Next week it will have been a year since Dad has passed. It’s remarkable how quickly time flies. This time last year we were planning Dad’s funeral as he had just been admitted into Hospice care and wasn’t given much time to live…but they couldn’t be sure. Nothing is certain. Death is God’s domain and He’ll allow it in His time, not at our convenience.
On the day Dad died I received a phone call from Mom around 2:30 in the morning, he didn’t have much longer to live. The day before he was really struggling to breathe…it was awful watching him battle for air and comfort. I got up and made it to the nursing home within a short time, but by the time that I got there he had passed. I entered his softly lit room. He looked…at ease. Damn…I wish that I could have been there at that last moment…just to be with him.
Moments later my brother, his wife and Mom arrived. Not much was said, I won’t attempt to guess what others were thinking or feeling. It was a surreal moment that was calm and, I’d say, a relief. Dad was in Heaven, let’s meet later and get the ball rolling on the visitation and funeral. It was the beginning of a whirlwind week.
In the months since Dad’s death I’ve found myself thinking less about Dad at the end of his life and more and more about the ‘whole’ of his life…in his prime. To be sure…I loved Dad throughout his life…though the last two years were definitely unchartered waters for all of us. Dad had Alzheimer’s and a variety of other ailments that inhibited his ability to get around. Still…he was Dad.
I’d finish my day at the store and drive to the nursing home to visit him. I’d walk into his room, he’d wake up and we’d visit. The conversations were short; Dad’s memory was “back on the farm” that he and Mom raised us boys. It was a good place for him “to be” in my opinion. Here are a couple of excerpts that I wrote down of our conversations:
Rich: How are you doing Dad?
Dad: Fine. I’ve been bustin’ my ass around here.
Rich: Doing what?
Dad: Getting ready for a trip your Mother has planned.
Rich: Where are you going?
Dad: (shrugs his shoulders)
Dad: Did you see your Mother downstairs?
Dad: How are your girls?
Rich: They’re good, Dad. Ornery. But good. I love them to death.
Dad: I’ll bet. Girls can be ornery….your Mother can be ornery, sometimes.
Or another time that Dad wanted to get out of his wheelchair, but couldn’t.
Rich: Dad…you can’t walk anymore.
Dad: Since when?!
Rich: For a couple of months now…it’s the disease.
Dad: Well that’s a bitch.
Rich: Yes Dad. Yes it is.
As I said before…death is God’s domain. He teaches, loves and gives us enough to get through it, though we may not feel like it at the time. He puts angels along our path to lift us up as we falter, to comfort us as we mourn, a Savior who hung on the cross for us with a rock solid promise of redemption, salvation and an eternal life thereafter where we’ll meet again with our loved ones.
I choose now to think about Dad as the man who helped raise us boys, with Mom. I choose to remember Dad as a loving husband to our Mother, loving and fun Father to his sons and their families. A happy, family oriented man who the Good Lord put into our lives. I choose to believe, to remember and be thankful.