The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

“Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

There has always been a lot of conjecture about the true ownership of the quote above. While most people believe that it belongs to a Scottish author by the name of Ian Maclaren, there are some that attribute it to Plato, or argue that it was Philo of Alexandria who first uttered the phrase. Regardless of who owns it, the simple, yet profound meaning it conveys speaks volumes, especially in a world where we so often feel as though we are struggling, and forget that we are not alone.

Every single person in this world is living through their own unique version of reality. And in that reality, they are fighting battles both within themselves, and with the world around them as they try their best to survive. While some people face battles that manifest themselves as physical disabilities or ailments; others struggle with cognitive or developmental issues, fight emotional demons, or find themselves pitted against the hazards of circumstance. Yet even though we all have moments where we feel as though we are the only one struggling, the truth is that we are not alone in the wars that we wage, no matter the obstacles we face.

Believe me when I say that there’s a lot more that I want to say here. But before I do, it seems appropriate to take a break for a moment and acknowledge that it has been more than a year since I have written a blog post. And while there are a few reasons why I chose to step away from my website, the largest contributing factor for my absence has been that I’ve been busy fighting a battle alongside someone very special to me…

On November 18th, 2019, my Dad passed away. At the time of his passing, he was sick. Really sick. Yet even though I knew that the phone call to tell me that he was gone was imminent, it still hurt like hell when a nurse phoned to say that he was gone. Dad was, and always will be, one of my closest friends. He was a confidant, a provider of advice, and a royal pain in my backside at times. He was the man who taught me how to ride a bike, drive a car, to respect those around me, and a million other things. But he was also a deeply troubled soul, and a man who was fighting a few battles that in the end, he just couldn’t win.

Physically, Dad’s issues started in 2011 when an aneurism in his aorta ruptured and he was airlifted to hospital to undergo emergency surgery. Mentally, he had begun struggling years before that. After more than two decades serving as a police officer, Dad had developed post-traumatic stress disorder and had been self-medicating with alcohol and cigarettes for several years. It was because of these dependancies that his aorta swelled to six times its normal size before eventually rupturing and causing internal bleeding.

Whilst it would be easy to say that the aneurysm was solely a result of his actions, his excessive alcohol consumption and addiction to cigarettes wasn’t entirely a weakness on Dad’s part. He had spent his formative years in the police force during an era where colleagues actively encouraged drinking and smoking as a means of coping with stress. If you had a rough day on the job, your boss told you to go grab a cigarette, or a colleague took you down to the local bar for a few beers. So, by the time Dad’s health had started to decline, drinking and smoking were so ingrained in his DNA that even as medical experts told him that they were the cause of his sickness, he turned to them as a means of coping.

Over time, his post-traumatic stress turned into depression, and his reliance on his vices became so consuming that he transitioned through states of homelessness, staying with family, attending mental health facilities, and living out of a car, plastic bags and whatever else he could, just so that he could keep a couple of bucks in his pocket to buy a beer and a packet of cigarettes.

At his best, Dad was self-sufficient, and could find ways to get by on his police pension. At his lowest, he was sleeping on my lounge and borrowing large sums of money to feed his addictions, or checking himself into clinics just so that he had a roof over his head and something to eat.

There were days when I could barely look at him. I hated seeing what he had allowed himself to become. It broke my heart to watch the person who had taught me everything that I knew about being a man falling apart before my eyes. Yet although I hated seeing his circumstances deteriorate, I still loved him, and I still did anything that I could just to show him that no matter how bad things got, he’d never have to face anything alone.

In January of this year, things got worse again. Dad was rushed to hospital with another aneurysm, and was told that because his health had declined so much since 2011, he wouldn’t survive. I can still remember sitting in a quiet space at work when he called me in tears and told me that the doctors had said that he needed to be airlifted to another hospital where a specialist surgeon would attempt to operate if he somehow made it through the flight. He was petrified as we said our goodbyes, and I told him that I loved him, and that I was proud of him, and that I always would be.

Then, just like he had done in 2011, he did the unthinkable and not only survived the plane ride, but the surgery too.

