Saturday, December 24, 2011

To My Dad: A Tribute To Your Love

In Our Hearts

© Rose de Leon
We thought of you with love today,
But that is nothing new.
We thought about you yesterday.
And days before that too.
We think of you in silence.
We often speak your name.
Now all we have is memories.
And your picture in a frame.
Your memory is our keepsake.
With which we’ll never part.
God has you in his keeping.
We have you in our heart.

Source: Loosing A Father, In Our Hearts, Moving On Poem after Death
Family Friend Poems
On Tuesday my beloved father lost his long, courageous battle with cancer.  While it was not unexpected, I really don't think deep down you are ever really prepared for the loss of someone near and dear to you, and when I got that call at work, it felt like everything had simply stopped for a moment.  And while probably not the most appropriate time of year to write something like this, I need to do this as with everything in my life, when times are most difficult, despite the comfort of family and friends, I turn to the one thing that brings me the greatest comfort, my writing.
I feel like I developed the most admiration I have ever had for my dad as I watched him fight his battle with cancer not once, but four times, not always with grace, but definitely with courage and determination.  The sometimes temperamental moments can be forgiven however, as the struggle with chemotherapy, and radiation, and subsequent surgeries would probably tax the most patient man, and he was not necessarily a patient man by nature.  And my mom...not enough words can be said for what my mom went through!!
I remember my dad as being so strong and so tough.  A native of Croatia, he was always so proud of his heritage and I am so glad I got the chance to visit his homeland with him and see the places he grew up.  It is a trip I will be taking with my children one day so they can learn about their own heritage and the grandfather they will learn about through stories and tales.  What I especially remember as a child is the comfort of his arms and his strength.  When I was four years old I fell off my little sister's scooter and split open the inside of my upper lip, about an inch wide.  I had to get about ten stitches and I was terrified. But I remember his big hand holding mine and him carrying me out to the car and holding me at home afterwards and I remember the feeling of security, the feeling that nothing bad would ever happen again.  I also remember lying with him under the Christmas tree, and I couldn't have been more than three years old, believing the lights on the tree were special angels; he never led me to believe otherwise and for years those lights held a special meaning for me as I thought they were the souls of all our family members looking out for us.
Growing up we had our differences as will two adults who are both stubborn and headstrong.  As all adult children are wont to do however, I came to rely on his knowledge more and more and even depended on certain things.  A butcher by trade, I couldn't tell you the number of times I had called him from the grocery store to ask his advice about a certain cut of meat or about the price of a piece of meat on sale.  Who do I call now?  Whenever I needed help with anything, he was always there, never complaining.  Perhaps I took him for granted, as children tend to do as someone who will always be there when needed.  It wasn't until he developed cancer the first time that I realized my dad wouldn't be around forever, and I still remember reeling from that shock.  And when did my dad turn into an older man?  Dads aren't supposed to get old, are they?
My dad loved many things on this life, especially his family.  He adored his wife, his children, and his grandchildren, but had a difficult time showing that love.  He showed his love through his actions, and in the way he was always willing to drop anything to help.  While opiniated and sometimes difficult, he had a heart of gold, and was very generous to everyone.  He loved to cook, loved his food (if I wanted a cookie I knew exactly where to go), and loved his gardens (roses, anyone?).  Even towards the end he made sure his family was well-fed, insisting he cook a ham, and have other goodies in the house so that visitors to his house would always feel welcome.  It was his way of ensuring that others were taken care of before he would think of himself.  He definitely loved a good argument, so you can imagine what our teenage years were like, but we survived them, and personally, I think the three of us turned out rather well.  And boy, did he love his grandchildren.  I can still see the look in his eyes when he held my son, Kamron, in his arms for the first time.  There is a picture that I have where the two of them are looking at each other, and they both have the same look in their eyes, as if they're assessing each other; and the two are cut from the same cloth, believe me.  And Alyssa, my daughter, she was always in his lap, and he was always so patient with her. 
My mom insisted that my dad be at home for his final days and as a result, my dad's last days were peaceful.  For a man who lived quite a life, and lived through many tragedies, including the death of his own mother when he was five-years-old, his last days were quite the opposite.  While I was not there, he was surrounded by family and friends, and at home, exactly the way he always envisioned.   While the days now are filled with grief, they are also filled with some peace knowing that my dad's suffering is finally over.  And yes, I will admit to some guilt as well as I was not there as often as I would have liked as I live two hours away from my mom and dad.  And I think now that I could have visited much more often and spent more time there.  There is also the guilt because you don't want to admit exactly how bad the illness is and there is always an element of denial.  And now I have to explain to my children why God has taken their grandfather away.  It's tough!  They understand, but they don't at the same time as their ideas of suffering are just developing. 
I know that wherever he is he will always be looking out for us, just as he did in life.  He will never be forgotten and even as I write this, I am trying to hold back the tears and not succeeding very well.  I would like to thank all of our friends and family who have supported us during this trying time.  I would also like to thank every one of my blogging friends, as well as everyone at the publishing houses and tours who have been so supportive of my difficulties these past few weeks, as I have disrupted schedules and tours and had to reschedule.  Thank you so much for your understanding!!!
To my dad, I will always love you and I will never forget you. 
Lamentations 3:22-26; 31-32For the Lord does not abandon anyone forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion according to the greatness of his unfailing love."


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this lovely tribute to your dad with us.

  2. The way you speak of him shows how much you love him, and he sounds like he was a grand man.

    I'm very sorry for what you've got to deal with, and thank you for being courageous in sharing this with us.