What do you call your dad? There are so many names used. Dad, Daddy, Pop, Papa. Pa, Pappy, Padre, Father?
My Daddy, died on June 8th, just weeks ago. Yes, I still call him Daddy. It’s probably a Texas thing.
In the south, grown women call their fathers Daddy and their mothers Momma. I didn’t call my mother Mommy after about the age of six or seven. She was British and wouldn’t have tolerated that anyway. She actually preferred “Mum”.
My Daddy was ninety-four-years old, almost ninety-five, when he passed. He was ready. “I’m going to a place I’ve never been before,” he said. I thought this was the truest thing I’d ever heard anyone say about dying. In his homespun, simple way my father often said profound things. I’ve lived my whole life hearing people dance around the subject of what happens when we die.
Heaven? The great beyond? The afterlife? Glory? Kingdom Come? Kismet? Life Everlasting? Nirvana? Paradise?
I loved it that my father didn’t go down those roads. It wasn’t his style to pontificate about things he didn’t know a damned thing about. He would go on ad nauseam about the things he did know a little about. You want to know how to square a corner with two by fours? I heard about the 3 4 5 rule, based on the Pythagorean Theorem more times than I care to count. Dad talked about levers and fulcrums when I was doing a science project in Junior High until I wanted to pull my hair out. He showed me that he could lift our Ford Falcon using blocks of wood and a long piece of timber and his body weight.
My father surprised me in the end. He talked for weeks about how he needed to get going. He asked if I could help him. “I will hold your hand all the way.” I told him. In the end, he, like Brittany, took matters into his own hands. They died very differently. However, both wanted some say in the matter. In my eyes they both died with dignity.
One day, Daddy wouldn’t eat or drink. I wheedled and pleaded. That one day turned into two. I thought with time he’d relent. We kept coaxing him with his favorite soft foods. He had so many ways of saying no. He would bar his teeth, jut his chin out, turn his head, wave his hand and knock the glass or spoon from my hand. “No, means no,” he would say. Two days turned into three. A week.
I came into Daddy’s room and found him lying on his back in bed singing, “Water. Water. Water.” When I offered him water or juice he would swipe at it with his hand. We tried chips of ice. He spat them out. Every once in a great while he’d accept juice, but stop after only a few birdlike sips.
It took more than two weeks for him to die. Does that surprise you? Me too. That is how little we know about death. The body can go for a long time with little liquid and no food.
Now Daddy is someplace he’s never been before. Brittany was there waiting for him. Love you both. Always.