Friday, October 19, 2018

RIP Leslie Anama 1954-2018

When Stuart Scott accepted the Jimmy V award at the 2014 Espy Awards, he said this:

"When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live. So, live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you."

On February 13, 2017, I wrote a post about my dad, who was then beginning a fight to battle both colo-rectal and liver cancer.

I received a phone call from my mother, at 5:59 am. Fifteen minutes earlier, my dad passed away from complications that came after battling both. He was in pain since last Friday, and we were told that he might not make it through the week. As the week progressed, his body was starting to let go. Today, his spirit finally did.

I wrote this on Facebook on Monday regarding my dad. It took a lot of time to process what was going on, but I had finally put fingers to the keyboard. This is what I wrote:

It's been a rough few days. I haven't had much time to gather my thoughts together until tonight. This will be a long post. Just to warn you, it's going to look like random thoughts and musings, but that's my writing style, and my thoughts come out faster than my typing wpm (words per minute).

So I'm sure by now you've heard (at least if you're friends with me on FB, you've seen posts from my mother and siblings) that my dad, Leslie Filoteo Anama, is in what could be his final days left after a long, hard fought battle with colo-rectal and liver cancer, as well as all the illnesses that came along with it. It's never an easy comfort knowing that a parent, or someone of great influence in life, is preparing to leave this physical world. It was hard enough when my grandmother passed away ten years ago, but even harder now knowing it's my dad.

My family has asked for prayers. Many friends, old and new, have visited my sister's house to pay their respects to him. Although i have been with him three out of the past four nights, tonight was truly the night I was able to spend a few minutes alone with him.

The lyric from Mike and the Mechanics' "The Living Years" came to mind the other night:

"I wasn't there that morning, when my father passed away.
I didn't get to tell him all the things I had to say."

I wanted to make sure that tonight, if it was truly my final chance to be with him, that I did say my piece.

I told him that I regretted not being there for him, even when I had the opportunity to do so, to go with him to the hospital for any of his therapies. I figured that with my sisters or those who lived closer going with him that it wasn't necessary for me to join in. That was a mistake on my part, and that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I told him that I did not have the outgoing personalities of my four siblings, keeping quiet or to myself even at our weekly family dinners. I know he knows that. But when I go to work at Walgreens, and I have to talk to people, and am outside my comfort zone (which is almost every time I talk to people), I channel his energy. He was always the host/emcee of his alumni activities, and I realized that my mannerisms change (positive changes) when I interact with customers. I guess it helps that he worked for Walgreens for many years too, along with other customer-service oriented jobs.

I told him that I wished that I was half-the-father he was with me that I am with my children. I hoped that I made him proud as a dad to my kids because I tried to think what would he have done if he faced the situations I did with mine when they were younger. While I factored in what I "thought" he would do, in most cases, I had to make my own unique decisions. Did they always work? Let's say that while there are things I could have done better, I think my kids turned out all right.

I told him that his legacy will live on, not just with his five children, but his six grandchildren as well. Each of them have certain qualities inherited from their "Lolo." Lynn has his sense of humor, outgoing personality, and one dimple when she smiles. Taylor has his sense of self-discipline along with mathematical acuity.

I apologized for scaring him when I had my "blackout" moments. He knows what I mean, and I'm going to stop there.

I told him that I know that I wasn't the perfect son. I made my fair share of mistakes, and yes, I caught hell from him for it.
But no matter what, I am honored and am forever grateful to be his.

I told him I'm going to miss those daily 8:30 am phone calls. He wanted to try to call each of his kids every day (M-F). Even if it was just for a minute in between stops while he was working at Sonesta to say hi, or an hour at home being fascinated that I was talking to him through a smartwatch (Dick Tracy references were abundant that day), it was great to talk to him, even for a little bit.

I said thanks for welcoming Zebeda to our family. Thank you for being there for the births of Lynn and Taylor. Yes, I know that he was not actually there when it happened, but he came bringing pastries for the hospital staff that took care of Zeb and the kids. On behalf of my kids, I thanked him for coming to all of Lynn's dance shows, even if she was in one dance in the second act. I thanked him for coming to their band concerts, school activities and other random activities over the years. I thanked him for taking an active part in their lives.

Finally, because I was asked, yes, I'm ready to "let go." I've said my goodbye. But just because I did, it doesn't mean it is easy for me. Even when we were apart for those years in the mid-80's, I always knew he was there, working hard to get us all together again. And he succeeded in doing so. And even after 20 years of living with my own family, living a few towns away, I knew we'd still be able to visit on an almost regular basis (weekly or otherwise). Now, I have to face a reality that he isn't going to be around, and it truly hurts.

Yes, he will soon be leaving the physical world. But emotionally, spiritually, mentally, I know my dad will always be here. I said one final time that I love him, and always will. I thanked him for everything and said I'd make sure that we will continue on, sharing stories, jokes, and lessons that he imparted over the years.

If you've made it to the end of this rambling post, thank you very much for taking time out of your day to read this. If you've responded to my mom and sibling's posts with thoughts, prayers, or even made a visit to the house, on behalf of my family, thank you.

Dad, you fought like hell. Until the day that we see each other again...


JayBee Anama