My sweet dad passed away early this morning. He was 94 years old. For all accounts and purposes, one could say that he lived a long and full life. That’s true. But, I still wasn’t quite ready to let him go.
He was born on Monday, March 15, 1926, at a time in American history when Calvin Coolidge was the President of the United States, when you could buy a new house for $7700 or rent one for $20 a month, buy a new car for $360, purchase gasoline for $.12 a gallon, and pick up a loaf of bread for $.09. A simpler time? Not according to stories told by my dad through the years. Life was difficult, and not for the faint of heart. He managed to live through the respective Dust Bowl and drought eras of the Midwest—and later survive a near-fatal bout of Scarlet Fever and a kamikaze attack on his US Navy ship Goodhue in the Asiatic Pacific. He eventually made his way back to the states to meet and marry my mother – a blessed union that would last for 72 years. My sister and I made him a wonderful, long-suffering, patient, and caring father. Seriously.
Because of advanced dementia, he has spent the last three years in a local memory care facility where he soon secured the title of “one of our kindest residents.” It didn’t take much to make him happy—a comfortable chair, a warm blanket, a nourishing meal, a short conversation involving current events, a friendly voice, a gentle touch, and a handful of unsalted peanuts. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the facility has been on lockdown for several weeks. I’ve missed him terribly. Last evening, the care center called and asked if I would like to see him one last time and say goodbye. With mask, gloves, and gown, I entered the room to find him in a deep coma. I told him again how much I loved him, and that I was more than fortunate to have called him Dad for so many years. He struggled to open his eyes. I told him it was okay to go home, to fly away with the angels. A few hours later, he did just that. – D. L. Norris