My father was the greatest influence in my life. His words of wisdom and the personal example that was his life will forever be with me. He was everything I wish I could be. I can't possibly do his life justice with my words. Trying to describe the man he was to everyone he came in contact with is like trying to sum up the meaning of the universe in 75 words or less.
It was a Saturday and I was running late. My brother was coming over for dinner and I had gone to the store to get some food for dinner. I drove up in front of the house and my husband met me at the car. He said that he didn't think I would be running so late and said that my brother and he had something to tell me. I thought they were going to tell me that my brother's children had torn up something in the house...I really had no idea. My brother then said,"Dad had a heart attack, they took him to the hospital, and he's dead", just like that. I asked him to repeat it several times. I felt like a black hole had opened up in the earth and I was sinking down into it. I thought he was lying, or maybe it was that I hoped he was lying.
My mother was on the phone long distance from the hospital, waiting for me to come home so she could tell me the news, so they handed the phone to me and I got the rest of the story. Turns out, that afternoon he was walking into the room to watch TV with my mother (his wife of 42 years) and he got this funny look on his face. Mom started yelling at him and he never responded. He simply sank to his knees. He was basically dead on his feet, and there was nothing they could have done. He never said a word, never clutched his chest in pain, nothing. It was instant. We are still not sure what exactly happened to him. We took him to the hospital and the doctor said that he was sure it was his heart, so Mama did not get an autopsy. Whatever it was, it happened so quickly and he lost consciousness almost immediately so we are pretty sure he felt no pain.
I know it sounds strange, but Daddy was in pretty good health when he died. He was 63 and just as vibrant and good looking as a 25 year old. It does not help the pain too much, but at least I can feel good that he didn't suffer and he never lost his dignity. He was a strong, wonderful, and proud man who possessed great integrity and he went out strong and feeling good about his life.
Sometimes I feel afraid that I will forget him. I know that I will never really forget him, but that I will forget the nuances; his smile, his hands, the sound of his voice. This really worries me.
I can't express how profound a loss this is. The world is just not as good without him. Thank you for letting me remember him.