Picking up the USA Today on my flight home from Toledo after burying my father, I recalled how he read this paper every day. I was never sure how much information he retained, although my dad did frequently surprise me with some fact or tidbit he must’ve gleaned from those pages. I felt a slight wave of sadness creep into the back of my heart, a slight welling of tears in the back of my eyes, as I let myself think for just a moment about my father and his daily routine. His world became so small in recent years, his quality of life diminishing as well. "The Nation’s Newspaper” was a small window for him to peer beyond the monotony of the nursing home where dad spent the last 20 months of his life.
Throughout my dad’s final days, watching him decline, suddenly and swiftly, as the effects of influenza triggered his final fight for life, I didn’t dwell on the sadness of his state of being. And still now, more than three weeks after his passing, I have not really focused on those specific images or aspects that might elicit strong emotions: My father still and sick in bed, his labored breath, the gurgling sound from his lungs, his unresponsiveness during those final days. The ICU. His final breaths in hospice. And even the simple aspects of his daily routine – and my own as it involved him – are among the thoughts I continue to avoid, for now.
Truth is, I began to grieve the loss of my father more than four years ago, when I took on his care and watched his capacity – both physical and cognitive – slip away. I have many memories of him to review, and I feel prepared to experience the deep emotions that are appropriate in the aftermath of losing a loved one. Right now, however, I am taking care of myself – and his business – by keeping my thoughts on the present and the future.
“I read the news today, oh boy…”
...and that's the full-circle fatherhood report for this week.
A Day In The Life (click link for the song)