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Lessons.

If I should ever feel week again.
If I should ever doubt myself.
If I should lose my way..


I will remember this photo. I will remember my dad. The lessons he taught me. How proud he was of me. How much we loved each other. How strong he was, all through his life.

And I will remember what I have done. How I was able to be there for him the times he needed me. How the nurses at his hospital and his friends who’d never met me thought I was a private personal trainer because of how I’d push him and wouldn’t take no as an answer. I will remember this wise guy fake screaming in pain as I made him do exercises, just to tease his mom and lighten the mood. I will remember spending hours doing math problems, spelling words or running through his car history, just to help his brain recover after the strokes. I’ll remember being terrified when his eyesight would come and go and he would forget where the clock was in his room… but I would make him look around until he did find it, and then I’d stay on that task until he could tell me what time it was. Sometimes it would take an hour, other times it would be almost immediate – but we’d always stay on it, no matter how much he yelled at me (which was quite a bit some nights). He would get it, he would do the work, most nights he’d cuss at me.. but at the end of every night, he would thank me and tell me he loved me.

I liked to think I was strong before getting smacked by a truck and before dad’s strokes… but I’ll be even stronger from here on out.

Thanks dad. I love you too.

Blue, Christmas.

Late last night I realized this would actually be the third Christmas I’ve spent without my dad.
Two years ago he had just had his strokes and had been transferred to PG on December 20th. I woke up alone in my dad’s house on Christmas morning and was beyond grateful that Granville’s was maintaining their beautiful tradition of offering free coffee and treats on Christmas day, because I really didn’t have anywhere to go and being alone in that house was not something I could handle. I got a coffee and an extra cup for dad, sat in the table that’s been my favourite since high school, put his cup in his spot and gave him a call. 

I can’t remember what we talked about, but sitting there, having a coffee and hearing his voice was a wonderful moment. After the phone call, the kind people working gave me some bacon to give to Molly who was waiting in dad’s car for me, and we went for a drive to visit with my brother.

Last year I decided against going home, and I am at peace with that decision. Dad and I had been arguing quite a bit at the time and I didn’t feel like selling a kidney just to fly home and get yelled at from his hospital bed while I stayed alone at his house. I chose to spend the day by myself, for myself, and when dad called and started yelling at me within three minutes, I knew I’d made the right choice. It wasn’t really him yelling at me – the strokes had affected his brain and sometimes things didn’t make sense to him they way they should have. Still, it was nice to hear his voice but I was happy to have stayed home, and still have both kidneys.

This year, I don’t have a choice and if I did I’d sell that kidney and yours too (no offence) just to talk with him one more time, even if it was only to hear him yelling at me again. I knew this Christmas was going to be hard, and it is. I called my grandma last night to check in on her, and she told me how much she misses my dad, how much she misses the traditions we used to have. I still don’t know how to process this massive hole in my heart, but I hope that in time I’ll find a way.

There’s no fake fighting over perogies this year. No wrapping paper tube sword fights. No counting the amount of times my dad would say “what in the hell…?” while opening gifts. No going for coffee at Granville’s, no cooking Christmas dinner for grandma. No plaid jacket counts, no going for drives with Molly in the back seat, no laughs, no great big bear hugs where we’d take turns lifting each other off the ground and squeezing until the other tapped out, always with a laugh and love.

I’m grateful that I didn’t go home last year because my memory of the last Christmas I spent with my dad is an amazing one. We went for dinners and coffees, he got his idiot son drunk and listened to him finally open up and talk, he kicked my ass like always at pool and we fake fought over grandma’s perogies like we always did, and always will. That’s the memory I want, that’s the memory he deserves.

If you took the time to read this, I want you to know that I’m grateful you’re in my life, and I wish you all the best in the coming year. Take the time to reach out to your loved ones and let them know how much they matter to you. Be well and stay strong, friends.

Normal.

I don’t know what “normal” is anymore. Some nights I wake up and I think I’m back at my dad’s house and he’ll be sleeping upstairs. Every single day, something will make me think of him and I’ll think I should give him a call, or I’ll expect a call from him. We’ve never gone this long without talking.

I still don’t believe this is real. I fully expect my dad to jump out from around a corner, moustache bristling as he yells “SURPRISE!”, laughing his head off.

I don’t know what I feel. One second I’m angry, the next I’m sad.. 99% of the time I’m just numb.
I haven’t really been able to work much since I got the news, although I have done some work every single day. I work out, but.. it’s just the motions. Muscle memory of what I think I should be doing. I have so much I want to do, so much I want to accomplish, to keep making my dad proud.. yet all I can do is sleep.

I know I’m not the first to lose a parent. I know the pain will fade in time. I know my dad would thoroughly kick my ass if he knew I was moping around like this. He’d tell me exactly what he did about getting my first car; “If you want it badly enough, you’ll earn it for yourself.” He knew about my goals; what I’ve sacrificed so far and how hard I’ve worked. He wouldn’t want me losing sight of that. In fact, if I listen, I can hear his great, big heavy sigh right now, telling me I should know better.

