On this date 22 years ago, at 5:45 pm I lost my father. Like today, July 6, 2021, it was a Tuesday. How do I remember it so well? Simply put, I think of him daily and when he was dying, I was moving towards his room at the convalescent center. I saw a nurse pushing an oxygen tank. She moved in the same direction as I did. Never did I realize she was going to my dad’s room until she placed her hand on the door.
“Oh no,” I said. “That isn’t a good sign.”
Nurses were inside. I heard them saying his name. “Mr. Perkins, wake up. Come on Mr. Perkins, wake up!”
A nurse left the room, asking me to sit down. “Barbie, we can bring him back. Just tell us.”
My chest ached as I struggled to inhale and exhale. “No. He doesn’t want us to bring him back. He’s a DNR.”
For those who might not know, DNR means Do Not Resuscitate.
“I can’t…I can’t ask you to do that. If he comes back, he’ll be so angry with me. I can’t…”
I sat down, recognizing the moment had arrived for my father, Walter W. Perkins, to pass away and finally be with his identical twin brother, other siblings and his parents. No I cannot ask them to bring him back. For weeks he’s sat in his bed, or the rocking chair, reading his Bible. He’s been praying to die. I’ve heard him pray, ‘our heavenly father, I’m ready. Please take me home. I’m tired. Weak. Ready, I’m so ready to go Home. I’m so tired of this life.’
I visited Sandpiper Convalescent Center daily, with exception of the times I was sick with bronchial asthma. During those times, I phoned, asking the nurse to please let him know I was sick and did not want to spread any germs. From mid-March, 1999, until the date of his death, when I arrived, he would not speak to me. Only nodding his head as he ate his dinner while reading the Bible. His roommate, Dudley, had difficulty speaking due to MS. He watched my dad, saying “He’s mean to you. He’s so mean.”
I smiled, walking over to Dudley’s bed to touch his toes. He laughed such a welcoming laughter I almost cried.
Fifteen minutes later, my husband arrived. “Are you ok?” He asked while hugging me tightly.
“He’s gone. I knew this day was coming. Last night I awoke at 3:45 am from a nightmare about him dying, and now my vision is so real. He’s gone.”
After Phil’s arrival, my memory is a fog of actions, including Phil would drive me home. He would come for Dad’s things later… Before we left I remember a nurse asking if I wanted to see Dad.
She opened the door to his and Dudley’s room. Dudley was watching baseball. Dad was covered in a white sheet. The curtain pulled closed. His food tray was sitting in the corner of the room. Although Dad suffered with terminal esophageal cancer, he insisted on eating his food. “Everything else has been taken away,” he said angrily, before his death. The prediction of him regurgitating his food and choking to death was reality. Now, his body rested lifeless. I pulled the cover to his head back. Lifeless. His skin was a yellowish clay composition. His body was ice cold. Lifeless.
My dad is gone. He’s in Heaven now, with his siblings and family. I hope he is happy.
I kissed his cheek, whispering how much I loved him and how I would miss him. You are no longer sick. I hope you love Heaven and can be with your identical twin brother now. I love you.
Twenty-two years. Still feels like yesterday to me.
Today is a sad, selfish day for me since I cannot visit him. How I miss him. I pray today is a day of rejoice and happiness for him. I shall keep myself busy so I cannot think.
Twenty-two years ago today, in the golden hours of mystical sunsets, I lost my father. I pray he is happy while knowing how much I miss him.