The Death of My Father and My Dreams
Dad at Christmas
The Dream.....the Death...
Mondays are always hectic; wake up the kids, do paperwork and expenses, go to work, and the list just continues on from there. This particular Monday, March 13th, 2006, I awoke from a strange and disturbing dream.
In my dream, I was in an older home with poor lighting. I was led into a small room with a bed in the middle. To the right and left and in front of the bed were three bodies covered in a black – almost a rubbery surface – standing upright against the walls. Although, I couldn’t completely see each person, there was enough resemblance there to identify them as my father’s deceased family members. Each one was attached to something which mimicked breathing. Their chests would rise and fall in normal rhythm, as if actually breathing. Occasionally, their bodies would move to mimic mannerisms characteristic of themselves while alive.
However strange this seemed, I wasn’t afraid; it was soothing. It seemed this display allowed remaining family members a way to ease the pain of mourning, since the deceased were still here physically and not buried. One of the bodies opened and closed its eyes which were very pale and milky. I knew their names; but I had only known two of them. All three were siblings of my father’s mother.
This dream bothered me; I’ve had spiritual and unusual dreams since I was a child—but this one left me clueless. I presumed because my father was scheduled for surgery on Tuesday, I was worrying subconsciously. My husband told me I watched too many sci-fi movies. I disagreed; I had been watching serial killer movies and hadn’t dreamed about one of them. Nonetheless, I was uneasy with the dream and surgery.
When I arrived at work, I called dad to see when his surgery was scheduled. Finally getting through on the phone line, I learned he was due at the hospital by 12pm, and I had an appointment also that day at 2pm, I fretted over how I was going to juggle being in both places. I was also concerned about the time of his surgery and him not being able to eat or have insulin because he is severely diabetic. I told my stepmother I would meet them at the hospital at noon.
Tuesday turned out to be a hectic day also. I managed to leave work by 11:15am, grab a bite to eat, and arrive at the hospital on time. I sat in admitting with him and then moved to the surgery waiting area.
My stepmother and I waited in the room they had prepared for dad; his surgery had been a success. I heard noises outside of the door and saw them rolling him in. I went to him.
He was crying and praising the Lord, as I got closer to him, he became much louder.
“There’s my Tammy, I love you honey, I wish you weren’t so ashamed of me,” then he went back to praising the Lord.
I was so embarrassed and ashamed, and he just kept carrying on very loudly. When someone else would come into the room, he would get louder and louder. I told the nurse that he probably needed to give him something to sleep or they’d be up all night with him.
He kept referring to me as being ashamed of him. “She’s my daughter, but she can’t help it.”
I reached over, held his hand, and he pulled me closer; his breath reeking of an awful odor. I could hardly stand it; but I tried to bare it—because he was my dad. Next, he started singing, “When we all get to Heaven” and continued to praise the Lord. Finally, I could not handle much more so I said goodbye and left.
I beat myself up over this. What did I have to be embarrassed by? Nothing. He was praising His LORD, Tammy! What kind of Christian are you? I asked myself?
I spoke with him the next day; he was doing fine and in good spirits. I had choir practice that evening, so I told him I would see him the next day. That evening I told the boys we needed to go by and see Papa tomorrow evening at the hospital.
On Thursday, March 16, I went to work as usual, and I even talked with him; he sounded great. He had no pain, and the doctor said he could go home today. I thought to myself that’s too soon. I told him I would come by to see him this evening after work.
I went to lunch around 11am that day and returned at noon. I hadn’t been back to work more than ten minutes when I got a phone call from my stepmother.
“Tammy, something’s wrong with your Dad, he’s collapsed, OH LORD, Don! I called 911 and they can’t get a response from him.”
“Gladys, I’ll be right there!” I cried.
I began to tremble and shake and cry, “Oh Daddy, oh my God!” Eddie, one of my coworkers, said he would drive me to their house. All the way there, I was shaking and crying. Eddie told me it would be ok, that he’s probably fine.
We arrived at Dad’s house, the fire truck and EMC vehicles truck’s lights were flashing. A stretcher was outside the door. I ran into the house. Daddy was in the middle of the kitchen floor with his shirt off, his stomach distended terribly. The EMS crew was bagging him; his stomach was rising and falling with each compression of the bag.
