It was a little after 2 AM, 10 years ago today, that I was awakened by the phone ringing. I reached over to nightstand, picked up the handset, and heard the voice of the attending physician at Mission Hospital ICU tell me that my dad was gone.
I had anticipated this. After all, just a few hours before my two brothers, my mom, and my sisters-in-law were all at my dad's bedside when we made the decision to remove life support. But we'd also been anticipating this day for two years, ever since the debilitating stroke had taken a part of our dad away from us. We knew that this call would eventually come.
I returned to sleep, held in the arms of my wife. I was at peace. Yes, dad was gone. But I knew where he was going. The ravages of the stroke that had made it impossible for him to draw were no longer affecting him. And even as I lay there in bed, I was grateful that this was over.
|My dad and I at my wedding, October, 1999|
Ten years later I do not mourn my dad's passing. I actually never mourned his passing. I'm funny about death that way: I do not mourn. I feel an emptiness at someone's passing, even if they're someone I never met. And today, a decade later, I still feel an emptiness about him being gone. I wish he'd been around as his grandkids grew up. I wish he'd been around for me to talk to about things - nothing in particular, but just things. I realize now that my dad had a very analytical approach to things, and his decisions were often made based upon what was best, not what was the most convenient or easiest. He was a loving husband to my mom, and even though he confessed to me once he felt he'd not been a good dad, in his last few years as we became closer, he became not just a dad, but a close friend.
I know that there are many people who share in their admiration for my dad as I did and still do. Many of them are on Facebook, and respond lovingly whenever I post a photograph of him. And when we had the Celebration of Life service for him, the sanctuary at San Clemente Presbyterian Church was fairly full. I never counted, but I knew the seating capacity of that sanctuary, and I would guess there were nearly 400 people there. Many of them were not only his friends and our family, but they were MY friends and my two brother's friends, who had counted our dad as a friend of theirs as well.
Ten years later my dad still touches lives, and I can find no better tribute than that.