But his luck was to be short lived. In June he was back in hospital again where he went into surgery to have stents put into his arteries to allow blood to flow into his kidneys which had begun shutting down. Again, Dad defied the odds and pulled through, but was told that he would need to give up his vices and begin dialysis treatment that he would need to remain on for the rest of his life.

Because he had no place of residence, almost no money or possessions to his name, and needed support, he came to stay with me, and then with my younger brother. Then when things got tough, he said that he couldn’t live with us and chose to check himself into temporary accommodation while we helped him look for a more permanent place to live. He hated dialysis. It left him feeling ill, and depressed. So although those around him tried to keep him focused on improving his situation, we could see that he was slipping away.

islam-hassan-NydZjXg6S2I-unsplash

In early September, Dad decided he had had enough, and that he didn’t want to continue with dialysis anymore, electing to see out his days rather than pursue treatment. On the day that he told me, I was so angry at him. I had fought so hard to help him over the years that him telling me that he wanted to give up sent me into a rage. I swore at him. A lot. And I reminded him that doctors had suggested he could live another five years with treatment. I said that within that time I hoped that I’d be married, and have a family of my own, and asked him if he wanted to be around to see that. When he looked me in the eye and told he couldn’t imagine himself living through another five years of pain, I realised just how emotionally exhausted he was. And that while he may have physically been capable of surviving another five years with treatment, mentally, he had nothing left to give.

Over the next few weeks shit got rough. Dad deteriorated rapidly both physically and mentally. His body filled with toxins and his head became so clouded with anger that he began lashing out at the people who were trying to help him. From early September to when he passed away was one of the most difficult periods that we had ever experienced in our relationship. He and I fought more than we ever had, and I lost patience with him more than once as we both said some pretty hurtful things to one another out of frustration. I loved and cared for him so fucking much and it was destroying me to watch him just give up. But for every fight that we had, we also had discussions about my life, and his, and about what he wanted when he passed.

The night before my Dad died, he called me from a hospital bed and told me that he loved me, and that he appreciated everything that I had done for him. We cried. And then we spoke for a few minutes about what he wanted me to say as a farewell to each member of our family before he hung up the phone, and the period in my life where I had a father who was alive came to a premature end.

I know that some of this probably sounds like I’m condemning his decision not to undergo dialysis. Or that I’m harbouring some kind of pent up frustration at him for his actions. But I’m not. I’m not writing any of this to disparage my Dad, or his memory…

It’s important for me to say that. Because I love my Dad. I always will. And in a way, I’m still trying to shelter him by only talking about some of the things that my family has been through; particularly over the past twelve months. Instead, I’m writing about my experiences with him because I hope that by doing so, I can help whoever reads this to understand that every one of us are fighting our own battles; and that sometimes the kindness of the people around us is the only thing in this world that we have left to hold onto.

Mental illness is not something to be trifled with. Even though I’ve had my own battles with anxiety and depression, and had friends take their own lives, it wasn’t until I watched my father in his final weeks that I realized just how overwhelming a fight with the chemical imbalances inside our brains actually can be. Dad was constantly lost in his own head, battling against himself, scalding his own behaviour, and allowing his anger at his own shortcomings to fester. In the end, he was so lost that even the idea of being around for a few more years to potentailly meet his grandchildren couldn’t rouse him.

Although he’s no longer here, Dad did struggle against his illnesses for years before giving up. I truly believe that he made it as far as he did because of the kindness and generosity of the people around him, including the complete strangers who loaned him a couple of bucks, or who bent rules and gave him discounts on a safe place to sleep when he needed it. Dad might have been down and out, and on the wrong end of far too many of his own poor decisions, but people always seemed to see the good in him and reciprocated with kindness and compassion when he needed it most.

While he may not have left behind much of a legacy in a tangible sense, this lesson that people are inherently compassionate by nature, as well as everything else that he has taught me over the years, means far more to me that a life insurance policy, or a will choked full of meaningless assets ever could. I will forever be grateful to those strangers that treated my Dad with respect, and made him feel welcome. I will never meet most of them, or even know their names. But to know that their actions often helped him make it through just one more day means the world to me.

