Saying Goodbye

My father, David Hoye, died on Sunday at about 5:30 in the morning. He was seventy years old; he’d been married to my mom for the last forty-five.

He had his own ideas about what was right and how things should be done, and though he’d always listen he didn’t much care who disagreed with him. He was impractical and idealistic and stubborn and if you know me at all I’m sure that comes as no surprise whatsoever. We were differently stubborn people with different ideas though, or perhaps “of course”; finding a common language, much less common ground, was never all that easy. It took me a long time to recognize what I’d decided in my teens was overbearing micromanagement for the uncomplicated thing it really was: caring. Lots of it, all the time. I’ve inherited that too, to my chagrin. And it never goes away and I can never turn it off and if I’m lucky someday my kids will hate it just as much as I did. If I’m really lucky they’ll eventually feel the way I feel about it now, but who can say?

He never complained about pain, ever, so when he had to cut a March visit short because his back was “bothering him”, that was worrying. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer shortly afterwards, and it took longer than we would have liked to get him on a treatment program and a pain-management regimen that seemed to be working. But prostate cancer is one of the ones we’re supposed to be able to manage, right?

It looked that way for a while; the numbers were moving quickly in the right direction, and though he was still weak from the medication and radiation treatments he was lucid, could still move around with some effort and things seemed to be moving in the right direction. On May 5th, though, he was checked back into the hospital in considerable pain, where we found out that whatever he had had metastasized and by that point was basically on fire.

All of his kids got a chance to talk to him while he was still lucid and fully present, for which I’m grateful.

It wasn’t a good week; cancer doesn’t give out many of those. But he was himself, right to the end; stubborn, determined and caring deeply about his wife and family. Another thing I’ve apparently inherited from him is that painkillers don’t work for shit; on Friday I watched him, in a body that barely worked at all, fight his way up past enough morphine to put down a mule to tell my mom he loved her. On Saturday with the painkillers running as hot as the hospital staff could set them he was still struggling to talk, but the only thing we could make out were the names of his wife and kids and him asking us to take care of each other.

I want to tell you a story about him.

This happened in mid-November, I think, when I was seven or eight years old. We’d had a warm, dry lead-up to winter, and though the leaves were long off the trees we hadn’t seen any snow yet. But that evening while the temperature dropped on our calm one-block street, we got about a quarter-inch of freezing rain on top of everything.

Dad woke us up for this; it gets dark early in the winter so I have no idea how late it really was but it felt late. Dad woke us up and got us dressed in our snowsuits and we went out to the front porch, where he helped us put on our skates.

In hindsight, I doubt we were out there for more than twenty minutes. But how can I describe those twenty minutes, through an eight-year-old’s eyes? Everything I’ve grown up around suddenly made of crystal, the whole world from asphalt to the treetops shining in the old yellow streetlights like one diamond. Skating up and down the street, arms out like a superhero, stumbling over exposed pavement and turning around to try again. Ruining our skates, I’m sure, for a few minutes of surreal, magical flight up and down our block.

We were the only kids out there that night of the dozen or so young families on the block, and this is what I wanted to tell you about my Dad: he found this for us, this moment that was as close to magic as anything I’ve ever seen. And anybody else could have done that, sure. But nobody else did, and I doubt anybody believed me when I told them about it the next day or any day since, and I don’t care. I had dreams about it afterwards for years; to this day, sometimes, I still do.

He died early Sunday morning, slowing to a stop after his first decent, painless (I think, I hope) night’s sleep in a long time. And I’ll miss him, and I hope that when my time comes that I can show my family a fraction of the love and dedication that he did.

Goodbye, Dad. I love you.

10 Comments

  1. Lisa
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    Ah Mike, I’m so so so at a loss. My most epic condolences for you, your family, and all of us that have been touched by the awesomeness that was David Hoye. I love your story, and I hope you share that, and so much more with your kids and wife as you create your own stories. I keep finding myself telling uncle David stories to friends and coworkers, and it’s making me appreciate him (and your mum) even more. I loved getting to be “hosted” by your parents, whether in Ottawa, Vancouver, Vernon or Bowen. They made Steve feel welcome, and kept us entertained, well fed, and shared their love.
    Thank you for sharing your story. Lots of love from the West.

  2. Anne
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  3. Posted May 14, 2014 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    A beautiful eulogy, I’m sure your dad would be proud. It’s great that you can think of the good memories in a time of grief. Best wishes to you and yours.

  4. Mike
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Condolences on your loss.

  5. Posted May 14, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    my condolences; i am in toronto once a quarter because my dad has cancer too. See you the next time in the Toronto office!

  6. Elin
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Michael, this was a beautiful note about your dad. I loved him so much, and all of you Hoyes. Your wonderful spirit and story-telling and love of life and adventure are great legacies of your dad. We are all going to miss him dearly.
    love your cousin E.

  7. davidb
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Here’s to those moments. Thanks for sharing and all my best.

  8. Dan M
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    A beautiful story. Thanks for sharing, and sorry for your loss.

  9. Lib
    Posted May 17, 2014 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    OH Mike,
    SO very sorry for your loss… much love to you and the whole family and our deepest sympathies.

  10. Posted May 18, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    From your words it sounds like your dad was amazing in very much his own way. My condolences to you and your family.