I was taught most of the fundamentals about life by my Father and therefore learnt to think like a boy. It certainly has served me well in many aspects however I believe that I learnt to copy the social behaviour of men and never really got to know how to appreciate the intrigue of being a woman. I spent most of my free time with my Dad at sports clubs and pubs and was able to interact with people much older than myself. Another thing that has stood me in good stead. I was never one for dressing up and going out, I preferred to hit the social scene right after work and chat to the guys rather. I normally left when I knew that I had had enough or the place was full of the glamour girls. Little did I know that I was missing by not being part of a sisterhood, which would have taught me the social lessons that I needed, and I would have learnt to appreciate myself as a girl.

Two years and 4 months ago, my Mom called me to come home as Dad was not good. I was not nervous or scared as my Dad had sufferred many stokes before and was in a wheelchair at that point. He was a hell of a fighter and I knew he would pull through. When I arrived there I felt the panic racing through my body as he was yellow and he was in a coma. The neighbour told him: "Vic, Karen is here" - no response. I lay next to him, telling him: "Daddy, I am here" He heard none of this, no reaction at all. I thought: This time he is not coming back. That's when I started to get scared.

The paramedics rushed him to St Georges and they put him into a semi private room. And so we started to prepare to lose this man that we did not want to let go of. The doctors had us agree to a do not resuccitate order, which felt like we were murdering him. Yet he rallied in St George's as his carers gave him excellent care and I was there for at least 10 hours a day. In the end, he had to go to a step down facility to build his strength before he could go home. He was very unstable and scared there and by then my Mom had indicated that she could not cope with night and day nurses and still working. We booked him into Echo Foundation and once again the carers fell in love with him and took good care of him, He accepted that this was where he would live until his death with dignity and I took 4 months out of business to be with him as much as possible. I had to go to shops and buy nappies and baby toiletries that keep him clean and comfortable. Biscuits were eaten every afternoon and were shared with all the others too. I still cannot walk past the baby aisle in a supermarket that has drinking cups without a lump in my throat

I had the opportunity to feed, clean and change him for 4 months. It was hard to do and to see the debilitation but he was my Dad. The man that I loved more that life itself. I lay on his bed with him for hours every day and we talked: me with words and him with growls and signs or nods. We talked through things that we had never discussed before and each let go of regrets and guilt. I kept telling him that I would be ok without him and that he could go peacefully. Nothing else existed for me in those 4 months, other than making sure that he was comfortable and that he was not scared. Finally he was ready to leave this earth and I had known that it would be that morning (I just knew). I took my time finishing my tea as I did not want to see the last breath as he died. The nurse saw my car coming and she told him: Karen's here. He sighed and passed away. This was on the 28th October 2009. Everything was numb and suddenly we had to do the funeral planning and had the funeral 2 days later. I gave a eulogy and remember very little of the funeral and then went home to sleep. In the past, I would have gone straight to the pub to be with people and to have drinks to numb the pain. I had plenty of time to rethink my life and the awesome bond I had with my Dad. He had not wanted me to fall apart when he died, which is what a lot of people thought would happen. He hung on long enough to see my sister and for me to promise him that I would put other things and people into higher priority places. I made that commitment to him the day before he died.

A month after he died, my hubby realised that I was no longer keen to go to the pub so often. He felt that I had changed and was in danger of becoming boring. I asked him what he really wanted from me. He said: "I want you to love me the way you Loved your Dad". I thought - not going to happen. A few weeks later I woke up after a night out and said that I was very bored with our social life and would be taking time out. Hubby said he felt the same way.

And so the journey to Victory started. On the 23rd June 2010 we chose to live differently and to live for each other. What an amazing journey it has been. Besides the financial rewards bringing us security, we have fallen in love with each other bigger and better than before. There are no power struggles in our relationships. We talk, communicate and negotiate on important issues. We have a common family dream and vision - which we are attaining at a speed of knots. We are attracting like-minded people who delight in our love and success. This all generates more for all in our circle.

I feel as if I have learnt to love Kevin so much more and a lot of the pain of losing Dad is gone as I put those emotions into a place of positivity. I have developed a strong marriage where we do lots of laughing and loving. I have a strong relationship with my Mom too, which is a new thing. This has also brought great rewards for her and I.

So - I lost a Father. I gained a husband who is my greatest lover and friend; I gained a mother who is a friend too; and I have gained many friends who delight in my happiness.

So this has been part of my Journey to Victory - named for my Father - Victor George Reich

Author's Bio: 

Karen Kelly is a Qualified Emotional Intelligence Trainer and Business Coach. She has been self employed since 1994 and has extensive experience in Business Management, Human Resources and Training. Karen is the Director of Xtreme Learning Academy and the company specialises in Soft Skills Training. The company has successfully upskilled thousands of delegates since 2007. Karen is currently involved with Small, Medium and Blue Chip Companies to enhance emotional awareness and workplace wellness, and is a passionate Public Speaker.