Posts Tagged ‘Stroke Victim’

Death Is a New Day

Just a few months ago, I thought that dealing with my dad’s stroke recovery was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with. I was wrong. The death of my father trumps everything. Hands down.

I was closer to him than anyone in my entire life, so being stripped of the relationship, knowing that I couldn’t just call him up to talk, and realizing that I’d never see him in person again was overwhelming and devastating to say the least.

Even though it’s been nearly a month since his passing, I still haven’t gotten over it. And I never will to be honest.

But I’m trying to stay strong despite the fact that I feel as though my life has completely fallen apart. The future is full of more uncertainty than I ever thought was possible.

But this isn’t a complete sob story.

Despite the obvious emotional burden and tight time constraints, my mother, brother, and I persevered through hardship. We managed to plan a respectful funeral service and visitation that I truly believe would make my father proud. And he would be happy to see how hard we worked together as a family like never before to do the right thing.

You see, my father didn’t prepare his will before he passed away. It was tragic because he had been planning on making one and he was going to tell my mom everything she needed to know ‘just in case’ after he fully recovered from his stroke. My mom had even planned to retire this summer so they could spend more time together. Nobody thought that my dad wouldn’t be around.

When you don’t have a will, it makes it much harder when it comes to dealing with single bank accounts and other assets. My mother had to prove her relationship, and there were a lot of technicalities that created headaches. And along the way, we dealt with a lot of insensitive, idiotic assholes.

We had to do so much at a time when you just want to crawl under the covers, get drunk, and bawl your eyes out. And funeral costs are damn expensive even when you go for just the basics. It made me wonder what those who are really poor do when someone dies. I can’t even imagine. Luckily, while at first we couldn’t gain access to my dad’s single bank account, we could use his savings to pay for the funeral costs. That helped. And what also helped was that my dad had pre-paid for his cremation and chose the location in the cemetery.

Now, I’m not trying to hijack this blog and turn it into a blog about dealing with death. It will remain a feminist blog. But that also means sharing my experiences. Perhaps that will help others facing a similar situation. Writing about my dad and telling everyone how much I love(d) him helps me cope – it also helps me keep his memories alive. I never want to forget what an amazing relationship I had with him.

I’m going to share something really intimate with you all. It’s the eulogy I wrote for my father. First of all, there’s nothing I could ever write that would do him justice. He deserves so much more. Factor in how I had to write this in an hour and literally the day before the funeral visitation (because we were really that busy with preparations and running around to get everything done in time).

Obviously I wasn’t in the mood to write at all. Every time I put pen to paper, I thought, “I can’t do this.” But I kept picking up the pen I repeatedly put down. And the whole time, I was upset with how I only had such a short amount of time to write the single most important thing in my life. It wasn’t fair.

I also choked up a lot while reading it aloud at the funeral visitation. There were several times throughout the reading when I didn’t think I could continue. However, I didn’t want to bail out or give up. There are many things in life that you can back away from and be weak, but this wasn’t one of them. You get a single chance to do this, and you’ve got to do it right.

I forced myself to write and read the eulogy because I think he would’ve wanted me to do it, and it would’ve made him so happy. Plus, everyone deserves to know about him and how wonderful he was and how much he did for me and my family.

So here it is:

Anyone who knew my father well knew that he loved to talk – the cat never got his tongue and he usually had the last word. Just when you thought he was done talking, he’d jump to a new topic that would last another hour. I’d often have to cut him off because, like the Energizer Bunny, he could go on and on and on and on! And if he got on the topic of God or religion, well, you’d better get comfy.

I loved hearing the stories he shared about his childhood and his early working years when he was a waiter at various restaurants. And it made me laugh when he proudly told me about his appetite as a bachelor – milk by the carton and huge steaks.

But it was his stories of struggle and hardship that really touched my heart. At a very young age, my father had to make his way in the world practically by himself. He was in a new city with hardly any money in his pocket and with little to no parental guidance. Despite the obstacles, he not only coped, but thrived. He befriended many colourful characters, and, of course, met the most important woman in his life – my wonderful mother.

Although my dad loved to talk, he was a good listener, too. No matter how many times I came to him to complain about school or work or relationship problems, he would always be there to lend an ear and give useful advice.

