V for Victory

Aug 17 2012 09:44
Karen Kelly

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Fin24 user Karen Kelly

I WAS taught most of the fundamentals about life by my father and therefore I learnt to think like a boy.

It certainly has served me well in many aspects; however, I believe that I learnt to copy the social behaviour of men and never really got to know how to appreciate the intrigue of being a woman.

I spent most of my free time with my dad at sports clubs and pubs and was able to interact with people much older than myself. This was another thing that has stood me in good stead.

I was never one for dressing up and going out; I preferred to hit the social scene right after work and chat to the guys. I normally left when I knew that I had had enough or the place was full of glamour girls.

Little did I know that I was missing out by not being part of a sisterhood, which would have taught me the social lessons that I needed, and also to appreciate myself as a girl.

Two years and four months ago, my mom called me to come as dad was not well. I was not nervous or scared as my dad had suffered many strokes before and was in a wheelchair at that point.

He was a hell of a fighter and I knew he would pull through. When I arrived there, I felt the panic racing through my body as he was yellow and in a coma.

The neighbour told him: "Vic, Karen is here" - no response. I lay next to him, telling him: "Daddy, I am here." He heard none of this; there was no reaction at all. I thought: "This time he is not coming back."

That's when I started to get scared.

The paramedics rushed him to the hospital and we started preparing to lose this man that we did not want to let go of. The doctors had us agree to a "do not resuscitate" order, which felt like we were murdering him. Yet he rallied in hospital, as his carers gave him excellent care and I was there for many hours a day.

In the end, he had to go to a step down facility to build his strength before he could go home. He was very unstable and scared there and by then my mom had indicated that she could not cope with night and day nurses while still working herself. 

We booked him into a frailcare facility, and once again the carers fell in love with him and took good care of him. He finally accepted that this was where he would live until his death and I took four months out of business to be with him as much as possible.

I had to go to the shops and buy nappies and baby toiletries that kept him clean and comfortable. Biscuits were eaten most afternoons and were shared with the others too. I still cannot walk past the baby aisle in a supermarket that has drinking cups, without getting a lump in my throat.

I had the opportunity to feed, clean and change him for four months. It was hard to do and to see the debilitation, but he was my dad, the man that I loved more than life itself.

I lay on his bed with him for hours every day and we talked: me with words and him with grunts and signs or nods. We talked through things that we had never discussed before and each let go of regrets and guilt. I kept telling him that I would be OK without him, and that he could go peacefully.

Nothing else existed for me in those four months, other than making sure that he was comfortable and that he was not scared. Finally he was ready to leave this earth and I had known that it would be that morning (I just knew). I took my time finishing my tea as I did not want to see the last breath as he died.

The nurse saw my car coming and she told him: "Karen's here." He sighed and passed away. This was on October 28 2009. Everything was numb and suddenly we had to do the funeral planning; we had the funeral two days later.

I gave a eulogy and remember very little of the funeral, and then went home to sleep.

In the past, I would have gone straight to the pub to be with people and to have drinks to numb the pain. I had plenty of time to rethink my life and the awesome bond I had with my dad. He had not wanted me to fall apart when he died, which is what a lot of people thought would happen.

He hung on long enough to see my sister, and for me to promise him that I would put other things and people into higher priority places. I made that commitment to him the day before he died.

A month after his death, my hubby realised that I was no longer keen to go to the pub so often. He felt that I had changed and was in danger of becoming boring. I asked him what he really wanted from me.

He said: "I want you to love me the way you loved your dad." I thought - not going to happen. A few weeks later I woke up after a night out and said that I was very bored with our social life and would be taking time out. Hubby said he felt the same way.

And so the journey to victory started. On June 23 2010 we chose to live differently, and to live for each other. What an amazing journey it has been.

Besides the financial rewards bringing us security, we have fallen in love with each other bigger and better than before. There are no power struggles in our relationship. We talk, communicate and negotiate on important issues.

We have a common family dream and vision - which we are attaining at a speed of knots.

We are attracting like-minded people who delight in our love and success. All of this generates more for everyone our circle.

I feel as if I have learnt to love Kevin so much more, and a lot of the pain of losing dad is gone as I put those emotions into a place of positivity. I have developed a strong marriage where we do lots of laughing and loving.

I have a strong relationship with my mom too, which is a new thing. This has also brought great rewards for her and I.

So - I lost a father. I gained a husband who is my greatest lover and friend; I gained a mother who is a friend too; and I have gained many friends who delight in my happiness.

So this has been part of my Journey to Victory - named for my father - Victor George Reich. 

* Karen works for Xtreme Training Academy

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