Hospice Notes: Chapter 1

Wow. Hello, friends.

Quick update to keep everyone up to speed.

I've quit Facebook. My dad is dying. I promised to write more so here we are.

Hospice, man. It's a trip. Especially when the dying person is your dad with whom you've had a very estranged, very strange, relationship. 

My dad is a good man. He really is. Our estrangement was over something so stupid and so petty that I'm uncomfortable discussing it but here we are. I've come to find out that the silent treatment is nothing new for this branch of my family tree. My grandpa didn't speak to his brother for years following the death of their mom (my great-grandma Ruth). My dad and his brothers didn't speak for years following the death of their mom (my grandma Grace). This newfound knowledge made me both sad and happy. Sad because what a fucking legacy, ya know? Silent treatment. Grudges. A legacy that is a bit different from freckles or stubbornness. Happy because it's good to know you're not an anomaly. Happy because I know this is not some weird out-of-the-blue characteristic that landed on my lap.

The history with my dad is like this: we had a great, normal, healthy thing happening for a long time. He was my hero. He was the quintessential daddy, the man we hope to have in our lives. The strong silent type who did the yardwork and who had a shop in the basement. The man who comforted my pathetic ass as I cried on the shag carpet over gazelles getting eaten on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. The man who came down to my bedroom, sat on that pilly blue and white flowered blanket and held me while I wept after hearing that mom and dad were getting a divorce. That was the first time I saw my dad cry.

After the divorce things got weird and they got ugly. My mom had left him for her first cousin. Yep. Here we go, friends, curtains are being pulled back. I'm dragging out skeletons that haven't seen the light of day or internet. My mom had an affair with her cousin and she decided to leave my dad for him. In a perfect world, my brother and I would have ended up with my dad. In a perfect world, an abusive young man who had no business raising children wouldn't have ended up with two impressionable, sad kids who needed a dad. 

In a perfect world, none of this would have happened. But we live in a beautifully imperfect world. 

My mom raised us, my brother and I. And so did that monster. My dad tried, he tried really hard, to get custody of us but it was the 70's and back then unless the mother had been caught eating babies or whatever she got custody. My dad gave up and settled for whatever he could get. Which wasn't much, considering that my brother and I were being told over and over again what a horrible person our dad was. This is why, despite all I've been through, I will always give the dads the benefit of the doubt when hearing stories from women about divorce and exes and acrimonious relationships. I give them the benefit of the doubt until I hear all of the facts. I know that in most cases, these dads are truly shits and they don't want to be part of their children's lives but there is always the chance that they want to be there but they can't. 

I know this is not always the case. I know that there are men who don't want to be there, who believe that kids are like razor blades or diapers and are truly disposable. Ask me how I know (LOL). But my dad did try. 

Anyhoo. Here we are, dad and me. It's 2020. The world is a fiery dumpster shitshow and I got a call a couple months ago that he wasn't doing great and it would mean the world to him if my kids and I showed up to offer him support and love. We did. And he was happy.

Then I got a call, on my birthday of all days, that dad was dying. It was my stepsister and we sobbed together on the phone. Sobbed to the point of not being able to breathe. We took the first shaky steps to repair a lifetime of grudges and silent treatments and withholding of love and attention and just being there. 

It was then that I decided to drop all of the shackles that had been constant companions for so many years. It was then that I cast my pride and my anxiety and my grudges aside and decided to be a daughter. 

Nothing more. Nothing less. Just a daughter. A daughter whose dad was dying.

In the days since then, I've tried my hardest to be there for him. I've held his hand. I've slept on a loveseat just inches from his head, waking up when I hear a hiccup or a weird breath or anything that sounds like a distress call. I've helped him drink water. I've rubbed his back. I've talked with him in a dark quiet house and I've laid my head on his chest and begged for forgiveness and I've listened while he cried about our tattered relationship and how happy it's made him to have me there. 

These minutes, these moments, they are priceless. They are gorgeous slivers of seconds in a timeline that is dotted with silence and blank spaces. We have joined forces, my dad and I. Together we have taken broken strands and rewoven them into a new and improved quilt of life and love. "You and me- we're back together and it makes me so happy" is what he said one night, tiny tears rolling down his gaunt cheeks while I gripped his hand, sobbing. Dad. My dad. Daddy.

I'm trying my best to reconnect with the family that was always there but also, never there. I'm hearing stories of what a good dad he has been, the memories of him being THAT GUY. The crusty dude who rarely cracked a smile but who was there nonetheless, the one who answered the phone late at night and who taught life lessons and who was always, always there. I didn't have that guy and it's hard for me to sit there and hear these stories. It's hard but I do it and love them for loving him. I love them for being lucky enough to be the recipients of this man's special brand of caring. Of his love. 

It's hard. Oh shit you guys, it's SO HARD. My stepmom keeps telling me, "God put him in our lives for a reason" and it's so fucking hard to not cry out, "WHAT DID GOD HAVE AGAINST ME", ya know? Why would a good and loving God take him from us and give him to someone else? Does this mean my stepmom and her kids were more deserving of him? My brother and I were somehow not good enough, not special enough, not deserving? This is a long, crooked, winding road you guys. The thoughts in my head are so convoluted under the best of circumstances...this has been like a massive data dump and trying to process everything has been challenging. To say the least. 

*disclaimer: I adore my stepmom and my stepsister/stepbrother. ADORE. They have welcomed me back without a second's hesitation and have been nothing but supportive. I am grateful to them for accepting the black sheep back into the fold ❤ I just have a lot of baggage to unpack and put away, ya know?

But I am not someone who takes shit. I'm not someone who rolls over, who turns the other cheek. I am me. I am that woman who has been through some tough stuff and who wants to make things right. 

I. Am. Me. 

I am his daughter. He is my dad. We have been given this awful opportunity, this rare gift of time. 

Time to repair. Time to forgive. 

Time to love.

I'm heartbroken. I'm grieving. I'm the saddest I've been in a long time.

But I'm grateful. And I'm appreciating every second I get with my dad. Every laugh we have. Every tear shed. Every hand squeeze, every eye contact. Every word. I'm appreciating it and loving it and embracing it.

We've lost years. We've lost countless memories, pictures, snippets of time together. We'll never get those back, for sure, but oh my gosh. We've gained so much in the past few weeks. It's not the same as the filmstrip of memories my stepsister and stepbrother and all of the grandchildren have, not even close.

It's what we have. It's golden chunks of time. It's a chance to make things right. 

It's a gift. And I'm unwrapping this gift slowly, trying to encapsulate every single second of it. I know that this will not end perfectly. It will not end happily. But I am determined to make the best of it. 

It's also been a learning experience, my friends. I'm learning as this experience unfolds. Learning about differences and tolerance and understanding.

I've watched Fox News for the first time. I've had a sex dream about Tucker Carlson. 

Shit has gotten weird, friends. 

Stay tuned. Promise there's more to come.


  1. Oh Jenny, this is so devastating and beautiful and so many things in between. Thank you for sharing this with your readers. We can't make any of this right for you but we love you ❤️💔♥️

  2. This is beautiful and heartbreaking. I'm so sorry about your dad. Please do come back!

  3. I’m so happy you have this time with him ❤️❤️❤️


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