This week has been a little hard. I spent a few days in the hospital for some emergency surgery, which always gets one’s wheels turning about one’s own mortality, and it’s just a few days before the eighth anniversary of my father’s death, and the 48th anniversary of his mother’s death. My post today is an email I sent to friends and family eight years ago, the day after Dad passed away. Miss you, Dad.
I just wanted to let you know my Dad passed away last night. Please keep him and us in your prayers.
I had visited him last week. I was here from Tuesday August 5 to Monday August 11. Dad was struggling but still doing most things by himself. The day I left, he had gotten up, gotten himself dressed and gone from his bed to the couch in the living room and was sitting there when I awoke at 6:45 and brought him the newspapers – The Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Vallejo Times-Herald, and the Benicia Herald. National to regional to area to small town. He read them all every day. I kissed him goodbye before I left at 7:15 to catch my plane back to Seattle. I told him I would be back on the 19th to see him.
I talked to my brother, David, that afternoon when I got back to Seattle and Dad was doing OK. He had gone back to bed about 2:30 and was resting when I called. About 4 Dad asked David if he would get a priest to come sometime in the next few days. David asked, “If I could get someone here today, would you want that?” and Dad’s answer was an emphatic “Yes.” The priest came and recognized that Dad was in a great deal of pain and said we should get hospice in to get him some relief. He also brought communion for Dad.
Hospice came Tuesday, did an assessment, and Wednesday they brought in a hospital bed that they put in the living room, right at Dad’s favorite spot where he could look at his beautiful view over the Carquinez Strait and watch the ships go up and down and the trains on the other side of the water go back and forth. Hospice also brought some medication for the pain. My brother, Dick, arrived from Houston Thursday night, a trip he had been planning for a few weeks.
Friday morning the hospice nurse came and said Dad did not look well at all. When my brother called be about 10:15, Mark and the kids and I were just outside of Baker City, Oregon, about six hours from Seattle, where I was learning to drive a steam locomotive. I had been planning this trip and talking to Dad about it for a long time. Dad was a huge rail fan ant this was something I so wanted to share with him. We finished our train adventure and drove all the way back to Seattle. I unpacked and repacked, got a few hours’ sleep, and got on a 7:30 am Saturday flight to California. I was here by 10:45. Dad was alert enough in the afternoon to want to watch some TV and I was able to show him some video and pictures of the train adventure. (While I was sleeping on Friday night, my wonderful husband stayed up all night to put together a DVD of the adventure to play for Dad.)
My sister, Tori, had flown in Friday night, and my sister, Diane, arrived about dinner time on Saturday. Dad was pretty uncomfortable Saturday evening and settled into a fitful sleep. He was continually reaching his hand out, and appeared to be grasping someone’s hand. He called for John (I’m not sure which John) and said things like “I’ll be there.” Dick and I sat with him. I prayed many Hail Marys and also prayed to my Grandma Kircher, Dad’s mom, to come get her boy. The date, August 16, 2008, was the 40th anniversary of Grandma Kircher’s death. I went to bed about 10:15. I heard Tori get up a few minutes later, and about 10:45 Dick woke me and told me that Dad had passed.
He put up a good fight, but he was ready to go. He missed my mom and my stepmother so much. I’m glad that we were able to keep him here in the house he loved and that we were all able to be here with him.
Thank you for all your support during this time.
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.