Ten years ago I wrote this. Here on the 40th anniversary of my father’s death I will re-post this in memory of that day.
My father went home on April 8, 1977. The date has passed, but I always remember it on Good Friday. It was Good Friday 1977 the day he passed, he was only 44. I’ll turn 54 this year (the same age as his dad, my grandfather, was when he died) ten years older than my dad made it.
Why now, why here? Why this way?
More questions and less answers. Instead of growing I seem to be regressing.
What took place those many years ago that haunts me now with these and other questions.
College? No, not far enough back. The memories of college are rife with these same feelings.
High School? No, even then the conflict was raging and the ill-prepared adolescent I was, was already wrestling with the fall-out of the original issues. I know what the two main issues were and can only bring myself to talk about one of them. (The other will have to stay buried for some time to come)
We will start with Easter Weekend, 1977. I was just a dumb thirteen-year-old kid, what did I know? But, even now I can see it so clearly. I can hear it in their voices. I don’t understand what they are saying but I hear the panic, so I begin to move.
“Something’s wrong with Don!”
What did they say?
“Donny, something’s wrong with your daddy!”
Daddy, what could be wrong… my feet are already moving in the direction of the commotion.
“What is it?”
I remember voicing those words.
The reply did little to prepare me for what was to follow.
I descended the steps in two, or perhaps three leaps, pushing myself off the door jam as I rounded the corner, through the door that led to the garage. I was in the garage and could see mom on the back of the truck where I had last seen daddy. I ran around the front of the truck and down the passenger side and there he was, lying on the tailgate of the truck. (Until now that has been buried deep in my memory, Why now? In such vivid detail, why?)
His head was facing the passenger side. I could hear mom screaming, “Don! Don!”
The next twenty minutes were an eternity. Alternating between a furious attempt at CPR and utter physical exhaustion. Mom did not know how to do the respirations correctly and my chest compressions were weak attempts to what was necessary. Between the two we only succeeded in making daddy throw up. We kept on until we were completely exhausted.
Later, I was told the blue discoloration of his neck probably meant that it was massive and quick. They told us that he probably never knew what hit him and he probably was dead before he hit the tailgate. They were probably telling us that to make it easier on us; so we would not feel we had not done enough to save him. An attempt to save us from a load of future, self-inflicted guilt. (It didn’t work)
After the Ambulance arrived (it actually took them twenty minutes to get there) and loaded daddy, my mother went with them, I was left to deal with what I had just experienced. I ran outback and across the creek, up the hill a little ways and at stump I knelt to pray. I wanted God to save my daddy’s life. I called out to God to save his life and I begged God to let him live. Even as the words were spilling out of my mouth I knew that God was never going to answer that prayer. I knew my daddy was dead.
For years I have buried the memory of the events of that day. My mind just could not wrap around the reality of my own reality. Ok, so what!? That is part of life. We are all under a death sentence, it’s just a matter of time before the icy fingers of death touch us all. As much as we fear it, avoid it, deny it and disregard it; death is as much a part of the human experience as birth, growth, pain and joy. Yet for all the philosophizing and rationalizing I do, here I stand, the same age as my father when he died, and the memories of that day come rushing over me and I wipe away, tears unbidden. (more…)
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