Monday, February 14, 2011

In his passing

We are home. My boys are sleeping in their own beds for the first time in two weeks. Two of the four of us have a stomach bug. The dogs are somewhat happy to see us, but not altogether glad to be sharing the leather sofa again. I've opened the mail, thanked the neighbor who cared for the pups, and made a list of the appointments I need to reschedule.

Life is back to normal.

Except that this past Saturday, we buried my daddy.

Daddy died sometime within a half hour of me writing the post, "It's Time." In fact, if I hadn't written it and had gone on to the hospital, I would have been there when he passed.

I don't think he wanted that though. He took his last breath while my momma had closed her eyes for a much needed cat nap. She slept for about 20 minutes and woke up to find that he had stopped breathing.

Thank God.

My daddy has been healed. He no longer suffers from Parkinson's Disease. His mind is no longer tortured with dementia.

At least, that is the attitude I try to take.


I haven't cried much. The day of his service was a day I spent being proud of him. His casket was draped in the American flag, and Taps was to be played at the end of the graveside service. Granted, the soldier didn't check his horn before he got there, and it didn't work, leaving us all sitting in extended awkward silence, but I was still proud. Proud of my daddy, the Vietnam veteran.

The front parking lot of the church was almost full when we arrived for the memorial service. There were friends there from my high school days. There was a life long friend who drove in from Nashville and surprised me. There were people who helped raise me in that church. There were more people than I could have imagined - who all came to honor the man I was lucky enough to claim as my daddy.

The music was beyond perfect. New Orleans style jazz arranged by my professor - rather, my dear friend. He and his wife provided all the music for the service. The solo was the jazz arrangement of Amazing Grace that my daddy loved. We marched out of the sanctuary to the most fabulous arrangement of When the Saints Go Marching In that you will ever hear. That Daddy didn't get to hear.

I keep expecting to have a break down. Be angry. Be devastated. Be inconsolable.

It hasn't happened yet.


Sitting in the room with my dead father was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, I think. I wanted to run. I wanted to vomit. I wanted to cry. I wanted to be anywhere but there, but at the same time, I wouldn't have been anywhere but right there with my family.

His eyes were clear and focused for the first time since I saw him in hospice. I couldn't stop staring at them, wondering what it was that he saw as he took his last breath.

It came time to leave him, and I hadn't touched him or spoken to him. He was dead. I didn't see much point. But something kept me from leaving without telling him good bye one last time.

I walked back to the bed and leaned over to kiss his head. His skin was cool. I let my tears fall, and I didn't wipe them from his face.