My life as I knew it ended at 6:30 pm on September 2,1997. I answered a phone call for my husband from someone named Pam. I stood there holding my 6 week-old child, listening to his end of the conversation, and immediately thought-"Oh no, someone he knows has died." He then hung up the phone and looked at me, and simply said " Honey, your dad just died." It has been almost 4 years, and I can still close my eyes and see that moment.
My dad , James Kenneth Hursey, was 59 years old. He was a vibrant healthy man, who loved his children in a quiet way - through many trials and errors on our parts!!
He left behind myself, my brother David (26 at the time), my baby sister Alysson (13 at the time, and the apple of his eye), and my Mom, Gratia, his wife of 30 years. He had experienced the loss of his father when he was 16 years old, and my Grandmother taught school and raised three boys. She was a devoted mother , and he in turn was a devoted son-after she had a stroke which left her in a personal care home, my dad called her every night at 7:30 without fail, even though she was miles away.
He was a very active, healthy person-a runner for many years, he didnt look his age. Because of his father's passing, he took very good care of himself. He constantly worried about what would happen to my mom and my sister if he died. I went through a lot of troubled times as a young woman, but he was always there for myself and my daughter Hannah Marie - 4 at the time. Hannah is a very emotional child, and "Grandaddy" was the only male figure that she has ever truly trusted. Having to break the news to her was probably the second worst thing I've ever had to do-The first would be trying to accept his death-which is futile.
I guess I should get to the point, though. My dad was a director of pharmacy for a local hospital, and this particular afternoon, he chose to do a 3 mile run on the track adjacent to the facility. According to the witnesses, he was running along (a 3 mile was nothing-as I said earlier-he long-distance ran for over 20 years)and fell face first onto the track. The witnesses immediately got to him and began CPR. He was less than 200 yards from the ER, and they could not revive him. It was a hot day, and he was wearing his shorts,shoes and a t-shirt, with his car key in his pocket. The evening shift ER nurses thought they recognized him , and called his partner to the ER. He was in total shock, and had the nurses call my mother, who had just gotten home. All she was told was, "Ken is here, and it doesn' t look good." She screamed at my sister to get in the car-Alysson had lived most of her life as an "only child", and Dad was her sun and moon. My mom,a 30 year RN, knew that it was probably his heart, but prayed that they had saved him, and maybe he was in the ICU. She said Alysson screamed the entire drive "please dont let my daddy be dead".
I got to the hospital about 7:45, to find my mom in "The Room" where they keep you when somebody's dead. My sister was walking around the track with the youth minister from the church. I still cant imagine how it must have been for her-it was her first day of high school. She still is very private about her grief. My mom asked me if I wanted to see him-and I wish I would have said no. He was lying on the table under a sheet, mouth agape,eyes closed, cold and clammy. I am crying now, because I can feel his cold hand.
I guess my maternal instincts took over (and have been there ever since), and I sucked up all my tears to "be there" for everyone else. The suddeness of death is horrible. The last time I saw my dad was the previous Friday, when I made a fateful decision to stop on my way home from picking up my kids. I was actually halfway home and turned around.
They were leaving the next moring to spend Labor Day W'end with my brother and his wife, who lived in Memphis-and he was so excited to be going to Beale St. He enjoyed an hour or two with Hannah and Jesse-his new grandson, and for some weird reason-the quiet funny man who never professed to be comfy with babies-asked if he could hold Jesse and give him his bottle. I can see him now, talking softly to his new grandson and rocking him in his arms. As we left, we waved and said our "see 'ya later's", he uncharacteristically put his arm around my neck, kissed my cheek and said quietly, "love you". As an adult, I can probably count the times he actually verbalized his love for me. Why this day, I'll never know.
Everyone at the funeral and after gathering were so promissory of help/support, etc.
but, you know they all leave, go back to their family, and you're alone with your own unspeakable sadness. Everyone says,"It gets better", but unless you know the pain of losing a father, you have no right to even comment. I tell people that it physically feels that my heart is broken into a million pieces. I still have not fully reconciled my anger at God. I am angry at my mom' and dad's so-called Friends who never call her.
I can't go a day without tears for him. My children will never enjoy his laughter or his loving words and playfulness as I did. My brother's child, and my youngest will never know him. I thank God for letting me have the time that I did, but I scream inside my head for him to relieve me from this pain. I hate to talk to my mom about how I feel, because I know she must hurt even worse. I can say , though,that she and I have become even closer. I hurt for her, I hurt for my brother and my baby sister.
I can't believe it is almost 4 years now, it seems like just yesterday. I wish that I could say it gets easier, but I dont think it ever will. We have had some fun times together since then, but it always seems bittersweet. I think always of what he'd be doing if he were there with us-fishing with Jesse (now 4), or praising Hannah for her excellence in her studies. Alysson graduates from High School this June, and will be headed off this fall to college. I wish he were here to see what a beautiful young lady she is growing up to be.
Daddy, I miss your advice, I miss your intelligence, I miss discussing the UGA's greatest football moments, I miss us picking on mom for always burning something when she cooks, I miss your Ralph Lauren that could be smelled from 20ft away, I miss your boisterous laughter ringing through the house, I miss you complaining that your Jack Russell terrier is just a "one-celled " organism. (as he still sits in your chair, waiting for you to come home) Most of all, I hope that you are proud of me, wherever you are.
I Love You, "Missy"
Melissa Kent McConahy