I say it all the time, my Dad was so much more than a disease. He should be defined for being an incredible husband, father, brother, and friend. He should be remembered for his character and sense of humor, not as someone who had mesothelioma. Dad never wanted the burden of being ill for himself or anyone else; he wanted to be Donnie, not Donnie who had cancer.
Mesothelioma did not change who my father was. It changed his ability physically, but his personality and values remained unchanged. Most of the time, he just wanted to be away from everything that reminded him of his cancer.
Dad loved spending time in the mountains, and this is where he would go when he wanted to get away from it all. We would take rides, go out for dinner, and stop at scenic overlooks to just take some time to relax. He loved playing bluegrass music with his band; it seemed like when he was on stage, he could let go and just be himself, smiling and singing.
Spending time at home with his family was always high on his priority list. He loved getting lost in old stories and making new memories. But he wasn’t afraid to say that he didn’t want to talk about mesothelioma anymore if it were brought up in conversation. Dad was determined not to let this disease run his life. Life is so much more than one setback, it is the sum of all that you are. Dad’s sum total was a beautiful life and he is loved and missed every single day.
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