My dad died on September 2, 1989. It has been almost thirty years since that dreadful morning. My brothers and I were up past midnight when the phone rang. It was my mother calling to tell us that our dad had passed away. She was with my dad while he took his dying breath. My two brothers and I got into my dad’s pickup truck and drove to the nursing home where my dad had spent the last few weeks of his life. My brother Shannon refused to enter the room where my dad’s body lay, however, my brother Cory and I went in and saw him for the last time. It is something that I regret doing, as I will never be able to erase the image of my dad’s lifeless body from my mind.
That morning is one that will stick with me as long as I live. I can remember how it felt outside that morning. I remember the smells in the nursing home, and I can remember the feelings of fear and uncertainty as we returned home. What would life be like for all of us now? What would it be like to live the rest of my life without a father?
The months that preceded my father’s death were just as frightening. At that time I wished I could just fast forward through it all and be an adult. Here I am almost 30 years later. I am now an adult. I still have dreams on occasion that my dad is still alive. I then wake up and am angry that he is not here.
I feel as if my brothers and I were cheated. We had to grow up without a dad who could show us how to be men. My mother was cheated out of being able to grow old with the person that was the love of her life. However, my dad was a man that took care of things before he died. He was always a man who was financially responsible. Therefore, he left my mom without debt that she would have to carry while she tried to pick up the pieces for all of us.
Being only 12 years old when my dad died, I never really got the chance to get to know him properly. I do have good memories of him though. There were times he would get home late from work on a Friday and we’d order pizza, although I was usually too tired to stay awake. I also remember my dad being a hard worker. He was a skilled welder and he provided well for my family and I.
He also had a great sense of humor. There were many Saturday nights spent around the dinner table while he told us stories of his life growing up, or about his days in the navy. My dad was an honorable man. He treated others with respect, and he was always willing to help a friend. When he died there were hundreds of people that came to pay their respects. Many of them recalled that he was a man of integrity. My dad was not perfect, but he was an honest man, who worked hard to make a better life for his wife and children.
This coming March I will be the same age my dad was when he died. It is hard to imagine dying at such an early age. I still feel rather young. I have so much more living to do. Why my dad couldn’t stay with us longer, I don’t know. However, I can say that he was a man that I respect and that I will one day see again. That brings comfort on days like this when we celebrate fathers. My dad is in a place where there is no sorrow and where there is no pain.
Very thoughtful and poignant. Why did he die so young?
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He had leukemia
Touching tribute to you Dad. Nicely written, Ryan. I’m sure your Dad would b very proud of you today.
Thank you Jennifer.