Friday, July 5, 2013
Today is the Anniversary of My Dad's Death, May He Rest in Peace
I had been camping out on the sofa for a few days so I could help Mom care for Daddy and, as I sat with him, I was sewing the details on the fabric body of my little girl's birthday present, a "Cabbage Patch" look-alike doll. She was blonde haired like my daughter and a much-longed for gift.
Daddy was on a lot of painkillers so he slept a lot while I sewed at his bedside. We would chit chat infrequently about nothing when he was awake. I think he commented on the doll and I showed it to him. I was sculpting the fingers and toes and belly button. I really don't remember anything specific except being there, just being present in case he needed anything. At one point Daddy thought death was imminent and we called the parish and Father came. Then Daddy apologized profusely for not dying and sending out a false alarm. It was touchingly funny. We kept having to assure him that it was okay. Father did not mind.
When Daddy died the next day, it was quietly. We had convinced my mom to go out to dinner with my aunts and uncles. Daddy was still alert enough to be up. In fact, he was sitting in a chair at the side of the bed with his head resting on the bedside. My sister Peggy and I were sitting on either side of him rubbing his back gently and talking quietly. And then we realized he wasn't breathing. When we lifted him up, the blood had already begun to pool at the contact point on his forehead. We called the hospice nurse who came over and helped us arrange his body in the bed and we called all my local siblings. When mom returned from dinner we were praying the rosary together gathered in a circle around Daddy. We had to reassure my mom that it was okay not to be there, that the dying often wait to go until the person closest to them is not there - to spare them perhaps.
So many memories of that time crowd in on me: my nine-year-old niece stroking Daddy's head shortly after he died saying, "Grandpa looks so peaceful," my sisters and I all snipping off bits of Daddy's hair at the wake, the funeral at the Naval Academy on that brilliant, hot July day, two dear family friends concelebrating Mass with the Academy chaplain, the pain of the last good-bye to a dearly loved father.
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of good parents who pass on the faith.
Please pray for the repose of the soul of my dad, Raymond John, today. May he rest in peace.