Cherish the Memories: Guest Post from The Hammer

03.20.2014 | 7:07 pm

“Your elevated PSA levels would indicate that the prostate cancer has come back and this time it will be terminal.”

A few days later the bone scan confirms that the cancer has metastasized to the bones. The radiologist explains, “its everywhere.” 

This is the news that my dad and our family was faced with this last week.

As I reflect on the past few months, the signs were there: weight loss, along with increasing discomfort in his back and legs. Signs that you want to ignore and explain away as stress, or growing old. 

I keep telling myself that we are lucky. Receiving a terminal diagnosis of cancer at age 82 is better that receiving one at 40, right? Everyone has to die sometime.

Then why do I feel so sad?  

Maybe its because he’s my dad, and dads are always supposed to be there.


I remember how I challenged his patience when he taught me algebra, or when he taught me how to drive a stick shift. I remember how he challenged me on our summer vacations that always included hiking some mountain or canyon.  

Unbeknownst to me at the time, he was passing on his love of hiking and of the great outdoors to me. That explains why he and I have ascended the 3000ft climb to the top of Y mountain every month for the past 12 1/2 years.  A lot of advice, laughs and tears have been shared while climbing that trail with my faithful hiking buddy.

He may not be a man of many words, but he always lends a listening ear.  

Now that I know that my time with dad will be cut short, I will cherish the memories and make new ones.  The questions that need to be asked will be asked.  My gratitude and love will be expressed more freely.  

I will make the time count.  


So as the ominous black cancer strikes again, we are reminded that life is short. We all eventually pass from this life. Let the ones that are important to you know how you feel.

Don’t hold grudges and bitter feelings. Say you’re sorry. 

Say those “three little words” that can be difficult for some to say.  

Thanks for letting me unload.  


  1. Comment by Terri | 03.20.2014 | 7:16 pm

    Lisa, prayers for grace, peace, and comfort for as you walk this difficult journey with your Father.

  2. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.20.2014 | 7:25 pm

    I think we can all say “we love your Dad too” ’cause he helped make you, and for that we are all thankful.

    Prayers for him, and you, from The Houston’s.

  3. Comment by BamaJim | 03.20.2014 | 7:51 pm

    Praying for Graceland peace for you and your family

  4. Comment by BamaJim | 03.20.2014 | 7:53 pm

    Sorry, apparently can’t type. Supposed to say praying for grace and peace for you and your family.

  5. Comment by ClydeinKS | 03.20.2014 | 7:59 pm

    Just guessing here, could he be termed Sledge (Hammer) – just a little larger and shows the connection for passing on awesomeness? Let him know there is love and prayers being sent from KS and thanks for providing inspiration. I may have to take up hiking – incredible and such a great tradition you held together!

  6. Comment by Liz M. | 03.20.2014 | 8:00 pm

    Oh, Lisa, I am so sorry. My father was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, unknown primary last year — nearly the same age as your dad. I have experienced many of the same feelings. We have been lucky to have some good times since then. I send hopes for the same for your family.

  7. Comment by yannb | 03.20.2014 | 9:49 pm

    Karen, Isabella and I are so sorry to hear about your dad’s cancer. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Elden and the kids.

  8. Comment by Mike C | 03.20.2014 | 9:52 pm

    So sorry to hear about your dad. I hope he knows how his family has touched the lives of so many others. Perhaps knowing that there are many of us out here sending our prayers and best wishes can provide just a tiny bit of comfort.

  9. Comment by Clydesteve | 03.20.2014 | 10:03 pm

    Dear Lisa,

    I am so sorry to hear this. My prayers are with you. At the same time I really appreciate what you have said, and how you have said it in this column.

    Grace and best wishes,


  10. Comment by Cheryl | 03.20.2014 | 10:19 pm

    I am so sorry to hear such news. it is just another reminder that none of us knows our time or the time of our friends and family. JUST last week my rabbis 37 year old sister in law passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. we all need appreciate our families and friends everyday. we shouldn’t take anything for granted.

  11. Comment by lynn e | 03.20.2014 | 10:54 pm

    Aren’t you both blessed and fortunate.

  12. Comment by Brian in VA | 03.21.2014 | 6:52 am

    Very sad to read this, Lisa, and very happy to know that you’ll make the most of the time left available. He should be very proud of the daughter he raised and is leaving to carry on his good work of making the world a better place.

    Holding all of you in the light.

  13. Comment by Papa Bear | 03.21.2014 | 7:56 am

    Lisa, I just want you to know that I know what you’re going through. We lost my Father-in-law (who I loved more than my own father) to metastatic cancer a couple of years ago. It doesn’t matter how old they are, you’re never ready.

    My thoughts and prayers go with you and your family.

  14. Comment by Sunny | 03.21.2014 | 8:00 am

    We’re never prepared emotionally to say good bye to a loved one.

