It’s month 16 of the pandemic and slowly businesses are starting to open up. It has not been easy for many people and I have spoken to many who have lost jobs, family members, friends and relationships. The toughest part for me has been watching my mom recover from Covid -19 and praying that my father wouldn’t catch it after 6 outbreaks at his long term care facility. With some divine intervention my father has not contracted the virus. Instead, he caught pneumonia and is on oxygen fighting for his life.
To give you some background, my father has been called by many health professionals a “medical anomaly”. He has lived through 1 heart attack, 5 different kinds of cancer including a brain tumor, 4 strokes and TIA’s and a Hematoma in the brain. Needless to say he is a fighter in his own right.
I share with you all of this because while nurses at the home were tending to my father I decided to snap a picture of his closet.
A Dedication to my Father
My father was born in Vallelonga, Calabria, Italy in 1935 and came to Canada in 1952. At that time many Italian immigrants came on boats with the hope of creating a better life for them and their families. World War II had taken a toll on the country of Italy, food and jobs were difficult to find especially in little towns like the one where my father is from. In Canada many families lived together so they could afford homes. They really came together as a people and if you met someone that was a “Paesano” (fellow country man) you would go out of your way to help them.
My father met my mother in Toronto and in 2021 celebrated 65 years of marriage. An incredible milestone if you ask me, and they celebrated together at my dad’s home. I brought my 3 year old son to be with my parents. It has been a year since he has seen his Nonno (grandfather). It was a moment that definitely pulled at the heartstrings. A week later my dad was put on oxygen and is still fighting for his life.
One day while the Nurses and PSWs were tending to my father a man came into his room to drop off some of his clothes that had been washed. At that moment when he opened the door to the closet, something came over me, an energy, I was drawn to take a picture of the clothes in the closet. I really don’t know why… I have gone into his closet so many times, but this time was different. It was like someone or something was pushing me to take the shot. The only picture I took that day was one of my dad and the only reason I did was because I didn’t know if it was going to be the last one I would ever take of him.
After I took the picture I looked at it on my phone and the first thing that came to mind was…..
This is all he has left.
My dad worked for 42 years with the same company as a senior technician for a surveying and engineering firm. In fact, later on in his career, he was the only technician in Canada that could fix blueprint machines that were still using Ammonia to make prints. He dedicated his life to his family making sure we had the things that he didn’t have growing up. I couldn’t believe that after all the years dedicated to his craft, this was all that was left.
The Moral of the Story
I was overwhelmed with tears. I tried to keep my composure as there were people in the room. I could feel all my PPE equipment getting wet. My goggles were foggy and my mask was soaking up the tears. It was so hard not to burst out crying and then…Another thought popped into my head. As I stared at the picture something became very clear to me.
No matter where you come from, what race, culture or creed, society has taught us that life has to be a certain way. We must go through the various stages of our life with the intention of working 30-40 years so that we can buy things. We have been programmed to go after the shiny objects. Our focus is on accumulating items and showing our family, friends and co-workers how successful we are by the amount of things we have.
As I continued to stare at the picture, I turned to look at my dad and thought; The focus should be on building meaningful relationships. Our days should be spent connecting with people and creating memories and sharing experiences with them. This is what’s important, not the shiny things. While I believe it is important to go after the things we want in our lives we must always look at the energy behind the reasons for buying them. It’s not wrong to want things as long as we are not getting sick trying to get them.
So many people have spoken about the chasing of material goods. One of my favourite quotes is from the Dalai Lama on the subject.
How are you spending the time while you are here? Are you building meaningful relationships or are you focusing your energy on the shiny items?
All That’s Left
I kneeled down beside my fathers bed and rested my head on his chest. He mustered up the energy to lift his arm and rest it on my head. He rubbed my head as tears rolled down my face. I don’t know how long he has left with us but what I do know is I am going to spend my time with him making sure he is comfortable and loved.
The picture of his pants, shirts and sweaters, the thoughts that flooded my head will last with me till it’s my time to leave this planet. It is all that’s left of his material possessions. A lifetime of dedication and sacrifice can all fit in one little closet. When it is his time to go we will celebrate his life sharing stories of all the meaningful relationships he created along the way. He is an amazing man and I am proud that I get to call him… My dad.
This little blog is a tribute to you…I love you dad.