Bill Wadman (September 11, 1945 - September 16, 2005)
I just watched my father die. It happened less than an hour ago at about 4:05AM and already, my life has changed completely.
He has been fighting pancreatic and liver cancer since it was diagnosed in March.. and pain for long before that, so I rationally know that he's better off. But my father was the one person who could fix anything. If I had a problem, no matter how bad, I always knew that my father would take care of it. I don't have that anymore.
My father and I didn't always get along. It was partly his fault and partly mine all those years, but I don't blame him. The drinking made him who he was to me. In fact, for much of my life I alternated between fearing and hating him. About 2 years ago I got fed up with feeling that way so I got up the courage one night, called him up and told him how I felt. I have a feeling that he felt the same way all those years because he sighed and said to me, uncharacteristically, "Well.. we'll work on it." And work on it we did. A copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for Christmas led to him suggesting last spring that we take a ride along the same taken in the book. This idea led to The Trip, a 12 state, 14 day, 4953 mile journey around the western United States in June of 2004. Things were different between us after that.
It was at this time that he had to stop drinking due to pain he was experiencing from pancreatitis, the initial problem which led to the cancer and ultimately to his death. He started to treat me with respect after that and I him, the way it should have been all along.
So here we are about 14 months later. 14 months of a good relationship with my father that I would not have traded for anything, except perhaps 14 more, but it just didn't work out that way. He wanted to see the end of this project too, but that didn't happen either. Life goes on and the tangent that I was referring to last night is starting showing it's age.
What lies ahead is a complete mystery to me as I return to my life that has been put on hold for longer than my short term memory allows. I've been up for 48 hours with little more than a couple of catnaps and a whole lot of caffeine so it's time for me to sleep. But when I awake I'll be living in a world where my father is just a memory, one which anyone who knew him won't soon forget.
Goodbye Daddy, I love you.
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