So, I was caught off guard when the doctor called me Tuesday night to let me know that my dad had a heart attack and would probably not make it through the night. She was not unkind, but she was so technical as she explained to me the medical decisions we had to make that I had trouble connecting those decisions to her first statement. The floor had completely dropped from beneath me.
I asked if my wife could call her to walk through all that again. In hindsight, I realize I just needed confirmation. My wife is a talented medical professional and I knew she was going to make the same recommendation the doctor had just made. Still, part of me was scrambling for another option. I have always seemed to be able to figure out a way to make the most sideways scenario successful. In the end, everything works out. But not this time. I felt like I was being smothered as it became clear what was about to happen.
Mary Lee joined with my brothers and I on a Zoom call. While she walked them through our decisions, I informed my Mom.
When the nurse came on the call, it was to tell us my father had passed a few minutes before. Wife, sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren were all together to hear that sad announcement. I am grateful we were with each other in that moment.
My last conversation with my dad was filled with laughs and joking. I had gotten locked outside their retirement community and my mom must have been sleeping. After a few attempts to persuade the security guard, I got my dad on the line to give him the all-clear. We found it funny how iron-clad the security protocols of his neighborhood are.
And that is how I think of my Dad. He could be serious, but I suspect he is most remembered for his happy-go-lucky temperament. He liked and was liked by everyone.
My Dad would have been 80 this summer. He went on his first cruise last year and loved it. We had hoped to do one together to celebrate his 80th when covid was in the rearview mirror.
He ran a carpet company out of our home back in the day. My brothers and a lot of our friends worked for him as laborers on big jobs. We would spend days ripping out carpet in a theater or tiling an office building. We would pile into the work van early in the morning and, as my friend Jon reminded me, sit on buckets of glue for the ride down. Carpet jobs were nice cause then we could sit on a roll of padding.
When my Dad was not on the job, he was usually traveling. When my brothers and I were little, we traveled by car and camper across America many times and even headed across Canada once. I suspect my Dad hit all the contiguous 48 at one point or another.
Beyond that, he was a world traveler. His passports were littered with stamps. Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America. He and my mom were always up for another adventure.
He loved to cook. He had numerous specialties we all looked forward to him making. Some of my favorite memories are hanging out on his back patio in Michigan while he was grilling up burgers.
My dad was a wonderful father and loving husband. His was a life well-lived. I am immensely proud of him.