Letters To My Dad: Q is for Quiddity #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

While so many people try to hide or deny their odd quirks and habits (including me), you never did.

You owned them all loud, proud and didn’t give a care who made fun of them.

Like how you used to drink soda out of a kitchen measuring cup whether you were just really thirsty or not. Even the grandkids would make fun of you with, “Grandpa, why not use a regular glass?”

Your answer with a laugh ? “It’s the biggest cup around here and mind your own business.”

When I would nag you to trim those wild and wayward ear and nose hairs, you would give me a big grin and, “What’s the problem? Don’t I look pretty this way?”

I used to be embarrassed as a kid when you would literally fall asleep anywhere and everywhere if you sat around too long. At a recital, at play, a (not old) movie. Or even in the car while you waited for me when it made no sense for you to drive back home during my piano lessons.

Your joke was always that you weren’t sleeping – “I’m thinking with my eyes closed.” 🙂

Unless your nodding off was punctuated by a variety of snorts in public, I quickly gave up on the embarrassment and rolled with it.

Dad, I’ve been taking pages out of your book and have been embracing what makes me uniquely me. Bad points and good points.

And these days on the not-so-rare occasions I may nod off at a family gathering, I simply say that I was thinking with my eyes closed. 🙂

Loving you always,

M xoxo

Letters To My Dad: P is for Promises #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

You’re a sly one. I’ll give you that.

Before you left, you made me promise to do a list of things, all of which neatly fall under the umbrella of “self-care”.

“You always take care of everybody. I need for you to take care of yourself now” is one of the things you told me while you were at your weakest.

I know that you were worried about me and probably still are but as you can see, I’m doing relatively okay so far down here.

Don’t worry. I knew exactly what you meant and I’m not procrastinating. Though it sometimes feels like forever, it’s only been a little over four months that you’ve been gone.

I’m just giving myself some grace until I get certain things under control. I will jump right into all things self-care after the gathering we are planning for you is over.

Dad, you know that I keep my promises so don’t you ever worry about me.

Loving you always,

M xoxo

Letters To My Dad: O is for Oncology #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

Never in my dreams did I think that most of 2021 would be spent in oncology waiting rooms.

When it came to timely tests, treatments and physical care, you were treated very well. I have no complaints about any of that.

I mean, we knew better than to think that there was a miracle waiting for you with your type of cancer – we were far from wearing rose-colored glasses.

But maybe, just maybe, I was expecting too much when it came to the more human side of things…

Just because someone is a doctor does not mean that they are some kind of God who should not be questioned. Patients have the right to have their concerns addressed, even if said doctor has been through the ropes a million times before with others.

Patients require patience and cancer patients require even more patience and compassion. Of course, I understand that doctors are people too with their own personalities. But being in the profession requires bedside manners even if you have to fake it.

Tone is important and insensitive flippant remarks are simply wrong.

Who the f*ck tells a dying person, “It’s almost summer – go take up some gardening or something” with a tone that reeks of “you are going to die, your time is up and I need to get to my next patient”?

I mean, reallly???

What if a patient wants to fight even if they know the end result will be the same?

And flippant jokes about not having to keep future appointments for other health issues?

Again, really?

But the crème de la crème was the doctor who got angry at you for not signing off right away on a DNR the moment he handed it to you at that very first meeting.

And you know how that turned out because I don’t play with those who mess with what’s important to me…

The biggest upside of oncology was that we met the most caring and helpful palliative care doctors on the service who genuinely cared throughout your entire illness.

You would be very happy that instead of flowers, we requested that donations in your name be made to the palliative care team.

And I know that you would be smiling that we received enough donations that your name is now on a plaque on the hospital donation wall near the hospital chapel.

Dad, I can almost hear you joking now, “My name’s on a wall? I’m a big time celebrity!” 🙂

Loving you always,

M xoxo

Letters To My Dad: N is for Nostalgia #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

Don’t worry, I didn’t give up on writing to you. 🙂

As you already know, I had to put a “pause” on things because you left me here to deal with unheavenly earthly day-to-day stuff while you are living it up in the great beyond, with all those all-you-can-eat beachside buffets with classic salsa playing loudly in the background.

I can almost hear you laugh and say, “Girl, I’m already dead. Don’t worry about me – I’m “good good”. Do what you need to do!”

I can say one thing…

I’m not much happier but at least the happier and funnier times are filling my brain more than the sad ones.

I find myself smiling more whenever I walk into a grocery store and see the stacks of papayas, cantalopes, plaintains, and cassavas because those were always the first things on the grocery lists you would give me.

I chuckle every time I go to the market and pass the smelly fish aisle. I used to give you such a hard time about cooking “real” fish (yeah, the ones with the gross beady bulging eyes) while I complained about the house smelling like an outdoor market down South.

And the odd occasion I’ve heard “All I Wanna Do” since you left, I grin from ear to ear and sing along in my most out-of-key voice because that is what we used to do on those 2 hour car rides back in the ’90s when you would drive me home from school for the weekends. We never talked about it but deep down, I think you knew that I wasn’t very happy about my studies and just wanted to help me get away from the pressure, even if was only for 48 hours.

