Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blessings in Disguise

13 years ago my dad was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. This time it was in his lungs and the doctor told him he had one year to live. This was quite a blow for him and our entire family because my dad seemed invincible. We all decided he could beat cancer again. So we prayed for an entire year having faith that he would live.

A few months after they had found the cancer in his lungs, it was found again in his bones, and then finally in his brain. Still we believed that Heavenly Father would heal his body and he would live.

My dad was still living his life to the fullest. He went skiing with his best friend, Doc, in January, but could only ski a half day. I remember him being pretty disappointed with not being able to ski all day and I told him I couldn't believe he could ski at all at this point. He had lost a lot of muscle mass over the months, but still looked pretty good.

In April, after learning the cancer had made it to his brain, he got scared. My dad never got scared. It scared me to see him like this. He was trying every holistic thing to keep going, but hadn't tried anything medical yet. I think because the doctors didn't really offer him any hope. Finally, when the brain cancer was diagnosed, he decided to try chemotherapy. It was awful. It weakened him significantly. But still, we believed he would beat cancer.

Then, he started radiation and things quickly went down hill from there. Physically down. But spiritually uphill. The last few months of his life, he knew he was dying. His family, however, was still praying for his cancer to go into remission. We had the faith that our prayers would be answered.

In July, my dad asked all his children to go to Lake Powell together on our houseboat. I didn't want to leave him, but these were his wishes so we went.

When we came back he looked so small and weak. He was on oxygen and we had to help him to the bathroom. I remember The Greek one night tenderly picking him up from his recliner and carrying him to his bed and tucking him in. My dad was so grateful. It was so sweet.

My dad's dad, my grandpa Pete, died that July. My dad was so sad he couldn't be at his dad's funeral. He hadn't told his dad or mom that he was dying. He didn't want to worry them. He told my grandma what was happening over the phone and he was right it was too much for her to take. My dad wrote the eulogy for my sister to read at his dad's funeral and we all went to California to be there with my grandma.

I remember my dad saying at this time that he was going to die soon. He felt it. We all told him to stop talking like that, we knew he could beat cancer. We were all praying for him. About this time (we didn't know until later) we all had the feeling that we needed to pray that Heavenly Father would release him from his cancer ravaged body and take him home.

He told me one day that he had decided what his job in Paradise would be or at least what he hoped it would be. He wanted to be the one to greet people when they died. I laughed and thought only my dad would want a job after he was dead. He was kind of a workaholic in life. But, he was serious. He kept telling me how excited he was to go. He knew where he was going. There wasn't a doubt in his mind or any fear at all.

So, after we attended my grandpa's funeral in California, the morning after I arrived home, I kept having the prompting to call my dad, but I didn't because I was planning on visiting him in a few hours. Before I had a chance to get ready the phone rang. It was my mom's Relief Society President and all she would say was that they had taken my dad to the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital I learned my dad had already passed. He had a "Do not resuscitate order" and when they got him to the ER they stopped CPR. The doctors couldn't say for sure what happened, but needless to say his heart stopped. I was the first in the family to see him. He looked very peaceful. My mom and The Greek were the only other family members to see him after he died at the hospital.

When I called my sister, BugaCita, who was still driving back from the funeral, she told me something I'll never forget. She said my brother in-law remarked after hearing of dad's passing, "Well I guess he really did beat cancer." We kept repeating that over and over again the next few days.

That may sound strange to you, but we knew this was what my dad and Heavenly Father wanted. It wasn't what we were asking for at first. But, we knew that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us. My dad knew what that plan was for him. I'm so glad that he had such great faith all his life and at his death. I miss him every day. But his legacy lives on in me, my sisters, and his grandchildren.

The other week The Teen told me he didn't know a thing about his grandpa. I was shocked because I thought I had done a lot to make sure he did. The Teen was three when he died. The Tween was in my womb at the time and The Kid was only a glimmer in my heart. So, this week I'm going to tell them about their Grandpa.


Julie Pia said...

You are such a tender sweet girl Maria. I love hearing about your relationship with your sweet Daddy. He sounds like an amazing man. I'm glad you're kids get to hear and learn about their amazing Grandpa. He sounds like he was a man of great Faith and Wisdom. xoxo

Ria's Random Thoughts said...

Thanks Julie.

Christina Fullwood said...

The thing I remember most Maria is he kept us all together - even when he was dying. We were his reason for living and he let us know it. I will always remember that. We all love him so much we could never bear to not have him be proud of us. My kids even being older when he died don't remember him either. I am really looking forward to the day they get to really know him. He is still a force that drives my life in the right direction. I love you.

Ria's Random Thoughts said...

I love you too Christy. Thanks for writing that. It is so true.