Not every step that led to that horrible day was bad, but I sure didn't know it until many, MANY years later. The illness that led to my father's passing prevented him from working which gave him more time with ME. The commitment he once gave to building a business and being a sole provider for his family of six was forced to be redirected to his children – building traditions and holiday memories. He cared for us, he saw off to school, he tended to homework, taught us how to take care of the household from cooking to farming and greeted us home daily – all while tending to his illness. He's sole mission in life was to PREPARE us, like a mini-military brigade or prep school, to be protectors, good citizens, and responsible adults, be honest, work hard, believe in something. Mediocrity was not acceptable and nothing with him ever went unnoticed -- we had to deliver at 100% ALWAYS. Anything else was unacceptable in his eyes. He was always present and watching. My point? I hated it then, but today I am thankful for his attentiveness and charter to make me better.
My advice is to cherish the time you have as a parent with your child(ren) and conversely the time you have with your parents. I have been on both spectrums. If you are a truly PRESENT parent, no matter when (how) you pass your children WILL remember, CHERISH you and you will be a guiding light in their lives.
Today, I don't measure my success by things; I measure it by my attentiveness in my own son’s life. My life’s desire is to PREPARE him for life, love him, influence him, equip him to make good decisions in his life whether I am here or not. That's my charter. Being a cancer survivor, it is an important charter.
The gift my father’s illness gave to me was more uninterrupted time with him. Time together was commonplace, but solo time alone was not in a big family. Four children, one-by-one, spent a day out of school with him… Each having real heartbreaking conversations that each other did not know about until long after his passing. These last conversations would him pouring the last bit of himself into us. I believe he passed away knowing his work was done.
Life prepares you for life. Be present. Thank you, Gene Fletcher, Dad for being a great Father and role model. Our time together was far too short, but you made the best of the time you had with me.