|My daddy, just a few weeks before he passed away. I'm so glad I got to hear him play his guitar and sing one last time.|
It was the phone call in the middle of the night I had been dreading. My brother calling at 2:30 in the morning, this can't be good. "Bon" he says, I'm at the hospital with dad, it's not looking good. Next thing I know Mark is beside me on the bed with a knowing look and a supporting arm around me. Jerry and I talk a little about the circumstances. He had rushed dad to the hospital when he called him and told him he was having a hard time breathing. Jerry wanted to call an ambulance but dad wanted Jerry to drive him.
I told Jerry I would gather my thoughts and call him back. I hung up the phone. Cried in Mark's arms for a moment, then he said "you need to go". I said "I know". But I must have just sat there trying to absorb everything. This is it, I may never see my Dad again. It's quite a shock when you actually realize someone so dear to you, who can never ever be replaced is leaving you. Mark was so good as he always is in emergency situations. As I stared in my drawer trying to figure out what to pack. He said just pick out 3 days worth of clothes... 3 pairs of underwear, 3 shirts.... etc.
I pretty much just tossed some items in a bag along with some toiletries. Then Mark told me to go gas up my car and then go get coffee in that order. He repeated the coffee thing a couple of times. I think he was afraid I wasn't awake. His calm but firm voice really helped me take each step. He knew I was worried and a little in shock and he knew just how to handle me. I guess you know those things after 25 years of marriage :) I love that man.
I go get gas (and coffee) and I'm on the highway heading to Kansas. A trip I've probably taken a hundred times but now driving by myself in the middle of the night. I was on a mission though. I wanted to be there to hold my daddy's hand one more time and tell him how much I love him and good bye.
Mark calls to check on me, he's worried about my night blindness (I can't imagine why). He said "you don't see well at night do you?" I said no. He advised me to turn on my bright lights and just turn them down when a car is coming towards me so I don't blind them. It worked great, I could see the road.. that's always a plus, haha. He thinks of everything.
My brother called and told me the doctor didn't know how much longer they could keep reviving Dad because every time they brought him back he was in worse shape. I asked him if they knew I was on my way and could be there by noon? He said he had told them.
I also spoke to my sister Julie along the way. We talked about dad and it was comforting to hear her voice.
Well dad was on life support when I arrived around 12:30. We spoke to the doctor in the quiet room. I was a little alarmed when I first saw the doctor because he looked about Connor's age. I thought this is the man who is going to help us decide the next steps in my Dad's life? But, as soon as he started speaking I knew he was beyond qualified and told us just what we needed to know. If it was his Dad he would let him go. He had been without oxygen way to long to have any quality of life.
So we told the doctor we needed to talk to our sister and then we would let him know our decision. We all talked and cried over the next hour or so, we all knew there was only one right decision, what dad would want. For us to let him go and be at peace.
We told the doctor our decision and without saying it in those words he told us we were doing the best thing. He said it was very unselfish of us because a lot of people let there loved ones linger on in that condition because they can't bare to let them go. We couldn't bare to see dad like that.
They removed life support around 4:00pm that afternoon. We didn't know if he would go right away, so we were preparing ourselves. Dad lived for 4 hours. I think the nurses were pretty amazed. I wasn't surprised because dad was a strong man and always achieved more than what the doctors expected of him.
My brother, his girlfriend Ina, my niece and I were with dad until his last breath. I held his hand and stroked his face. I'm so thankful I was able to talk to him at the end and let him know how much I loved him. Also to be able to be right there when he made the transition and left this earth forever. I felt honored.
The next day my brother and I went to Dad's apartment to try and figure out what to do and try to grasp the fact that he was really gone. Shortly after we arrived there, I don't know why but for some reason I opened a drawer in a table he had knick knacks on. I don't know if it was my intuition or dad guiding me but it was one or the other to make me open that particular drawer right at that moment. Inside were 3 copies of the same poem. Each paper had a different decorative heading but the same poem. I knew instantly that dad meant them for us three kids. Jerry, Julie and I. I even knew from the colors and patterns who was meant to get each one.
This is what it said...
When tomorrow starts without me
and I'm not there to see.
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
all filled with tears for me.
I wish you wouldn't cry the way you did today, while
thinking of the many things we didn't get to say.
I know how much you love me,
as much as I love you.
And each time you think of me
I know you miss me too.
So simple but profound. Dad knew just what to say. I've read mine many times since that day and it has brought me comfort. I know that's what he intended. That's my Dad.
I miss him every day. I miss the sound of his voice on the phone. It's so hard for me to believe sometimes that he is really gone and my life will just go on without him. It will go on but never the same. There will always be a void but I'm so thankful I had him as long as I did.
Love you Daddy.