April 8, 2009, my father passed away. Thankfully, I was able to be with him during his final days. He was a fighter. He had prostate cancer for 15 years. For the past few years, he endured pain in his bones where the cancer had traveled, chemo and radiation. The cancer didn’t define who is was or what he did. But now, he’s free of pain. He’s in heaven now, sitting around with his buddies from the Spit-and-Whittle solving the world’s problems. This time, with a better perspective than we have.
The last few days were very hard but also sweet as my mom, sister, two nieces and I stayed together in the hospital room holding my dad’s hand, bugging the nurses with a thousand questions, stealing chairs from around the hospital so there would be plenty of seats for those visiting, and sleeping curled up in fold-out chairs together. Early Wednesday, we thought we were losing him. Together we talked to my dad, told him goodbye and tried to sing Bless Be the Ties That Bind. Our rendition must have scared him because his heartrate shot way up. I will admit, I’ve heard better singing from a pack of dogs. But later that morning, as my mom fixed her face in the mirror beside the bed, my dad slipped away. I saw his heart rate stop and said, “I love you, Dad,” as he stepped into heaven. He will be greatly missed.
We had two services for my father, one in the small town where they live, then one in Dallas where they lived for many years. A dear family friend, Toby Snowden, who has a church south of Dallas, spoke eloquently about my father. Then the military paid final final respects at graveside with volleys fired and taps played. He would have liked that. A fitting service for a man who loved his country and served it well.
Goodbye, Daddy. See you in Heaven.