So about the time I was 21 years old I moved out of my parents house and tried the whole living on my own thing with a couple of girlfriends. We got an apartment about 20 minutes away from my parents and my mom bought me dishes, a futon, a bed, bedding, all of the essentials... in other words, she was ready for me to move! Lol, I think she just thought it would be good for me to be out on my own and having fun as opposed to being with her and my dad who were still seriously grieving and struggling with losing Mike. I really enjoyed living on my own, my two girlfriends that I lived with were a blast, we had a lot of fun together. Unfortunately our new found freedom was very short lived. About 6 months after we moved out my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 3 weeks to live... not kidding 3 weeks. So I very quickly packed my bags and high tailed it back home.
When I mentioned before that my dad never lost his sense of humor, he even kept throughout his entire illness. He spent the next three weeks in his bathrobe with all his friends and family gathered around like he was THE Don and had all kinds of infinite wisdom to share with us. I remember one time he was sitting up on the couch and dosed off, he woke up and looked at us and said "man, I really thought I checked out just then." I said "umm no Dad you were asleep for like 10 minutes and your mouth was open and you were snoring... I think it would have been a little more peaceful if you were "checking out".
Within just a month or so of his diagnosis my parents sold their house, it had been on the market for a long time, close to a year and they had been very anxious to move to the desert, out by Palm Springs. My Uncle Don and my Dad's best friend Stan had already moved out there and he really wanted to be with them. So in spite of his terminal illness they decided they were still going. Now I don't want to sound selfish here but really? the desert... it's like a million degrees there and everyone is like 100 years old and none of my friends lived there and well bottom line, I just did NOT want to go. But what do you do when your dad is dying and your mom needs you... well you suck it up and move to the desert into a retirement community (for reals, it was a retirement community and I was about to turn 22 years old). I thought I was going to die.
As much as I hated it and I totally complained ALL the time I am so glad that I did it. Spending the time with my Dad was priceless and I would have completely regretted it for the rest of my life.
He ended up living for a little longer than 3 weeks (obviously) it actually ended up being another year and a half or so. It was a very sad yet very important couple years of my life. It changed me to the core, I literally became a different person. When my Dad was sick he wanted to do a lot of bonding. I kept a journal during this time in my life and when I read it I always cry. My Dad was very sad and cried alot himself. My Mom was a mess. She was mad, she was mad that he was leaving her, that she was still grieving the loss of her son and now she had to care for him and make him happy all the time when she wasn't even happy herself. I was stuck somewhere in the middle. Still so broken hearted that my brother was gone, stuck out in the hot desert with no friends and trying to do everything I could to keep my parents happy. I grew up a lot in that short amount of time.
By the time that my Dad finally passed in July of 1992 he was so ill, the cancer had completely ravaged his body and he was just a shell of himself. We literally watched him wither away. My Dad was an awesome father and as much as I didn't want to lose him I also couldn't stand to see him like that anymore.
It's been almost 18 years since my Dad died and I still miss him everyday. Making sure that he lives on in my girls and in my niece and nephew is so important to me. I want them to understand what a great guy he was, how important his family was to him and how much he would love them.