I'm finally getting around to my first post from our new home in Archbold. Things have been very busy since we left Camarillo, with the move and settling in and taking care of necessities and all that. And... for those who haven't heard, my father died while we were on our way home from CA to Ohio. He'd had a lot of health trouble for the last 8 or 9 years now (diabetes, kidney disease, heart trouble), and had been close to death quite a few times. In fact, he collapsed at my niece's basketball game last year and was actually dead for about a minute, but a nurse happened to be near him (amongst other people who helped) and she performed CPR and brought him back. So in a way, we'd been prepared for him to go anytime. The possibility is always in the back of your mind, when your father's health is so unstable. Whenever I would talk with him I'd say to myself, "Will this be the last time?"
Here's what happened: He had gone to dialysis that day, which he did three times a week, and the nurse found that his port, which was implanted in his left arm, was clogged. The port is where they hook up the machine to his vein to do the dialysis. This had happened a few times before and was a pretty much routine operation to fix. He would just go in the hospital and they would unclog the port. Well, this time they think one of the clots made it into his lungs or brain and he had a stroke. The weird thing is, he had told my sister who drove him to the hospital that if anything happened, he didn't want to be resuscitated or put on life support. And so he wasn't.
They did an autopsy, but we still haven't received the official results so the actual cause of death is still unknown.
Julie and I were in New Mexico when my sister Jackie called me crying and told me the news. She's a nurse herself and doesn't cry easy, so before she said what happened, I knew. Even though we'd been prepared for it, in a way, it's still shocking, and it made the rest of the trip home very surreal. The details of the drive from that point on are somewhat hazy for me. We still had 2 1/2 more days to drive at that point. I think I'm still a bit shocked. I just can't get used to my Dad being gone, despite all the "preparation" we've had. Death is simply an unnatural thing. It shouldn't happen. I don't believe God intended for it to be a fact of life. But to my Dad, it's no longer a mystery, and he's no longer miserable or in pain.
Whenever we get together with my sisters, I'll think for a split second that we need to call my dad and tell him to join us, just out of habit. But as it was after my Mom died, we'll gradually get used to it.
As his son, I've thought a lot about him and our relationship over the years, trying to figure him out. He could be grumpy and negative, and sometimes a little too opinionated, old fashioned and/or narrow minded. But I, and a select few other people, knew that he was also a very gentle and sentimental softy. A lot of people (his dialysis nurses, bank tellers, among others) told us at the funeral that Dad had been a little bit like a father or even grandfather figure to them. He was very honest, and you knew where he stood on things, sometimes more than you'd have liked to know. And I was thinking the other day that, for all his faults, I have never been ashamed of him. I know a lot of people that can't say that. He was always faithful to my mother, he was honest and trustworthy in his business dealings, and he remembered kindnesses. Some of the things we learned from him was the importance of being honorable and truthful to your family and other people. Like everyone, he had some hurt and maybe even regret in his life, but he didn't always process it in the most positive way. But we knew that he loved us and that we were the most important things in his life. He couldn't say that about his own father unfortunately.
Here are some pictures of my Dad that remind me of good times: http://www.flickr.com/photos/camarillohillbillies/sets/72157604148314696/