A very close friend of mine came to dinner last night. His Father is in the last stages of his life. The doctors are telling him maybe 2 or 3 weeks. He seems to be in a really good state of mind for his situation. We talked about his family and plans as they stood at the time and how everyone was taking the news. It was a very somber meal to say the least.
It also took me back to a time when I was in his exact situation. I can remember going to the Doctors office with my Mom and Dad the day after Thanksgiving 1985. We thought it was a routine visit. His normal doctor had found a small lump under his arm. They had been the week before for a biopsy of the lump and we were just going to get it taken care of. This is a man who smoked 3 packs a day for all of my memory. He was so bad he smoked at the table. And being a good son I always wanted to sit next to my dad. However, a side effect of these, to this day I can’t eat in a restaurant that allows smoking. We sat in the office and waited as you have to do, and they called his name he and my Mom went back. In about 10 minutes my Mother came out and said your Dad wants you back there he sent me out here to get you and I’m to wait here. Well I when back never expecting what I got. They were putting him in the hospital for further testing that day. The doctor would report back to him that night and let him know where we were. Where we were? What does that mean I asked? I was told to just take Mother home. Tell her the doctor was keeping my Dad for tests, out tomorrow, and I was going to stay the night because it was crazy for Mother too. Dad told me to return, with a legal pad I was to buy after I left Mother, and a pen. I, being young and stupid, still had not gotten what was happening. So I very truthfully did exactly like I was told, clueless to the reality I was about to face.
Well it’s no surprise to anyone reading this that I was told my Dad had lymphoma. It was everywhere nothing they could do for him, but make him comfortable and try to manage the pain for the 6 to 8 months he had left on earth. I was devastated to say the least. As I sat there working my way thought this horrible news everything became clear. My Dad, a very organized man, was about to take care of the rest of his life and I was the executor.
We sat up that night and became closer than we had ever been and were until the night I laid him in his bed and knew it was the last time I would see him alive. We worked out all of the arrangements for his funeral. We worked out how my Mother would be taken care of with the money. We worked out how we were going to break the news to her, my sisters and everyone else he felt like needed to know. It was a night I will never forget.
I have often heard you become a man the day your Father dies. As I look back there were never truer words spoken. As long as he was here I had someone to fall back on. I had an advisor/counselor. I had a guy who had my back in all situations that I never had to worry about. When he died that was gone and would never return. I have written here many times that my Dad and I were not close. We weren’t until the last 5 months of his life. As I look back today, 24 years later, I am almost jealous that we were not closer as I was forming but maybe that was designed by him.
As I sat with my friend last night a grown man, of almost 60, I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous of all of the years he has had that I didn’t. His Father has seen the birth of all of his children. His Father has held his great grandchildren. He has been to all of the first Christmases of all of the kids. He has been there to watch them, take care of them, and bond with them. I know without a doubt my son would be a better man today if he could have spent one week with my Father. I believe I would be a better man today if I would have had him to guide me along the way. Since my Father death I have made some mistakes I think he would have steered me away from, maybe. He was a big believer in Life Lessons. He always said they were the lesson you learned and never had to revisit. He was right the life lessons I have learned I have never had to be re-taught!
I tried to remember back what people did for me that was meaningful as I walked the road my friend is on today. I simply remember my friends were always there. Never in my face, but always there in case I ever had the slightest need. My best friend of 50 plus years would call me and we would just go riding around, something we did in our youth for relaxation and it still worked. He could, and still can, make me laugh when no one else can break through the sadness. I will comment to be there for my friend. We might not ride around but he loves Starbucks. I can see a lot of coffee in my future.
As we age we all face the inevitable, death. I only hope I can go out with the class like my dad. He even in death took care of us all. What a guy.
We talked about my friends Dads funeral last night. I shared what was the greatest gift I had been given in the whole ordeal with him. After my Dad was buried we went back to my grandmother’s house for the tradition feast that rural people always seem to think necessary. Well all my buddies came back to the house. We started telling stories about my Dad and the things he had said, and done. We laughed for over 4 hours. My Mother often talked about how that was what got her on the road to recovery. She never got over losing my Dad, but she was able to live a better life because we laughed him into heaven as she would say. I suggested my friend do the same thing. I hope he does.
Well I think I will text my friend and let him know I am thinking of him, might even see if he wants a Starbucks.
The Blessed Man