I arrived back from a law school trip to New York City on a bright but chilly Sunday afternoon. The first message on my answering machine made my heart sink:
Hey, kiddo, it's Uncle D. Your dad's in the hospital in Florida and he's not doing so well. We've got gramma in the car and we're driving to the airport to catch a flight down there. Call me as soon as you can. Love you. Bye.As quickly as a I could I called my cousin Lisa up north. We talked for about half an hour. She didn't know a lot but knew more than I did. Sadly, she knew that Dad was in pretty bad shape and things didn't "look real good." We cried. We wondered what to do. We hoped and prayed.
I walked out and told my mom my dad was probably going to die. We cried. She comforted me.
It suddenly struck me try to call the hospital to get the details, maybe even talk to Dad. I was bounced around to several departments but finally was put in touch with one of the nurses in the ICU. Tearfully -- yes, she was crying -- she broke the news that Dad had passed away in the last 30 minutes.
I don't know to describe all the things I felt after that. Within days I was angry. My anger was directed at him. Nothing had equipped me to deal with his death. Oh, I managed to hold together, trying to be strong for my grandma. It was her loss more than mine, or so I felt at the time.
So many emotions and thoughts have come and gone over the last 13 years. There's not much of a point in reliving them. Despite not being one to normally mark anniversaries of things like this, I do find myself reflecting about my father's life, and our relationship, this day each year.
He wasn't the closest person to me nor was he the most important person in raising me, in making me who I am. In fact, he had a lot of shortcomings in that regard. But he was still wonderful. He's my dad. I hope he's well and I get to see him again. Slainte, dad!