My dad died March 27, 2005, at the age of 64. I was 22. We shared the same birthday, which makes all of my birthdays bittersweet now.
Dad's health had decreased ever since Thanksgiving of 2004. He'd lost weight, but we chalked it up to stress and a different diet while taking care of his mother. When he finally got to the doctor in February '05, we found out that he had cirrhosis of the liver and eventually that his liver was essentially a gigantic tumor, brought on by years of alcohol abuse. They gave us the option to go through a very painful, rigorous chemo treatment, or to let him go home and pass on peacefully. His decision was to die at the house he built with his family, and I was very much at peace with this decision. On March 15, his mother passed away. We thought we'd be going to two funerals in one week because Dad was slipping away so fast.
On Easter Sunday, March 27, at 6:31 a.m., we watched as my dad took his final breath. We were all silent for several minutes until my brother said, "That's one helluva different Easter."
We had a very nice funeral home, even though we didn't know them as well as the one in his old hometown. They went above and beyond what we expected and treated us like family. Everyone complimented our selections for the services. All of us family members got a DVD of the picture/music presentation, which was helpful.
I grieve to this day. I am at peace with him, I forgave him for all the times he hurt me and I made sure the last thing I told him was that I loved him. The pain never goes away, though. Little things, like driving down our driveway, oftentimes remind me of him. Seeing families together with two parents..that's a constant reminder. I always dread the mentioning of my "parents" as if to assume that I still have them both. Oh, how I wish I did. What I miss the most besides the way he smelled while getting ready for work, is the advice he always had for me. I never liked to admit it, but he really did know what he was talking about. I am thankful for the many nuggets of wisdom I was able to receive from him.
Thanks, Dad. You might not have been the greatest, but you were MY dad.