My father died this day 2 years ago. When he woke up in the morning that day, he didn’t know it would be his last day. When the alarm clock went off, he didn’t know it would be the last time he’d listen to CFRB talk radio. When he had his last breakfast, and his last cup of morning tea, he had no idea they would be his last. When he did his morning routine, and picked out a suit for the day, and consulted his wife on which tie to wear, he didn’t know that was the last suit he’d wear. When his wife read him my blog, and he laughed his ass off (thank goodness it was one of my better ones), he didn’t know that would be the last one he’d ever read. When he kissed his wife good-bye and told her what time he would be home for dinner, he didn’t know he wouldn’t be home for dinner, or that he wouldn’t see her again. When he drove his car to the train station and found the most ridiculous parking spot outside of a Tim Horton’s, that was nowhere near the station parking lot, he didn’t know that less than 12 hours later a priest would be driving me around for over an hour trying to find that car (unsuccessfully).
As his excitement mounted for the birth of my son, his first grandchild, due to arrive the following day, he didn’t know he would never get to meet him in person. He really didn’t know that a year later, his daughter would provide a second grandchild. When he saw us for the last time for a family dinner a few days prior, he didn’t know it would be the last one. When he went golfing for the last time, he didn’t know that it would be. The last ballgame he watched, the last restaurant he ate at, the last time he went to church, the last time he drove up to his hometown. He did all of those things, and entered all of those places with the same smile and enthusiasm that he’d always had. He didn’t know.
Here are a few other things he didn’t know. He never knew loneliness or abandonment. He was well-loved, and a very popular guy. He never experienced the kind of disease and illness that take many lives in such a slow, painful and unforgiving way. He died fairly quickly, without a lot of advance notice. In a lot of ways it was a blessing. He died handsome in a suit, and a lot of people aren’t fortunate enough to go out like that. While trying to cope with this I’ve always reminded myself that I don’t think I would have liked to see him deteriorate. To have some extra time with him, would it have been worth it? Probably. I really wish he got to see his grandchildren, but not if it meant that he would be too sick to enjoy them. Not my call though.
What if he knew all of these things? When he was going to die approximately. When he would experience all of these ‘lasts’. Would it have been better? Would he have enjoyed those moments any more? Or would they have just been filled with incredible sadness and grief. Who knows? I just instinctively feel like somehow I was lucky to have as much time with him as I did, but without having to watch it all fall apart slowly. I kind of like that the last time I saw him didn’t feel like the last time.