My dad was a talker, a storyteller, a lecturer. As children, my brothers and I were raised with the philosophy that children were to be seen and not heard; especially at the dinner table.
My oldest brother tells the story of an hours long drive to Canada for a fishing trip with my dad a few years ago, when my dad talked nonstop for the whole trip. He talked so much that he was hoarse when they arrived. Anyone who knew my dad would know this to be entirely likely.
As a result, I’m a very quiet person. Not shy, just more prone to sit back and listen. I spent lots of time wishing that my dad would just be quiet and stop talking for a little while. When I grew up and was married, I got to the point where I could joke with my dad about his talkativeness. He was a strict, very old-fashioned kind of person. He would allow this *freshness* from his only daughter and laugh when I rolled my eyes at him for saying, “In other words…” for the umpteenth time in a story that I had already heard a bazillion times. His talking was as much a defining feature as was the cigarette dangling from his fingers and the cup of coffee he never seemed to be without.
This picture was taken on Christmas morning in 2003 and we found out about 2 months later that he was sick and dying from cancer. One of the hardest things about the months that followed wasn’t coming to terms with the fact that my dad would die soon, but facing the day-to-day with him. Watching him lose all the things that he loved so much, little by little. He moved out of his home and gave up his dog to the SPCA because he needed my brothers and I to care him. He (finally) gave up smoking because he no longer enjoyed it. Coffee didn’t hold the same pleasure anymore without a cigarette to accompany it. He lost his appetite. Every favorite meal I fixed for him tasted like *cardboard*. He didn’t have the energy to sit at the computer or to make endless charts of his monthly financial budget.
He stopped talking and telling stories. Never did I think that I would miss that, but I did and I do. I wish that I had been paying more attention. I wonder that I didn’t maybe miss something important with all my eye-rolling.