Forward to 2020
Dad’s Century Mark
Yesterday my Dad would have celebrated his century mark.
Instead, he died back in 1988.
Far short of the mark.
I not sure, aside from the grand kids born after 1988, that he missed much.
I am sure that he felt he had had a full life and he wouldn’t miss much of the world left behind.
He lived through the depression.
Graduated from Creston High School in 1936 (having been ‘advanced’ two grades – something he always regretted and spoke out against – not only did it make him the smallest kid in school it also made him eligible for World War 2 earlier than he might have been)
Graduated from the University of Michigan in 1942 and spent the next 3 years as an army dentist here in the United States and in Europe.
He would say he was ready to go back and see Europe as soon as the Government was ready to pay for the trip like the first time.
Got married in 1946 and raised 11 kids (8 boys and 3 girls).
Lived long enough to see and enjoy a lot of Grand Children.
So many stories.
I remember once he was sitting at the top of the stairs looking down at the TV in the basement.
The Chicago Cubs were playing and Dad was watching the TV with binnoculors.
I asked him, ahhhh, what was he doing?
“Watching the Cubs”, he said, “I am sitting in the bleachers.”
I said I don’t think he would have missed much, but there was one thing, one person.
Let me tell this story of the night he died.
He had had a stroke on Wednesday and I think he came to terms with what had happened to him the best he could.
This was the following Monday and we had all (AND I MEAN ALL) had been in the hospital most of the day.
It is my feeling that he hung around long enough for us the come to terms with the situation as well.
Monday night, one by one, my brothers and sisters said goodnight and left.
My Dad couldn’t talk but communicated with us by squeezing our hands.
My Mom stayed for a bit then also said goodnight and kissed him.
My brother Paul and I stayed behind.
And my Dad let go of this world.
It was quiet and still and almost peaceful.
At this moment he seemed to be asleep and the only noise was the beep of the monitors and the hum of hospital machines.
Dad’s heart rate had been steady all day but now I noticed a slow steady slow down.
It was like when you were working on your bike with the bike upside down,
You could work the pedals and get the back tire spinning and when you stopped pushing the pedals, the bike would slowly, so slowy, spin to a stop.
I said to my brother Paul, “Do you get the feeling he is slowing down?”
We stood up on either side, me on the right and Paul on the left.
The heart rate on the monitor dropped to 60 and an alarm sounded which brought in a nurse.
She took one look.
Paul said to the nurse, “Should I call my Mother?”
The Nurse nodded and Paul left for a minute.
The heart rate continued to drop.
Paul came back and we held his hands.
The heart on the monitor went flat, beeped once or twice and went to a steady flat line.
My brother leaned down close to my Dad’s ear and said, “Dad? Can you hold on? Mom is coming.”
The heart monitor perked back up and for 3 or 4 seconds, the monitor showed a jagged line of activity.
Then it went flat again.
I do think my Dad missed Mom.
I think of my Dad getting on the bus to heaven and he heard my brother and he looked back .
Looked back for 3 or 4 seconds.
Would have liked to see my Mom.
But he didn’t want to miss that bus.
I think of that often.
It was one last amazing moment in a wonderful life.
During the days since the stroke, I had, in the way people do, said to myself, “I can handle this. But I do not want to be told that Dad died.”
It worked out that no one ever did.
My last gift from my Dad, I like to think.
Another note, when my Mom died, everyone was there with her in the room.
Everyone but me and my brother Paul.
So many stories.
In Henry the V, Big Bill writes, “
This story shall the good man teach his son;
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered”
I tell the stories to my kids and my grandkids.
I miss him every day.