  15. Comment by Daddystyle | 03.21.2014 | 8:26 am

    Feel the love

  16. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 03.21.2014 | 8:46 am

    “I will make the time count”. Best quote ever. I’ll forever have a lingering regret that I wasn’t able to be with my mom more during her last year. You are helping him, and yourself, by being there. Hope it all goes as smoothly as these things can.

  17. Comment by Lisa in Athens | 03.21.2014 | 8:49 am

    My prayers and thoughts to you and yours during this time.
    And tomorrow, on my Daddy-Daughter Date Day, I’ll hug my Dad an extra time for you.

  18. Comment by BostonCarlos (formerly NYC) | 03.21.2014 | 8:59 am

    So sorry to hear the news about Papa Hammer (the Sledge Hammer?). We’re thinking about you and the family out here in Boston.

  19. Comment by Angie Jones | 03.21.2014 | 9:11 am

    Lisa, Really sorry to hear about your dad. Glad you have some time left. I hope you and your family can find peace during this time. Angie

  20. Comment by Dave T | 03.21.2014 | 9:12 am

    Lisa, so sorry to hear about your dad. Your family is in our thoughts sending love your way from Amy, Rob and I.

  21. Comment by UpTheGrade, SR, CA | 03.21.2014 | 9:30 am

    Lisa, you are both lucky to have such a great “hiking buddy”, I hope you can scale some new heights in the precious time left.

  22. Comment by Erin | 03.21.2014 | 9:46 am

    Best wishes to you and yours, Lisa.

  23. Comment by Rob W | 03.21.2014 | 9:53 am

    I am so sorry to hear about your dad. This is very near the surface to me. My dad is 70 years old. He is currently in ICU battling pneumonia which has progressed to ARDS (Acute respiratory distress syndrome). The docs have given him a 50/50 chance of survival. Even the pulmonologist cannot predict which way he is gonna go.

    Life is definetly so delicate. Lots of prayers being sent your way. I hope you have some great days still ahead with your dad!!

  24. Comment by Julia | 03.21.2014 | 9:54 am

    Praying for the strength and peace that only God can give for you and your family, Lisa. And for lots of laughs, love, good conversation and everlasting memories between you and your dad for the time (which I pray is a lot) you’ve got left together.

  25. Comment by New Zealand Ev | 03.21.2014 | 9:54 am

    Thanks for sharing this difficult journey you must take. You are in our thoughts down here in New Zealand.

  26. Comment by Jerry Pringle | 03.21.2014 | 10:50 am

    Peace to you and your family. Cherish the time you have with him (sounds like you are!)

  27. Comment by annmarie | 03.21.2014 | 11:04 am

    Well this isn’t very eloquent but that news just sucks. Your dad sounds like a great man. And your words about him make me want to go hug my kids right now. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry that you and your family have to go through this. I watched my dad lose both parents to cancer and I know it’s a tough battle. I’ll keep your family in my prayers.

  28. Comment by Heidi | 03.21.2014 | 11:08 am

    Wishing everyone the very best. You’re so very fortunate to have each other.

  29. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 03.21.2014 | 11:14 am

    I’m so sorry, Lisa. Hugs.

  30. Comment by Rob & Joanna Szrama | 03.21.2014 | 11:24 am

    The heart is saddened, the tears agree, and still the beauty of sentiment in a letter from one known through a digital divide uplift in their simple eloquent reflection. We hope you find comfort in those lovely memories and have opportunity to make more in the time cut short. Our prayers are with you.

  31. Comment by Mark J. in Dallas | 03.21.2014 | 11:27 am

    I admire your outlook and plan to make the time count. Be very thankful you have that time to make sure you say everything you want to. Prayers for a peace for your whole family.

  32. Comment by Vickie in Batavia, IL | 03.21.2014 | 11:53 am

    It’s never easy…I’m so sorry. I’m glad you have so many good memories (and maybe enough time to make a few more). Prayers for peace and comfort for you and your family, and for good pain control for your dad.

  33. Comment by Malikn71 | 03.21.2014 | 11:55 am

    I wish you all the best. Stay strong, remember the good and forever cherish the time. Prayers and thoughts with you all.

  34. Comment by The Cyclist | 03.21.2014 | 12:25 pm

    So sad…

  35. Comment by KevinM_Indiana | 03.21.2014 | 1:28 pm

    Prayers for you, your father and entire family during this difficult time. As one who lost my father as a teen I understand the loss you will be feeling. I pray each day that now that I have a teen that I can be the father to him that he deserves.

    Keep your head up and remember the good times and cherish the time you have left with your father.

    God Bless!

  36. Comment by centurion | 03.21.2014 | 1:42 pm

    My 87 year old Dad, who smoked cigars since he was 14, had his thyroid removed a few months ago due to thyroid cancer. You and your Dad aren’t alone. It’s not happy, it just is. We deal with it the best we can because it reminds us all that we are just visiting.

