windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (ocean heart)
[personal profile] windinthemaples
I didn't get my brother's phone calls, I was sick and had turned my phone to silent. Yesterday afternoon, though, I got an email from Daniel that I needed to call my brother. I called him and he said, "Oh, hey Rachel. How are you doing?" and I said, "I'm alright, sick though. Is something wrong?" and he said, "Yes, something is wrong. Dad passed away."

As I understand it, staff at the assisted living facility he's at found him yesterday morning, having died in his bed. The coroner expects it is a cardiac issue, and given my father's medical history that is very likely. He was 69 years old.

My father weathered (and at times miraculously survived) a series of health crises. He has been code blue and resuscitated, on ventilators and then revived. We have sat at his hospital bed, in vigil, more than once and in more than one city. It is just unbelievable that he is gone, truly and irrevocably gone, and we didn't even get a phone call as warning. It feels like there has been a mistake. I didn't know that our last phone call was going to be our last.

He was really down last week. He only picked up my phone call because I left a rambling message that began with "Dad, are you there? If you're there, pick up! Pick up, pick up, pick up! Well, I'll tell you about me..." He hadn't seen much of my brother and was isolating himself in his room. He was having all his meals delivered so he didn't have to get out of bed or socialize with anyone. I bullied him, albeit good-naturedly, to take a shower, put on fresh clothes, and to take his next meal in the cafeteria with the rest of the residents of the assisted care facility. He said something about how he had nothing in common with those old people, those infirm and forgetful. I lashed back, in disbelief at his snobbery, saying he had everything in common with those people--he also had trouble moving around, needed care, was in poor health. (It turns out they all outlived him.) He said he had to go to the bathroom and he'd talk to me later. He was cagey, never promised to get out of bed, and I said, "Okay, well call me back if you want to talk."

Those were the last words I ever spoke to my Dad. His spirits did improve, though, and he went to dinner at my brother's mother-in-law's house on Saturday and then ran errands with my brother on Sunday. Things were fine, we never expected to lose him this week, no matter how fragile we knew his health to be.

I wish I'd been kinder, in my words and in my thoughts. I wish I'd known the last time we talked was going to be the last time. I wish he'd gotten to see our new home, the one we'd be staying in here in Florida. I wish he'd been able to go to Disney World with us, to experience it with his grandchildren after so many adventures there with his children. I wish his life had been better and more fulfilling. It is tragic that he died after decades of waiting for renewed health in order to live. The tragedy wasn't his death, as that was something he yearned for as a perfect respite from suffering, but in the waste of his life and his potential all the years before. What a shame, what a shame, what a shame how much mental illness stole from us all.

I was digging through boxes of old photographs, looking for something appropriate for the obituary or the visitation. A letter from my father, written on the back of a piece of church bulletin dated July 15, 2002, fell out onto the table and was overlooked until I'd repacked the rest of the box. His scrawled handwriting leaps off the page. It wasn't one of his cruel letters, but one of his kind. It says, in part,

"You are very special and a wonderful daughter--I am proud of you! If you get a little discouraged, just get healthy and think of Michener's quote on character!!!!"

(Which, with a little Googling, I believe is this quote from my birth year--"Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth times.")

He went on to say, "(never give up, you have great genes) (you have Viking and Scottish Highlander blood--great potential) (not to mention Irish grit and determination) (BRAINS +)".

He wrote about Vietnam after that before closing:

It was kind of an extraordinary find yesterday, a letter I never remember receiving saying everything you'd want a Dad, forever gone, to have said.

He was so sick, so, so sick, and yet I know that he loved me. He really did.


I had no idea how devastating his loss would be. I couldn't have imagined that I'd be surprised when he died, that it'd be so sudden, so unannounced, so final.


Date: 2014-04-30 03:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*ENORMOUS HUGS* I am so sorry for your loss. He is with you in spirit, and he is no longer suffering or in pain, I am sure. My thoughts are with you <3

Date: 2014-04-30 03:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*hugs* *love*

Date: 2014-04-30 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sending you lots and lots of love.

Date: 2014-04-30 03:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*sends love*

Date: 2014-04-30 04:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, Rachel. I am so, so sorry. And, fwiw, I don't think what you said in the phone call is as important as the fact that you called, that you cared enough to want better for him, that you thought of him and made the effort. He knew you loved him. He did. And I'm so glad you found that letter so you can know that he loved you, too.

I am sending loads of love and sympathy your way. (((((((hugs)))))))))))

(also, I hope you feel better soon!)

Date: 2014-04-30 06:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
(HUGS) And agreement with what Jen said.

Date: 2014-04-30 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My love is with you and my prayers with him. *HUGS*

Date: 2014-04-30 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
also agreement with what Jen said

Date: 2014-04-30 10:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
...fell out onto the table...

I think that was your father communicating with you. A beautiful moment. ♥

I love you, Friend! So, so much!

Date: 2014-04-30 11:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm so sorry, Rachel. *HUGS* I love you. <3 <3 <3

Date: 2014-04-30 11:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm so sorry. ♥ Hugs and much love to you and your family. I agree with what Rhiannon has said. I too think he was communicating with you. xo

Date: 2014-05-01 12:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
so so sorry that it hurts so much. You really sent him so much love and kindness, even nagging him to get out of bed.

Date: 2014-05-01 12:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am so sorry for this, Rachel. I am sending you so much love.

Date: 2014-05-01 01:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am so so sorry for your loss Rachel *hugs*

Date: 2014-05-01 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My heart goes out to you. I know you did the best you could for him and that you both loved each other. I hope you find peace.

Date: 2014-05-01 05:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am so sorry for your loss, Rachel. *sending love*

Date: 2014-05-01 06:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*hugs and love* I'm sorry hun.

Date: 2014-05-01 10:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My thoughts and heart are with you! I'm so sorry for your loss.

Date: 2014-05-01 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sending lots of love your way! <3 <3 I'm so sorry for your loss.

Date: 2014-05-01 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am so sorry for your loss and I am sending you love and prayers. I believe that letter is a blessing and a message reminding you of what a blessing you are as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, and a friend. May the Goddess guide you and hold you up as you face this challenge.

Date: 2014-05-03 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm very sorry for your loss:( *hugs*

Date: 2014-05-03 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Rachel, please know that my heart is with you in this difficult time... know, too, that no matter what you may have wished you had said or communicated to your Dad before he passed? He knows those things now, in the way that all things infinite know all things. He is wholly spirit now, no longer bound by body, by illness, by struggle, by this world; he is really and truly free. What a blessing you must have been to him in this life though! I know this for fact... you bring light into the life of everyone you touch - it is your gift and your soul and your being. Please know that he experienced this also.

Sending you *so* much love.
Edited Date: 2014-05-03 11:09 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-05-05 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
In lieu of saying anything, I leave here lots of hugs. Love to you and your family, Rachel.

Date: 2014-05-07 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm so, so late in reading this - I'm so sorry. My dear, dear friend - so much love to you and your family. Can you feel that? It's a big hug, from me to you.

<3 <3

Date: 2014-05-22 06:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know I said so on Facebook, but I wanted to say again how sorry I am for your loss. *hugs* <3

It's clear that you loved and cared for your father as best you could. The fact you called and encouraged him to take care of himself shows that. I'm sure he knew his daughter loved him.


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