My dad passed away a few years ago. He had suffered for a while with lung cancer but the end was very peaceful.
In a morphine-induced twilight world, he took one last breath and slipped away.
I wasn’t in the hospital room. I was in the parking lot lugging a basket full of food up to the rest of the family; the hospital room watchers were on duty as we were taking turns. All of us had families to manage, children to corral, spouses to feed. In the midst of death, life had to go on.
As it does.
I missed him slipping away by moments. It didn’t matter. I had been there for days in that room which had echoed with laughter and memories as he lay there quietly in his twilight world. I hope he heard us.
I think he did.
He always smiled when we all got going with stories and laughter – laughter so hard that we cried. It’s a family trait; laughing until you cry.
I was thinking of him as I just went through a bunch of photos from a family trip we took to Tybee Island, Georgia this summer. He loved family vacations at the beach. One of our fondest family memories is playing “Win, Lose or Draw” one year in our beach house and my dad using sound effects to explain his drawing. We tried to tell him that was cheating but we were all laughing too hard.
Laughing until we cried.
I snapped a picture of my daughter holding my grandson on the beach one day at Tybee.
As I was looking at it, a memory surfaced and I went rooting through my photo albums until I found this picture.
It’s me with that same daughter.
At a beach.
Long, long ago.
I’m sure there is a picture somewhere of my mom holding me like this on a beach.
And, since my mom was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida and my grandmother lived there her whole life, there’s probably a picture somewhere like this of my grandmother holding my mom. If there was one taken, it was in black and white and is old and tattered.
Or maybe it’s just a picture in someone’s memory.
A picture of a mom on the beach holding a child.
And somewhere, thinking of family and beaches and games and laughing until you cry, my dad is smiling.