Goodbye, Dad

I went to the hospice this morning to see Dad, but just looked in and spoke to a nurse for a while before deciding to let him rest. A woman I’d seen many times before but never spoken to took in his breakfast tray while I helped myself to a cup of coffee in the kitchen. I then sat at a dining table just outside of Pat’s room, waiting for Otto to arrive so that I could give him a print of the photo I posted the other day. While I was there, the woman who delivers the food trays asked me how Dad was doing, and I told her not very well. She said it was very hard to lose someone, even when it’s expected. I agreed, and she told me that her step-son committed suicide last year at the age of 33.

Otto showed up punctually at 8:30 and seemed happy with my belated birthday gift for Pat, who turned 73 a few weeks ago. I called my aunt Marg to see if she would be interested in meeting for lunch, but couldn’t get through. Rather than stay at the hospice, I thought I would venture out to take a few more photos of the frost, since it was another bright, sunny November morning and Eid liked the ones I posted yesterday so much.

I walked up the street toward town, but hadn’t been gone more than five minutes when another nurse called to tell me that Dad had passed away.

I’ve been here one week short of six months, and all this time I’ve known that I would have to prepare for this day. I’m immensely thankful to my family for all their support during this difficult period, even as they faced challenges of their own. I also feel very fortunate to have met many good people at Dad’s hospice—staff, volunteers, and patients and their families—who have been very helpful in many ways. But I owe my deepest debt of gratitude to Dad himself, for allowing me into his life at a time when his wish to be alone was sometimes very strong.

Dad lived a simple and largely solitary life for many years. Until I arrived in May, I hadn’t seen him in more than 16 years; and when my mother Eva and sister Kimberly came out to visit in July, it was their first meeting with him in more than 20 years. The fact that he welcomed us back into his life after living so long apart is testament to his acceptance of the undying bonds between us all.

I have always felt that my father was a good man who only wished for the happiness of his family. It saddens me that Eid never got to meet him, but I know that he would have loved her as much as he loved the rest of us.

There’s not much more that I can say right now, except that I’m glad to have had a chance to share this time with Dad and my family, and to have been able to help him reach the end of his journey with dignity.

Rest in peace, Dad.

Here are the condolence messages that I received from friends and family:

dad's death

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