Final Words

Dad casket
Dad’s Casket at Fort Snelling

Let’s start the story at the end.

The church was hushed.   He lay there still, quiet.  At least now I didn’t have to see his vacant eyes.

How often had I stared into twinkling bright blue eyes when he told a good story?

Where was the little half smile and throaty chuckle when he tried to hold back laughter at his own jokes?

I even missed his warm breath, tinged with the scent of coffee.

What was the difference between his state now and his state just days before?  He had not been living, just existing for the past 14 months.

A Hundred Whys

The tears wouldn’t come, just an all-enveloping sadness.   Sadness, regret and anger.  A hundred whys .

Why didn’t I ask him more about his childhood when he could talk?

Why did Lewy steal our last years with Dad?

Why did I resent him telling me how to live my life?

Why did I harbor hardness in my heart about the past?

Our Final Words

I was the last one to walk up to the coffin before they closed the lid.  Seventy pairs of eyes watched me.  The perfume of flowers penetrated the air.

I touched his hand, it was stiff.  An odd thought came into my head: Dad wasn’t supposed to have stiff hands.  He was strong, even at the end his grip startled the nursing aids.   His hands held his babies, measured and cut ceiling tile, carved wooden signs and delicately repaired glass and crystal.

Now his hands were artificially folded over his heart.

We had our “final words”, my father and me.  I spoke, and imagined he agreed.  What I did not know was those final words would forever change me.

Words I wished I could have said to him years ago.

Words that heal, and the healing that continues now, six long years later.

I will tell you those words later.

In the next blog you will meet the young man that became my dad.

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