes without being able to do anything about it was horrible, frustrating, and so much more.

Today, my dad would have celebrated his 83rd birthday. He was 74 when he passed – a little over a year after his ALS diagnosis. Although the pain has lessened with time, it still lingers, and memories often pop up or unexpected tears are shed. When his birthday comes around each year, it hurts a little more, especially since our birthdays are only a few days apart. In the latter years of his life, we celebrated our birthdays together, and that meant a lot.

On commemorative days like this, I tend to think about my dad more and reminisce about the things that we enjoyed such as riding bikes together, eating out, going for walks, or even just talking. Although ALS took away many of the activities that we had fun doing, this horrible disease did bring us closer in some ways.

As my dad's voice gradually disappeared and his reliance on his bipap machine became more frequent, my dad and I spent a lot of time hanging out indoors, watching hours of old school tv classics together like "Batman," "Wonder Woman" and "The Munsters." Although at times I felt like I was in a time machine having gone back to programs that my family watched in the ‘70s, my childhood was great, and I loved reminiscing and sharing this time together with him. My dad also had a great sense of humor and loved telling stories. When he eventually lost his voice, we continued to communicate through written and typed words. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was (as well as his many friends and family members) when he finally – after some immense pressure – got an email address after 70+ years!

Top photo is man in his late 20s with his toddler daughter. Bottom photo is same man with his grown daughter
Top: Emily and her dad in the 70s Bottom: Emily and her dad prior to his ALS diagnosis.

Although my dad was a quiet man of few words even when he was able to talk, he loved to talk about cars and had a passion for history – especially war-related documentaries. Having been a Navy veteran and having fought in the Vietnam War, I guess this wasn't too surprising. My dad was fortunate to not have had any cognitive issues and often gave his opinion and made decisions on various matters during his ALS journey, although there were some situations where I had to be his voice, including making sure he received the military benefits he deserved and the specific care he needed from his medical team and caregiver.

It’s not only on his birthday that I celebrate my dad. Every day, I celebrate the beautiful life he lived, and I thank him for the life he gave me. I am fortunate to have had not just a dad, but a teacher, a mentor, a bike riding partner, a childhood playmate, and so much more, in my life. Although ALS shortened the time that I had with my dad and took him away from me too soon, it cannot take away the fact that he was a part of my life and also was a huge part of creating so many precious memories that will always remain deeply embedded in my heart and soul.

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4 comentarios

Fathers and daughters, there is just something so special about those relationships. Thank you for sharing your story, sounds like you had a great Dad......and that he had a great daughter.

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Contestando a

I agree. Thank you for reading this post and for the lovely compliment. ❤️

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Hope you are having a great day

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Contestando a

Thank you. You, too! 🙂

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