Daley Curry on her dad Ora
If I could bottle up a memory and carry it with me for the rest of my life, it would be October 15th, 2021: my dad’s last birthday.
It truly was nothing crazy.
My dad never made a fuss out of his Birthday and instead only ever insisted that all of my family was together.
The pure mundanity of that day, however, is what I hold closest to my heart. I had absolutely no idea that in less than six months I would no longer be able to watch my dad blow out birthday candles or tell stories from his childhood.
That October day embodied everything that my Dad loved most in his life: family, laughter, joy, good food, and company.
By some small sliver of fate, my university’s fall break aligning with the weekend of my Dad’s birthday allowed me to come home to Connecticut for that weekend.
In fact, he even insisted upon being the one to pick me up from the airport since it was his birthday. After a 2-hour plane ride, I hopped into his silver forerunner and handed him a bag of half-eaten combos while greeting him with an all too smug “happy birthday.”
He laughed, asking if these combos were his gift. I shook my head, knowing that his real gift was being stored safely in my suitcase.
I should interrupt this anecdote by explaining who my dad truly was as a person. In my mind, he was notorious for singing off-key, mispronouncing words, and asking a million questions about anything he found interesting.
f he wasn’t watching sports, he was talking about them, using terms to describe games that I could never possibly understand (that’s my brother’s job).
He was a great cook, loved to snowmobile, hated grocery shopping, and thoroughly enjoyed spending time outside.
It’s also imperative that I mention that my stubbornness and impeccable ability to argue are both direct products of my dad’s influence on me, but he would probably disagree with me if I tried to tell him that!
Nobody would’ve realized that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon cancer in 2019 unless he told you himself.
I barely ever heard him complain despite the immense toll that the cancer was having on his body.
But that’s just who he was.
He never wanted pity or let the fact that he had cancer become a defining factor in his life. He went to treatment every other week, pushed through his pain, and maintained a normal way of life.
Never once did he miss one of my brother’s sporting events or my academic ceremonies.
So, flashforward to the night of October 15th, 2021.
At this point, my dad was two years into cancer treatment, but his attitude hadn’t changed. Although it seemed as if he was becoming more tired and regularly sick, he would never let me see that.
Surrounded by family, he blew out his birthday candles as we welcomed him into his 46th year.
I handed him his gift, a t-shirt from my college which was sitting messily in a crumpled-up plastic bag.
It turns out that the gift bag my mom had given me earlier that day was for his gift to be put inside of.
Who would’ve thought?
I then proceeded to hand him the previously mentioned gift bag that I thought had been filled with an additional item.
Both him and I were absolutely puzzled by its lack of contents, with me trying to come up with a logical explanation as to why he had just been given tissue paper as a birthday present.
We all started to laugh. Later that night, there was a moment where my dad started joking with my aunt about stories from when they were growing up.
He looked so happy, his face brimming with a big grin. I remember wishing that I could freeze that moment in time and replay it over and over again.
I am beyond crushed by the knowledge that my Dad’s smile is no longer present on this planet.
I can’t even begin to picture Torrington without him in it.
For now, however, I can only continue to make him proud by carrying on his legacy and being positive, strong and community oriented.