E.F.G., 1/1/1929 - 9/12/2009

Seldom do 3 a.m. telephone calls bring anything good.
But there was the mobile on the nightstand, Joey Ramone singing “Hey Ho, Let’s Go” from “Blitzkrieg Bop” with my dad’s picture on the screen. He was in the bedroom directly above my head.
“Yes, sir?”
“Are you asleep?”
“I am not,” I lied. “What’s up?”
“Can you come up here and talk to me?”
We talked into the night months ago, during a week when I had the honor of taking care of him after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.
Mostly, he worried about black-and-white frustrations that he wasn’t a decent man his entire life. That inside him, there was an evil man and a good man.
There was no room for gray in his feelings.
Edward F. G died at 2:30 a.m. CDT on 12 Sept. 2009.
He was a good man, through and through. And the depths of his darkness propelled him to be a better man.
I was with him at the end, as I was when my mother passed away on 18 Nov. 2005. And like my mother at her passing, time and cancer had rendered him speechless.
Making our 3 a.m. chats (there were two) even more powerful.
At the end, he lay in a darkened room, when I thought I heard him call out, “hey.”
He then took a deep, gasping breath.
I put my hand upon his chest.
And watched as he took four more breaths, each a little less deep.
And he was gone.
Released from the pain of this world and onto whatever heaven he’s created.
While he had no parting thoughts on how I should live my life, he through the years encouraged me to become my own man. His only advice is that I should do what I love, follow my heart and be the best man I can be.
He was a deeply rich and complex person, not only in multiple shades of gray, but bursting with color and dimension.
I love you, dad.

27 comments:

Beth said...

Thom, I am sorry for your loss. Losing your last parent is especially hard because it calls to front and center your own mortality. You are blessed to have been there at the end, but you already know that. Blessings to you as you go through the necessary end-of-life details, and then come back to your own life.

Hal Johnson said...

Beautiful post, Thom. The photo of your dad shows a man with a lot of light in his soul.

PurestGreen said...

Such a sad but beautifully honest story. I hope you can hold on to all those faucets of your father's character, continuing to catch glimpses of him as time passses.

lissa said...

I'm sorry for your loss but I hope he is somewhere at peace and pain-free...

DaisyMae said...

My sympathies to you and others that knew him well. There will be times that you miss the parental prod and pride, but just know that they know, they have done a good job.

Chris

Linnnn said...

He was so blessed to have you there when he transcended. You are blessed to have been there keeping loving company with the man who gave you life. May your grief soften in time to happy memory.

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

My sympathetic thoughts go out to you, for now you will love him on a different plane, it will be unique and full of worth...

J.C. Montgomery said...

I somehow cannot find any words. My heart goes out to you.

Marg Smith said...

You must be feeling very sad and maybe alone right now. So sorry to hear about your dad. He gave you good advice

Dark Pony Designs said...

Hugs to you Thom, stay strong. You are in our thoughts.
-Robin

Donna said...

Thom, this was beautiful.

"...he through the years encouraged me to become my own man. His only advice is that I should do what I love, follow my heart and be the best man I can be."

When it comes to parenting, this is as good as it gets, imo.

This was a beautiful heartwarming view of your dad ... and you. Thank you for sharing your dad with us.

missalister said...

A rich tribute, this, Thom. Four months, nearly to the day, after mine. Maybe they’ll talk, compare notes, watch out for us.

Color Online said...

Thom, from what I know about you, I have no doubt your dad was a great man.

It's heartening to hear you acknowledge that his passing is a release of the pain.

I hope you are surrounded by those who love you and your dad.

gautami tripathy said...

I send my hugs from Delhi for you. Stat strong for yourself. I pray for his soul to be at peace.

And yes, this is a beautiful tribute.

Daily Panic said...

Every year, Every day, Every Hour and Every second counted as much to him as it did for you. Strength and prayers to you and your family during this time of greif and rememberance. *hugs*

Jon Lewis said...

So sorry to hear about this, yet relieved too as I'm sure you are on one level. Maybe it's selfishness on our part but we hate to see loved ones suffer. Take heart in knowing your dad loved you, and know also that he was fully aware of the love you had for him. Be proud, too, of standing as one of his greatest legacies. You honor him with each breath you take and each step you walk.

With luck, we can toast his memory somewhere in the mountains in the not too far future.

Take care, friend.
Lou

Bone said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Thom.

This is a wonderful tribute.

Take care.

Dee said...

Love, hugs, prayers.

TC said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your father, Thom.

It sounds like you and he were able to share a lot of good times, especially need the end. That's what is important.

Lena said...

My condolences.

pia said...

This is a wonderful tribute. Complex people enrich and grace our lives so very much

onemorebeliever said...

beautiful, thommyg...beautiful, beautiful... even more so to have shared the last moments together.... thru my own experiences of parents passing it has been a blessing to have been there and share in their passing in their own beds beside loved ones...

Saoirse Redgrave said...

Thom,

Saying I am sorry for the recent loss of your father seems weak at best coming from me, as a fellow writer. Sometimes words are insufficient. I am sorry I didn't get to know a little about you before this, because having lived through something similar with my mother, I know this will change you. Deeply. Whether you want it to or not.

I wish there was something I could do to help you...some amazing insight or flash of inspiration I could impart to you other than "you'll get through this." Again, lame.

I guess I could say "Write it out"--but I think that's nearly instinctual with writers. It's what we do. It's certainly what I did.

Sorry, Thom. I suck at this. Just know you're in my thoughts and prayers and I hope to see you back on Three Word Wednesday making me wonder how I can write something decent to match your words.

Just someone said...

I am so sorry for your loss. my heartfelt condolences

Its a great tribute to a great person and a life well lived;

Sending my prayers your way;

Take care,

Jane Doe said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I liked what you said about the depths of his darkness propelling him to be a better man. That's what truly amazing people do and your father sounds like he was a truly amazing man. My thoughts and prayers will be with you.

Hugs,

Jane

maglomaniac said...

Hi Thom,
The truth is am not able to say much.
Everything that you have writteb about him shows the wonderful bond that you both shared.
And I believe a man can be best who fights his own darkness and stands tall over them.
"And the depths of his darkness propelled him to be a better man."
And what he said is something I too would remember and follow my whole life...
"What all he said and thought
to become my own man. His only advice is that I should do what I love, follow my heart and be the best man I can be."
I am happy that you were with him at the moment when being together mattered the most.
He is surely watching.
Tc dear.

~Harsha

Purple Houses said...

My belated condolences, Thom. This is a beautiful piece. I'm so sorry for your loss.