I’ve been away for over a month and I must explain why. June 6th I got a distressing phone call from my mother saying my father was back in the hospital. He had been in the month before and we knew he wasnt well. As I spoke to his nurses this time around as there was information i needed regarding his treatment and diagnosis. I was advised he wouldn’t have long if he didn’t go for treatment as he had stage four colon cancer. I knew that treatment was available but I didn’t know if he would live through it. I made the decision to leave Friday June 8th to travel from Texas to Tennessee to see my father and to talk to his doctor.
June 6th at 9:17pm I got a phone call from my dad. He didn’t sound well but he sounded much like himself to be able to talk. I didn’t know he wanted to talk just to hear me talk. He sat there and told me how proud he was of me. How much he loved me and how much he wished he could have given me a better life growing up. He started to cry and apologize for being a failure and that there was nothing he could do. I told him how much I loved him and told him he will be okay. As hes crying he begged me not to cry as he couldn’t bear it and I held back my tears and kept pep talking him. He continued to cry and apologize and begged me to never give up on my dreams of being a famous writer that my work will go far as it already has. He continued to cry and started to dose off into a sleep. That’s when I told my dad I loved him and to get some rest. As soon as I got off the phone with him I bursted into tears that I could no longer hold and immediately called my mom to tell her the truth that dad was dying and I will be leaving Friday morning to come see him.
While I was on the way to Tennessee I got another distressing phone call from my mom that dad wasnt responding to anyone but I could hear him in the background crying and moaning in pain. She put him on the phone with me but I couldn’t reach through to him. The nurse took the phone and explained to me what was going on once I had given my code to receive this information and tells me if my dad doesn’t seek treatment for his cancer it will kill him faster. I tell them to make him comfortable and that I am on my way.
I arrived at the hospital and met my mom outside. She looks weak and tired and sad. I understand her pain. We go to his room and there I see my father looking yellow as if he had jaundice and is nearly out of it. Hes refusing everything, food, medicine or any kind of help. The doctor and I have a long private conversation and he explains to me what needs to happen and I agree because he is a medical doctor not a cancer doctor but my dad refuses to hear my mom and I plead with him on what he should do. He simply whimpers and pulls the covers over his head in shame. My dad doesn’t look like himself. He resembled my maternal grandfather days before he died. Weak, tired and no life left in him. I get off the phone with the doctor as the charge nurse exits his room to tell me he refused his pain medicines again and I ask if I can try. I take his medicine and plead with him to take them and like before he whimpers and pulls the covers over his head. I hand the medicine back to the nurse and thank her for allowing me to try.
I ask my dad why is he being like this? Why are you giving up? I tell him the doctor wants to discharge him because there’s nothing he can do for him here because he needs to see a cancer doctor. Again he whimpers and pulls the covers over his head and refuses to speak. I plan with my mom on just making him comfortable at this point because we cant force him to live and I have to settle on that. I kiss him on his head and tell him I love him and to not give up before leaving for the day to make preparations.
The next day rolls around which is Saturday June 9th and I get call from the hospital saying my dad will not leave and they put my dad on the phone with me. My dad sounds well. Hes speaking normal and hes arguing with me saying I dont understand and that he cant breath and I tell him to ask for oxygen and he tells me it’s not the same and that I dont understand and that I had no right to come to Tennessee and that I needed to get out of his life. I’m angry because hes not trying. At the time I didn’t understand what was going on I thought he was being a stubborn old man and at that I hang up on him because he was angry and arguing and I felt betrayed by his love and my wanting to help him in his time of need like a loyal child should.
Sunday June 10th 5:45pm
I get back home to Texas to see that my phone was being blown up by the hospital and I answer to have my dads nurse tell me hes not responding and that he won’t come out of what we believe is a coma. The nurse and the doctor is three wayed on the phone and there I give my dads wishes for end of life decisions. They are ready to put him on a ventilator and I make the call and refusing it as well as resuscitation as it was what my dad wanted despite asking for being full code. The doctor gives me the personal cell phone of a funeral director who is a friend of his and I ask if I should say to til Monday to call and that seems ok. I get off the phone and call my mom to tell her what I’ve had to do and that it’s just a matter of time and that we must prepare for the end. A few minutes later I get a call from an unknown number and I answer it because at this point I have no choice. It’s the funeral director and he guides me through making the plans for my fathers remains once the time comes.
I’m in the middling of preparing a go fund me as I can not pay for funeral costs on my own. My phone rings and I answer it. It’s a nurse.
“Miss Harrington I’m sorry to tell you that your father Greg has just passed away” I’m silent as its sinking in as she continues to say “he went peacefully and without pain…” all I can say it oh my God oh my God. Are you sure? I asked stupidly. I start choking on tears on the phone unable to breath and the nurse asks me who she needs to call to collect his body and I tell her as my voice is breaking up.
The call ends and I still have just enough air in me to phone my mom and tell her to sit down where ever she is and tell her my father has passed away. We’re crying on the phone with each other for a good moment and I eventually get off the phone with her so that I could cry alone. At this point I’m on my knees crying the worst cry I’ve had in a very long time. I had so much to take on and I wasn’t ready for this, any of it.
I was heartbroken and after a bit called my boss to inform them I wouldn’t be coming into work for a few days. I did my time of mourning and took care of all the paperwork and got many grateful donations. With lots of love I got through the most painful thing I have ever endured.
Looking back before I was to go back to Tennessee to collect my dads cremains as he was cramated at his final request. I realized my dad waited for me. He stayed alive long enough so that he could see me one last time. He used his last bit of life force to argue with me to ensure I could stay strong because he knew I was going to face the hardest day of my life. That’s a phone call I never want to receive again. That’s a phone call nobody should have to endure.
June 27th Tennessee
After meeting the kind hearted funeral director and having his assist me with putting a small bit of my dads cremains in three necklaces for my mom, my sister, and myself. My mom and I went to the lake as she held my dad one last time but this time in a box. I got goosebumps as I could feel his presence with us. I tell him as if he could hear me that it’s almost time go to his final resting place.
We get to the lake and find a clearing in the woods where the waters edge. You can hear the water hitting the banks and the sun glistening over the water. My mom and I take a handful of ash and as I’m spreading them on the water I say “ashes to ashes dust to dust I send you back to the mother from which you came.” I see the its sprinkling now and I begin to pour the rest of the cremains and I see the dust clouding out into the water. As soon as I’m done it turns into a downpour and you can see the rain hitting the river while the sun still shines and its beautiful, an image I’ll never forget.
My heart still mourns for my dad and always will but hes finally free from the wheelchair that kept him captive for over 24 years. I hope he’s reincarnated as something more successful this time.
This is why I’ve been away because although I haven’t lost my motivation to write I’ve just focused my work on reading and expanding my knowledge until I’m ready to write my next great book.
These are the recollections of the events leading up to the day i laid my father to rest.