Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Speech

This is the speech I read at the service for my parents. It was a slightly different approach, since I followed my brothers Paul and Bill, who each gave speeches of their own, I decided to pull some paragraphs I wrote in the Daddy Diaries. 

Dad. You left this world on Tuesday morning, January 18th, just minutes after Bill left and told you it was okay to go to Mom. It was around 9:30am. One month to the day since Mom passed away. Just a few hours before, I stopped in the hospice in the middle of the night. You were so thin and so frail. It was really hard to witness. But you were still breathing. You still had life in you. You seemed comfortable. You looked like you did every other time you were sleeping. I squeezed your hand one last time, put my hand on your head, and said goodbye.

In the hospice, you were covered in blankets we brought from the house. The one that stood out to me was the Pottery Barn kids blanket that lay on top. It was one of Chandler's blankets from when he was a little kid. Bill and Dawn must have let us borrow it last time the kids were here for either Evan or Eliana. The day we brought you to the hospice just a few days before you passed, the nurses got you comfortable in the bed and tucked you in and the blanket with all the little rocketships sat on top. In some ways, you seemed like a little kid that day just in the way that you looked at us. You weren't speaking but you looked at us for guidance as the priest folded your hands in prayer and we prayed together. I felt so bad. I just wanted to hug you and tell you it was going to be okay. Paul and I were right beside you as the priest read you your last rites. We all bowed our heads and prayed. The priest said he had been absolved of all his sins and can now “rocket up to heaven to be with Hilda.”

Seriously, that's what he said, it was kind of funny. As hard as it was, to know that “this is it.” I wouldn't have had it any other way. I'm so glad we were there as his last rites were read. Paul and I returned later that night for about an hour but Dad was asleep nearly the whole time. When we left and were saying goodnight, Dad repeated what he’d been saying to me all week. “Get here early to come pick me up. I want to go shopping.” Wherever Dad is now, there had better be a Lowe's, Home Depot, Sam's Club, and Coscto or there’s gonna be trouble.

A lot of people don’t know this about my Dad, but in his later years, he had found a thrilling new hobby that some like to call “shopping.”

(That's an inside joke)

Anyway, on a more serious note:
My Mom and Dad were married for 62 years, and as is common with married couples as they approach their golden years, when one passes away, the other is usually not far behind. When my Dad was diagnosed with stomach cancer, the doctor told him he had about 12-18 months if he decided to forego chemo treatments. I remember being in the hospital and asking my Dad if he wanted to go through chemo. He looked out the window for a second, looked back and said, "No, I've had a good run. If the doctor says I have 12-18 months, I'll take it." That was 18 months ago. Back in the fall, I spent nearly the whole month of November down in Florida visiting my parents, thinking that my Dad, who was quite frail, would be the first to leave us. As fate would have it, my Mom passed away first, on December 18th, a week before Christmas. I truly feel that my father hung on to see my mother get to the other side. I know he was terribly worried about what would happen to her if he passed away first. I think once she passed, he simply began to let go. I'm just glad that I was able to come down here to visit with my parents and spend some time with them before they passed.

Dad, I don't know what happens on the other side, but I hope you are with Mom again, and all of your family. One of the last things you said to me was, "Just make sure you take care of those kids." Dad, you know I will. I'm going to miss you. We are all going to miss you. With you watching over us, I'll always think of the Liverpool FC anthem, "You'll Never Walk Alone."

When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high 
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky
And the sweet, silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

“Bye for now” Mom & Dad. 

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