August 2003 marked the month when my father passed away after a long hard battle against cancer. He beat the prognosis by 5 years and truly showed a will to live I still keep as an example.
My father wasn’t the most communicative guy. He was a good man, honest, hard-working and funny in his own particular way. I still remember his laugh when he went bonkers because of a joke. As a kid he had been excellent in basketball and as a man, he was a great engineer. When I saw the outpour of support during our time of need, I realized just how much dad meant to so many people.
One of the most selfless acts he did was for hurricane Hugo where Puerto Rico was without light and water for quite some time. He scheduled to get potable water to the neighborhood without needing to hear one person ask for it… It’s impressive how much he is still teaching me just by me taking the time to talk about him.
Still, he wasn’t the most communicative guy… until he got cancer.
You see, there’s dad and then there’s dad with cancer. After being diagnosed, I can only speculate in regards to what went through his head. What I can talk about was our relationship, our conversations and the fact that it took something like coming to grips with your mortality to become more communicative.
So there I was, August 2003… it had been raining intensely the last few days so the grass was a mess and there was mud all over the place. Afterwards we had to laugh because it showed that even after passing away, dad was going to take the long hard route and make us take it with him. Yet no one of the immediate family was able to muster up words to do him justice and send him off, so I gave it my best shot.
With a lump in my throat the size of a brick I said that out of all the things I learned from dad, I learned that we should all be free to say I love you to the people who mean the most to us in our life. It took cancer for dad to be able to say I love you more often, to hug me and to even kiss me on the head as an adult. It felt good and horrible at the same time because he was trying to make up for lost time or so it felt at the time. Still, he told me “I love you” often and although I’d trade them all for a chance for him to see me right now, share a beer and catch up on how we’re doing, another part of me is happy for the memories I have, the lessons he keeps teaching me and the fact that he was able to share those three simple words.
So here's to you, dad.
I love you.
I love you.