Saturday, December 25, 2010
The Loss of Daniel J Valadez
Three days ago my stepdad, Daniel Valadez passed away.
Dan and my mom have been divored for eleven years, but really they have been together since I was three years old. A divorce didn't really change their marriage; They still lived together, they still bickered, and they still loved eachother.
Their relationship was different, but no matter what transpired between my mom and Dan, they lived together the last twenty five years. They also raised my eighteen year old brother, Billy, together.
I spoke to Dan last Sunday and it was a sad call. He specifically told me, "I'm not dying or anything," so part of me assumed my mother had exaggerated the situation to me. Unfortunately, my mom's fear was correct. Dan and I talked and he cried and kept apologizing to me as I kept telling him that I am not upset with him for anything.
Dan was not my father biologically, but through marriage; My father, Steve Chiperno, is my father, but Dan was my dad, too. I didn't send him "step-dad" cards on Father's day and my kids do call him Grandpa. Dan was there with me for years while my father was in Alaska. Dan got to participate in my life in ways my father was never able to. For all of the time that my dad, Steve, could not be there I had my dad, Dan.
Growing up both of my parents had their vices and I don't think I will ever fully understand them. What I do understand is that I don't have an addiction to anything, and without ever having an addiction, I don't think I will ever fully understand what one feels like. Years ago, after having Stephen, I let go of any anger I had towards Dan and learned to change what I expected of him. I remembered all of the things I loved to do with Dan and all of our special "don't tell your mom", moments.
This week I remember our trips to taco bell and the years he spent coaching my teams at soccer. I remember his jokes and tricks and his chuckle and smile. I remember his calm talks with me and all of the nice things he has said to me since I became a mother.
The last five years Dan has been very ill; His quality of life changed, and it changed fast. For years Dan has not been able to enjoy food, he has not been able to stay awake long or often even walk up the stairs. I am very sad Dan is no longer with us, but I am thankful that he is not in pain any longer and that when he died his daughter, Tracey, and my mother and brother as well as cousins and his grandchildren were all with him. I know he was scared to leave, but I am glad that he can be in peace now and it comforts me to think he is looking down on us.