A Departure

I would like to step away from the visual for a moment to talk about beauty I discovered in an experience; a departure, so to speak.  It is so easy to talk about beauty as it is seen with our eyes, or experienced through sound, or taste, or touch, but this world is full of beauty through experiences.  A surprising candidate for this observance, for me, was the death of my father.

Dad - gravestone

Although I love to write, I absolutely fear public speaking, therefore, I did not eulogize my father.  It is common knowledge among “my people”, so I wasn’t asked, nor was I expected to do so.  Layer extreme emotion on top of fear and it just wasn’t gonna happen.

dad and mom engagement

BUT, it has been 2 1/2 years since my father’s passing and I’ve been holding on to my feelings about how I experienced it.  I know some may be put off that someone could find beauty in death, especially of a parent, but I want to share my perspective; to relieve my brain of these thoughts, to maybe help someone else who may have the same feelings, but ultimately to honor my dad, in MY words, for Father’s Day.

Dad and me baby

I’m not going to bore you by rehashing my dad’s life for you, but here’s a little taste.  He was a hard worker; a very stoic and quiet man with an explosive temper. He was a really supportive father and he loved his family fiercely.  From a daughter’s view, best dad a girl could ask for.

dad and mom wvu

Due to his A Type personality, undisciplined diet, and love for an evening cocktail, my dad entered his later years with multiple medical issues.  His heart topped the list.  To make a long story short, due to heart complications, he was put on a medication that had known side effects that could cause respiratory damage, if unchecked.  You get where I’m going here, right?

Dad and Mom - Michael's wedding

The last few years of my father’s life were spent fighting for every breath.  He was on oxygen 24/7 and couldn’t make it from the family room to the kitchen without struggling, or sometimes passing out.  He was the proverbial fish out of water.  It was excruciating to live, I’m sure, because it was excruciating to watch.

Dad - last pic

When we finally got the call to “come”, I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face when he saw me.  I’m the youngest of 5 kids.  Each one of us took a few minutes to talk with him when we arrived (although he was unable to actually speak).   We had all come in together, but I was the last to see him.  At first he looked excited to see everyone, but when he finally got to me; finally realized that I was there too, he looked at me and a physical wave of understanding came over him.  He knew that we were all there to say goodbye and that he was nearing the end.

Dad - football game

We were all there with him the hour before he passed.  It was the first time in YEARS that I had seen him comfortable and breathing like a real human being.  He was so peaceful and lacked that contorted face that we had gotten so used to seeing as he fought to breathe.  And when he finally did take his last breath, without struggle, he was free.  It was a peaceful departure and one of the most beautiful moments that I will remember forever.

Dad - Greece