Evangelizing through the Catholic Arts

My Last Day with My Dad

Dad DuffyToday is a very difficult day for me. It was June 20, 1999, Father’s Day, that I had my last conversation with my dad. In 1999, my husband and I lived in Utah, and my dad lived in New Jersey. On June 11th of that year, he was taken to the hospital; diagnosed with emphysema, pneumonia and congestive heart failure.  Things didn’t look good. So, my husband and I flew home on June 12th.

When we got to the hospital, and walked into the room, my dad was so happy to see me. He kept telling me repeatedly throughout that evening that he loved me. I consciously appreciated hearing the words, but I thought it odd as well, as my Father was never the gushy type. The words “I love you” were sparse throughout my life. Yet, by his actions, I always knew that he loved me. To hear him repeatedly state his love for me that evening turned out to be one of the greatest gifts given to me.

My Last Day with My Dad

The next day, my father couldn’t breathe on his own, so he was intubated. From that day on he was never able to speak. We spent the remainder of the week visiting him in the hospital. He somewhat stabilized, and come June 20th, my husband and I needed to fly back to Utah. We couldn’t stay indefinitely. As I approached my dad’s hospital room on June 20, 1999, I knew, in my heart, that this would be the last time that I would see him alive. His eyes were watery as I said my goodbye. I told him that I loved him, and all he could do was look at me.

He finally succumbed to the illness on August 5, 1999, and we returned for his funeral. The grief and loss was almost too much to bear. My dad was special to me. So, why do I write this piece today? What is the message? It’s this: If you truly love someone, and you haven’t let that person know just how much you love him/her, then do it today because you do not know if you have a tomorrow. You just might be giving that loved one the greatest gift that person will ever think they could receive. You could be like my dad and me.

This post also appears on Association of Catholic Women Bloggers, and Top Catholic Blogs.

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6 Responses to My Last Day with My Dad

  • My dad also wasn’t big on expressing feelings. He passed away 1 month to the day that he entered the hospital with pneumonia and congestive heart failure. All 10 of us had the chance to really talk with him and say our goodbyes, even though one that lived out of town did it a few months prior to his passing. In contrast, my mother passed away very unexpectedly 3 years prior to my dad’s passing. My advice to people with aging parents is to think of any questions about your family or their life you might possibly have and ask while you can.

  • I remember your parents fondly – think of them every day at dinner when we sit down at your mom’s kitchen table! Thank you for sharing this story. My dad died in 2002 from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis with complications. He was also intubated at the end, against his wishes! I actually gave him “permission” to go with God to Heaven if that was God’s plan, since Dear Mama’ was planning on fighting against Dad’s death tooth and nail no matter what Dad or God had in mind…As a result, Dear Mama’ forbade me from being with my father at the very end.

    I am confident my dad is with his two brothers in Heaven, all of ’em probably pulling practical jokes on St Peter!

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. That kitchen table though – that was Nick’s and mine from the time we were married until we moved out of NJ. Yet, my parents had many meals around that table! It’s nice to know that it’s still being used.

  • My deepest sympathies. I remember my last moments with my dad. They are burned in my memory.

    • Hi Manny! It’s just one of those most important moments of one’s life – that’s why the memories are so fresh, no matter how much time passes – that’s because love is eternal!

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