Seven Years

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.

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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.

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3 Comments on “Seven Years”

  1. I especially liked this: “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.” – that is a comfort to think of that.

    No, I didn’t know your dad of course, and he wasn’t perfect, but as I used to tell my sweet husband Edward, “you are perfect for me”.

    It sounds as if you adored him, and he was the ‘perfect dad for you’.

    I just returned from the grave, knowing all the biblical truths, but it is still hard because those eternal truths are hard to grasp when we have been bereft and are left alone with only memories.

    Personally, I go nutters and hate it when people say “at least you have your memories” as though the memories are a consolation prize for not having him here. As I eat alone, again, on Easter, and sleep alone, and do everything alone, I don’t want the memories I want my husband, of course.

    Of course I am glad I had him as a husband, but the gaping hole is like the size of an asteroid crater. It is beyond words.

    Thank you Kathy, the first quote above is a gem. xxoo

  2. Kathy, I’ve written this to you before, but I just love the way you write. I was brought instantly to tears by this small group of words about such profound ideas that many of us share. Thank you,
    Maggie

  3. Porter Dodge says:

    Dear Kathy,
    I’ve read so many of your writings here and enjoy them very much, particularly the warm and heartfelt entries about your Dad. Having lost mine so many years ago, and knowing that he was so close to yours during the war, I feel like I knew him through your words. It is so wonderful that Wallace Ray Hardy has a daughter with such loving memories, and a willingness to share them with all of us. I have found some pictures recently of Fort Gordon or Ft.Benning that I feared lost, and I bet that dad is in them. I’d love to talk to you again some time and catch up.
    Port Dodge


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