There I was – back in my warm seat – nestled in the embrace of my writing workshop. Still on the path of trying to figure out what I am destined to write. I started out writing for children. It is a lot harder than it sounds, plus you can’t be sarcastic or cuss when you are appealing to a younger demographic, so that plan disappeared. Now, I am thinking non-fiction – a memoir of sorts. My thinking is that God gave a eclectic mixture of characters, so why not utilize the material that I already have? Seriously, I could never make this shit up. So, that is the journey that I am on and I thought that maybe I could share pieces of it with my loyal readers. The piece that I am sharing today, is about my Dad and my final moments with him. Keep in mind, this a first draft, so crafting to perfection is still on the agenda, but I thought it would be fun to lay it out there for all to read.
The chill reached my bones even though I was enveloped with warm clothing. It wasn’t the seasonal cold that sent shivers throughout my body, but death that kept me from warmth. I bent down to hold his face once more. My father, my root system was gone. I lightly touched him, but drew my fingers back as if an electric current had surged through me. He was lukewarm – an odd description, but his demise only occurred 30 minutes prior. I was surprised at how rapid the body erodes after the spirit leaves.
My father had always professed that he would be one to die at home. He missed it by several feet, unless you consider the garage part of the home. It is debatable, but under the circumstances, I am sure he felt victorious. We were waiting on the coroner and hearse from the funeral home to take him away. I was alone with him. My mother, felt he shouldn’t be left by himself. I complied even though I wanted to ask, “Are you worried he will leave?”, but I didn’t. No one needed my dark sarcasm even though I know my father would have liked me ruffling her feathers.
We passed the time with a one-sided conversation and a rousing rendition of Amazing Grace. I always have loved the acoustics in the garage. My voice reverberates, echoes, and slowly wraps me in warmth. Singing always gave me solace and every time I performed in various school productions, my father’s eyes would glisten. Tonight, his eyes were empty.
The coroner came and went. I wonder if it was relief or disappointment that the death was natural. I wonder if he is numb every time he is called to a death investigation. The hearse arrives and between the driver, his passenger, and my husband, they lift my father onto the gurney. The term “dead weight” has always intrigued me, but as I watched three strong men struggled to move my father, I finally understood the origin. The stench permeated the cold, December air like a knife. I had forgotten that once the body shuts down, your bodily functions are released. My stomach curdled. I stepped away to breathe in some fresh air. The air that hadn’t been tainted by death. Death has no manners.