#cancersucks has been a frequent hashtag of mine lately. Well, it does. I’ve spent the better part of January in the hospital, at a bedside of the dying, or at a hospice center. I’ve lost two people very dear to me, and it has been painful.
Cancer is an ugly, heartless, and cruel beast. A devourer of beauty, and an instrument of pain and death, brought to this beautiful but cursed planet by an enemy bent on our destruction. It’s pretty dang effective so far unfortunately.
But like everything left in the fingers of God, beauty has come from what is cursed, broken, and filthy. Because He has that kind of power, that kind of love.
When I was a seven year old girl, my sister 5, my mom brought home another boyfriend. By then we thought not much of such an event and didn’t ever get attached. We didn’t expect this one to stick around long either. But then, we didn’t count on him falling in love with us just as much and more as he did our mom.
Over the years they broke up time and again, but he never broke up with us girls. No matter how far he moved or where his life took him, he always came back.
I was especially close to him as we got older because my sister had a father, whereas I had never known mine. (I had thought, and was told that my sister and I had the same father until 6th grade, when I got into trouble, and was informed that man wasn’t my father. From that point on he stopped pretending too. But that’s another story for another time.)
Bobby D taught me to drive. Usually while he was drunk, if I’m honest; but learn I did. He wiped my tears, he stuck up for me when I was wronged, and he never pretended to be what he wasn’t.
In his latter years, he had quit drinking altogether. He puttered around the farm he built with his wife, graded the dirt roads in his neighborhood for his neighbors, and built an addition on their home. A custom job that would make any magazine, it was that nicely done. The man could do anything.
I knew he wasn’t my father, and I didn’t call him dad, but you know what, looking back on our history over 42 years together, he was in it for the long haul, and what more can I say, but he stayed close and did the things a father would do. For all intents and purposes he was my dad. He was a grandfather to my children. They all loved him and were able to travel to his bedside and say good-bye.
He told me repeatedly in the last several weeks that he was my dad. He introduced me to medical staff as his daughter with full disclosure privileges. That spoke volumes to me, and it made me even more devoted to him in the end.
At the end of his life I had the privilege of staying close to him, and looking out for him. I had the ability to stick up for him, and help keep him comfortable when agonizing pain engulfed him. I held his hand, a straw up to his lips, and stroked his head to calm him down until the pain meds kicked in. I’m so very happy to have been able to do those things.
I was able to share the truth about what the Bible says about our human condition, and it’s remedy in Jesus. We had deep and meaningful talks all of our lives, but none so important as at the end.
He fought like a bear with stage four bone cancer for four years because he wanted to make sure his wife, Betty would be okay without him. He was also worried about his biological daughter and myself as well. He didn’t quite know how we would get along in this life, and felt he needed to stick around to watch over us.
Bless him, Lord.
A tough man, but oh how tender with animals and children he was. He grew up feeling worthless, and yet was vain about his looks. And he was a good looking man. Twinkling blue eyes that had women after him in droves, and made his daughters laugh.
Bobby D was a man’s man, but he was jelly in the hands of a child or dog. He joked around about everything, but boy, you better not get him mad, and you know, he never got mad at us kids. He gave us room, liberty to learn life skills and make mistakes, and he was a shoulder to cry on. He held a very special and sacred spot in my life, and I will miss him terribly.
The photo below shows him just about 3 months before he died. He had helped pack up the moving van, he and his wife, for my mom when she was headed to New Mexico. See, we all stayed close. We were family, and never mind the titles.
I won’t forget how frail and dependent he became at the very end, but neither will I forget the thread of steal in his veins until the end. I will choose to remember a man built like a bull, with a tender embrace and twinkling blue eyes that were proof he was often amused. He was the man who became my father, long after he and my mother broke up for the final time.
I hope I was a good daughter, and I hope he could tell how profoundly I loved him.
I will honor his memory by talking nonsense to my dogs, and sweetly telling them, as he did, that I will put rocks up their nose holes so they will die, all the while petting them and using a soothing tone. His dogs adored him, and actually lived longer than the average dog. I think he took excellent care of them, but also he genuinely loved them and was attentive and kind to them. That the big, strong man was tender with things helpless and looking to him for protection should be an example of what kind of a person he truly was. He talked baby talk to his dogs, and all dogs, but he was a brave man until the end.