I got the call this morning that I’ve been expecting for at least a week. My father finally passed away. If you read my previous post, you know his circumstances. He was lying in a hospice bed at my parents’s home, with my early 80s mother watching over him. When I left him a week or so ago, he was a shell of the man that I grew up with, thin, unable to eat or drink without a struggle, only able to mumble to speak.
When my brother and I left him to drive back to our respective homes, states away from where my parents’s home is, Dad somehow managed to sit up, and he gave us his instructions for our lives. He hadn’t spoken more than 3 words in a row the entire week we’d been with him, so it was a shock that he was giving us his detailed wishes for our lives. The last I saw of my father was that morning, where we exchanged an “I love you” standing by his bed. He knew. I gave him one last “make sure you give Mom a hard time for me since I can’t be here to do it until I get back” and he smiled and said “I’ll do that.” I told him I’ll see you soon, but we both knew it wasn’t true.
He will have a military funeral, with the flag, taps, etc. He served in the Air Force most of his life, including a tour in Vietnam. I know I will not be able to keep it together when the horn plays, or when they salute, and when they give the flag to my Mom. I’m in tears typing this just thinking of it. Dad was all about serving and helping others, and he was thankful that our nation let a very poor farm boy serve his country and provide him a good career that allowed him to provide for his family.
I’ve been preparing for this day for a while, and particularly in the last week or so, when it inevitable. In some ways there’s some Relief; relief that Dad isn’t going through this any longer, relief that Mom doesn’t have to struggle with taking care of him and doesn’t have to watch him waste away any longer, relief that the moment I’ve been anticipating all day and night for the last couple of weeks is finally here. But it is crushing to know that I’ll never again sit in my parents’s den out in the country in Mississippi and just chat with Dad.
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