We call him, Dad
We knew it was coming. Death comes to all. He fought it off for sixteen and a half years. He fought Prostate Cancer.
Thing about him though? You never knew he had cancer. Never knew he was sick. Make no mistake, HE had that cancer – but the cancer did not have him. Not our Dad. Our Dad owned his life, “lock, stock and barrel” – as he used to say. Cancer – it was just a visitor Dad couldn’t evict.
Over a month ago Dad let my brother Tad and I know that he was finally “giving it more space then I should”. It being the cancer, of course. Tad and I set up everything we could. Home care, Hospice, anything – everything so that …….. Truth? So we felt better. Sure, we wanted Dad to have the best, but we needed Dad to have the best so we could cope.
Tad and I worried sick as we left the country and went to the Asian Countries on business. We didn’t want to leave Dad. What if something happened to him?
When each of us returned from the trips overseas, Dad was there. When I arrived home, after everything I’d nearly been through, Dad – he hugged me so damn hard. “Thank you for missing the flight, boy” Dad said. I’m 49 years old. As Dad hugged me that day, I cried on his shoulder. Like a baby.
Dad met us at the airport. Well, he met my flight and had Tad with him. After I got ahold of my tears, Dad grabbed Tad too. Hugged us both to him. “You damn knuckle-heads. One or t’other always starting something. Goddamn I love you boys.”
We cried like babies.
“I know I asked you boys to handle my arrangements one way, but I’ve changed my mind please. Can you boys take me home. Bury me next to Mom and Dad and my grandson?” Dad asked. Tad answered for us. “Damn right we can Dad.” I backed my brother.
Dad hugged us to him again. He cried like a baby.
We spent a small amount of time with Dad. Then he forced us both on to the things that had to be done. We didn’t want to. Not really. It was the first time we’d ever seen Dad………….. sick. We knew he didn’t have long. But He’s Dad. He tells you to do, you do it – or else. That’s Dad!
It was Ria they contacted first. Due to all the issues, it was her they were able to reach when trying all three of our numbers to notify us. She spoke to Dad daily, and they’d set a plan. When she got the call, despite her own grief, she enacted the plans immediately. It was Ria who started Dad’s final journey “home.” She handled everything, while dropping everything she was involved with.
Ria got in my car, driving first to Tad and his son on the West Coast, and told Tad in person that Dad died. Then she drove with Tad and his son, across country to me, and told me in person. “Nobody should get a call or text like that and Dad agreed.” Ria said as her only explanation.
We drove to Kansas City, picked up her things, and drove north, here, where Dad was returning home to. Dad would be proud of her crazy tenacity. I’m so grateful it was she, and not a call, that told me. I love you, Ria. Thank you.
Business is ongoing and got to be more with Dad’s death, but today won’t be much business. Today, we bury Dad.
There will be no service, no words from any spiritual or religious figurehead. No flowers. No one present but Tad, his son RK, Ria, and myself. There was no viewing. He requested none of us see him after he passed. No obituary. He wanted no part in any sort of pomp or circumstance. Just “You four kids placing me to peace with my Mom, Dad and Grandson.”
“But Dad, why?” I asked. Many people loved Dad!
“Because Boy, you four kids understand. Now go on, get going. Git er done!”
Those were the last words my father spoke to me. My last words to him, “Yes, Dad.”
Today at lunch, Ria, RK, Tad and I sat talking about Dad. We worry for my nephew, he’s ten. He was very close with Grandpa. We tried keeping the conversation light. Somehow, it slipped out of my mouth though, “What did he mean by “You four kids understand” what does that mean?”
RK looked up from his food. “Means we understand that we can’t understand but we’ll do it his way.” Tears seeped from Ria’s face as she smiled and kissed RK’s head, nodding. Tad pulled his son into a huge hug, while Ria tucked herself under my arm. Out of the mouths of babes. Dad’s favorite saying.
We call him Dad or Grandpa. Today we’re placing him at peace with his Mom, his Dad and his Grandson. RK is right, we understand that we don’t understand, but we will do it his way.
Today I bury my father. That sounds so ugly. So not right. It’s what I will do, yes.
Today I also get to be free of worry about Dad and his pain. It’s gone. Today I get to release the fears of “What if” regarding Dad’s death – they’re gone now too. Today I get to place my Dad at peace where he wants to be. I can smile about these three things, a little. The best part is knowing that the three others with me today, well, we’re handpicked by Dad.
Thanks Dad. I love you so!