“It’s never foggy in El Paso,” we thought. How fitting it was, though. In a surreal moment, the universe provided some appropriately gloomy weather to accompany us on our journey to see our deceased father.
The news was almost a relief for me because I knew that my father’s death was imminent – not because he couldn’t have survived his illness, but because I just somehow knew he was going to die. After several days in a coma as a result of complications from lymphoma, heart disease, and all the meditation he was taking, my father’s suffering ended and his life on this earth was over. My mother’s husband was gone and we were without a father.
Thirty years ago, on September 10th, I lost my dad. Many years passed before I was finally able to stop marking the anniversary of his death. A few weeks after my father died, my mother’s father died. It seems that most of the notable events in my life have occurred during this time of year. Not all were tragic, however. While news of deaths came to me in the morning, my son was born in the early evening on the 24th day of this month to provide some balance – appropriate since he was born under the Zodiac sign that’s all about balance: Libra. Finally, I had something to celebrate during the month of September.
My father has visited me throughout the years in my dreams, more often over the last few months since my mother entered hospice care at the nursing home. Since I knew my mother’s time was drawing near, I figured he appeared in my dreams to let me know that he was waiting for her and would take good care of her. He wanted me to know that everything would be okay, much like the afternoon when I saw him approaching me in the courtyard at the university… about a month after he had died.
While working on a project with team members from one of my classes, I looked up and saw my father walking toward me. He didn’t look the way I had seen him in recent years. Instead, he appeared to be about fifteen years younger – the way I remembered him when I was a very young girl. The image of him was so vivid that I can recall what he was wearing down to the color of his socks. He smiled at me and waved. Time stood still for that brief instant and he moved in slow motion. With a blink of my eyes, he was gone and time marched on at its usual pace. That is a moment in my life that I will never forget.
Since our mother was not expected to live through the weekend, my brother called this morning from the nursing home and held the phone to her ear so my sister and I could say our goodbyes. As we were returning from Poulsbo to my sister’s house a few hours later, we made the turn onto Hwy 19 north to Port Townsend. Sitting quietly in the car, I was thinking about how glad I was that we had the opportunity to speak to her even though she was unable to respond. I wanted to share that thought with my sister, but the thick fog that faced us ahead silenced me. I made the connection instantly to the morning my father had died. Before I could utter a word, my cell phone rang again. It was my brother. He was calling back to let me know that our mother had stopped breathing shortly after we spoke to her earlier.
Today I am an orphan. My mother is finally free of her diseased physical form and has been reunited with my father. I have not yet been able to shed a tear, but I expect that will come soon enough. I have missed my mother as she was before Alzheimer's robbed her of her mind and us of her. I miss our phone calls and our visits. I regret that she remembered none of it in the end, but I want to believe that she knew it was me on the phone when I said, “I love you, Mom.”
Born July 3, 1930
Died October 22, 2011