“I’ll have a peach bellini.”

That was my dad’s go-to drink at Joey Tomatoes growing up. Now known as Joey. I still call it Joey Tomatoes. It’s a sweet and slushy alcoholic drink that takes you to paradise. And that’s where my dad went 2 years ago today.

Dad is on the right. Maui, Hawai’i in the 70s.

My dad was the youngest. He grew up with 3 other siblings, a brother, and 2 sisters. He was raised mostly by his eldest sister because his mum suffered with MS.

He was an introvert and a bit of a nerd. He enjoyed fishing, golfing, tennis, skiing, muscle cars, boating, and Hawai’i.

He first went to school for Engineering but later dropped out to pursue computer science (also this was the 80s, before smart phones, tablets, and skinny laptop computers). He pursued a career in computer programming and eventually scaled out on his own as a freelance contractor of sorts.

He built a beautiful house for us and put in an entire irrigation system himself. Our lawn was the greenest on the block, and I swear it was a secret competition among neighbours just about every year.

My dad was a great listener, and provided great advice, but sometimes he would over-explain how to do things that weren’t necessary, lol.

He owned at least 2 businesses that I’m aware of, therefore he was at home a lot, or we’d be at his office doing unpaid custodial work.

My dad fought off grifters relentlessly, and had a reputation for mouthing people off for injustices, when really it was his short temper that fogged his judgment most times. He was very smart and right most of the time.

Near the end of his time with us, he spent hours combing through archives of ancestry docs. He was the only one in the family to start this hobby and put the pieces together. Spoiler: There’s no surprises to our family history like a misplaced sibling in case you’re looking for juicy details.

He was smart, and calculated. Unlike me, I am quite spontaneous in making decisions. 😅

My dad wasn’t very active on social media, or on it at all. And it was probably a GOOD thing. Being the opinionated character he was, it would have been a train wreck. When he did have social media, he only shared his posts to a small group of family members on Facebook via tactical privacy settings. He also hated celebrating his birthday. Lol.

He was a great guy and honestly I miss him a lot. I don’t want to reflect on this day as negative. He impacted my life, as well as so many others. There’s so many things I wish I could tell him about, like taking my digital advertising business full-time, or my husband and I buying our first house in 2021.

WHY HE’S GONE…

TW: Profanity ahead

We lost him to his battle with Parkinson’s Disease 2 years ago. It was an awful illness he endured for 17 years, with the last 2 or 3 being the most awful.

I don’t wish illness on anyone. Having seen it first hand in the form of hand tremors, muscle stiffness, chronic fatigue, balance problems, depression, and early onset dementia, it was difficult to witness over the last 17 years. Over time you had to accept that he could no longer play catch with you, or having to help him write an anniversary card for your mum.

Losing anyone to any illness for that matter, is fucking hard.

He was one year shy from his 60th birthday. One week prior, we celebrated his 59th with Jason Kenney announcing new stupid COVID restrictions.

The worst part is I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him in hospital. COVID times allowed only 1 visitor per patient, so we said our goodbyes on speakerphone with my mum who was up in the hospital room with him.

I have learned to move on from the regret I felt after his death.

Why did I prioritize my full-time job (which I was only being paid $60K/year for btw so definitely NOT worth it; no salary is worth it anyway).

I wish I spent more time with him. Answered his beck and call for help while I worked remotely from home that year.

So many “what ifs” and “should haves”, but there was never enough time anyway. I would’ve said the same things even if I had spent more time.

People ask me, “what’s one thing you’ve learned from losing your dad?”

It’s simple and I think a lot of people would agree. Call your loved ones or get together with them more often. Really ask them how they’re doing. If you’re holding a grudge, let it fucking go. Have family drama? Let that fucking go as well. Forgive and make up. Don’t carry resentment. Don’t have them go to their grave heartbroken. Because life is short (and I know that sounds cliché) and they could be here today but gone tomorrow.

I had a fantastic relationship with my dad before his death. I offered to get him and my mum a live-in nurse to give her a break. He needed help with just about everything up until his death. It really took a toll on all of us, but especially my mum. She’s a fucking angel for sticking by him through those grueling last few years of his disease. 🙏🏼

Grief is a whole new level of feeling. I hadn’t lost anyone close to me before, so my heart was completely broken. For months. When you haven’t lost someone before, it’s hard to imagine what it feels like. Well, I can tell you, it feels like your heart has been ripped out of your chest!!

I only got 1 week off for bereavement after he died and that was before I had some time off for Christmas. I was making errors in my job left right and center and for months after. My head wasn’t in the right space. I had zero motivation for anything. I had someone trying to hire me at his company for a year and I couldn’t make the jump even though the salary was much greater.

During this time, my husband and I also bought a house. We worked our asses off saving for a down payment for over 18 months. I remember shortly after we moved in, I was so depressed and I thought to myself “why the hell am I depressed I should be happy we finally got a house”. But I wasn’t. I had thoughts of suicide for a good 6 months. I couldn’t snap out of the dark place I was in for so long. I felt empty. My broken heart needed mending, but I didn’t know where to start with healing. I couldn’t go to my mum, my sisters. They were grieving the loss of him as well. If it wasn’t for my husband during this dark time, I don’t know where I’d be today.

I decided after about 10 months that I should probably see a therapist to work through my grief. And I did, and it helped a lot. I’m not crying everyday anymore. Except for this post, I’ve tossed a couple tissues in the bin already since writing this.

TODAY

If you read my last post, I’m feeling very motivated these days. I’m no longer in a dark place, and I’m surrounded by a wonderful support group of friends and family.

I have strengthened my relationships with my mum and sisters, and I’m not dwelling too much on my dad not being here. I don’t forget about him, and I do my best, from time to time, to focus on memories that were positive and impactful.

I want to continue writing. It’s very therapeutic for me and expressing myself in this way is hard to do vocally. I’m a better writer than a speaker. 🤐

Until next time.

-Steph xo

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