If you missed Part One, you can find it here Lessons from Death – Part One
My father always checked the obituary page in the paper first. He said it was to make sure that he wasn’t listed. For the longest while, he would attend many of the funerals of people or families that he knew. It probably isn’t true, but it seemed as though my father knew most of the families in the county. If he didn’t attend the funeral, then sometimes he would stop and deliver his condolences to the family home in person.
My father’s “funeral” ministry ended when my mother died. He stopped going to funerals. He said that funerals were too painful, that it reminded him too much of losing my mother. I would have thought that it would have made consoling others even more meaningful but I suppose that the pain was too great. The only funeral that he attended after my mother’s death, at least that I’m aware of, was that of his own mother.
My father suffered from multiple cancers for over five years. He lived with my sister, who worked a lot of overtime hours. Early on, my father remained quite independent, but as his illness progressed, his geographic world began to shrink. I had asked him to come live with my family and me. He turned down this invitation time and time again, stating that his friends lived in Maryland. He spent most of his life in Cecil County, Maryland. I live in Upstate New York.
In late 2005, my father’s cancer tightened its grip on his life. He was in and out of hospital and rehabilitation. Chemotherapy and blood transfusion became more regular. He participated in a drug study that, I believe, extended his life.
In January 2006, my father, exhausted from his long fight, asked if he could live with me – to spend his last days with me. This was an incredibly emotional request for me to consider. Of course, I blurted out “Yes” right away.
I asked, “What about your friends?”
“They are all dead,” my father replied. I knew that was not true, but I did not protest his answer.
This was the last leg of my father’s journey and an incredible path that was an honor and a great privilege for me to travel.
To be continued…
Follow this link to Lessons from Death – Part Three