My other dad

As I write this, the man who raised me as a son since I was eight is on his way to the hospital. He hasn’t been able to swallow food or water for days now, and if something isn’t done soon, it can’t get any better. He doesn’t want us kids there right now, maybe he doesn’t want to inconvenience us, but it’s probably because he doesn’t want us to see what the cancer has reduced him to. I don’t think he understands that we don’t care about that.

You see, he grew up in a time when men were judged by their physical, mental and emotional strength, and you didn’t want anyone to ever see you in a lesser state. I’m so glad I don’t have to follow any of those rules, or I’d be failing miserably as a man. If I can’t go out fast, while stopping a stray bullet from hitting an innocent bystander in a driveby, I want all the people I love to be around me.

Long before the second bout, but after the first. Mom loves cameras

Since he was first diagnosed with esophageal cancer, some ten years ago, he was given months to live. He was pretty down about it, and had kind of lost that fire he had always had. That was until he went to Kingston. While he was at the cancer centre there, he got talking to a lot of survivors, and they all had one thing in common. They were fighters. They weren’t going to let it beat them. They wanted to live, and were going to do what it took to stay above ground.

He came home with a newfound spark, and he kicked cancer’s ass for a long time, right up until this past winter, and he did it with only a portion of his heart. Most of his heart had been destroyed by the radiation in his first battle, and for about the last nine years, he went through countless surgeries, thousands of angina attacks, and I imagine enough pain and pills to make an average man give up and die. He also lost a pile of weight and anger over that time. I watched a man who took life for granted and seemed invincible turn into someone who realized that life isn’t forever and should be cherished.

He spent his time after winning that first fight, doing things he wanted to do, mostly with Mom, like yard sales and auctions, but he still went hunting and fishing with the boys every year. As much as I liked the young, strong man that I’d grown up with, I liked the new, old guy, even more. He smiled a lot more, and really seemed to have more fun with the simple things. I think that he and I became better friends, and instead of looking at me like that kid that always left his tools in the driveway, he looked at me like a man who had maybe figured some shit out.

Last summer. Mom smiles more when it’s not me taking the photo

I have figured out a lot of things in this life, and he helped me with a good bunch of it. I could tell when he first met my soon to be bride, that he thought I had found the right one. Mostly because of the approving look he gave me, but also because his eyes would get that sparkle in them when he talked to her. God, he can sure be charming when he wants to. I wish he knew that I think he’s more of a man now, than he ever was when he was younger, and no matter what our differences have been, he is the biggest male influence in my life.

I love you Paul,



I am linking this post up to Dude Write for Dude Write 8. There are many fantastic writers there that will make you laugh, cry, and think. You should check them out every week at

42 thoughts on “My other dad

  1. So sorry that you will soon lose your other dad Chris. This post is an incredible yet simple message of love and admiration; I hope you share it with him.

  2. Hi Chris,
    Gerri referred me to your blog today. You write beautifully with emotion tied in your story. I’m sorry you guys and your families are going thru a difficult time right now. Miracles happen though. I hope he recovers from this god awful disease and know there are people out there praying for you.

    Looking forward to meeting you soon.

    • Thanks Ruby. I’ve heard so much about you, and I look forward to seeing you in June. Of course I always have hope, but I’m a realist and they are not giving him any more treatments.

  3. Thinking of you and your family Chris! I remember as a kid thinking how cool it would be to be a part of your family! All those parents and brothers and sisters! I hope you share this with Paul, even though we think our family knows how we feel, it doesn’t hurt to make sure!

  4. My thoughts are with your whole family. What a beautiful tribute to Paul this is. I hope he gets to read it. Your mom & Paul must be very proud of the wonderful people that you and your sisters have become.

    • Thank you Sue. I hope he does too. We’re just waiting to see if there’s anything they can do for him to help him eat and drink. We’re hoping he’ll be able to get home.

