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

Letters To My Dad: J is for Jungle #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Image by Jolanda de Koning 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 was thinking today about how so many friends and family called you an “amazing storyteller”.

You loved telling stories and I love writing stories…

Maybe I got the “story gene” from you? 🙂

I would like to think so.

In a quiet voice, you loved recounting your tales about when you used to visit your father in “the bush”, travelling alone on rickety boats and steamers all alone as young as nine years old.

Your encounters with all sorts of Guyanese wildlife captivated all those who were instead in all things nature.

Arapaima, caiman, jaguars, piranhas, snakes, wild pigs… you had so many stories to tell.

I was never a “nature” girl and as a kid, I would only listen with half an ear, except for the stories involving your dog Satan, your pet monkey and horribly big bugs.

To be honest, I only started appreciating your stories when I got you to join me in the library’s memoir writing class.

Memoir class protocol was for everyone to read their week’s writing during class but it happened more than once that your story monopolized class time.

You didn’t purposely want more attention but it often happened that way – others always had so many questions that you were more than happy to expand on.

And no one ever minded when their own writing was postponed to the following week.

Remember your ant story? They were all so enthralled by it that I still hear about how good it was from the memoir writing teacher.

I feel ashamed to say that it was only after you diagnosis that I truly listened intently with BOTH ears and truly realized the risks you took during your adventures.

How many times did I ask you, “How did your mother let you do that?” and your response would always be, “She never knew” followed by a big laugh.

Even you had to admit that you took some big risks and were very bold, never considering that you should have been scared.

Dad, as soon as things settle down, I’ll take all those jungle stories you shared during memoir class and type them up, “nice and neat” (as you would say) to appreciate them in my quiet time and on my own.

Loving you always,

M

Letters To My Dad: I is for Isolation #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com

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,

We never talked about it but for a man who loved his freedom, the isolation must have been heavy for you. And the constraints of the pandemic truly didn’t help us, did it?

Deciding to stay indoors because you have a choice is much different than being forced to stay in due to illness and a pandemic…

But we did our best to keep you from feeling isolated and alone.

From the moment you were diagnosed, you were never left alone. We made sure of it. You even boasted about it to others about how well taken care of you were. We gladly took shifts and would do it again in a heartbeat if we could.

I didn’t think that it was possible for us to be at the house more than we already were (pre-cancer) but I was wrong – it was more than possible. The house was always our ground zero and it soon became the same for the grandkids who started dropping in so much more, sanitized and masked up, at all hours.

It was sweet, very sweet.

We tried to fill the non-hospital appointment and no chemotherapy time with a bunch of different things to switch things up for you – watching the old movies you love on TCM and Silver Screen, treating you to manicures and pedicures (à la Marquessa), buying all the food stuff you would only indulge in at Christmas and holidays, running out to the corner store to buy your lottery tickets and no longer teasing you about wasting money on them, going for very short walks with your walker and slightly longer rides in your wheelchair for fresh air…

I even introduced you to some of my favorite podcasts and finally got you to understand the difference between a podcast, Youtube and “that google music machine thing”.

Or maybe you were just pretending to understand – hahaha. 🙂

I truly enjoyed listening and chatting about them – you in your Lazyboy and me on the couch – and wished we had chatted about some of those podcasts topics about life experiences long before you got sick.

Better late than never, I guess.

In the week before you passed when you were agited and weak, I loved how you smiled when we took you to the mall where we used to spend so much time. But it was also so very sad knowing that it was likely the last time you would ever visit it again.

Dad, I pray that our best was good enough to take your mind off things, even if it just for little moments of time.

But I know that no matter what we did, the “apartness” of being terminally ill must still have made you feel isolated.

Loving you always,

M

Letters To My Dad: H is for Hurt #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 know that grief hurts but never in my wildest dreams did I think that grief could like “hurt hurt“.

Like physically hurt.

When I think about how you aren’t around anymore, I get this horribly tight knot in my chest that I just can’t shake. And when that happens, all I want to do is crawl into my bed until it passes but I can’t because there is always “something else” that needs to get done.

At other times…

Well, you know how when it’s winter on one of those -30 degrees Celsius days when you try not to take too many deep breaths otherwise your lungs will feel tingly and on fire? That’s the pain I feel at the base of my throat when anything reminds me of you.

But the worst kind of physical hurt I feel is whenever photos of you from your last months pop up in my cell’s photo highlights. I literally feel naseaous, like someone has punched me in the gut. In those photos, your deline was so obvious yet I guess I didn’t see it as much because I was with you every day.

Then again, maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t notice.

I only learned the word “cachectic” a few weeks ago when I was sorting through some of your hospital reports and now I wish that I could unlearn it…

Whenever I look at your pre-cancer photos, I feel warmth that takes all that physical pain away. I can’t help but smile to myself and even laugh.

So why can’t I spend more time looking at the “before” photos to take the pain away?

Why do I keep lingering on the “after” photos that cause me the physical pain?

What is wrong with me?

Loving you always,

M

Letters To My Dad: G is for God #AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Image by Gerd Altmann 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,

My faith in God and all things spirituality are at an all-time low.

Over the years, my faith has ebbed and flowed but now I don’t even have the energy to find it.

I’m not even sure if I want to find faith or God again.

You know that I have always been more spiritual than religious.

I miss the comfort of having faith in a higher power. I miss how spirituality used to make me feel grounded, believing that the universe is good, that things happen for a reason and all that other jazz.

Instead, I find myself always wondering why so many nice, selfless, unassuming people get hit so hard with a multiple of bad things while those who purposely create chaos in the world and thrive on nasty never seem to get their comeuppance.

You know, basically, the age old question of “why do bad things always seem to happen to good people?”

I know that you are unhappy with my loss of faith because you keep sending me signs to guide me back in that direction.

The other day, I understood your most recent “sign” loud and clear when all the radio stations in the car went static and the only one that would play properly was this one.

I knew it was you playing tricks on me. 🙂

I mean, a radio station I have never heard before in the old van that has no fancy satellite radio stuff? I am a “radio girl” and know every station in that van.

I sat in the parking lot for twenty minutes listening to the announcers expound on living in faith instead of living in fear.

And because I know it’s you, I haven’t touched the radio dial so that’s the station that greets me every time I drive.

Lots of people would say that now that you’re gone, I’m finding “something” in “everything”.

Maybe that’s true.

But they don’t know about our conversations when I made you promise to send me “signs” after you were gone.

Signs to let me know that you are ok.

Signs that you’ve been following through on like a champ on an almost daily basis in many different ways.

You know what Dad? Maybe I haven’t lost as much faith as I thought. But what I have left to find I will slowly find my way back to, even if it’s just for you.

Loving you always,

M