You might be wondering why I called this post Tricky…

I did so because that’s what people used to call my Dad when he was a cop. Tricky Trev was as sharp as a whip and always had a solution to a sticky situation. Yet while the title is more of a homage to him than anything else, perhaps it also lends itself to the idea that I am ultimately trying to convey here. Which is that life can be tricky sometimes. For all of us. We all have our battles to fight, and our horizons to cross as we complete our idiosyncratic journeys between birth and death. But through acknowledging that we all experience lower moments, as well as remembering the powerful effect that kindness has on each of us during those difficult times, we can create a better world for those who are struggling.

The battle that I’ve been fighting with my Dad is over now. It came to an end on November 18th, 2019. In many ways, his passing is bitter-sweet. Because as much as I miss him, at least I know that he is no longer in pain.

What we went through as a family won’t be the last hardship that I endure in my life. I will undoubtedly have plenty more ups and downs before my bones inevitably turn to dust. But hopefully the lessons that I’ve learned by fighting alongside, and against, the man who taught me how to ride a bike, drive a car, and to respect those around me, will help me to remember that I’m not alone in my struggles. And to be kind, always. Because you never know what someone else is living through, or just deeply your compassion can move them in their times of need.

140 thoughts on “Tricky

  1. That’s a really good quote you start this piece off with. Sorry about your father. The only other person I ever heard of nicknamed ‘Tricky’ was US president Richard Nixon: Tricky Dickie, and he was, (Watergate and all that.)

  2. Justice Reign says:

    Such a beautiful message. Sending you much love. ♥️✨

  3. tara caribou says:

    Chris, I have always looked forward to your posts because I know that you will speak words of truth and wisdom. I know that your words are real and living. I wasn’t disappointed. Grief passes through at many times and in many ways. The anger with which you lashed out upon your dad was the grief. The foreknowledge of the loss to come. It’s a natural reaction. I am happy to read that you are in a place, in this moment, where you see the bittersweet of his passing. He left behind a legacy, without a doubt. One more important than the physical. Even I, in my own way, have been touched by his life, immortalized through your own words. Love and light to you and I continue to look forward to what you have to share with us.

  4. You post moved me to tears. My sincere condolences for your profound and prolonged loss x

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this post! I am so sorry for your loss. I had noticed you had not published a post for a long time and just yesterday happened to wonder how you were doing. I too have taken a break from blogging at the moment for a battle I’m fighting. It’s totally different than your fight but I can completely relate to certain things you said. I too greatly value the kindness of others. It has helped me greatly the last few months. I also was encouraged by your thankfulness of the kindness shown to your father by strangers. I have done various small things for people and it can be so tempting to think it doesn’t matter. But your words show once again that it does matter. That the smallest act of kindness can be huge for a person in a battle. May we all be kind to others and may we all persevere through our own battles. Praying for you at this hard time.

  6. bcre8v2 says:

    So sorry for your loss. You have written a beautiful, honest post on a difficult subject. I’m sure there are many readers who will benefit from your honest approach to this topic. Take care.

  7. cathymack62 says:

    Such a beautiful, heart-breaking tribute to your dad. Thank you for sharing! I’m very sorry for your loss.

  8. So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing such an important message, more compassion is needed in this world.

  9. traceysl says:

    Chris,

    I offer sincere condolences. I know what it’s like to lose a father who was also a friend. I too cared for my dad. I had to let him go when I realized the depth of the pain his very existence came to cause him. Be kind to yourself. Grief is “tricky” too. I hope the knowledge that you were a dear and supportive son to him brings you some peace.

    Sincerely, Tracey

    Ms. Tracey Lawrence Founder of Grand Family Planning LLC Business Coach • Family Coach Author of the groundbreaking book, “Dementia Sucks” (Post Hill Press) Amazon Orders: http://amzn.to/2Bik4YW http://grandfamilyplanning.com/ http://traceyslawrence.com/ Phone: 973-531-7633 Mobile: 862-377-9382 Sent from my iPhone

    >

  10. Well I don’t really know what to say. Your post touched me. My heart goes out to you. (P.S. one of my favorite quotes. I try to keep it in my mind. And you’ve reminded me how true it is.). I am sorry for your loss!

