Living with a cancer afflicted parent — A Series — Part 25

Creating memories


I’ve always been worried about not spending enough time with my Dad, especially more since his diagnosis. When I was finishing my Master’s in Singapore, I would crave to be with him and book flight tickets for home on every long holiday. But that feeling would always return. Often, I would lock myself in the room and hate being away and not with him. That mood would continue until more pressing issues like assignment deadlines knocked on my door. However, that changed the moment I saw him and Mum arrive at my graduate commencement ceremony.

I still remember waiting for both them outside our commencement hall, and the moment Dad stepped out he broke into tears and pulled out his phone to take my photos. Mum excitedly handed me a black ring she had just purchased as it matched with my saree. I rushed them into the hall to get better photos near the graduation banner and make them meet my friends. Dad was excited, his daughter was finally graduating, and he was there with her.

I realised it then, that creating moments mattered more that just being around.

As a friend once told me, you’ll remember the moments spend with your Dad not the worries you had over being away from him.

And that’s kind of stuck with me.

I write this post in order to emphasise this point. Creating memories matters. And that takes time and effort. Some memories will be stronger than the other. But they’ll always have a way of coming back to you in the most unusual of manners.

Last evening, I sat down with Dad over a game of Ludo. I thought thirty minutes of his evening will be spend without getting bored. We played an easy game, which ended pretty quickly. A game of Snakes and Ladders followed, which was over in 15 minutes, with a super chill win by Dad. As I was wrapping up the games, Dad noticed a pack of cards lying in the box, and he asked me to pick it out.

Much to my surprise, Dad was keen to play a hand of Rummy. I had never played it previously, and so I was straight up blank about it. As Dad progressed on explaining the game to me, I realised that I was actually creating a wonderful memory.

A memory of learning card games by him.

Dad was quick, smart and clever with his cards. He held the thirteen cards in his hand, while picking and dropping quickly, while I was struggling to hold them together. He gave me insights into how to play it well, what to look for, which sequence to make first etc. We ended up playing five rounds of the game and planning the next day’s game time as well.

As I’ll look back on this time after many years, I probably won’t remember the last evening; but every time I play cards, I’ll remember that Dad taught me my first game of Rummy. Just like I’ll never forget that Dad taught me driving. Or living in the moment. Or enjoying the foul smell of sugar factories as we would drive past them during the vacation trips to our ancestral home in Uttar Pradesh.

We all built memories with our loved one, knowingly or unknowingly. But the memories that stick with us are the memories that define our relationship. These are the collections that you’d want to frame in your mind, and the living room’s wall. These are the instances which will bring tears as well bursts of laughter in the future. And these are the memories that matter.

These are moments that have defined Dad for me. Even the difficult moments, where we both have argued a lot, have enlightened us in knowing each other better. They let us build a persona to remember for a lifetime. And that’s what I am doing. I am building Dad’s image. I’m not letting this difficult time define us in a painful light, rather using this time as the longest time we’ve spent together as adults.

I lost 4 -1 last night. But I won a wonderful memory for the rest of my life.


Hi, I’m Mariyam, thank you for reading my post. This is part of my series on finding positivity and decoding the ‘be positive’ attitude as my father fights through aggressive oral cancer.

If you liked it, you can read other posts on http://mariyamrazahaider.com.

You can also follow me on twitter @MariyamRaza for more. Much love 🙂

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