If I could talk to him right now, he’d probably tell me to go for a drive and clear my head.. but cars and driving make me think of him. I will always, always, always love the memory of revisiting the roads he taught me how to drive on, in his monster 1979 3/4 ton 4×4. After I got my license, I hit those roads over and over again in my first car, and then in my Talon. I took dad back out onto those roads in the Talon, to show him just what it and his son could do together. To see my V8, quarter miles for pink slips, straight-line loving dad actually grab the holy shit handle, reach with his foot for a brake pedal that wasn’t there and say “okay! okay! okay! JASE! OKAY!” – all with a (somewhat scared) smile on his face…

He wasn’t only my dad. He’s handled the role of being both parents to me for a long, long time. He was my best friend. A mentor. A safety net and a sounding board.

I don’t know how to say goodbye. I don’t know how to even comprehend the thought of goodbye. There’s no normal in my life that doesn’t include my Grumpy Dad texting me random things at 3am or going off about conspiracy theories. There’s no normal where dad isn’t back home, putting on his fake grumpy act and smiling when people saw right through it.

Anyway, it’s Friday, so here’s my Mama Cat and the happy cup. This was a normal thing I used to do. Now I have to find a way to get back to work, like normal.

Dad

My dad passed away on June 15, 2020.

I didn’t have time to fly home to say goodbye. I didn’t have time to even pack a suitcase. One minute his nurse was saying he was cracking jokes as always; the next.. he wasn’t.

It wasn’t supposed to end this way for him. He’d been through so much these last 3 years. The heart attack. Quadruple bypass surgery. He quit smoking. Changed his diet. Started exercising more. Made plans to return to work, and how he was going to enjoy his retirement. Then, the strokes hit. He was blind. Paralyzed. He fought back. Did the exercises his therapists gave him and asked for more. He wanted to get better. He would sneak in tiny steps when he thought no one was looking just so he could get that much closer to being himself again. He told me, over and over, that he knew he could walk, if only he could remember how to take that first step on his own again.

He never did.

I will always love my dad. I always knew I was loved, even when we fought like wolves going for the throat. I will value the memories. I will value the lessons he taught me, and I want to share two of the most important ones with you:

Be yourself.
My dad was absolutely set in his ways, and he taught me to always be true to myself and not care what anyone else thought. He taught me that anyone that truly loves me will understand, and if someone doesn’t love me, they don’t matter anyway. I’m grateful I learned this at a young age and kept it with me.

Don’t wait to live your life.
My entire life, I knew there was something up with my parents’ relationship. There were moments of happiness, but they weren’t happy. He sort of asked me once when I was really young how I’d feel if the two of them split, and I told him honestly that if it meant my parents were going to be happy, I’d be happy too. He changed the subject and I forgot all about it until over a decade later, after they’d gone through a horrible divorce and my dad told me that I was the only reason he stayed. This man sacrificed years of his own happiness to do what he thought was best for his son. I reminded him that I would have been okay with my parents splitting, and told him that I wished they would have – but I understood that he did what he did out of love. After the divorce, he kept reminding me how he’d always wanted to travel, but still wouldn’t do it. He always had reasons about why he shouldn’t, for years and years, until he finally did take a trip to Bali. In the weeks after his return, I don’t know if I’d ever heard him sound happier. He told me how he wished he’d gone long ago, but now he was going to go on a lot more trips. He would text me in the middle of the night the names of places we were going to go.

I will miss so many things about my dad. The conspiracy theories. The frustrated sighs he would give me when I’d tell him to eat better. The car talks. The race he never had against the Talon and I. His plans to move off grid in a geothermal setup. The safety I always felt knowing he was there looking out for me. The occasional dad wisdom in a random phone call or when he’d take me out for drinks and sinisterly watch his son get drunk and overly talkative. I’ll miss that feeling of calling my dad to tell him about achieving a new goal with my business or fitness. Any time I had a project that involved me designing a shirt, I had to get one made for him so that he could wear his son’s work too. He might not have always known what I was doing, but he knew that if I was achieving a goal, he was proud of me.

I am proud to be his son. I love you, dad.

Moments (Muse)

In our moment
     of Finally
She took my hand
    And led me
Answered the questions
    I should have asked
Removed the longing
    Scars from my back
Took me to her place
    I should have always been
Let me know every other
    Was my burdened sin
She pulled me close
    Like I’d always wished
Kept me near and
    Denied me her kiss
And if she smiled
    As she ripped my shirt
My heart forgave
    Who always came first
Then she removed everything
    Save her last secret
One last promise
    She’s never told it her best

But she pulls me in closer
Says she tells me the most or
  We need to have one more thing
  Closer and closer inside we bring
Our secrets our kiss our dreams
Release let yourself be here with me
Let the consequences fall the weight i’ll carry
   For once just let go, welcomed in
  Smile in our nights of forgotten

Dreams and I wake
 And I’m without you
Even in these dreams
 I can’t have you
I’m awake and alone
 And I can’t tell you
I know what you hide
 And I still want you

Give your secrets to mine
Awaken our dream
Say what you mean
I’ll promise from inside
I just want you
I just want you

You’ve never been my secret
I gave you my promise
Give you my word
Always my Only
Our moments are finally
Awake and we’re real.


   – JT
 March 31, 2020

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