As I got older, my relationship with my dad followed a pretty typical trajectory.
We saw each other pretty regularly, but our stubbornness and different opinions about how to live our lives remained.
Then as my dad got older, his health began to deteriorate.
He was in and out of the hospital.
Finally, his wife called and told me that the doctor had determined the cause of his latest sickness was a tear in his heart. It was a risky surgery and my dad didn't want to do it.
The doctor was going to send him home and set up hospice.
I drove down to Portland, knowing this could be goodbye.
My dad was in surprisingly good spirits. He was happy that my aunt and uncle drove over to see him, and that he was surrounded by family.
It made me happy to do little things for him. He was frail and not eating much, so I was happy to bring him pumpkin shakes from Burgerville and that he would drink them. It felt like my special job.
|Shake on Monday|
But on Wednesday when he didn't want the shake, I put it in the fridge. I noticed he hadn't touched the shake from the day Tuesday, or finished Monday's. He was getting worse.
My brother and I dealt with our grief the best way we knew how.
A hidden gift was the time I got to spend with my dad. Now I understood the lollygag. We'd just sit there, sometimes talking, sometimes holding hands, me usually crying. His heart was so open. It was a new phase of our relationship.
On his last day, dad told the hospice nurse he was ready to go. She said it was pretty unusual that he would say that in front of us. It was a privilege that we were there up until his last breath, as heartbreaking as it was to see him go.
In the days after my dad died, the richness he left became more apparent as we told friends and family and they shared their memories.
We all agreed unanimously about the spot to spread Dad's ashes.
It was in Oysterville. You can smell it before you arrive.
It felt like the richest, most fertile spot along the peninsula.
Dad would have loved it.
My dad's wife, her daughter, my brother, his wife and their two daughters all joined in.
The fast moving water and the windswept blue sky felt like vibrant life, still moving. The mounds of oyster shells gave off their fecund smell while they waited to host the next generation.