Dad

My dad passed away last week.

It’s been a strange, surreal, emotional, confusing, and stressful time. Nobody has, or is enduring as much stress as my mum. She is handling it all amazingly well (much better than I would). I’m traumatized a little from the whole thing, and I’m confused about my emotions. For a few days I was pretty withdrawn and sort of excused myself from being with Neil & Oliver. Neil was just his regular amazing self and just sorted everything at home while I kind of turned off and disappeared to my mum’s.

I was about to post something last week that touched a little on my dad’s stubborn nature that I share, and the next morning everything went down. Now I feel horribly guilty for writing some of the things I did. Why? It’s not as if I was saying he was a garbage person, I was simply describing how I am a lot like him. Well, I feel pretty shit about it. Prior to that 3am wake up call of flashing lights, I had only seen my dad once briefly in the last month. I live next door to my parents. I spoke to him while I was over asking my mum to borrow her exercise ball, and I don’t even remember if I said goodbye. So that’s a thing. He hadn’t been well, Oliver goes to preschool which makes him a germ bag, my dad and I are both high risk, and honestly leaving my house to just go next door is a task for me. I still feel shit.

Dad had a voice that was deep and loud. It announced his authority and there was no messing around when he was annoyed. Usually the tone of his voice coupled with the threat to “tan our asses” was enough for us to stop being brats. Except I don’t remember being the one getting that threat because it was normally the boys who were fighting. Sometimes dad would just look downstairs and say “I have really good aim!” in a threatening way while holding onto his leather slipper. He always missed. Sometimes he would come to the stairs when it was late and we were giggling watching Letterman or something and he would say “GET TO BED!” I’m not sure if it was ever me or if it was just my brothers.

Dad and Grandpa Harry (his dad obviously by the appearance)

I remember when I was younger I would always go shopping on Sundays with dad. My mum wrote a list and we would go around 10 or 11. Thinking back I remember the car ride used to seem so long but it’s actually like a 5 minute drive. My dad always drove weird ways to places to avoid traffic lights and sometimes I would fall asleep resting my head on the seatbelt. When we got there he would always park in the same spot, and take the exact same route around the store. I would stand up on the front of the cart and he would push. I don’t remember if I ever asked for things, if I helped, or if I just liked to ride on the front of the cart. I just liked it, it was ours. I don’t remember when I stopped going. It was probably around the time that I wanted him to stop driving me to school because I was embarrassed by our giant Buick (typical pre-teen?). Thinking about that now I wonder if it made him sad that I didn’t want to go. If (when) that kind of thing happens with Oliver I will ugly cry.

There’s a 7-11 near my old elementary school that used to have a gas bar (I’m pretty sure it doesn’t anymore but I’m not 100%). I don’t remember when it happened or if it was a regular thing but we would go I would get a slurpee and he would check his lottery tickets. I liked it because I would look across the street at my school with nobody there, the two arcade machines, the bike rack outside, and the wooden lotto stand with little pencils. I don’t even know what he was doing but he normally didn’t win anything big. At least I don’t think so because he never got really excited. Usually we would also go to the bottle depot somewhere off Edmonton trail. Dad knew the guys because he went often and I would just look at how his cans were handed over so neat and perfect in cardboard trays. Everyone else there would just dump bottles haphazardly on the table to get sorted. Dad was organized in his own way and it seemed like it was to make things go faster.

The one thing I know that Dad would want is for me to maintain commitment to my physio program. One because it was a billion dollars so “it better do something”, and two because he would want me to honour my commitment. So that morning I went. It was good because it made me focus on something else, but then there was this cute old man who reminded me of him. I think this guy was a lot older (dad appeared older than he was) and he seemed really sweet and friendly. It was more this man’s frailty that reminded me of my dad because he was really skinny. My dad would have been telling the physiotherapist she was doing it wrong and educating her on proper technique. He was really good at giving instructions but not actually doing things. He was a walking encyclopedia and I don’t really know how or why he knew certain things.

I missed one day that week and it was because I wanted to go with my mum to sort things. She didn’t need me at all…I just wanted to be included.

I’ve been having a difficult time putting enough time toward my PoNS because of Oliver. I say that but it’s mostly me. I don’t know. He’s bossy and that determines what we do in the mornings. Listen to me! He’s 3. I am the adult. He comes out of his room during quiet time and asks “Mum, why are you taking your shoes off? Did you do your warm ups? Did you do your balance?” I say “yeah I’m going to do my gait later.” He asks “Is that your walking?” I’m bawling internally when he checks on me. Why am I trying to use him as a scapegoat?! I’m sorry Oliver.

I want to make sure I maintain this most of all for myself and my family, but also for my dad. I think this physio and all of the other stuff I’ve been doing in my health struggle/journey are things that my dad wasn’t able to do. He didn’t have MS but he had his own issues. My auntie Kelly said to me that I’ve had time to adjust to my current state, but my dad hadn’t. Even though he was sick for a long time, he never actually faced it or admitted to himself. He was stuck. I guess in doing this I can do what he didn’t have time to do. I’ll get better while I’m able.

https://mhfh.com/tribute/details/34847/Richard-Blackburn/obituary.html

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