Saturday, November 5, 2011

My Dad

My Dad died a year ago today.  I couldn't sleep at all last night and when Peter reminded me this morning that Dad had died on November 5th, 2010..... it seemed to be a good explanation for my inability to get to sleep.  Last year, I had come down to stay with my brother several days before Dad's death as the nursing home and hospice team had let us know that they didn't think it would be long.  As it turned out he hung in there for several days and I got the chance to spend a lot of time with him.  In the beginning, he was quite responsive to my presence, smiling, chuckling, even managing to sing a chorus of "Que Sera, Sera" with me when we were talking about Doris Day coming into his Dad's drug store when he worked there as a kid growing up in Cincinnati.

But as the days went by, he began to slip away and on that last night, I decided to stay over with him because it really seemed like he would be leaving us soon.  I sat by his bed, holding his hand, talking a bit about family members and old friends.  I played some old Harvard songs I had downloaded on my iPhone and we also watched his favorite musical, "The Music Man" (also downloaded on my trusty iPhone).... It was a peaceful night... Dad lingered on into the early hours of the next day..... One of his nurses asked me if there was anyone who my Dad hadn't said good-bye to and suggested that perhaps he was hanging on, waiting to say that final good-bye.    I thought about it for awhile, and then came to the realization that perhaps he was waiting to say good-bye to my mother.  In the later stages of Alzheimer's,  he often became confused about where my mother was (she had died in May of 2008) and would ask me where she was and when she would be joining us.  So maybe he was waiting for my mother.   I leaned up close to him and reminded him that "Mom and all the dogs (Jessie, Boots, Goody, Sami, Rudy, and Winnie)  had already left and were waiting for him" (If you know my Dad, you know how important his dogs always were to him).   And yes, that really seemed to do the trick.  A few minutes later, he quietly took his last breath.... I waited for another one to come,  but he had gone.  I can only assume that hearing that my Mom and the dogs were waiting (somewhere....... where?) for him was, in the end,  all he needed to know.....

The rocking chair in this picture is one that my brother and I had given to our parents on their 25th wedding anniversary (back in 1976).   Peter and I had just dug it out of the corner of the back bedroom in our Nantucket house (yes, after 3 months, we're still unpacking and moving stuff around).   It's in pretty rough shape (all of the Kanter and Richards cats have insisted that it was a giant scratching post and have used it accordingly,,,, naturally, this never bothered my parents at all).     I took a picture of it and sent it on to my brother.... an empty chair where my Dad used to be....  We're lighting candles for both my Dad and my Mom tonight.  I miss them.


  1. Susan- thanks for writing this sad yet beautiful and emotional piece. Here's a big hug for you and Henry- please use your imagination. I love you- Deb

  2. A beautiful story, and nice that you gave him such a loving send off.
    Deb B.

  3. Thanks Debbie and Deb! So nice to hear from both of you!