My father, Antony Basil Kennard, passed away on Father’s Day, June 21, 2020 at the age of 95. Because of Covid, he died without family by his side. But that is not the story I want to tell. I want to tell you about our last Christmas together as a family.
We – my two brothers, my sister and our families – all knew that Christmas 2019 would likely be our Father’s last. He was in long-term care and his health was declining. We decided it was important to get together one last time as family. And for the first time in 15 or more years we would all be together on Christmas Day.
We rented a beautiful house on the ocean just outside of Victoria. Every morning one of us would make the 30-minute drive into Victoria to pick Dad up and bring him up to the ocean house for the day. Every evening a few of us would drive him back. When we first arrived he was mostly confined to a wheel chair, had trouble speaking and putting thoughts together, and spent a lot of time sleeping. By mid-week he could move around the house independently and was carrying conversations. When we left he could go up and down the few stairs into the house; he was telling stories and his sense of humour was back.
On the last Friday at the house we invited his cousin Joan and families over for the evening. He had a sherry, played games with everyone and stayed up well past his usual bed time.
It was powerful to see the transformation he had having his family around.
Throughout the week there were many tears of laughter, joy and sadness. It was truly beautiful to be with family and my father. I have a short 20-second video from the morning we all left and prepared to return home. He is saying goodbye and letting us know he would like to do it again soon.
I am truly grateful for the opportunity we all had to spend one more Christmas with our Dad.