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Father's Day 2018

This was my first Father's Day after my father's death a few months ago. I had anticipated that it might be difficult to address how I'd feel. So this post is still in draft.
Distance & time, connection, permanence vs transience, where is home?
Counselling / telemedicine?
Also, details on Emergency Visitation Travel (EVT) in the Foreign Service.

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I spent Father's Day 2018 with my girls, also started wearing my dad's watch, as though it was his last father's day gift to his son / father of his grandchildren.

My father had been battling cancer for the last two years, so there was always a heightened sense of "this might be our last goodbye", and they did get harder as his condition declined.

I was laying in bed, reading a story to our 5-year-old when my phone rang. It was one of those moments I had been expecting, and yet could not quite summarize the details when i hung up. all i knew was that i needed to get my tickets, lodging, and local transportation squared away then get on the next flight available. We made the decision that Kacey would stay with the girls in Cyprus while I went back to the States, to remain as long as I needed to. There were a variety of factors that played into this, including but not limited to the ages of our girls and their ability to understand what was going on, the fact that it was a lot of travel to be followed by lots of time in a hospital environment, and that the girl's primary support structure was tied to the school and home in Cyprus. I made two videos of our girls saying "I love you Grampa!" because I knew it would be difficult to time any phone calls and he might not be able to see any photos of them (most patients don't wear their glasses).

 Kacey deftly arranged the tickets for me and her parents (my in-laws) would drive up from Florida to TN and cover my transportation in and around the city. We sorted out the lodging with my step-mother, everything was very mechanical in that sense.

The actual flights were non-descript, as my mind was elsewhere anyways. The whole 14? 16? hours I was hoping that I would arrive before my dad departed. Fortunately, I did.

When I walked into his hospital room, I did not recognize him. Studies have found that when an average man loses 9 pounds, their face is noticeably different. My father had lost far more than than, and I initially thought I had the wrong room.

What they don't tell you about these environments is that besides not having energy, many times the patient has difficulty seeing and speaking. even more so when they are intubated. conversation for them ranges from uncomfortable to painful, so its not a great time for conversation.

My father was able to look me in the eyes and mouth "I love you, Greg", but I think the last time I heard him speak was a few weeks before when I had called to check in on him. That conversation was cut short because, as he said "There are a lot of people in here right now".

I spent as much time as I could with my father in his final days, but I knew that I couldn't/shouldn't monopolize his time because there were others who wanted time alone with him. He had been moved to hospice, so it was just a matter of time until he found peace. My in-laws and I had broken for lunch, a pizza joint near our hotel, when I got the call to come back to the hospital. As we dashed out of the restaurant, I mentally prepared myself for the reality that I would arrive at my father's hospital room too late to say good bye (again). The week I was there, I had made a conscious effort to say "Goodbye Dad, I love you" every single time I left the hospital just in case it was the last. As I walked up to his room, it was adorned with a simple sheet of white paper depicting a dove holding an olive branch. I knew before opening the door what I would see.

After my father died, I fulfilled those obligations of informing those that knew him. Then I spent some time reflecting before finding myself chatting with a colleague from my last assignment who was recently diagnosed with an inoperable form of brain cancer and would be facing many of the same challenges that my father did. I mentioned some of these points, particularly dwelling on telling your loved ones what you want them to know. Video recordings are great, because they can capture yourself as you want to be remembered, say the things you want to be said, and can be replayed when desired (?). I had a hard time trying to find video/audio of my dad's voice, and while I will remember the things he told me, it will probably be difficult for me to remember how he sounded when saying them. Fortunately, a few weeks later, I was able to find some old voicemail messages from when he was full of life, and while the topics are mundane, i still cherish them.

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 need to pull up the source links.

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