I lost my daddy yesterday, and it just doesn’t seem real or possible to be living in a world without him.
Yesterday was supposed to be a happy day and the start of a new life for my dad. After waiting so long for a lung, Dad got the call yesterday morning at 2:00am. It was time for his transplant. Since last year Dad has been tethered to an oxygen tank and this isn’t how he wanted to live. My mom called me around 6:00am and I got up and started getting ready to go to the hospital. I talked with my dad on the phone for the last time and I told him I loved him. He told me he loved me too and then he said, “Tell Dylan I love him. Make sure he knows.”
I got to the hospital around 8:30am and my dad had already gone in to surgery, so my mom and I waited. We got a couple of updates via phone at the start that things were going okay and the lung looked okay. At about 1:00pm the director of the transplant center came to give us an update. There was a complication of the surgery. As the surgeon tried to connect the lung to the aortic vein, he discovered that my dad’s veins were tissue-thin from being on steroids for so long. The steroids were supposed to suppress infection and bolster his immune system and lung function so he would make it to transplant time. Unfortunately as a side-effect, the steroids weakened the walls of his veins. The doctor said they would now attempt to attach the lung closer to the heart were the tissue was thicker.
We waited for a couple of more hours and then around 2:30pm the surgeon came in to tell us that he had been unsuccessful. He had tried to attach the lungs closer to the heart but in the process, my dad’s aortic vein split and tore all of the way to his groin. They were unable to save him. They were keeping my dad “alive” so my mom and I could say good-bye to him before he died. I will never forget the look on my mom’s face as she heard these words. As she heard that she was losing the man she had loved her entire life.
They took us to see my dad and we held his hands and talked to him for a bit. He was being kept alive by machines and medications, and I know he probably did not hear what we said, but I hope he did. I want the last words he heard to be how much he was loved.
It was heartbreaking seeing my mom say good-bye to the man she has spent her life with. She married him when she was 17 and they have been together and loved each other as husband and wife for 41 years. They have grown up together, have had good and bad times, but loved each other through it all.
I had my dad for 37 years, and it wasn’t enough. I need him for longer. I need him to get to see his Dylan, his boy, grow up. I am grateful for the time we have had, but it just seem too short.
My dad was a good man, a decent man, and a loving father. He wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t a super hero. He made mistakes, but he worked hard. He did his best, and he loved his family with his whole heart – unabashedly.
Last night as a lay in bed, I thought about my dad and the memories I have of him. The quality that kept surfacing was that he loved me and kept me safe but always treated me with dignity and taught me to be independent.
· I don’t remember a lot of specific memories from when I was a little girl. I have a few snapshots in my head – camping in Arkansas, riding on the back of the dirt bike, Christmas mornings. But I do have the memory of feeling loved my whole life.
· I remember in middle school seeing my father cry for the first time. He was working in California to make a better life for us and he was gone for months at a time. I remember him crying when he had to go back and leave us. He cried because he didn’t want to leave his family. He hugged us so tight. He loved us so much.
· I remember him taking me to look for my first car. When the salesman came over and began talking to my dad about the cars, he told the salesman that it was to be my car and that he needed to speak with me. He never made me feel less for being a female.
· When I was a smart-mouthed teenager who thought she knew it all and could not seem to get along with my mom, he kept the peace and he took me shopping for a homecoming dress, a prom dress, and the appropriate undergarments and accessories.
· He taught me how to play pool, and never let me win.
· Before I went away to college he made sure I knew how to change my tire, my car battery, etc. He knew how bad I am with directions so he printed the necessary pages from the Mapsco and highlighted the route to and from school for me so I would always be able to find my w ay home. And even after all of this time and the invention of the GPS, he did this for me to make sure I knew how to get to the hospital.
· He saw me graduate high school and college, he gave me away at my wedding, and he saw his grandchild. I am blessed he was here for so long, but it wasn’t enough.
· He is my daddy and I love him so much for helping me become the woman I am today and for showing me how to love. I think him for teaching me that I can take care of myself but letting me know he was always there if I needed him.
I am so sad that my son will not get have his Pappaw in his life, but I am grateful he got to know him at all.
I love you dad and I will always be your little girl.