Dad passed away. I got there in time to say goodbye, and help Hospice as much as I could, and be there for my mom, who handled things like a champ … but that’s about it. He went into a coma the day after I arrived, and did not come out of it again.
His last conversation was with my mom, and I’m glad they were able to say a few last things to one another. And I’m glad he went peacefully in the end. He deserved it, after fighting an unwinnable battle for 30 months.
I miss him like hell. It was strange having so many family friends gathered together without Dad there. I don’t know if I’d ever felt an absence so keenly before. He was always so very present during gatherings like that, keeping people on schedule, teasing everyone and taking it in equal measure, laughing, telling stories, cooking amazing food, and handling any and all situations that required knowledge of which roads to drive on, what technology to use, or which cars to take. And he loved it. One of the speakers at his service remarked upon how much Dad enjoyed everything about life, citing as an example his enthusiasm over even the little things, like buying a new kind of light bulb. It’s so true, and it made me smile—as did hearing his former co-workers at the Tampa Courthouse giggling over my dad’s love of his pedometer (“I’ve gotten in 12,000 steps today!”) and always eating the same sandwich for lunch every day (“It’s good. Why change?). And I know Dad would have wanted us to be smiling. He loved to laugh, and to make people laugh, too.
I think it always surprised him to see how much he was loved by so many different kinds of people. Dad always thought of himself as being a gruff, matter-of-fact kind of person, the guy you’d go to when you wanted to hear how it really was. And we who loved him saw him as that, yes, but also as an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, a photographer, a brilliant financial and legal mind, a great appreciator of the natural world, a husband and a father, a mentor, and a friend. And that doesn’t even begin to cover it. He was the definition of unique. I loved him so much, and still do, and always will.