Dear Dad……

imageToday is the anniversary of my dear dear father’s death- his mum died when he was in his twenties and he always told me that it  never stopped feeling like she died yesterday. 17 years on from his premature death I now totally get what he was saying- god I miss him: so this is for you dad, some stuff I think you’d have loved or like to know.

Abby is in 5th year medicine, she’s pretty and confident, she sings and plays guitar as well as piano, she’s got the Fox sharp wit and sense of humour, a strong sense of social justice, a healthy love of a good drink and does not smoke!! She hasn’t been in love for awhile- I think medicine is all consuming but also think her bar is set very high, after all mum and I maried very well. She remembers you well and feels you in her life. She is everything you would have expected her to be,and more.

Matt is in Melbourne studying Film and Television. He lives in Hawthorn, which I LOVE, but as a Geelong fan you probably don’t find as staisfying ( just an aside, Hawks whipped the Cats in the first round of the season). He’s amazing Dad, and I know you’d love him but I  think you’d verbally spar a fair bit too. He does stand up comedy and I suspect you’d have provided him with plenty of material. Physically I see you in him Dad, his dark brooding eyes, his height and his luxurious dark wavy locks. I am dismayed that you two didnt have more time together.

Adrian is fabulous- he continues to be my lighthouse in each and every storm that life sends my way. He did give up the tools years ago, but you’d be pleased to know he can still turn his hand to most trades as required. He has a great boat that we go out in it regularly. I love him Dad, he is the love of my life, and I know you two would have continued to build a fabulous relationship.

Mum has metastatic melanoma. She is on her 3rd immunotherapy treatment after being told last year that there was nothing to be done for her. No side effects yet, one treatment to go. She did tell her oncologist that she still deeply misses you and can accept her imminent demise if it means being reunited with you, the love of her life. I see her more often since the diagnosis, sometimes to take her to appointments, amd other times just because I know there is a time limit and had I known that earlier with you I would have done things very differently.

Me? Well I’m in  my 3rd principalship, and going well. Not bad for the girl who you once told couldn’t teach older than grade 6 or they’d be smarter than her eh?I remember the advice you gave me, to always know or be able to do something unique, and so I work hard to stay at the cutting edge of my craft. My job is often hard but I love it, however thanks to you I also have a very clear picture of what’s really important and I take lots of time to make memories with the ones I love. Conseqently we have a sizeable mortage but my genes don’t bode well for a long life so I’m here for a good life instead.

So Dad, I hope you’re travelling well, and I hope none of this is news to you, I like to think you’re always around and know what’s going on with us all. Please know you have changed my life for the better, and as a result of that the lives of your amazing grandchildren too. Love you Dad x

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Glass half full

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We are waiting to see if mum can have some immunotherapy to slow down the progression of her disease. With only 10 weeks between PET scans the tumours have increased in her thigh, lymph node, liver and lungs. She seems more tired and her leg pain has increased. When the doctor examined her, despite claiming she has no pain or symptoms, she winced when he palpated her liver. The lymph node tumour can now be felt. The one on her lung is making her breatheless but she will admit to none of this. The treatment being considered cannot cure her but may buy her some more time, but it’s not an option if her blood tests show that her liver and/or kidney function is not good enough. It seems she probably has between 4 and 6 months left without any treatment😢 Mum wants us to help her decide if she should have the treatment, to weigh up side effects and “down time” against possibly gaining a few months. Big decison, and we may not even get to make it if her liver and kidneys aren’t ok. I guess I need to get my optimism back on and do some cup half full thInking- I’ve still got my mum for now, she’s still enjoying life, we might be able to keep her for a bit longer and it’s only 2 sleeps until we find out if she’s a candidate for the therapy.

My Mischievious Imp

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Last night I felt like I was being dragged backwards by a massive wave, all of my energy being used to try and return to the shore, nothing left to even allow me to tread water for awhile until things calmed. My daughter has been home for 7 weeks and returns to Med School on Sunday, a two hour drive away. I’ll miss her  so much. My son is so excited about his imminent departure to Melbourne to attend Swinburne University and study a Bachelor of Film and Television. God I’ll miss him too!! The house will feel empty and quiet without them both. I know they’re doing the right thing, in fact amazing things and I’m so proud of them both, but at this time I just like to draw my loved ones close. Next week Mum has an oncology appointment, it’s my first week back at school, luckily I can take a couple of hours off. But I’m dreading it…. what good news can they possibly have for us after the last lot? She still looks ok but I can see her getting thinner. She’s syphoning off cash to my daughter each time she sees her and I’m not sure that she has enough to be doing that. She hugged my daughter so hard yesterday as our weekly lunches have come to an end for now. My best friend is a nurse and over lunch she talked about the ‘awful death’ that liver tumours bring; not the cheeriest of lunch time conversations! The fact that mum’s palliative plays on my mind, the knowledge always lurking in the shadows, a trouble making imp ready to give it’s opinion at any moment: Mum comments on a new highway being built and the imp whispers to  me ” she’ll never see it finished will she?” My daughter looks at graduation gowns and the imp is right there saying mischievously ” her grandmother isn’t going to see her in that” My son talks about his 21st and the high pitched voice quips “his nan wont be at that will she?” I need to find a way to quiet the imp!!

Stormy Weather

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Feel so flat- mum’s oncologist called me today. She’s palliative. Luckily she is still largely asymptomatic, so there will only be intervention to manage any symptoms as they arrive. The time frame is back to a few months to a year with strong advice to make this Christmas special.

The thing that is really pissing me off is that my older brother still refuses to be told anything about it. It seems pretty selfish to me- I could do with his support. Also he lives with mum so he really should be aware of signs to look out for and just have an idea of what’s she’s going through.

She told the oncologist she was satisfied with her life, that her kids were all ok and that she misses her husband ( dad died 16 years ago at 59 of Renal cancer) so I guess she’s accepted things BUT she wont actually tell any of us kids what she know about the prognosis, which is why the oncologist rang me.

On a scale of light breeze to Hurricane , things certainly feel very stormy at the moment.

Mother or daughter? At 49 you’d expect to know who you are, wouldn’t you?

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I want to cry for my mother like the daughter that I am. I want to be sad and angry and I want it to show. I want to tell people to get over the pathetic things they worry and moan about. I want to have a tantrum! After all my mum has been dealt a pretty crap hand and as her daughter I think I’m rightly pissed off about it!

But… when I see my children’s faces, when I hear the sadness and fear in their voices as they process the grim facts of their grandmother’s illness, when I hear the tears in my daughter’s words on the ‘phone and my son putting off hearing the latest news I remember I’m a mother. The greatest gift of all is to be just that- my children are by far the achievement I am most proud of and I know that my tantrums and unkind judgements have to be put to the side for them. Just as mum has put aside hers for me.