Thursday, February 28, 2013

Three Years Ago

My Dad
June 6, 1928 - February 28, 2010
On the 28th of February, 2010 I got a phone call. The kind of phone call which you never want to get, but if you live long enough, you'll get. Perhaps many times, but you hope not.

My Dad had been sick for a while, in fact the WSO and I had been up to see him in the hospital the weekend before. She'd been concerned enough about her grandfather's health to take leave and come home. But the visit to the hospital was a trial. The medical staff had him heavily sedated, trying to give his body a chance to fight the massive infection that was slowly eating away at him.

I do know that my Mom appreciated us going to see my Dad, and her of course. After seeing my Dad's condition for myself, and talking to his Doctor, I didn't have a lot of hope. The WSO was pregnant with my first granddaughter at the time, perhaps a month along. She told her grandfather that she was expecting, whether or not he heard that or comprehended that is not something I'll find out in this life. But it was something. Perhaps my Dad did know that he would become a great-grandfather for the second time. Perhaps not.

I went home, the WSO headed back to Oceana and we went into "wait and see" mode. My Mom said she'd let me know when Dad was well enough to be taken off the sedation. I didn't say anything to my Mom, but Dad's doctor told me that was a long shot at best.

So on the 28th of February, we went to church (the 28th being a Sunday) and I remember talking to our pianist about my Dad's condition. As I left the church she let me know she'd be praying for my Dad. Quite frankly, that's all I remember about church that day.

Not long after getting home, I got that aforementioned phone call.

It wasn't a report on my Dad's condition so much as it was a "How soon can you get here?" The news was not good. Told my Mom I'd get there as fast as I could (which would be about four to five hours, depending) then called my Dad's doctor. She let me know that they would keep Dad on the ventilator until I got there. I knew what that meant.

Let me tell you, that was one of the longest drives I've ever done. I was in Rhode Island, Dad was up in Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon, New Hampshire. About a 4 hour and 20 minute trip following my normal route to those parts.

Roughly four and a half hours by car. Almost 57 years by memory. I probably relived every moment with my Dad, good and bad. Bad memories were very few. The good memories were many. I really hated for the drive to end, knowing what lay at the end of that particular journey.

I got to the hospital around 8:30 PM, it was cold, there was snow on the ground and there was a full moon. Normally an evening I would enjoy.

My Oldest Kid Brother (MOKB, the Old Vermonter) met me in the parking lot at the hospital. We both knew what we were there for, we knew it was time. I think he may have mentioned that one could never adequately prepare for these kinds of thing. No doubt I agreed. There was absolutely no doubt that I wasn't prepared for this particular event.

We went up to my Dad's room, my Mom was there, My Youngest Kid Brother (MYKB, the Musician) was there, as was my nephew (the Young Vermonter) and Missus Old Vermonter completed the group. We were waiting for the medical staff to come in and do what they had to do. Oddly enough, we talked about hockey. The Winter Olympics were in full swing and Canada had just defeated the USA in the Gold Medal game. So while we waited we talked hockey.

Eventually the medicos showed up (they'd been dealing with an emergency) and took my Dad off the ventilator. They also turned off most of the monitors he was hooked up to. Note that I said "most".

My Dad almost seemed to become aware of his surroundings for a few brief moments. Couldn't tell if he recognized anybody, but I swear his gaze lingered on my Mom just a bit longer.

His eyes had that glazed, heavily dosed with morphine look that I'd seen in my maternal grandmother during her last days. Dad was kind of there in the room with us, for just a brief moment, but I think his spirit was ready to move on. He closed his eyes.

We all kind of stood there, breathless, not really talking, waiting. Mom was taking it kind of hard (crying quietly) but I think she was readier than the rest of us for what was happening.

Like I mentioned, most of the monitors had been turned off. One had not and I think I was the only one who could see it. Perhaps it was just that I was the only one who looked at it. But it was the heart rate monitor, no sound, just the waveform.

Which hesitated.

Then moved up and down briefly...

...then stopped.

Readout was "Asystole".

Dad was gone.

It was three years ago.

Though the pain is not as intense, it still hurts like Hell.

I miss my Dad.

It was three years ago, today...


  1. Nothing I can say but I understand. My Mom passed 3 years + 4 days ago.

    1. Wow, same year, roughly the same time. My condolences Pogue, it's tough to lose a parent.

  2. Like you say, the hurt bets better, but it never goes away completly.

  3. Thank you for the heart-felt blog. I havent had to go thru this but i dont think its too far off, my dad is in nursing home in Spfld with Alzheimer's. I have thought about the day you described many times, I wonder how I'll react. Thank you again for the courage to put your heart on display.

  4. It's been over 20 years since my father passed and I still miss the man... a lot. The only thing I can say is to repeat what Pogue said: "I understand."

  5. Brought tears to my eyes. Been about three months. Still hurts pretty badly when I think about it too much. Certain songs I can't sing at church without tearing up pretty badly. Blessings for you today.

  6. Lu and I send our prayers Sarge. Thanks for sharing. I don't know about you but it helps me to read such moving words and makes it easier to keep the loss of my mother in perspective. It's never easy but a shared pain is a lighter burden. Keep the faith my friend.

    1. Six and Lu, all I can say is thank you. A shared pain is indeed a lighter burden.

  7. All I can do is pretty much echo the sentiments of others and say I understand.

    1. Thanks Skip. Knowing someone else understands is a comfort.

  8. Our dads were the same age - mine was born on June 12, 1928, in Chicago. He died of cancer seven years ago last December. I miss him every day.

    1. Wow, just six days apart. I feel for you Lou, I really do.