The day dad died

This started as a comment for Johnny’s blog at but then I realized this was really a story that needed to be told on…

There’s nothing stupid about the realization that you don’t know how lucky you are until something bad happens to you. Sometimes it just takes a tragedy to make you stop, at least it did for me.

I didn’t get to say goodbye to my dad before he died. He was admitted to the hospital on 2/1/2002, which as about a week after he’d had a “routine” colonoscopy. In fact, Gus and I went to an outdoors show with dad on Jan 31st and I remember having a smoked sausage sandwich with him, it didn’t sit well with him. Somehow this is relevant.

I was working a “high-powered” job, or at least I thought I was, and had to go to Denver for business the week of the 4th. I was asked to go to Minneapolis around the 10th but declined because I somehow felt that it was not a good idea. He had emergency surgery on the the 10th. The doctor said it went well and that he would probably live a much happier life. I spent every day by his side until he was moved out of the ICU and onto a “regular” floor. That was Thursday. Things were really looking up.

The last time he and I saw each other alive, I told him, “look dad, you’re getting better. Tomorrow you’ll eat real food. I’ll see you Saturday.” That was Thursday. Friday I didn’t go to the hospital. Saturday morning I got the call from mom around 5:00 AM. He’d coded.

I drove like a bat out of hell to the hospital, from Northern Virgina to Glen Burnie. It’s odd, how things stick with you. I listened to a Bosstone’s cd on the way. I still can’t listen to that cd without crying.

When I got to the hospital, he was grey. He was on a respirator. His feet were cold. And I knew right then. This was bad. Really bad. Mom said they were transferring him to UMD medical center in Baltimore. She followed the Ambulance, I followed her. Matt and Jen met us at the hospital.

We waited in this shitty waiting area that was on some kind of mezzanine level. After what seemed like hours, a doctor emerged. When he asked if everyone was family, I knew what we were about to hear. It was like a scene from one of those hospital drama shows. They did all they could. There was too much damage. Too much strain on his heart. He was dead.

I had to call his friends and relay the bad news.

I miss my dad so much. He was my best friend. I am still angry after 6 long fucking years.

Where’s today
Where’s tomorrow been
Where’s the life I’m in
Where’s today
Why’s tomorrow feel
Like a whole new love
Like a whole new deal
It’s not wrong

And it’s all part of the plan

Where’d you go

j. mascis

5 thoughts on “The day dad died

  1. Thanks for sending me here Dame. I thought you might like reading this. My dad’s friend Dennis had a friend in France who also had prostate cancer. Dennis connected my dad (who spoke French) with the friend in France. When the French friend died, his widow sent Dennis this prayer in French. Dennis read it at the burial in French and translated it into English.

    St. Augustine prayer
    Loose English translation by Dennis Vitrella

    Death is nothing;
    I have only passed to the other side.
    I am myself. You are yourself.
    Who we were one for the other,
    We are as always.
    Speak to me as you always did.
    Don’t use a different tone.
    Don’t take on a solemn or sad air.
    Continue to laugh at what made us laugh together…
    Pray, smile, think of me, pray with me.
    That my name be spoken in the home,
    As it always was
    Without emphasis of any sort,
    Without any trace of shadow.
    Life signifies still what it always signified.
    It is what it always was: the thread is not cut.
    Why would I be beyond your thought?
    Simply because I am beyond your sight?
    I am not far, only on the other side of the road…
    You will find my heart, you will find in there
    Purified tenderness.
    Wipe away your tears and don’t cry if you love me…

    St. Augustine


  2. Thanks for elaborating on this story Damien. It’s touching me right now in a particular way because my father was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. He bit it once, but recently it came back. I read this and I want to reach out to him and be with him while I can. Only problem is he lives across the country. This post is encouraging me to make plans to go see him.
    I’m sorry for your loss and thanks for sharing it so openly. It helped me today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad it helped! I hope your dad can beat it again.

      That said, make as much time as you can to be with your dad. In 10 years time, I guarantee that time with your dad will be much more important to you than the minutiae that we normally let rule our everyday lives.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s