On November 17, 2008, some time after 8am CT, I walked into the house I had walked into many times in the past, but this time was different. I walked over to say hello to my dad, but he was already gone. Alive just before I arrived but gone before I could make it to his side. It’s OK. Wishing he had waited just moments longer so I could say hello (and goodbye) would have been wishing him to endure that many more moments of pain. But I’ll never stop feeling I should have listened to my gut and spent the night there, no matter how late it was when we made it to St. Louis from Denver straight with me as the sole driver.
It was the third or fourth trip out there that year – I can’t remember, and it’s probably the single most difficult thing about living away from family. I wanted to be there to help the entire time, but I couldn’t.
Six years later, and I can still hear his voice in my head; I can still see the silly faces he made; I can even see him at the stove cooking his spaghetti sauce that I loved. I remember playing games with him on my grandparents’ living room floor: Rummy, Chess, 2-Man Solitaire, Aggravation, Yatzee, Monopoly and more. I remember building houses with American Building Blocks with him. I wish I had those now; they’re so much better than Legos! I remember him teaching me to drive (the calm times and the not-so-calm times). I remember when we walked to 7-11 (over 2 miles round trip) after the blizzard of ’82.
There are times I wish I could talk to him, but I already know what he would say. He’s still with me and always will be.