  11. Promod Puri says:

    A very touching story with realities of life everyone goes thru. You are indeed a person of compassion and utmost understanding who could feel the pains of others. The beginning quote is very true. According to the law of karma, every moment we are creating for ourselves either a grace will arise in our being or disgrace. The management and dynamics of our lives are infused with karmas of actions and their reactions. My sincere condolences to you and the family.

    1. Ratika Deshpande says:

      So sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  12. sandys5 says:

    What a wonderful, heart-felt tribute to your father. My condolences go out to you on your loss. I appreciate your honesty and sharing this personal story with us.

  13. arlene says:

    So sorry to learn about your Dad’s passing Chris. Your touching story made me appreciate my mom more, she’s turning 91 in a few months and frequently has those moments that she could not understand how she feels. She is becoming forgetful too.

  14. gregoryjoel says:

    Wow! I’m sorry for your loss. I truly appreciate you sharing this struggle. I never know what the person next to me is battling and I pray that I not forget that. I’ve been blessed to exorcise so many demons that I can only ask for healing of those I meet. We are all broken in some way. Losing a father is painful no matter the circumstance. Be blessed and thank you again.

  15. Dear Chris, Thank you for your beautiful and touching post about Tricky, your Dad. Interesting that lately I just delete most emails without reading them, but by chance I did read yours.
    It made me think about my own not always easy relationship with my own Dad.
    Sounds like you have made, or are making, your peace, and I suppose that’s the best we can do in this rocky and unexpected life.
    I also believe that when one is so ill as he was, and ready to let go, it was true kindness that you did let him make that choice, difficult though it must have been.

    Sending you love and light and easier travels on this journey we are all on.

  16. Thank you for writing this post. It resonates so much with me for many reasons. You expressed it so eloquently. My sincere condolences for your loss.

  17. Therese says:

    So sorry for your loss. You are blessed to have had such a wonderful relationship with your father.

  18. So sorry for the loss of your father and what you went through those last few months. My mom has battled an autoimmune disease that damaged her kidneys and forced her to do dialysis for nine long years, and I understand the ups and downs and all the mixed emotions that go along with that particular fight.
    Beautiful tribute.

  19. So sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing this story. Just love that quote.

  20. Denny K says:

    Wonderful post. I am sorry for your loss. Your father has left a very meaningful legacy, even if it is only being the inspiration for your heart-felt words. We all do struggle with something. Life indeed is tricky. My wife and I were just discussing it yesterday and used ‘messy’ in place of tricky. Same idea. We all the help, compassion and understanding of others so we should, in turn, offer the same freely. Great life lesson.

  21. powerful life story, truly a lesson indeed, thank you for sharing it

  22. Thank you for sharing this beautiful memorial of your dad. It hurts to lose someone we care about and the more we care, the more it hurts. We miss them and we will keep missing them, even when the pain becomes less intense as that knife-edge dividing our time with and without them draws farther away. Still, by remembering your dad in all his strengths and weaknesses, you honor his life. I’m sure he would appreciate your honest yet heartfelt tribute.

  23. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dad, and that you both had to go through so much..

  24. karinsvad says:

    That must be so hard, but it is beautiful how much love you shared. I am sorry for your loss.

  25. your pain, your love and your loss strike deep and i am sorry you have had to go thru it all.
    j

  26. anandrajanvs says:

    I believe many of us who read it, were quite…speechless.

    We wanted to say something that would help you through this but at the same time, the post you’ve written left us moved.

    I feel like your dad is at peace now, with everything but more so, he is proud of you. This was beautifully written.

  27. amogeezike says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Rest assured that your father will live on in this beautiful piece of writing.

  28. byrnenlove says:

    This resonates with me so deeply, as my father has self-medicated my entire life … and my heart hurts so much for him. At 80 years old, an old dog could learn a new trick if he wanted to…but the old life is too comfortable and familiar and safe.
    My prayers are with you as you grieve and heal and process and move forward.

