Pamela MacNaughtan

It’s been almost two months since my Dad passed away in a hospital room in Fergus, Ontario. I remember getting the call to drive home early from Qu├ębec City, which resulted in the longest nine hours of my life, where I pleaded for him to wait for me to get to his bedside. Two days later I was holding his hand, stroking his hair, and telling him it was time for him to go. I then watched him take his last breath.

I didn’t cry at first, not there, in front of my Mother. I needed to stay strong, so I left the room, broke down when I told the nurse he had passed, and went to find my brother, who was trying to call his boss.

In the beginning I was afraid I would quickly forget those last two days in the hospital, the three of us taking turns sleeping, finding ways to laugh and joke, reminiscing about the days when all of us were still living under the same roof.

This is how our family copes. Snark, and jokes. At the funeral home we almost considered moving the funeral as my brother had suddenly remembered that his daughters had tickets to Frozen On Ice for the same day. Surely there is a law about going to a funeral and seeing your favourite Disney princesses on ice in the same day?! We were all zombies at that point, Dad had passed away that morning, and in our grief we joked at the madness of moving a funeral to make it easier to see Frozen On Ice.

I’m pretty sure the funeral director thought we were all crazy, but it lightened our mood.

I dream about him, my Dad. I haven’t told anyone in my family because I know I am the only one, I don’t want to hurt their feelings. Sometimes he is part of a cast of characters, and sometimes I know in the dream that he is dead. There is one dream where I am pulling into the driveway of the house we lived in when I was in high school. As I pull into the driveway I can see one of my uncles inside the house, I know he’s dead and wonder why he’s there, and then I see my Dad. It’s as though they are waiting for me to get home, to see me. When I walk in the door, I can feel them, touch them. And then I wake up.

I always wake up feeling completely drain when I dream of my Dad. Most of the time I wish I could stay in bed and sleep off the exhaustion, but I know I can’t, I have to go to work at Flight Centre.

I started working for Flight Centre when Dad was still with us. At the time his health was bad enough that he needed to live in a long-term care facility, and after spending a few months caring for him at home, I needed something to keep me busy. I had blown through most of my savings, so travel was out of the question, and besides, I was afraid to leave him. So, I did the next best thing, I became a travel consultant (agent).

I love my job, helping people plan their travels can be a lot of fun, especially when I get to piece everything together myself. In a way it’s like I’m planning my own travels. And getting a paycheck every two weeks is pretty sweet too. After four years of freelance I don’t have to worry about every single penny, but in a bad that is a bad thing. I can feel myself becoming comfortable, and I’m not sure if that is a good thing. Planning travel adventures for others may be fun, but I still need to have my own adventures.

Gone are the days when I would see a fabulous seat sale, buy a plane ticket, and take-off. I have a boss now, and co-workers. I’m still relatively new, so they tend to hover and almost smother me. I understand it’s their job, but I find it difficult to deal with, especially since my Mom tends to hover around me when I’m home. The only time people are not hovering around me is when I’m driving to and from work, and when I go to bed at night. It’s enough to make this independent solo female traveller bonkers. I bit the inside of my mouth, hard, to keep myself from snapping at people to back-off. I feel caged, and that is never a good thing.

In a couple days I’ll fly to Vancouver for a short getaway, my first since Dad died. I am beyond excited. Not only will I spend a few hours on a plane, but I’ll stay in hotel rooms by myself, I’ll be able to do anything and everything without someone hovering over me, or checking up on me. It’s a frightening amount of freedom, and I find myself doing a lot of pre-trip research and planning, in an effort to not spend my days in bed, or aimlessly wandering the streets of downtown Vancouver.

Will this trip be enough of a break? Will I come home overflowing with wanderlust and plan my next big trip? Anything is possible.

In many ways I feel like a different person. Many of the things that were tying me to Canada are gone, I still have my Mom and brothers and nieces, but they don’t need me to be here 24/7. Which means I am free to start over, begin anew. It’s both exciting and overwhelming. There are too many choices, too many possibilities, and I find myself to be too distracted to make solid life decisions right now, so I’m not going to.

For now I am going to work on finding myself voice again.


  • Theresa S

    July 14, 2015

    Pam, I am sorry to hear about your dad, he is a great man. Your writing is beautiful, and I am captivated in your words.


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