In some ways, my father was your typical guy – he loved hockey games, poker, action movies, electronics, loud music, and vehicles. He even told me that while he could sleep soundly after watching a scary movie, a romantic movie would keep him up all night tossing and turning!

But in many ways, Peter Shaw wasn’t your ordinary garden variety. He wasn’t afraid to wear pink, once he let me put nail polish on his toenails, and he even let me give him a mud mask (which he enjoyed!). Yes, my dad had an impeccable sense of humour – he was always cracking jokes and seeing the light side of any situation.

My father was also very bright. When he was in rehab recovering from his second stroke, the therapist asked him to name all the animals he could think of as part of an exercise. Of course he mentioned lion, bear, and cat. But he also mentioned ocelot. The therapist didn’t know what an ocelot was prior to looking it up in the dictionary. (Even I didn’t.)

My dad may not have gone to university, but he was a lifelong student who enjoyed learning new things every day. And he taught me everything he knew about love and forgiveness, faith and strength, courage and perseverance.

But of all the lessons my father taught me, there’s one that stands out and that I feel is appropriate during a time like this. He always told me that when you’re at your lowest, you should be at your strongest.

Even during the last months of his life, my dad remained a fighter. Let us all celebrate his vibrant life, see him as an inspiration, and try to be strong in the face of this great loss.

Blog News: Still Kickin’ It Without Smudging My Eyeliner

This is just an update to let you know what’s been going on with me lately and what I have planned for the future of Glockoma.

Tweet, Tweet, Tweet & Away We Go

Finally caved and joined Twitter today. You can find me under the username GlockomaBlog (Glockoma was already taken by someone else!).

And if you decide to follow me, don’t worry about being bombarded with tweets. I’ll likely just send out direct messages and the occasional tweet. They may be random thoughts that provoke a feminist discussion or it could be to let you know that I’ve posted a new blog entry.

Back to The Future

And since we’re on the topic of new posts, I’ve thought long and hard about why I don’t blog more frequently. It’s because I feel as if I always have to post a long entry or say something profound.

Many times I sit down to write an entry and end up scrapping it because I don’t think it’s ‘good enough’. That mentality turns blogging (something I consider fun) into a dreadful chore.

Well, it’s time to change that since I’m sure it must be pretty boring for you to have to wait so long for a new post. (They say that the most successful blogs have regular and frequent updates.) I really want to gain readership and build a community that can openly engage in thoughtful discussion.

From now on you’ll see really short (even one-paragraph-long) posts in the mix, too.

This is a feminist blog, for goodness sakes, and if I want to promote the idea that women’s thoughts are to be valued, I should start valuing my own thoughts instead of second-guessing myself so much. Sometimes the most interesting things we say are the things we just blurt out. And it makes us more human – less scripted…more real. Amen to that.

If there are any other bloggers reading this, I would love to hear from you. Let me know any suggestions you may have via a comment on here, e-mail, or Twitter.

My Father: A Stroke Survivor (Not a Stroke Victim)

After reading my previous post about my dad suffering a stroke in December, you may be wondering how he’s doing now. He’s out of the hospital and recovering at home.

A lot of the functioning he lost has come back – he regained the use of his left hand and his eyes can move normally again. His speech has also improved, but there’s still some slurring because part of his tongue has lost feeling. Another thing that was severely affected was his taste – things that he enjoyed eating before now repulse him and he’s complained about his loss of appetite.

All in all, though, he’s doing very well despite the annoyance of having to be on a drug (Warfarin) that affects every part of your life. He has to go see the doctor often and go for weekly blood tests to monitor his INR (International Normalized Ratio) levels. Those tests check the tendency of the blood to clot because it can be affected greatly by food with a lot of Vitamin K including spinach and broccoli. If the INR changes, his Warfarin dose needs to change.

It amazes and inspires me to see that he’s still a fighter despite having been through this ordeal. Sometimes I think that he’s stronger than I am. I mean, I’m not even the one who had the stroke, but I’ve felt worn down and broken. But my dad has maintained a positive disposition. He’s a living example of how we all need to cope with health problems.

Well, those are all my updates for now. Next time I’ll have a proper post for you. I’ve already got a bunch of topic ideas in the works – it’s just a matter of giving procrastination the boot.

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