  29. Case says:

    You are not alone.

  30. terismyth says:

    I can relate to your post.
    My father has also had his time being homeless.
    Now he lives at the veterans home and is being cared for.
    He was an example of what not to be and how not to live for me and my siblings.
    Hope you find peace in what you shared.

  31. Hmmm…. Good stuff. Quite right.

  32. Companion says:

    Thank you for sharing hope even in your distress.

  33. Sarah says:

    *hugs” It sounds like your father did an excellent job shaping your growth through good and bad.
    There is so much truth and beauty and pain in your words. Holding healing love for you and your family.

  34. ladybgalore says:

    I really have no words to write right now… Just a couple of eyes full of tears. I am proud of your Dad, and I am proud of you.
    Such a beautiful way of reminding us such an important lesson.
    I may not know you, but I am sure you are one of the best human beings in this crazy blogging world.
    Loads of love to you and your family.

  35. covington131 says:

    Hey Chris. I greatly enjoyed reading this post and wish to send my condolences. Loss is never easy and I lost my mother this January 31st and it has taken me nearly this whole year to find some normalcy again. I will lift you in prayer and keep you in my thoughts!

  36. The best parts of your father live on inside of you and his weaknesses with will teach and strengthen you so that you will be the best father you can be. We all fight battles that no-one else will completely understand, your father was a warrior and you have honored his life.

  37. Thank you for sharing your story. You convey the war between anger and affection well in this post.

  38. Jillian says:

    Thanks for sharing honestly and openly. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. The quote you’ve used and what you’ve said is so true. None of us knows what others are going through, so be kind always!

  39. LiveLoved says:

    Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts. And thanking for speaking up about addictions and mental health issues. My prayers are with you and your family!

  40. cstanski says:

    My deepest condolences. I can’t help but be glad you are able to express yourself through this outlet. Many times healing comes with our musing and expressing out the pain. Many blessings to you!

  41. Your post is a loving and honest tribute to your father; it was beautiful to read

  42. keebknight says:

    Hey, Chris. My sincere condolences. Thank you for sharing this. It tugs at my heart. Not only can I imagine what it may be like, I went through a similar experience with my dad who past away in September 2018. He passed from the effects of Alzheimer’s. I was his caregiver. Seeing him take his last breathe was the most heart wrenching experience I’ve ever been through. He was one of the smartest and the strongest person I knew growing up as his son. He taught me a lot, even when he thought I wasn’t paying attention. So yeah, man. Hold on to the all the great things you remember about your dad. Stay strong and know he’s with you forever.

  43. drugopinions says:

    Beautiful. be kind to others; be kind to yourself. So true. Kindness matters when nothing else does. Thanks for sharing.

  44. Jon Kissner says:

    Chris thanks for sharing your heart with us. I fought along side my wife through her battle with brain cancer for close to two years before she completed her journey in March of 2017. I experienced a lot of what you shared about your fight along side your dad. For me, the hurting has subsided over the months since her passing but I don’t think it ever will completely go away. And that’s okay as I’ve lost a part of me. A significant part. Rewind your memories to those fun, loving times with your dad. Those will never go away and will always be there for you to replay. Pursue those dreams you have and by doing so you will honor your father. Peace be with you.

  45. aviottjohn says:

    I think your father would be very proud and thankful for this loving post if he were to read it. Thank you for his story told with such deep honesty and freighted with love and sadness.

  46. dourdan says:

    true, words to live by

  47. Sorry for your loss. It was a moving post filled with a lot of emotions.

  48. daisyfae says:

    Even when we know it’s coming, we are never prepared for the death of a parent. This is truly the part of growing up that sucks. He did the best he could with what he had. And clearly, he raised a good son.

  49. Doreen Quirk says:

    Chris is a wonderful grandson always knew he was special born on xmas day im very proud of him and his family

  50. It is tricky. To watch someone in pain and know there is nothing to help; to have that someone ask to be released from this Earth when you need them to remain; to let them go; to look beyond the Horizon and gather strength and hope when all you want to do is throw in the towel yourself; to accept their wish, and not your will; to live on after.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: