On January 6th we found out my dad has pancreatic cancer and then life changed. My parents have been snowbirds in Arizona for the past several winters, but now they live in Minnesota full time. We love having them here. We wish it was because they grew tired of Arizona sunshine and longed for the gray skies of MN winter, and not because my dad has cancer.
1-On January 12th my parents arrived in Minnesota on a very cold day so we turned the heat up and gathered up all the comforters we could find. We were thankful we saved their winter coats just in case.
2-We don’t like to rush into things, so we waited almost a full 2 weeks before getting their house on the market in Arizona. A big, quick, right decision. My aunt & uncle are flying down from Washington to pack up their stuff. This has shown me a benefit of having a brother, at least a brother like my mom has.
3-My husband is flying to Arizona to drive the U-Haul back. He also flew down and drove back earlier this month to bring their dog home to MN. When he & I started dating in 1989, I only thought to ask if he was a hunter (if you’re an animal lover like me, this is a good question to ask), but I didn’t think to ask: If my parents need to come home from Arizona to Minnesota in a hurry around 28 years from now, will you drop everything, fly down and drive back home, staying at crappy hotels that allow pets, all while you have a tooth infection? Girls – if you’re considering marriage, make sure you pick a guy that won’t hesitate to do this.
4-We have attended 2 doctor appointments – one with our family doctor, and one with a palliative care doctor. Both appointments were helpful and positive and we have incorporated many of their recommendations.
5-Mom & Dad have amazing friends. They have been able to have a couple short visits with Minnesota friends, and phone calls with Arizona friends. It seems like all their friends are praying and we notice it helps. We recommend prayer for cancer.
6-My friends (including the ones I’m related to) are my lifeline. The flowers, homemade chicken noodle soup, gift cards and the texts–the funny texts, the snarky texts, the “I’m praying for you” and “How is your dad today” and even the “I had fries and a salad for lunch today and thought of you.”
7-I have a new favorite TV show: Almanac on Friday nights. I’ve only watched it twice, but I’m already looking forward to watching it this Friday with my dad.
8-One day we went to Valley Creek Mall for a walk and we could feel my dad’s spirits lift with each step. Leaving the house is good, even in January.
9-My dad’s spirits already have an above-average starting point, even when he has cancer. This is one of my favorite things. If I ever get cancer, I want to approach it just like he is. I want to make the anesthesiologist laugh before they administer the sleepy drugs. I want to play the piano and listen to hymns and tell my family I’m proud of them, even though they already know. I want to nap when I’m tired and spend my awake time snuggling with a dog or 2, and trying to drink enough water. And I especially want to have my family nearby.
10-Somehow I got the happy family and the happy childhood. So when I think about my dad, I think about him taking me for bike rides on the back of his bike, bowling on Saturday mornings, Dad/daughter trips to Chicago, telling me it was ok to come home from St. Cloud State University 6 hours after I arrived because we all knew it was a big mistake….taking me to have my wisdom teeth out when I was at a different college and back to my apartment with a malt, sitting with me all day while I recovered. When I’m sick, hurting, or in the hospital, I always ask for my dad. And when I’m happy, there’s no better person to celebrate life’s joys with.
11-There’s my dad. I love and admire him so much. We had a great day today and we’re hoping for another one tomorrow.