Like most of us, I considered my parents immortal. They would always be here to go visit; they would be on the other end of the phone when I called to talk. I could ask questions, inquire about weird relatives and ponder if I actually did have any particular childhood vaccination.
My family is pretty close knit and I am extremely close to my parents. For the past twenty-five years I have resided in Indiana and have called Mama and Daddy at least once a day just to see how they were doing and see if they had a good day.
Starting just prior to Daddy’s his first brain surgery two and a half years ago, I called multiple times during the day to make sure he was okay and to visit. That all changed June 11, 2008.
Daddy passed away.
The short story is he contracted a colon infection from a health care worker at the hospital where he was rehabilitating from his last brain surgery. That infection was what ultimately took his life. Not diabetes which he valiantly controlled for twenty-five years; an infection from the hospital. Go figure. He caught an infection at the very place that was supposed to heal him.
So now, I have time on my hands. Even though I am at work, I find myself reaching for the phone for my regular morning , lunchtime or supper-time calls to Daddy. I looked forward to hearing his voice and how he was doing. Even if he just told me what he had for breakfast or we chatted about the book he was reading, it was a chance to visit with him.
Now, he is gone.
I have found myself calling my parent’s home just to hear his voice on their voice mail. I cannot believe that he is gone forever. I will never hear that voice, his laugh or be on the receiving end of that gigantic bear hug of his. I would snuggle my face in his chest, enjoy the hug and breathe in that Daddy smell.
The moral of this story, if there is one, is to not only love your parents but to appreciate them. Appreciate and celebrate them while they are here with you. Don’t wait and be filled with guilt or regret after they are gone.
I now think of a million things that I wish I had said and done with Daddy. I feel guilty that I didn’t take the time from what I considered my busy schedule to drive the eight hours to spend the weekend with him.
One of the last conversations that I had with him, he asked me if I was coming home. I said that I was, but it wouldn’t be for a couple of weeks. If I had known that within that fourteen day span he would die, I would have wasted no time in getting down to Georgia to see him.
He loved me no matter what I did or said. And the two of us would fight like cats because we were so much alike. Once I told him I might not get to stay very long when I visited. He responded with telling me if he could only see me for a few minutes, then it would be worth it.
Don’t wait. Love your parents. They are truly the most wonderful angels this side of heaven.
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