My Dad died in the early morning of Saturday 2/19/2022.
My indecisiveness in writing has been in part related to not wanting revisit those feelings. The irony is as a social worker I suggest that my clients feel those feelings to be able to move through the grief.
I had been going to Mom and Dad’s house every morning at 7 AM for the past couple of months. Dad had been discharged from the hospital with MRSA and he needed an IV medication and flushing of his PICC line. I agreed to do this as he and mom needed the help and quite frankly it was nice to spend the morning before going into the office with both of my parents.
The week Dad passed Mom had asked why I thought he was having “good days and bad days.” I didn’t know the answer. The last time I spoke with my Dad was Friday 2/18/2022. I gave him his meds and joked with him as I always had. Before I left I cautioned him to not give the nurse coming after me too much difficulty. He said as he always did “Thank you for doing this for me.” Before leaving I fist bumped him, said goodbye and left for the office. There was a part of me that has been thinking he might not make it to his 84th birthday on March 31st but I didn’t expect him to leave us so soon.
The morning he passed I woke at 1AM and after several minutes of my mind spinning I finally made it back to sleep only to be awakened by my mother at 1 AM. I knew before answering the call that the information that she was about to share wasn’t going to be positive. I answered the call and heard my Mom say, “Christopher, I think Dad died.” As I was speaking to Mom I was getting up and hurriedly dressing to make the 3 mile drive to their house. Mom answered the door and I walked into their bedroom and found Dad sitting in his wheelchair. Blankets had been lovingly pulled up to his neck. Mom said he didn’t have the strength to grab the handles on the sit to stand lift. She said she pulled blankets up to his neck, kissed him and went to bed. Mom said she woke at approximately 1 AM and didn’t hear Dad breathing. That’s when she called me.
One look at him told me that he had passed. I placed the back of my hand to his head and felt the coldness of death. There was no pulse. I bent and kissed him on his forehead before tears began to fall. I told mom to call 911. Shortly after she placed that call a Sheriff’s Deputy arrived along with EMT’s who confirmed his passing. The Coroner arrived and shortly thereafter two employees of the funeral home arrived. It was difficult to place my hand on the controller of the wheelchair next to my dad’s hand and move the chair so he could be placed into a body bag on a stretcher. Tears again found me when I watched the final inches of zipper being pulled closed over his face. My dad was no more.
At the funeral home I was asked to share stories about my dad. I started and stopped. I explained that the stories I was sharing while they contained my dad were more about things I had done when I was a kid. As tears filled my eyes I explained what I’ll miss about my dad is his smile. He smiled all the time. Remebering that smile is the way I want to remember him. No stories could do that justice. His smile spoke for itself.
The photo above demonstrates his joy for life. We were driving home from the hospital where he had had a new medication pump surgically installed to replace the pump that had started to fail after a dozen years. This pump allowed the free flow of medication into his system. Rarely did I ever hear him utter a curse word or a negative statement about anyone. At his wake, one of my cousins remarked how dad’s smile would be the thing he remembers most about my dad.
Mom and Dad would have been married 59 years this coming September. This is a feat for the ages and one we don’t often see anymore in society.
Rest easy Dad. You lived a good life. You fought hard and hung in there when there were I’m sure many times you wanted to give up. Know that you were loved. The void left will be painful to manage especially for Mom who took care of you for so long. As I said to a friend, I am the man that I am today because of the life lessons learned from my Dad. I will fill that void with reminiscing and smiles. I will miss our talks, your laughs and sharing a glass of bourbon with you on Christmas Eve and our birthdays. I love you!