My Father Died From

I don’t know if I ever shared what my father died from. I don’t think about it much or talk about it often, because for me I only lived with the knowledge of what that was for a matter of a couple of days and then he was gone. No time to do research, no time to look at treatments, and no time to judge. There was only time to celebrate the best of him and complete his wishes.
My father died of

Blab la is

I didn’t know that the moment they said it. I figured it out by the questions they started asking him (like Do you drink, how much, do you chew tobacco? How much? For how long…) and the condescending tone and judgment that came with it. I knew that behavior. I was the princess of judging him. In that moment the princess stepped up and became very defensive of her father. It was one thing for me to judge him. I was living with it all. But who the hell were they? They just met this person and where was their compassion, where was their empathy and where were their manners? It took but a moment for me to step in that gap and help them find that. Because I knew that his time was limited and that they could do better.

It was a simple thing I did. “Does it mention in your records about him that he is a decorated Vietnam Vet, who fought for our freedoms?” she replied, “no, it doesn’t” I responded, “can we please have that added, it would mean a lot to him and to me. Thank you.” It was like magic watching her body go from the rigidity of judgment to the more calm relaxed stance of compassion and a little remorse.
Little did I know I would have that conversation with every person involved in his care up until his final breath.

I brought a small flag I had in my car, because I am my father’s daughter and I carry a small flag with me everywhere, into his hospital room and I brought it with us when he was transported to Duluth. I added some white tulips to the flag in his ICU room and that was a visual to help everyone remember that they did not get to judge his choice in coping. Their job was to help us honor his life and help him pass with dignity.

Sitting in that hospital bed in the town he had lived in for 45 years and telling the nurse that Yes he drank, no he hadn’t had a drink in a couple of weeks was the first time in my life he was open and honest about his drinking. He smiled and winked at me. There it was the truth I had waited to hear from him my whole life and he gifted me with it in his last breaths. The tears flow freely now as I put these sentences together and have this moment of realization.