Then the dream slammed into me full-force. I screamed, “Eddie, it’s my dream, it’s my dream---his stomach was rising and falling. They’re breathing for him.” I crumbled to the floor in the living room--praying and rocking myself like a little child. Then I got up and ran out the front door and around back of the house and entered to the kitchen. I didn’t want to get in their way, so I stayed there, watching, crying, moaning, “Oh my daddy, daddy, daddy...”
My cousin kept saying, “He’s going to be alright, he’s got a pulse, he’s got a pulse.”
I asked if I could sit next to him and they let me. They couldn’t get a trach-tube down his throat, because he was swollen too badly. His eyes starred faintly at the ceiling above. He was gone. He was gone. His mouth was partially open, and I could see his teeth and tongue. They stopped bagging him. I looked into their eyes and knew he was gone. I kissed him on the cheek and told him I loved him, then moved out of the way so they could get him onto a stretcher.
“Tammy, he’s going to be ok, they have a pulse,” my cousin said; but I was willing to see the truth. I slumped out of the way. I sat there in the floor, and began picking up loose papers and tubes and needle caps they left behind. I starred at the marbleized linoleum and inside me the numbness began.
My husband arrived at the house, and we went on to the hospital. My stepmother followed us in the car with her brother. Arriving at the hospital, we went inside to the front desk together. We asked if we could go back and be with him, and they told us the doctor was with him and wanted to talk with us first. They lead us to a lounge in the ER. My husband sat in between us and held us together. We waited for what seemed a long time. The doctor approached us, introduced himself and sat down.
“We couldn’t get a tube down him, he’s got a lot of health problems, and he didn’t make it,” he said.
We begged to see him. He said of course. We waited outside of the room where he was being held. I noticed the EMS workers looking over at us; they had such a sad countenance. I walked over to them and thanked them for what they had done. They apologized for not being able to save him, and I told them it was his time to go. I shook their hand and walked to the room where they had dad.
Dad was lying there, eyes open; with a white sheet draped over him. Methodically, I took tissue and wiped the blood from around his lips and the left side of his face. I straightened his hair, caressing it—over and over. I believe I wiped mine own tears from his face.
I asked for time alone with him, without anyone present, not even my husband, and I stood there crying and told him how much I loved him; that he wasn’t supposed to leave yet. Although I suffered great loss, an indescribable pain; I also sensed a freedom or a peace I had never experienced. All those differences, arguments, and disagreements --- what a waste of words; they no longer mattered to me. I learned what vanity had been between him and me. I wept for the loss of my father, but celebrated the freedom of his and my spirit. He was in heaven now, no longer in pain or mental torment as he had been while on this earth. God had given him His peace and healed his diseased body.
I cried for me not him, for he has it better than I. I sensed a loss coming last year, but had no idea it would be him or be so soon in life. I had hardly spoken to him since August of last year, when he forbade my son to tell him “that he loved him” anymore. I don’t know when or if I’ll ever finish this, the tears keep falling and the wound is too fresh. Last update 7/30/06 ----4 ½ months post mortem.
After contacting everyone we could think of, I remembered the boys, they were still in school. Dillon had to stay late, so Darryl picked up Cody and brought him over to the house. Dillon had been driving by his papaw’s house after-school. I had left messages on his cell phone to come straight home. I didn’t want anyone to tell him but me. I also warned Mom not to say anything if he came by her house.
We were all sitting in the living room when the door burst open and Dillon came through in tears. I asked him what was wrong.
“I stopped by to see Papaw, and when I asked where he was, everyone there just looked at me funny and then told me he was dead. I turned around and left.”
“Honey, I’m so sorry, I didn’t want you to find out that way. Didn’t you check your messages that said to come straight home?”
“No, my phone’s dead.”
Dillon was terribly shaken and I feared him finding out and then driving home. Bless his heart, he was so broken. I called my stepmother and we made an appointment with the funeral home for the next day. Dread is all I can say about this. The rest is too foggy to recall.