Seven YearsPosted: March 31, 2013
Seven years ago, at about this same hour, eight in the morning, I sat on the couch at home at 807 Deering beside a hospice nurse who told me my daddy wouldn’t make it through the day. Then she called the family doctor and told him. “Let it happen,” he said. Dad had end-stage dementia and was a DNR.
We’d gathered to be with him, knowing the time was near — my sister, my older son, and of course, my mother was there. I hung Dad’s flag in front of the house. Dad was a veteran and hung that flag on every war holiday. This day, it was for him. He got a Bronze Star with Valor in the big war, but this day, he’d fight his last one.
He didn’t want to go. We kept telling him it was okay, he could go in peace. He didn’t want to leave life, he didn’t want to leave my mother. Sixty-one years they were together.
My sister got his tape recorder out and put in the tape of “Rise Again,” a powerful song of the Lord’s resurrection on the third day. “I’ll rise again; death can’t keep me in the ground.” Then she went to check on our mother.
Mama was outside planting flowers, knees down in the dirt, hands in the dirt, trying to avoid what was imminent inside the house. My son went to take a shower.
I was alone with Dad. He was holding on. “Dad,” I said, “You’ve got to do this first. You’ve got to show us how to do it and then come back and get us when it’s our turn.” His younger brother had died a few years back and it greatly bothered Dad, because he thought he should have gone first, because he was older. I knew he wouldn’t want to outlive any of us.
I saw the blood stop in the veins in his arms. Then it moved again. I knew what was happening. I ran outside to get my mother and sister and beat on the bathroom door for my son. We all stood there around our husband and father and grandfather as he went.
I don’t want to remember that day. I want to remember all the life in him. The fun times, the funny times, the man that he was, the lessons he taught and stood for. Maybe today, Easter Sunday, a day of life and rising again, I’ll plant a tree for him, a weeping cherry, to remember how blessed and fortunate I am to have had a good father. He wasn’t perfect, but he was good and he gave me something solid to be grounded on, and so today, I remember that man.