On May 3, 2017 I received "the call". It's the same call that all of us either dread or have dreaded in the past.
My father was calling to tell me that he had been diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. It had already spread to his liver and his doctor had given him 3-6 months left to live,
We spoke for less than 10 minutes as he had a series of people he still had to call to break the news to them, The one thing he said during that call that could offer some comfort after a devastating blow was that he had lived 78 good years and had no regrets. He was ready to face this new challenge head on.
Receiving news like this is always tough for everyone and nobody's ever quite ready for it. Naturally, it was a devastating call.
But here's the worst part of getting this call. My career dictates that I have to be in a great mood while I work. I have to entertain a roomful of people. I have to bring joy, smiles and laughter to those people because I've been paid good money to do it.
On May 5th, I did the best I could under those circumstances.
The following Saturday, May 13th was not as simple.
At 4 p.m. on that Saturday afternoon I received word that my dad had fallen and had been taken to the hospital for evaluation,
An hour later, the bride was walking down the aisle.
That night was the toughest night I've ever had to work. While I pumped my fists in the air, clapped my hands in the air, smiled and shuffled, my mind was completely on my dad's well being. While the dance floor was jamming, that's the easy part. It was trying to speak and make sense that I would fall apart each time. The worst part is I had to keep it secret. You don't want to tell a bride on her wedding day "Hey, my Dad's terminally ill, he's fallen and he's 400 miles away and I'm really worried about him. Can we go ahead and cut the cake so I can go pack a suitcase to go see him?"
Most people can ask their boss if they can leave early when this happens. We can't.
Long story short, Dad was okay with a bruise on his head. The dance floor was full and my mic work was shoddy at best.
The parties in June went better as he became a bit more stable and was adjusting to his changing body and I didn't have to worry as much about him.
I was fortunate to be able to go to South Carolina several times this summer to visit with my Dad, take him to doctor appointments, help him around the house and more.
On July 21, 2017, just two and a half months after his initial diagnosis, Dad took his last breath, surrounded by his girlfriend, my sister and myself. That was twelve days ago.
Last night I did my first party since his death. As expected, I'm still grieving as you all would be. But again, I clapped, I smiled, I shuffled and people danced.
Because as you find out once you're an entertainer, the show must go on.
No matter how tough it can be sometimes.