I remember it perfectly. June 30th, 2002, at about 2 AM. My mother called to say they were rushing to the hospital as my father felt terrible… “I’ve never felt like this, call an ambulance!” is what he told my mother. I raced around the house, making sure things were set for the two cats I had for a day or so, throwing a couple of things in a bag, and speeding down to the hospital. I blew through towns with 30 MPH speed limits at 60… 70… racing down the highway at 90+. I was sure I was going to get a ticket. Amazingly, I made it down to Mount Auburn Hospital without a single stop.
My mother met me in the ER hallway. “He’s gone.” I nearly collapsed.
The central man in my life, the man who taught me so many things, was laying still on a gurney. I half-expected him to sit up with a smile and say “GOTCHA!” in repayment for all the times I’d gotten him. (One time I told him “Did you know ‘gullible’ isn’t in the dictionary?” He was halfway down the hall to the room where we kept the dictionary when he let out a WHOOP! and complimented me on the joke.)
But he didn’t. I found out that when he’d arrived one small corner of his heart was still beating, but the rest was still. There was nothing that could be done, and my mother made the final call to let him go.
And an interesting foreshadowing… I was visiting just beforehand, leaving for home the day before his passing. My mother was away shopping. We were talking when my father looked at me with a very strange and intense expression, and said “Promise me you will take care of your mother. She’s fine financially, but will need your support emotionally.” I swore; of course I would.
Did he know?
Since then I’ve gone through a divorce, being jobless, courting and marrying a beautiful woman. We have two amazing kids. I’ve built a career, a blog, and am now looking for work again.
And next time we go to Shul (Synagogue) his Yahrzeit will be announced.
I wonder what he would think of my life now. What advice would he give?
I see echoes of him in the mirror. I remember him each time I see a palindrome on my car’s odometer – something which he always pointed out to me. And he comes to mind all the time…