28

Holding Dad’s Hand

My father died. They called us from the hospital, early-early in the morning with news he was in serious distress. I have always suspected he was already gone by that point, or nearly so. There had been some telephone mix up. A transposition of telephone numbers and they were unable to reach his home. I said I would handle it, and we hung up, but the phone rang immediately with my sister saying only “It’s time”. When I came into his room, it was crowded. There were a lot of students and someone explaining how to remove various tubes and hoses. I asked the first kid I saw if it was over and she… went into shock. I turned to the next with a similar result. Clearly, we had not reached the how-to-talk-to-family chapter of the textbook. “I am Virgil’s son. Can anyone here tell me if Virgil has died this morning, please?” Finally, a voice near the front said, “Yes. we’re sorry for your loss.” I explained the family was coming and we would like the room, please, and if it all possible, could they continue to remove the various tubes, hoses and apparatus? This was quickly done while I waited outside the room. At some interval, I saw my sister coming down the hallway with Dad’s widow. I didn’t […]

22

Uncle Frank…

The first experience with Death that I can remember was when my uncle Frank died. He’d been sick for a long time with some kind of a kidney ailment. The state of the medical arts was not as good back then as it is today. Today, they might have put him on a list for a transplant, or maybe by now there are medicines that would help, I don’t know—I was about seven or eight, I think. He’d gone from hospital to hospital, from doctor to doctor to specialist and specialist. Frank had a bit of money, but it didn’t help him. At some point, the medical people told his wife to take him home and make him as comfortable as she could and to… wait. We’d gone to visit him a couple of times. The first time he was just sleeping. He looked like Uncle Frank, only a little sallow, and a little thinner than I’d remembered him. He looked tired. The second time we went he scared me. He got out of bed and was hallucinating and yelling and cussing and wanted to pull at the various tubes and hoses. His wife and kids calmed him down and got him back into bed and made sure that everything was still connected. They scolded him for his outburst and he […]