My Dad

My dad is ill. He has been for some time.

We are not sure exactly what is wrong (not yet) but he is the kind of ill that comes with words like “hospice” and “five wishes” and “medical durable power of attorney”. It has been emotional (and no doubt will continue to be so) and a bit challenging. I am a strong supporter of dying with dignity and supporting ones right to choose how they live out their days with a terminal illness.  You would be surprised how many people DO NOT believe this.  I have spent days researching, calling, counseling, crying, talking, thinking and planning for my mother, my father, my family and how we will manage after he is gone…whenever that may be.

And I have thought of my daughter. Even in the midst of intense emotional turmoil, she pops up in my thought stream. When he dies, do I tell her?  When I draft the obituary (I am likely the one who will do that), how many grandchildren do I say he is survived by?  These thoughts and more caused me to pull over the other day.  Something about that dashboard confessional, the music of TSO (An Angel Came Down)  and thoughts of my dying father that never got to meet my first born child, his first born grandchild, were too much to bear.

My Dad and me at my wedding in 1996. He was signing to me in Polish here. Moja droga ja cie kocham. (Polish for "I love you so")

A friend, a fellow first mother that lost her adoptive mother (yeah, she is an adoptee AND a first mom) some time ago told me that whatever I do, I should “make my peace”.  I assured her I have made my peace with my dad.  He can die with no unfinished business between us.  He apologized to me years ago for the loss of my daughter from our family. He told me, in his own stilted way, that he was sorry.  That sentiment alone healed a world of hurts for me.  Even before that day I had come to grips that my father was not a good dad, not the dad I dreamed of, but he was the only dad I had. He was a product of his own upbringing, his own difficult birth and life in WWII Poland.  Peace was found for us long ago.

And yet it does make me sad, still, that my dad never got to meet her.

I am uncertain if I will tell her when he dies. My hope is that I will be allowed to say he is survived by fourteen grandchildren. It is the truth.

13 Thoughts.

  1. I am so sorry about your dad, Suz. I can’t even imagine what you’re going through. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. BIG HUGS, Suz. This is hard stuff. Our situations are different —in that my parents rejected my reunion with my son for years — but for what it’s worth, my dad allowed, even suggested that I include my son and his kids (by name!) in my mother’s obituary. That meant a lot to all of us.

    Thinking of you. D.

  3. Oh Suz,

    I am so sorry about your dad. It is so hard to watch a parent suffer through a terminal illness . You are lucky on one count though, that you and your dad have made your peace. I hope you can count your daughter in his life story.

    Hugs & prayers to you,

  4. I am so so sorry about your dad. We recently watched my husband’s uncle pass away from lung cancer and it is so hard. And yes I know how many people object to allowing a dying person to go with dignity on their own tears. I went through that with my own grandmother.

    I want to say something and I am worried it will sound know it allie and nasty so please know I do not mean it that way. Have you considered telling your daughter that your father is dying? I know she may not care and that she may not even respond to you and I realize you may not want to open yourself to that at the moment. And that is understandable. But I was thinking she may feel differently about the family when faced with the fact that this is her last moment to meet him. I don’t know. Like I said I don’t mean that to come across like I know something when in truth I know nothing.

    Sending hugs to you!!

    • Upstatemom – I dont think it sounded nasty or mean at all. No worries. No, I have not considered telling her now. The reasons vary – from some you mention (like me not wanting to deal with actually meeting her while all this is going on) to others. I could deal with her not caring/not replying. I would want my dad to be coherent, to appreciate it, to know who she was and such and honestly, he isn’t there. So, no, I dont think I will tell her nor do I expect her to care now or ever. My telling her is more like a courtesy. I hear alot from adoptees that they get up set when they are not told someone dies – even if the adoptee is the one who has chosen not to be part of the family flow of information. Additionally, she should know what he dies of and if there is any genetic connection (which, at this point, we dont believe there is).

      Thanks for your thoughts and support.

  5. Dear Suz,

    I am sorry to hear about your Dad. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Much love,


  6. My Suz, I’m so sorry about your Dad. That is a lot on your heart. Watching anyone that you love, in the last stages, is so deep and sad. I’m glad that you both are ‘in the clear’ with each other – that is a gift.

    When I first read this…I thought…what came into my heart first…was that I was going to ask you to consider letting your daughter know, now, about your father. I’m just saying this totally from an adoptee point of view. I know you’ve considered this…and y’know I’m on your side whatever the decision is…BUT, I know that I would want to know.

    Y’know adoption makes everything more complicated and I believe that you truly need to do what is best for YOU right now and take care of yourself. But, that’s where my head went.

    Wish I could give you a big squeeze! Thinking of you. xo

    • Laurel – You know I adore you and your thoughts and thank you for sharing them with me. I understand your suggestion but seriously, cannot go there. With all I have going on, dealing with my dad, I cannot put myself out there again – to be possibly ignored by my daughter. To tell her now, for me, is to expect some sort of compassion, some sort of caring, and she has indicated she has none. I feel more comfortable – for me – just doing the polite, proper, minimal investment – and least emotionally risky – and tell her after the fact when it is done and I have managed through it myself.

  7. Thinking of you and your family, Suz. My first hope is that your father is able to beat the illness he’s fighting; my second is for peace in his last days.

    Fourteen grandchildren, most definitely.

  8. Hugs. Such a difficult time. All I can say is look after yourself. You have children, parents etc that need you. I think your daughter has made things very clear and I would respect that. I totally understand how you can not put yourself out there again plus she is young and probably has no idea how important these things could be later on. But that is life.

Comments are closed.