Sunday, November 16, 2008

16 November 2007

This date fell on a Friday last year. The day before I had driven down to Mom and Dad's to spend some time with them. Dad was bed-ridden by then and no longer wore the eyeglasses that had been a permanent fixture on this face. He was staring out their bedroom windows. What he saw, I'm not sure. I commented on the high winds that day and said it would be a heckuva day to go sailing. He responded by nodding his head. He loved white-knuckle sailing. The next day I picked-up Patty from the airport and drove us down to Solomons for what would be our last day with Dad. The sun shimmered off the colorful leaves and we talked about everything but what we were facing. Coming from the Midwest, the leaves had already blown off the trees where Patty lived, but they were still brilliantly colored and attached here. That day in Mom and Dad's cottage in Solomons seems so short now. Pete and Janet were already there with Mom when Patty and I arrived. Mom was nervously fluttering around. That evening, Janet was the first to notice that Dad was close to the end of his struggle. Mom and Pete joined her, then Patty and I went in, holding our breath. When Dad was alive, I would never have dreamed of lying on their bed with him. As he gasped his last breaths, I crawled across the bed to hold his hand and once more stroke his crewcut head. We all voiced our love for him and our permission to let go. Tears were freely flowing and tissues were held to noses like dams. Mom gently closed Dad's eyes and Pete listened for a heartbeat. All the dams burst at that point and we let out all the fear and sorrow we had held in for weeks. As I held one of his big hands I thought about all the times they had comforted and constructed strong family bonds. At 6:15 this evening, I'll think about that day last year. The tears eventually will stop, but it's only been 365 days . . .

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