The last months were increasingly painful and by the end, his passing felt like a relief. At last he could rest in peace.
The journey has been an emotional roller coaster. Not only was managing the disease and the patient demanding, but it became even more draining to deal with the well meant but incessant interest of family and friends. Trying to schedule their visits, answering the phone calls and messages daily, apologizing for my father’s behavior often times. My father was like a wounded lion that kept fighting everything and everyone.
After 20 years living apart, being together again brought back many memories of my childhood and youth. Being back in Bilbao, close to my father’s sisters and friends reconnected me to a world that I had moved and grown away from.
For 7 months my gang became a group of 70+ year olds, which proved enriching and demanding at the same time. There is a lot to be said for this group of people. They have all been present through the process and supported in every way they could. They have shown up for every hospitalization, for every crisis, they have brought cooked meals, they have put up with dad’s unjustified reprimands and tantrums and tried their best to understand and please a dying man.
My father sought isolation at times and found friends and family rather intrusive, but he did not have the courage or the energy to establish boundaries, and left his daughters with the ungrateful task to turn visitors down, or to answer his mobile phone for him, etc.
It has been interesting to observe the patterns of behavior established between my father and two of his siblings. The passion, the drama, the rivalry. As well as the zealous smuthering and care. Both sides of the medal which are probably common in many family relationships, certainly in Mediterranean countries. I reckon a psychologist would have a field day studying the Puntonet siblings. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
I certainly recognize elements of this in my own sibling relationships, and I do hope we are able to evolve from where we come from, and avoid perpetuating unhealthy relationship dynamics. I guess all it takes to get it right is genuine acceptance, no expectations and no judgement. Simple recipe, but in my own experience extremely difficult to achieve.
My father has taught me valuable life lessons, I have recognized much of myself in him, also the opportunities for personal development and for making different and wiser choices in life.
One morning, when he was still relatively communicative, I asked him what advice he would give me about life. He said: “well, it’s important to act according to your personal values and convictions, I believe that you already do this… and then you should not worry too much about making mistakes. Evaluate the results of your decisions and if necessary change them.” Not suprisingly his advice was that of an executive, an organizer, a first mover. A man that made decisions and made mistakes, but who ultimately was true to himself. Until the end.
Thank you dad. I know you are well now. I miss you.