Remember how we would crank open the windows of the old stationwagon and purposely sing the wrong words to that song and many others every Friday and Sunday afternoon? For years after that, you used to hum the song just to make me laugh and remember.

Dad, thank you for leaving me with so many good thoughts that I can always be nostalgic about.

Loving you always,

M xoxo

Letters To My Dad: M is for Movies #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

I took this photo five days before you left.

You likely didn’t notice all the little opportunities I took to capture some of the smaller moments to add to my mind’s collection.

Or maybe you did notice and just pretended not to.

At night when you couldn’t sleep, Turner Classic Movies or Silver Screen Classics was our go-to as a distraction from your pain.

I say “we” but it really wasn’t. Your eyes were on the tv screen while my eyes were on you.

You sure loved your old movies, eh?

For me, they were “old” movies but for you, they were just the movies you enjoyed until you got married. After that, there was no time for movies – just the hustle of moving to Canada and making ends meet.

Captain of Castile” was one of your favorites and I know why. Your childhood dream was to sail the high seas as a sailor and to travel the world. You loved your Western movies too. Did you ever want to be a shoot-em-up cowboy or did you just think that cowboys were cool?

The night that I took that picture, we watched “From Here To Eternity”, a title that had too much meaning for me to think about because eternity was on both of minds.

You were more than happy to give me a synopsis in a tired and very low voice. You rattled off all the actors names, even the lesser-known ones. It always amazed me how you could do that with sooo many movies.

You always had some kind of childhood mischievous story that accompanied all the times you would steal away to the “movie house“.

It hit me a while ago that movies were your escape just like how books were mine.

When things settle down, I will watch “Captain of Castile” with no distraction and see why you loved it so.

Dad, I wish we could have enjoyed more of those movies together under totally different circumstances

Loving you always,

M xoxo

Letters To My Dad: L is for Likeable #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

I have yet to meet someone who didn’t like you.

Maybe it was because you never pretended to be anyone else but yourself.

Maybe it was because you never thought you were better than anyone else.

Or maybe it was because you tried to take people at face value without judging them until they proved otherwise.

It is only hitting me now that you were skilled at meeting people where they are and you probably didn’t even know it.

The rare few who didn’t like you (and I won’t name names 🙂 ) were simply jealous of how rich you were in family and how prosperous you had become in your career and life.

Yeah, every one liked you.

Like when I transfered into the junior college where you were teaching halfway through my college years…

The campus was large enough for no one to know my last name and that I was related to you so whenever your name came up in conversation with other students, you were considered one of the “good teachers”. The one with the funny stories that made them laugh or reflect.

I would let those students talk, talk and talk some more just for the hell of it to see what they would say:

“Mr. Matthews is a cool dude”.

“Oh my god, the sayings that come out of his mouth are hilarious.”

“Mr. Matthews has a way of explaining things that makes it easy to understand the material.”

I smiled and kept my mouth shut about being your daughter. 🙂

And even when it came to our annual beach trips to Puerto Rico, never once did you pay for a beach chair rental. The guys who worked the beach took a liking to how you remembered things about their lives and family when maybe they were invisible to other tourists.

And it didn’t hurt that you impressed them with how fast you could crack open a water coconut with a machete much faster than any of them could. 🙂

Unlike many others we know, there was never an ulterior motive behind your niceness.

Dad, you were simply just an all-around nice guy.

Loving you always,

M

Letters To My Dad: K is for Kitchen #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

On January 22, 2022, my Dad died. My theme, “Letters to my Dad” is based on random thoughts about him and the aftermath of not having him around anymore.

Hey Dad,

The kitchen was YOUR domain, wasn’t it?

You were The King of Foodies long before the term even existed.

From the moment you woke up, you would be in the kitchen peeling this, seasoning that and cooking up something we would like to eat. I used to laugh at how you would ask what we wanted to eat for the next meal before we had even gobbled down the first. 🙂

When you retired way back when, I used to bug you about getting a “real” hobby – you know, something less chore-like but you weren’t having it. You were more than content with cooking, fixing stuff, going to the hardware store, doing bits of gardening and simply being out and about doing lots of this and that.

It only hit me at a certain age that you showed your love through acts of service and cooking was a HUGE part.

Growing up in a time and from a culture where saying “I love you” was not part of our narrative, you never needed to say those words and neither did we.

The love was simply understood.

Like most Caribbean and South American families, the kitchen was the heart of our home.

But for us, YOU in the kitchen was the heart of our home – the place where we would all congregate to hang out with you as you prepared all those Guyanese dishes I have no idea how to make – pepperpot, garlic pork, bake and float, chicken curry, roti, cookup rice…the list could go on and on.

Now that you are gone, the kitchen doesn’t feel the same to me and food has no real taste. The only reason I continue to eat at the kitchen table is because I can sit near your chair and pretend that you are simply in another room and will be joining me soon.

Thinking back now, you must have felt like a fish out of water when you no longer had the energy to conquer the kitchen and nourish us on the daily.

Dad, just know that you nourished us with much more than food – it was love in your food that nourished us.

Loving you always,

M