Starting at around 2 weeks before my father’s death, I started noticing changes in his behavior. It was initially very gradual. Unless you knew him well, you wouldn’t notice it right away. It started with the loss of his sense of time. He became erratic. He would demand to be released from the hospital one day only to ask to be returned to the hospital the next day. He was in and out of confinement four or five times in less than a month. His liver was failing and it was having a detrimental effect on his brain. It got progressively worse to the point that nothing that he said made sense anymore. He was interchanging words. I had to write down some of the things he was saying so I could figure out which words meant what.
Up Until his last 2 weeks, he had a very sharp mind and he took great pride in it. He used to always say something along the lines of: I could lose my arms or my legs but if I lose my mind, that’s it” He often insinuated that he’d rather die than have a diminished mind. It was a painful thing to watch. The thing that he feared the most, next to death probably, was happening to him and he wasn’t even realizing it.
His warped sense of time was particularly stressful for me and my mother. Minutes became hours for him. He’d accuse me of prioritizing other things over him or not spending enough time at the hospital when almost 90% of my waking time was spent at the hospital. I started resenting it after a while because I was practically chained to the hospital room for more than a month and I had to suspend everything else. I’d leave for 40mins to have lunch and I’d get a text message asking me to come back because I’d been away for too long. That resentment was one of the things that I regretted after he passed away.
2 or 3 days before he passed away, he went into a coma. I remember having to leave the hospital because my car’s starter was starting to fail and I had to get it fixed. I was away for more than 2 hours and I didn’t get that text message that, just a few days prior, caused me so much stress. I remember thinking that at that moment, there was nothing that I wanted more than to get that message demanding that I go back to the hospital. The message never came. He never woke up from the coma. He finally succumbed to the cancer that he fought for years. That clichéd saying about spending as much quality time as you can with your loved ones especially in the twilight of their lives, it’s so obvious but it can also be easy to forget when you’re in the situation.
The last month and a half of my father’s life was an emotional rollercoaster for all of us in the family. There’s one particular memory that stands out for me. I think it was night time or early in the morning. I woke up to the sound of him calling out my name. I got up from my makeshift bed on the floor of the hospital room and walked towards him. He looked at me in the eye and, as if he was lucid for the first time in days, he said “My son”
Today’s your first death anniversary, papa. You had your doubts but I think you’d be happy to know that we’re doing fine. Your business is doing fine.
You will always be missed.