Around 7:20 pm my father passed away , going on a journey of a different color.
He had been suffering for some time from a whole list of different illnesses that would have taken out a lesser man. But as we all know
no one can predict the moment you set forth on your own.
I returned to St. Louis in early September when I was told no more could be done and that he was now being transferred into hospice care.
He was taken to the home of my incredible Aunt and Uncle who with great love and care opened their world to the last days of dying man. They also opened their world to my fathers family who wanted to make him comfortable and happy until the end of his final act of life.
I was fortunate to be born into a family who would give their best to a man of gentle nature.
He was lucid enough to recognize his fourth son who he followed closely as he paddled one of the largest rivers in the World.
He told me hello, took my hand as he asked ” Are you going to continue your journey ?”
I told him in the Spring, when Zeusy heals and the Winter has passed.
He responded by saying “Good, I should be well by Spring.”
For many nights I witnessed the delusions of a dying man. Some of them where anxiety filled frustrations of life. But more often than not he was in happier places so well known to him. He was often fishing, performing his duties in the Navy and back in his birthplace of Owensboro, Kentucky. Talking to whomever his mind and heart unlocked to allow him to relive a moment in his life of eighty-four years.
As strange as it sounds I was happy he was in those happier places, not feeling the pain and suffering that he had been in for many months from the cancer that had over taken a man who up until a few months before was working a part time job. He was still driving and mobile enough to live out his days not a prisoner to the limited space that becoming too old to move beyond your front door forces you in to.
My father loved kids and they loved him. The little ones felt the comfort and safety of being around a man who enjoyed their company.
His vices were candy, tobacco, and a good drink. All things a modern society frowns upon, but a modern society could never derive the pleasure from them as my father did. They wouldn’t know how.
My father was a man of his times, never saying he loved you, but proving it in his actions. Especially to his grand children.
A man of unquestionable loyalty. He was married to my mother for 57 years. Longer than a lot of people live.
The night I said goodbye to my father I saw fear and tears in his eyes. It shocked me. He then told me he loved me. I told him I loved him back. He told me not to go at that moment because it was dark out. I told him I would go in the morning, and it would be okay. He calmed. He closed his eyes and said ” Besides, it is cold out there.”
My father last words to me were the same type of words I have always heard. Performing his duties as a father he gave me simple, sound advice on a dark, chilly evening. Even as he fell back asleep inside his worn out and dying body.
Good luck on your journey Pop. I wish you all the happiness and joy that any man could want !
And I assure you, you have always been, and always will be on mine.