Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Father's Obituary

I was looking through an ancient Office Depot catalog today, trying to decide how to spend my "Sonny Money." I didn't realize how long that catalog had been on the had "advance" calendars all the way up to 2003. Ha! Needless to say, I was not looking in it for prices, just ideas.

In the catalog I found my father's obituary, laminated as a courtesy by our local newspaper. I have no idea why it was in's not like you use a bookmark to keep the place where you left off reading in a catalog. Reading that obituary was the only way I knew when he died. I can remember the license plate numbers of people I went to high school with thirty years ago, birthdays of people I neither like nor associate with any longer, and my credit card numbers complete with the security code on the back, but I had no idea of the date my father died (it was October 21, 2002). I also had no idea how old he was, but I could have figured that out if I had remembered the year he died (he was 77).

I'm sure that if you asked him, he would say it wasn't the drinking that killed him; it was the sudden stopping. He had called me at school on a Saturday (working on the yearbook) and said he needed somebody to take him to the hospital.

"Why, what's wrong?"

"I'm drunk."

"Daddy, they don't put people in the hospital for being drunk."

I didn't go.

He went to the hospital on a Wednesday (I think) with what must have approached alcohol poisoning. He had a heart attack that Saturday and went into a coma, punctuated by frequent tremors and seizures, and we made the decision to remove him from life support the following Monday morning. My daughter, my sister, and I stood by his bed, along with a step-mother I didn't like (they had only been married a couple of years......Daddy was her fifth husband, I think) and a step-sister I didn't know, and waited. The hospital chaplain had either done that job a lot, or cheated and kept his (her? I can't remember) eyes open during the prayer. Because with the word "Amen," the line went flat.

1 comment:

MJ said...

This is very compelling. I'm married to an alcoholic and my father was/is an alcoholic. It's scarry sometimes to think about what they are doing to themselves and wonder how much longer they'll survive.