  5. Beautifully said. Thoughts are with you and the family at this difficult time. Hope you get the chance to share this with him

  6. I read your post; once for me, once out loud for Kim, and again to myself to ensure the lesson is learned.
    Thank you for sharing your story, your family, and your other dad.

    We depend on your guidance on Therapy Thursdays, We plan our future ex-wives with you on Matchmaker Mondays, but its on days like these that we share our best wishes with you, as you do every other day with us!

    Our family is thinking of yours!

    • Dude, I love you guys. I love that you encourage me to write, when my teachers tell me to be a truck driver. Give that beautiful wife of yours a big hug from us, and make sure the boys get a kiss from Gerri.

  7. This breaks my heart but it also makes me cry with happiness in the hopes that one day my stepson, who calls me his other Mom, will love me the way you love your other Dad. Please tell me he will have the chance to read this. Keep your head up and your stick on the ice. xoxo

    • He will Kim. If you treat him with half as much grace and love as you treat everyone else in your life, he’ll have to. Can’t wait to see you.

  8. Beautifully written! I hope you get to tell him face to face what he has done for you, who he has made you and how proud you are of him! Sending great big positive vibes your family’s way! 🙂

    • Thanks, Lilly. This is an older one, and I don’t receive notifications on them when someone comments. Sorry for the late reply.

  9. This really hit home with me. Just the other day marked the 22nd anniversary of my dad’s passing and yesterday would’ve been his 70th birthday. Always hard to lose someone special. Cherish the memories you had with Paul.

    • Thanks, WG. For the comment, and for allowing me the chance to dig through my memories and bring some up from the cellar. I’m loving the DW.

  10. Chris, your father (step or not) sounds a lot like my old man. He passed away in 2006 from his battle with leukemia at the age of 74. One day he was helping me move a 4-bedroom house and three months later he was gone. Just like that. I wish Paul all the best. I hope you get many more years with him.

    Michael A. Walker
    Defying Procrastination

    • Paul passed in February, Michael. We had a few more months with him, but they weren’t high quality for him. Your father was lucky in a way, because he didn’t have a long, drawn out struggle for years and years. I know it’s never better for the people who loved him, but knowing his pain was only for a few months, must be some sort of consolation. I’m glad you got to have him for as long as you did.

    • No, he passed in February, Kevin, but we did make the best of it. It really was one of those things where his quality of life was so crappy that you just didn’t want him to suffer anymore. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Touching story..and well written. It’s not easy losing a parent, or even a step parent if you are close to them. My father died at the age of 56 from a heart attack. He didn’t have years of battling disease or suffering but he did suffer in other ways, spending a good 15 years of his life alone in homeless shelters. He died less than a year after catching a break and finally was able to live in a place he could call home…if only for a while. The man was broken and had forgotten how to live. We never had much of a chance to make up for all those lost years.

    • Thanks, Dan. That’s so shitty about your dad. I hate the way the world just chews people up and spits them out. It’s not always the world’s fault, but some times we just don’t know how to help. At least he was trying when he finally gave out. That’s way better than dying defeated.

  12. I lost my father in law about a year before my marriage collapsed, and I still miss the man. This post took me down memory lane, and I thank you for that.

    As long as we remember the lessons learned and look back at the good times, our loved ones are never truly gone. Bravo.

    • Thanks, Brandon. I had a father in law once, that was one of the greatest guys I had ever known. He was a hard working farmer, that never harmed anyone. All of a sudden he had a brain tumour and within a few months was gone. I remember him often, and hopefully always will. One day we’ll have to meet and hoist one to old father in laws.

  13. Chris, you’re a good dude for sharing this with the world.

    I’m glad that you had such a positive male role model in your life. And now you can live to try to be such a positive influence to your step-children now.

  14. Incredible post, Chris. Your father seemed like a true gentleman, and I’m sorry to hear of his passing. I have been blessed with a great step-father and father, and though I may take them for granted sometimes, I have also learned many valuable lessons from them.

    Inspiring post.

    • Thanks, Chiz. I think we’re all guilty of that at one point or another, but what can you do? We’re only human, we just keep trying.

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