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My dad passed away last night. He was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer just a month ago. It was in his lungs, his liver, his spleen and the bones of one leg. He started a course of chemo, and it seemed to be working, but he developed diverticulitis, and it was very painful. He ended up going into the hospital Saturday, and basically refused all treatment except pain meds, from what I can tell from my stepmother. The oncologist really tried to talk him into treatment--he felt like he would at least have several good months left, if not more.

I talked to him on Tuesday, very briefly. He couldn't talk very well--he had something blocking his vocal chords (the doctors thought it was a broken away tumor). I talked to him, but we didn't talk very long, frankly because I started to cry.

I called him again on Thursday, and he was talking better. I asked him to please continue the chemo and let them treat him for the other problem, but he said "Why bother?" He finally said he'd think about it, and we talked about some other stuff, including the fact that my dogs were chasing the squirrels in the yard. I remember he said "Oh,no!" and sort of laughed. When we hung up, I told him I loved him, and I think he said he loved me too. I thought he was doing a little bit better.

That was the last time I talked to him. He took a turn for the worse after we talked, and by noon on Friday, he was on heavy doses of morphine. He died last night, apparently fairly peacefully, at about 11:00. I had a plane ticket to go see him tomorrow; now I will use it to attend his funeral.

I am so sad.... there are a lot of things I wish I'd told my dad. I wish we were the kind of people that talked to each other about everything... but we weren't. My family is the sterotypical WASP family who never talks about anything important, like our feelings, or past history, or anything like that. We talk about how many olives go into the martini, the last score when he played golf, and what's going on in politics and the news. I'm glad I went to see him in October; we had a very nice visit together, so that's a good memory to have.

I'm glad he went fast; he was adamant that he did not want to be a burden on anyone, adamant that he not lose his dignity ("I don't anyone to have to wipe my butt," is one thing I recall him saying). So I'm glad he went out on his terms, I guess, but I wish he'd stuck around a little longer. But maybe that's selfish on my part.

The organization aspects of his death are hard to think about. Ours is a complex family; my parents divorced, and my dad was married to his current wife for 20 years.My stepmothers kids were all adults when they got married; they stayed in town and I moved away and haven't seen him in person that often, maybe once a year, and sometimes not even that often. My step-siblings kids call him grandpa.

I think he was a pretty organized guy--actually, he was weirdly organized in some ways! He kept spread sheets of his CD collection, all the books he'd read, and who knows what else. When I was there in October, we had a lighthearted argument about where we'd gone to lunch when I'd been there last, and who paid. (I lost the argument--he pulled up the spreadsheet which noted the date, where we ate, how much it cost and the fact that he paid for lunch but I left the tip). I gave him his first computer years ago; he fell in love with computers and dinked around all the time with things.

I know he had a living will, and I'm sure he had a regular will, but I have no idea what's in it or what his assets are. My mother is already saying that she is going to make a claim on his estate for some money she thinks he owed her--I'm going to try to stay out of that fight for sure, and I probably need to warn my stepmother what is likely coming. My mom has been rather ugly through his illness and has been so worried about the end of her alimony payments. However, she did call me today to let me know that he had sent her alimony check, dated 4 days before his death. He was in the hospital, but made sure his obligation was paid. (I wonder if he knew that was the last one he'd write? If so, he was probably slightly gleeful, I suspect...)

I think most of his stuff and his money will go to my stepmother, and that's fine. There are a few things that belonged to my grandparents that I think my brother and I are entitled to, and whatever else happens, happens. I don't even care. I am kind of hoping my stepmother doesn't ask me to sort through his CD collection--there were over 800 at last count!

I'm sad. I'm going to miss him. I was startled today by a message he'd left on my voice mail, which I had saved for some unknown reason. It's strange and odd and sad and nice to have his voice saved there. Someone sent me a funny email and I automatically started to copy him on it.

The next couple of days are going to be hard. But I suspect that's why funerals were invented--to give everyone something to think about so they don't feel quite so sad for a little bit. I spent a good part of the day doing errands, dropping the dogs at the kennel, and trying to figure out what to wear to the funeral (I haven't even unpacked all my clothes yet from the move!). I startled a sales lady in Foleys. I was buying a watch, and she said something about it being Friday, and the weekend was going to great... and I just burst into tears. I told her why, and she came around the counter and gave me a hug. People can be so nice.

Anyway.... I don't think you're ever organized for something like this, but I should have been a little better organized than I was. And I have a lot of stuff to do, and a flight that leaves at a ridiculous 5 AM tomorrow morning... but I'm sitting here writing this and not packing. It's probably just denial... if I don't pack, I won't have to go, and if I don't go, he won't really be gone.

But he is.

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