My Father’s Last Words

When I was in sixth grade I was reading Solzhenitsyn, Updike and Salinger.  When I came home from school one day, my Dad was reading some book a relative had given me.  I never saw him read before.  It was this crap novel about some high school basketball player and the following drama.  I had  read the first chapter and tossed it aside.  When he said he liked it, I am sure a pompous sneer came across my adolescent face.   He wasn't the kind of man that came off as educated.  He would speak plainly… like “Tom’s father is an a$$hole.”  He turned out to be right of course, but when I asked him to explain his remark, he would look me in the eye and slowly say, “ Tom’s… Father… Is… an A$$hole.”
At 64 he was dying of cancer, partly from smoking, partly from years of chemical and asbestos exposure from 40 years working shift work at the refinery. My Mom called me one night from the hospital after midnight. I hurried over but when I got there he was already pretty dazed.  It was hard to see him so weak and helpless.  He was a strong man with these thick polish hands whose wedding band would fit over mine, and I’m 6’2” and over 200 lbs.  The week before he when in the hospital, he chopped a tree down in front of our house with and ax and dug the stump out with a pick and shovel.  Here he was, emaciated and looking at me for something,  what, I don’t know.  My Mom hands me a paper with writing in my Dad’s hand.  It said something like… yesterday we were young… and sort of tailed off.  My sister came and it wasn't long before his gray blue eyes went cold.  As my mother and my sister hugged, I closed his eyes, shut off the machines and whispered “I love you Dad.  Thank you.”  into his ear.  I read somewhere that your hearing is the last sense to go… How would they know such a thing?
So I post my stories from time to time.  They are all just crap.  Big words and flailing (failing) attempts at prose… what does it mean?
My Dad had it right.  If you have to talk, make it simple.  And as he said (unspoken) with his dying bone and muscle as he cared for our house by cutting that tree, thinking of, and taking care of us, loving us; It is not your words that communicate your heart, it is your actions.
I really only have one thing to say tonight, and I will make it plain:
I love you Dad.  Thank you.
Baroquenhorse Baroquenhorse
51-55, M
2 Responses Dec 15, 2012


Very sweet and real communication. Understanding is quite possibly the most difficult when looking in from the outside of anothers mind..heart..and soul. Your father loved you greatly with such depth. He communicated it through his actions. A loving expression. Thank you for the article!