No Not Yet

23 12 2008

November second of 2000, while at work, I received a phone call from my aunt telling me that my father was not doing well.   The cancer had returned at full force and he was in the hospital. I called him that night and his new wife (a young Filipino lady barely my senior, to whom he had been wed a little over a year) answered the phone.  She informed me that he could not talk on the phone but I finally got her to hand him the phone so I could talk to him.  I cried and bawled as I listened to him breathing.   The best way I can describe what I heard was Darth Vader.   I ended the conversation by asking him if he wanted me to come home.   He somehow got the words “No not yet” out; those would be the last words he ever said to me.

The following day, my aunt called me again to inform me he was in ICU and I needed to come home immediately.

Brandon and the girls and I made the thirteen hour drive down to Kansas City in about eleven hours.  I cannot begin to describe how he looked, only that the image still unnerves me.  The breathing apparatus strapped to his face…the cords strapping him down to the bed…

My father was swollen up to twice the man he had been before and entirely out of it. They had placed him on medication through an IV that would not only kill the pain, it would cause an amnesia-like state of a coma.

I questioned my aunt if this was life support and she said yes that it was. My father had a living will, protesting the use of any means of prolonging the inevitable, but the doctors had no copy of it and my family was stating they were not sure it existed.

That Friday night, I prayed to God and told him if this was meant to be not to allow the persons I was calling the following morning to find the proper documents.  It was the first time I had given a sincere prayer in months.

The following morning, I called the hospital in Virginia Beach, Virginia where his cancer had first been diagnosed and the living will had been originated. Within ten minutes, they had faxed the copy and it was in my hands. I made three copies and took one to my father’s nurse. I handed another one to my aunt for her to see. Then I left.

The next two days all I could do was pray for a miracle. I begged God to undue my curse, my wish for his death that I had made years before, thoughtlessly, in anger.

Tuesday morning, my aunt called me at work and informed me that they were pulling the plug and asked if I wanted them to await my arrival. The van was still packed and I drove home to get the girls and Brandon. The drive down to Kansas City this time kept me thinking if I drove slower it would prevent his death.

Looking back now at the two trips to Kansas, the first time it seemed as though I couldn’t get there quick enough. The second trip went too quickly.

When I got to the hospital I grabbed Daddy’s hand and kissed his cheek. He opened his eyes and I watched him struggle to keep them open. I spoke directly into his ear and told him what I had wished on him and begged for forgiveness. He never said a word and the nurses swore that he was not aware of my presence due to the medication.

I wasn’t there Wednesday morning when he actually stopped breathing. I had left to get the girls something to eat and when I got back at 1445 he was gone.

My aunt said it had only happened minutes before I entered the room. I am not sure whether I am lucky not to have seen it or not. He almost immediately turned purple and from that moment on…it is all a blur.

I only remember driving towards Dodge City in the snow leaving the hospital. I don’t remember what I said or did after seeing him die. It’s as though that moment in my life never occurred.

When we got to my father’s home the following night, I began calling all of his friends to inform them of the sad news. I called a few family members but finally passed that duty on to my aunt, as I don’t really get along with many members of the family, much less her.

Daddy had pretty much planned his funeral down to the moment thank God. He remembered that I wanted to sing at his funeral and had added a few songs to my own song.

For years, since 1991, I had always wanted to sing Greatest Man I Never Knew at my father’s funeral. Now the moment had arrived and I couldn’t get the words out. The one performance I had been prepared for my entire life, and I couldn’t do it. We finally decided to record me singing the songs the day before the funeral and then just play them during the whole disaster. Somehow it managed to work.

I still don’t think I have accepted his passing. At Christmas, seeing the men dressed up as Santa sends me into a mess of tears. He was not yet 55.

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