The last week of March / first week of April is not really a great time of the year for me and could best be described as an emotional rollercoaster – complete with the highs, lows, loop-de-loops, sharp turns, and stomach turning moments. But before I touch on that, you might need some back story to bring you up to speed.
In September of 2002, I was broadsided with some pretty awful news. Only a few short weeks after I had began my first year of college, I got a phone call from one of my father’s co-workers informing me that he (my father) had been exhibiting some rather odd and erratic behaviors – from as simple as spacing out for long periods of time to as complex as forgetting the combination to the store safe, a combination that had not changed in 28 years. To make a longer story a little shorter, after a number of hospital visits, I was informed that my father had brain cancer, probably the most aggressive type he could have. Doctors did everything they could (which was a LOT) and our family rallied to be as supportive as possible. However, about a year and a half later on March 29, 2004, my father lost his battle.
In 2007, the family found out news of a similar nature, only this time about my grandfather (dad’s dad). He had been experiencing some odd lower abdominal pains, thankfully though not super severe. Unfortunately, this led to one of many doctor appointments which revealed a type of pancreatic cancer. It spread quickly, but you couldn’t really tell because he just kept on going as if it was just another day. This continued until April 2, 2008, when he went peacefully.
This year, March 29th and April 2nd marked the 10th and 6th anniversaries of their respective passings. It’s hard to believe that it has been that long. What is more surprising is how that week has actually went – emotionally, that is. I thought for sure, and feared, that I would be a complete mess. However, I find myself in a good place this time around. I kept plenty busy – attending Kappa Kappa Psi North Central District Convention, getting to see my students at Aurora High School perform their way to a 3rd place state finish, attended the ACPA conference in Indianapolis, and even got to meet a first cousin for the very first time after 30 years. Needless to say, there was a lot happening in a span of only a few days, but dad and grandpa were (and still are) heavy on my mind.
So, I suppose there are two significant take-aways from this post. First, being able to take the time to reflect and remember two men who had such a significant impact and influence on who I am today. The other seems cliché, but it does bear repeating and that is a reminder to take advantage of every opportunity you have with someone because the next opportunity isn’t promised.
I miss my dad and I miss my grandpa, but I hope that with each passing day I am doing the things that would have made them proud.