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10:00 AM on November 26, 2019. My father dies.
Posted: Posted November 28th, 2019
Edited November 28th, 2019 by Cruinn-Annuin
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August 27 is the day of my father's birth. On the instance of this day in 2019, my father tells me that he thinks that he will be around for another one. My father was always an expert in trying to see what he could get away with.

Last week, my father lay in his in-home hospice bed and told my mother that he was going to die that weekend. She did not not know what that meant. She removed the derringer from his bedside table, fearful of what the presence of a firearm might have meant in this circumstance. She did not call me to burden me with this information, though I would have known exactly what it meant.

My father did not say that he was dying when a stroke crippled him and took his ability to speak. He reclaimed his ability to walk and talk, and to read, within the year.

My father did not say that he was dying when cancer was literally tearing him apart inside and when the bleeding could only be stopped by what vestige of natural healing his body still possessed in spite of the massive amounts of chemotherapy involved.

My father did not say that he was dying when his heart required stints, and then a quadruple bypass, to continue functioning properly.

My father knew.

He did not die over the weekend. He did break into a severe cold sweat. He did become weak. My family did not burden me with this information.

On Tuesday, November 26, it became clear. My mother called the EMS. They ran an EKG and confirmed that the activity of his heart was entering a downward spiral. They put him in an ambulance and took him to the nearest decent hospital. They did not run with their lights on. They knew.

At around 8 AM, my mother called me. She told me what my father has said.

Now I knew.

Rather than choosing to rush and confuse the situation, I prepared myself. She called me back when he had reached a certain location. I went there.

I went in through the emergency doors. I turned right and went through the door just after the check-in desk, giving my name in the process. The woman at the desk had hair the color of a moldy straw bale. I turned right, then walked straight, then turned left. Room 15 is on the left. It is small and private. A couple of nurses were briefly present, but they did not have much work to do by then.

His front of his shirt had been cut off in order to facilitate an EKG, but the electrodes were not connected to anything. There was a blood pressure cuff on his upper right arm and a pulse oximeter on his right index finger. His shirt had been cut off and the blood pressure cuff attached to the non-traditional arm because he was too weak to facilitate the movements required to remove the shirt or to present his left side properly. He was under a sheet, but it did not cover the large bypass scar over his breastbone, the small incision under his left clavicle where his chemotherapy port was installed, or the circular scar on his left shoulder where the Navy had injected him with various inoculations four decades previously.

The cuff and pulse oximeter were connected to a single small monitor. The room was not cluttered by any other medical equipment. The monitor displayed a simple pulse graph. It was almost entirely flat. It also displayed his blood pressure, which was lower than I had ever seen it. The monitor triggers an alarm every couple of minutes, which a nurse remotely turns off at a desk without investigating. Eventually, she comes in and turns the monitor off entirely. It is not needed anymore.

His eyes were open; they remained open for the rest of the time that I could see him. He did not meet my eyes. He was focused on an upper corner of the room. He did not look away from the angle his body was canted at, even while his lids periodically drooped.

He did not say anything when I entered the room. I took his hand and touched his brow. Both were cool. His lips twitched. He calmly and clearly told me to get off. When I withdrew my hand from his brow but persisted in grasping his hand, he simply said "quit". Whether this was from the simple kind of discomfort that makes a person unreceptive to contact while vomiting, or from a more developed desire to clear his mind of distraction, I cannot say. Maybe he was already trying to help us by telling us to literally stop holding on to him.

He wore a nasal cannula but it was clear that, after a certain point, it was not helpful. When I arrived, he was breathing in through his nose and out through his mouth. Then, he began breathing only through his mouth. Then, he softly gasped his breaths with irregular timing. Then, a series of straw-thin breaths that hardly disturbed his lips. There was a thin line of bubbles forming on them. After I noticed this, he did not open his mouth any more. His lips may have twitched once or twice over the next minute, but he drew no more breath.

I did not look at the clock. My best guess from the next time that I did was that he died at 10:00 AM.

There are 11 Replies
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I’m so so sorry for your loss. It sounds like your father was a strong man who went through a lot.

Are you holding up alright?

Posted November 28th, 2019 by Weird Occurance
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I am sorry for your loss. I am here if you need anything.

Posted November 28th, 2019 by S.O.H.
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Shit man. Sorry for your loss. May he rest in peace.

Posted November 29th, 2019 by Fox Forever
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so sorry to hear about this

Posted November 29th, 2019 by poptart!
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Sorry to hear about this too. I've been through the stroke thing with my dad too and it's rough.

Posted November 29th, 2019 by Xhin
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Thank you all.

Posted November 29th, 2019 by Cruinn-Annuin
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Sorry to hear about this.

Posted November 29th, 2019 by Moonray
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Hey man, I am so sorry, I know what it's like to lose a father. Remember him for all the good things he has done. You and your family will pull through with time.

Posted November 29th, 2019 by LLight
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I've been thinking about this post on and off for a while and I still don't know what to say (or if I should say anything at all) but I'm truly sorry to hear that.

Posted November 29th, 2019 by Grey Echelon
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Sending all my love, null. ❤️ I’ve only seen secondhand the toll of losing a loved one – a parent, a father – to the prolonged suffering of chemo, illness... It’s a lot to bear. So sorry for your loss, and that it happened so near the holidays. I hope you’ll set aside some time and space to honor his memory, in whatever way you feel fitting. I’ve been learning the importance of ritual. At least in my experience, if you don’t take somewhat deliberate steps toward that, sometimes grief/trauma come out at inopportune moments. Sorry about the unsolicited advice. I’m not sure if you’ll find it helpful or not in your own process. But I thought I’d offer it out in case it does any good.

My door is always open (you have my number and FB) if you ever want to talk about anything. Wishing you well. ❤️

Posted November 29th, 2019 by Ceta
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