a father’s day reminder to celebrate your dad and make every day count
In celebration of Father’s Day, Holly Lazzari shares a story about her dad and reminds us to appreciate the people we have in our lives.
I’ll admit it; I’m a complete Daddy’s girl. My dad and I find the same things funny, we always have stuff to chat about, we have loads in common, and a bit of ESP. I know that if I get a text message, email, tweet or Facebook post from him, 99% of the time it’s either about food, music or animals, because those are the things we love the most.
Rewind to nearly ten years ago. I was in my final year of school and my brother was overseas on a gap year and this funny, animal-posting, food-loving man was nearly lost to us all forever.
It started with a funny tummy, which he ignored. I get annoyed at him for this, but in the last few years I’ve realised I’m exactly the same. You think it’s nothing, so you ignore it. When it gets worse you think, ‘I’ll see a doctor tomorrow’, and you don’t. It drives my Mum insane.
Later, at the GP, my father was told, ‘Oh it’s probably appendicitis’, so he had his appendix removed. We were done, right? Nope!
Basically, the appendicitis was caused by a blockage, which Mum was told repeatedly that it was just an abscess from the appendix being removed – nothing serious. But my Mum didn’t back down. She pushed and pushed for them to test this “abscess”. And what do you know? Cancer. Aggressive, large, bowel cancer. It’s the word you never wish for anyone to say. It’s the same word that had already claimed my Oma two years prior.
One night, after Dad had already endured operations and chemotherapy, my parents sat me and my brother down in the lounge room and told us that he had been given three months to live.
You would assume that hearing this news would be traumatic and upsetting, which I’m sure it was, but I can’t remember my reaction or what I thought. I know that my friends – even my brother – questioned the weird, calm way I dealt with the whole situation. Exactly like my Dad. And I remember mum hugging me, crying, as I reassured her that ‘it’s okay, he’s still here’, and her responding, almost sarcastically, ‘Oh, you’re JUST like your Father’. I took that as a compliment.
While we were sitting in a hospital bed, my dad told me, ‘I’ve done what I want to do in life. I’ve seen my kids grow up, I’ve travelled, I have nothing to miss out on.’ We’re positive people, he and I. In a bad situation, we always try to see the positive side.
I think some people think I didn’t cry, but I did when I was alone, or just with mum. I was about to lose the best Dad anyone could ask for. The guy who laughed with me, the guy who cooked the best food ever, the guy who talked to the dog, which made him seem crazy until you saw Midge looking at him and padding along beside him.
I have tears in my eyes even as I write this and remember it all. I remember at one point standing in the shower and just breaking down and begging someone – God, Buddah, anyone – not to take him away from us. I haven’t told many people that, and I think some people think it’s a pride thing, or a weakness I didn’t want to show, but it wasn’t. I think I just thought that if I was going to be around him, I needed to be positive. He was probably feeling like crap from the nasty side effects of chemo and from having to deal with the news that he had only a few weeks to live.
And while I couldn’t imagine the house with only three people, and Midge, living in it – it would be awfully quiet, and there’d be no one around to shout at a football match at 2am (because, as a Geordie, he has to follow Newcastle United religiously, plus all the other A-League, world cup and whatever other football competitions there are) – I just couldn’t bring myself to cry in front of him.
But when you think all is lost, you should try to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our shining light was in the form of a doctor in Sydney, who performed the most radical medical treatment you could imagine. I’ll spare you the gruesome details, but it happened over a few days in the ICU. And it worked.
I live in Melbourne now but I’m travelling back to Canberra this weekend to see this amazing guy. Despite having been through so much, he still remains one of the most positive people I know. He has defied all the odds and he’s still here, alive and kicking. His doctor in Sydney even told him that he doesn’t need to go in for his regular check-ups anymore!
I could not be more grateful that his life was spared. Regardless of what you believe in, he’s a walking miracle to me! To be told that there’s no hope, and then to have it turn out the way that it has, I can’t even being to explain the feeling. All I know is when a day like today rolls around, celebrate your Dad; hug him, thank him for being who he is, and appreciate the time that you have with him. We’re not on this planet for long, so you may as well make every day count and appreciate who you have in your life.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! You’re amazing. I love you.