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There was once a time when he was in his home, sound in bed, able to totter around. He would go out to the porch for a smoke, listen to his favorite AM radio stations-sometimes piano pieces, sometimes boring political news. The sound would ricochet through the house through the open door, and I would know where he was. Other times, he would lay in bed, the History channel on, learning whatever new conspiracy theories there were about Bigfoot or other monsters. In the mornings I was there, I would cook up his favorite dish-scrambled eggs, sausage, toast, and yogurt. He would wolf it down, then swallow his pills like they were a second meal.

That was despite his stroke, the one that had all but disabled him. However, he had several more mini strokes that further incapacitated him. For a while, Hospice nurses came several times a week to bathe him and check his condition. I knew, because Hospice was around, that it couldn’t end well. His 75th birthday came around, then passed, and I believe that he just gave up. Once you make it that far, you’re doing pretty well. Soon, his condition had deteriorated enough so that my grandmother, mother, and aunts were unable to do the bulk of his care. He moved into a nursing home.

A place complete with the incessant beeping of call lights, the random yells from those whose mental state was unsound, and the overall stench of urine. A place that he had no desire to be in, but could not see a way out of. A place he was destined to die in.

Soon, he was bedridden and could only eat mushed up pulp of food. Was it even food? And then, the aspiration started. He was slowly dying, choking on his own phlegm and fluids. So, all I could do was wait for him to slowly die. In the end, one of the last things he ever said was, “I love you” to me. Me, his Mandie, who cooked him “first rate” food and listened to his stories. Me, his baby, who was a “dream girl” and hugged him all the time.

And, in that state, Richard Earl Ellis passed away. A clever engineer, a witty storyteller, a beloved husband, a devoted father, a proud grandfather. He was gone, just like that. Like a puff of air, a billow of wind. No more.

Sometimes I think about him when I least expect it. There was so much I never got to find out, I never had enough time to discover. I only had sixteen years with him, but he was always my constant. Just about every other man had left my life, but he had stayed. And then, he too was gone. Time is precious; the clock ticks down slowly yet unbelievably fast. He left and I still had so much to say, so much to learn. I guess that’s the way of the world right now-the people and things you care for can be stripped away so, so easily. Perhaps that is why it is so easy for me to put faith in God and the promises that the Bible holds out-if I didn’t, all I would be able to focus on is the loss and pain that comes from this whole system in which I now live. Thank God that is not the case.



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SongWriter50 said...
Jul. 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm:
This made me cry.  Reminded me of my relationship with my father.  Beautifully written!
 
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