  37. Comment by rtinsea | 03.21.2014 | 2:07 pm

    I’m so sorry, I lost my father almost three years ago with a strikingly similar initial diagnosis. I love your post. Your ending is easily the most positive and actionable thought I’ve heard all day. Thank you for “unloading.” Cherish your time.

  38. Comment by NancyJBS | 03.21.2014 | 2:20 pm

    Oh Lisa! I’m so sorry to hear this. You are right when you say that his age doesn’t matter. It’s the idea of losing him that hurts. Clearly you two have stayed close all through your life. How beautiful!

    You and Sledge (thanks @ClydeinKS for that excellent handle… hope Sledge likes it), as well as your whole family are in my prayers. I pray that you will all find beauty in the way each moment becomes precious when you know time is short, relief in the way everyday annoyances and inconveniences seem to lose their power to vex you, and joy in simply being together and remembering.

  39. Comment by George | 03.21.2014 | 3:34 pm

    As a father, I can say about the best thing in the world is a hug from my daughter. Give him a big hug every chance you get.
    Thoughts are with you.

  40. Comment by mellabella | 03.21.2014 | 3:41 pm

    I am so sorry to hear this! What a beautifully written tribute to your relationship with your dad. Thanks for the reminder to make the most of the time we have. You and your family will be in my prayers.

  41. Comment by Eric | 03.21.2014 | 3:47 pm

    Prayers for your family. Stay strong.

  42. Comment by Hammer/Lisa | 03.21.2014 | 5:07 pm

    Thanx everyone!!! It’s been a really hard week. Your comments have been a comfort!

  43. Comment by James | 03.21.2014 | 9:21 pm

    Sorry Lisa, your dad sounds like a great guy.

  44. Comment by Tina | 03.21.2014 | 9:39 pm

    So sorry to hear of this. Best wishes to everyone involved. Having been there, it’s one of the hardest situation a person can go through. It is really hard. And so painful in ways you expect and in ways you don’t expect.

    Do let go of all those mixed feelings, bitterness, and grudges, if you have any. It’s just not worth it, trust me on this.

    In the end, we’re all flawed.

    Problem with letting down our dukes is that we feel so vulnerable, and we just don’t know how to act outside of whatever our “norm” may be, so we tend to continue/hold on to what we’re used to.

    It all doesn’t matter in the end. One of the most painful lessons I’ve ever had to learn.

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

  45. Comment by Tony | 03.21.2014 | 9:41 pm

    My dad took to riding a bicycle later in life. But, he didn’t hesitate to encourage me to ride. And he bought me a nice racing bike when he couldn’t afford it. Weekend mornings we rode to the club ride and once we got there I would ride with the fast riders, leaving my dad behind.

    I never thought one day he wouldn’t be somewhere back there down the road. But that day came fast and out of the blue. Maybe he saw it coming.

    Sometimes, I tell myself, my dad is with me when I ride. I wish I rode slower when I had the chance.

    It’s good that you spent those days together. Those days really count.

  46. Comment by Jeff | 03.21.2014 | 10:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing. It is so great that you have so many wonderful memories with your father. I am sure that he is very proud of you and all that you have become!

  47. Comment by buckythedonkey | 03.22.2014 | 3:55 am

    He sounds like a good man. To be frank, I envy you for all those hikes. I miss my Mum so much, and its all the memories I have of her, particularly of her with my girls, that keeps me together. Thank you for sharing.

  48. Comment by JerseyJoe | 03.22.2014 | 8:33 am

    The same cancer took my beloved father at 81. Your comments really resonated with me, simply swap hiking for golf ;)

    That was back in ‘96 and I still miss him every day. More heartbreaking is he never met his grandkids.

    Treasure every minute and thanks for putting yourself out there.

  49. Comment by cyclingjimbo | 03.22.2014 | 2:17 pm

    Sad news indeed, Lisa, and we are sharing your sorrow. You can see from all the comments that you are not going through this alone. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    What a wonderful legacy your father is leaving through you and all your experiences with him. You have many wonderful memories, and you are a reflection of his life and love. Thanks for sharing his story with us.

  50. Comment by Margaret | 03.22.2014 | 2:31 pm

    No matter how old your father is, it is never long enough. People will tell you, “well, he lived a long life”. You still want your Daddy if you are like me. Hug him every chance you get. I am sorry to hear this.

  51. Comment by Aaron | 03.22.2014 | 3:55 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this, yet so happy to know that you have been able to do what you both love for so long. Prayers go out to your family.

  52. Comment by Mayhemnsuz | 03.22.2014 | 5:11 pm

    What terrible news. I am amazed with the strength and grace with which you told this story. I hope that your dad’s pain is eased and that you get to enjoy all the time you have together. Sending thoughts and love from DC.

