To my father, Chuck Dearing:

When I was younger, you used to cut my hair.  At the time I thought nothing of it.  Now I stand at your side looking nostalgically at those times with intense appreciation.  I expect tears but instead am overcome with love so deep-rooted and pervasive as the hum of hair clippers seems to vocalize the exquisiteness of this intimate moment we share.  Your eyes are closed and you breathe slowly.  I support your head with my free hand and groom you, a simple childhood chore that will become one of my most meaningful memories with you as an adult.

When I was younger, I leaned on you for guidance.  Now you lean on my arm to merely walk the hallways outside of your room.  You shuffle along, periodically asking me to walk you to the banister attached to the wall.  A banister that supports your weight while you grit your teeth and lay your head against the wall, breathing with difficulty.  I’m angry.  I’m angry that a man as decent and selfless as you must undergo this merciless assault on your body and mind, that you must have the tired look of illness thrust upon you by the tumors in your lungs.

When I was younger, I thought you were sometimes long-winded.  At the time, hastiness and the folly of youth sometimes took precedence over the patience and wisdom that accompanies time and experience.  I would finish your sentences and rush to conclusions.  I now find myself hanging onto your every word and speaking few.  You talk of life and death, speaking softly of how proud you are of me, the trials I’ve overcome, and the man I am becoming.  My heart shatters.

When I was younger, I knew nothing of the world.  You’d traveled it extensively.  Now there is a possibility that you may part with mine.  I pray for the best yet my optimism contests with fear and anticipatory grief.  A hollow wide and deep fills my heart.  Only now do I truly understand the depth of sadness.  Sadness is appropriately named and is therefore due no exaggeration, no prose because it is not a word, it is a feeling and I cannot escape it right now because I love you and the thought of you being anywhere but in my life rips me in two.

When I was younger, I needed a father like you.  At the time, I didn’t always realize you were just what I needed but because you were there, I know I will be ok.

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7 thoughts on “To my father, Chuck Dearing:

  1. Wow Al. That was beautiful.

  2. As each of us comes to term with dad’s illness, and wait for the other two to show, I watch you and your sister. Not with my eyes, but with my heart. And I see you two, and know I will see your brother and sister when they arrive, do what you’re doing. You are growing and maturing in front of me, because you’re dealing with this (even though you may not think you are). Each of us arrives at this point at some time in our lives. I did it in mine when my mom became ill.

    This is all impossible, but you are doing the impossible, with grace and with love. Dad sees you, and will always see you. You and he may not be blood-related, but you are his mirror image.

    Mine and dad’s hearts are soaring, as we watch each of the four of you, near and far, open up to love and this experience.
    Mom (okay….ma)

  3. misha03 says:

    This was really touching for me to read, as I just lost my grandfather to a long battle of cancer two weeks ago. He was a wonderful man, always full of optimism and positivity. The cancer could not take that away from him till the very end. My grief began the day he showed signs of giving up in spirit, and that was perhaps one of the toughest things I have had to deal with. I hope you find strength in this difficult time, because believe me, your father will draw from it. He will be happy and strong if he sees the people around him positive and resilient. And don’t hesitate to celebrate each tiny victory against the disease with him.
    My thoughts and prayers are with him and your family.

    • snadius says:

      Thank you for commenting, the strength I feel I’m gaining from this is matched by the panic of loss. It’s a constant back and forth but I know at some point, there will be more peace inside. My dad is surrounded with family and we are all laughing, crying, LIVING with him to his end.

  4. Anginette Dearing says:


  5. beautiful well said and authentic …love

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