A tribute to my dad on what would’ve been his 72nd birthday
Dad died due to Huntington's disease in 2020
Our dad, David Roy Field, would’ve celebrated his 72nd birthday this February. I often wonder what he would’ve thought of our current family life if he were still with us today.
Dad would often share his concerns about Gavin years before Dad’s own symptoms appeared and before his diagnosis was confirmed. He would ask me if I thought Gavin was depressed. I said I thought maybe he was, while secretly thinking it could be early signs of Huntington’s. I never said this out loud to Dad because it would’ve broken his heart.
He must’ve had his own suspicions, though, because he’d nursed his own father through Huntington’s and would’ve known the signs all too well. It comforts me to know that Gavin wasn’t diagnosed while Dad was alive. He never experienced the pain of knowing.
Paying attention to my inner voice
Dad would’ve been proud of the intelligent, kind, and caring people his grandchildren have become. He would’ve been proud that they’ve overcome fears, persevered, and succeeded on their chosen paths.
While I’m pleased he was spared the knowledge of Gavin’s diagnosis, I’m sad that he won’t be here to see my eldest daughter get married this summer.
When Dad became ill, we lost the ability to have conversations. I used to be able to talk to him about anything and everything. He’d listen without judgment and always knew what to say. After Huntington’s symptoms began to appear, our conversations gradually became one-sided. But I still always felt better just being with him and talking to him. He was just one of those people who are easy to be around.
When we lost him, we lost our family mediator. In times of conflict, he was always the sensible, calm influence who talked to all parties involved and would help to resolve any situation.
My brother’s more challenging cognitive and behavioral symptoms of Huntington’s have sent shock waves through our family, fracturing relationships. Without Dad, the role of mediator has been delegated to me.
I always think of him when situations arise and catch myself saying things he used to say. Maybe there’s more of my dad in me than I’d realized, and I just need to listen to that inner voice a little more during difficult times. Perhaps he’s still with me in some way, guiding me through it all.
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