My father passed away this past week. He celebrated his 84t birthday on Monday and passed away Friday.
Fortunately, with the help of hospice, Dad died at home surrounded by his family (or most of them since Mike and I didn't make it there in time) and his cats and dogs. The folks at hospice truly are angels.
Dad suffered a nasty fall hitting his head and breaking several bones. I got to talk to him on his birthday, before he slipped into a coma. Although he was pretty loopy from the morphine, he still asked about the Trish and the kids.
Losing my Dad was different than losing my mother. With Mom, I was barely out of high school and I was there going through everything first hand. I was in the ICU waiting room and held her hand as they removed her from the life support. Dad's death occurred in Tucson and for me, it happened at the end of a phone and through text messages. Trish and I cried alone.
I think my dad lived his life pretty much like the other family men of his generation. He volunteered for the Marine Corp and fought in Korea. He came home, married Mom, had a bunch of kids and went to work in the mills. He spent the next 42 years working shift work so I had everything I needed and most of the things I wanted.
My dad was strong and brave and generous and giving, but I don't think anyone would accuse him of being the cuddly type. He used to bop me on the head with his spoon at the dinner table. Before he had open heart surgery a few years ago, I told him that I loved him. He responded by saying "thank you." That was Dad. He didn't need to say I love you; you just knew that he did.
My dad taught me it wasn't a sign of weakness to talk to those that you disagreed with. He taught me providing for your family was one of the most important things that a man could do. He taught me if you buy good tools, you'll only buy them once. He told me to "never let them operate on your feet." I'm not so sure about that one.
Although his son is an estate planning attorney, Dad never signed a power of attorney or health care representative appointment. So with everything else going on, we had to deal with the fact no one really had the authority to make decisions for him. Things were much more complicated than they should have been. I hope all of you take note of this.
My father was the most important influence in my life. He taught me to be a man and was the first one to tell me when I wasn't acting like one. For those of you who didn't know him, all you need to do is look into my face and talk to me and you will. In the immortal words of Loudon Wainwright III, "Although my father's dead and gone, I'm his surviving twin."
I love you, Dad, and I'm going to miss you. Now go be with Mom because she's been waiting a long time. Don't worry about us. You prepared us well.