  53. Comment by TominAlbany | 03.22.2014 | 6:46 pm

    Lisa, I’m so sorry that you had bad news. I wish you all peace and strength.

  54. Comment by Joel Helfire | 03.22.2014 | 8:46 pm

    Hey Lisa, I am so sad to read this! My thoughts and prayers with you guys. Your dad is one of my favorite people in the whole world. I am forever in his debt for getting me into hiking and mountain biking. So many funny stories about him — he is so funny. So many hours spent shepherding scouts up mountains. Amazing man.

  55. Comment by Tes | 03.22.2014 | 9:01 pm

    What tragic news. I’m so sorry. I hope the time you have remaining adds to what sounds like the wonderful memories you already have. You and your family are in my thoughts.

  56. Comment by Skippy | 03.23.2014 | 3:58 am

    Never easy to walk in someonelse’s footprints . No matter what the Future offers , you will have cherished memories from the near future .

    May his passing be a comfort to his Family .

  57. Comment by daddyo | 03.23.2014 | 12:32 pm

    Celebrate the life well lived now.

  58. Comment by Libby | 03.23.2014 | 9:21 pm

    I’m sorry about your Dad…my Mom just died at the age of 91 and it was/is still hard to see her go & to know I can’t ask her questions or tell her something anything anymore. Well until we meet again (then I get to ask her if it was a big surprise that there actually WAS an afterlife).

    Take care and cherish your time and memories together.

    Cycle/run/swim on

  59. Comment by spaceyace | 03.23.2014 | 10:35 pm

    I’m at that age where I’m realizing I won’t have my parents forever and that it’s important to cherish the time we spend together. Your story reminds me again. Thanks for sharing with us.

    I hope your dad’s last days are full of love and light with his family, and that you will make many more memories to carry with you. He sounds like a wonderful person.

    Peace and love to you in this difficult time.

  60. Comment by Clymber | 03.24.2014 | 8:53 am

    Our thoughts & prayers are with you & your family. Thanks for the reminder to cherish the time we have. I know you’re making some great memories!

  61. Comment by Jim Tolar | 03.24.2014 | 9:10 am

    So very sorry, Lisa. The only positive to this is that you have some time to share with him, although it sounds to me like he’s done the work beforehand, building a lifetime of memories with you that you’ll have forever. Well done, Dad. Good luck to you all.


  62. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 03.24.2014 | 10:09 am

    Why do you feel sad? Because it is sad. Be how you are and need to be. Not saying that’s easy, or comfortable. Sorry…….

  63. Comment by Carl | 03.24.2014 | 11:12 am

    So sorry to hear the news Lisa. I wish there is something to say to make it easier…

  64. Comment by Steven Nichols | 03.24.2014 | 11:38 am

    I have an “I Ride for Robert Stanton Nichols” sticker on my bike. I see it every time I ride. He too died of metastatic cancer and I miss him every day. You will survive but fortunately, so will your memories of your dad every time you climb that mountain.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, Eldon and your extended family.

  65. Comment by ScottR | 03.24.2014 | 3:56 pm

    Best wishes to your family, and to your father’s remaining time.

  66. Comment by Susie H | 03.26.2014 | 12:23 pm

    So sorry, Lisa…thank you for sharing with us and for also reminding us that we don’t know what’s around the next corner. I will love a little more deeply going forward from today.

  67. Comment by Christina | 03.26.2014 | 1:37 pm

    I am so sorry to hear this. Best wishes as the days go by.

  68. Comment by Joseph | 03.27.2014 | 4:57 pm

    My prayers are with you. My 86 year old dad has been the primary caregiver of my mom. But he fell and broke his arm. Dad has always been there for us (7 children)- he taught me how to ride a bike, took me on my first backpacking expedition, educated me, taught me how to pray and advised me on countless problems. Now we must be there for him.

    Anyway, make every day count. But not necessarily every packed with activities. I have visited many sick and dying people (I am a Catholic priest). The most important thing is your presence, support and love. The mountain peak may be dear, but not as dear as you at his side.

    God bless

  69. Comment by KevinM | 03.28.2014 | 10:29 am

    Lisa and family,

    I am sorry to hear of this news. I am praying for you all that the time at hand will be full of joy and building memories.

    Dang you cancer someday we are going to kick your butt! (all age reference to cancer)

    Let’s keep fighting like only Team Fatty can!!!

  70. Comment by susername | 03.29.2014 | 8:01 am


    I’m very sorry about your dad’s illness. Losing a father like him (my own was nothing like that) will leave a huge hole in your heart and soul, but one that can be almost filled by all of the wonderful experiences and memories you have with him. It seems to me that your father’s love for the outdoors is alive and well in you. You’ll always be able to find him there.

    Peace to you both.



Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.