It was the year 1970 when my dad became deathly ill. He was only 47 years old and suffered from three serious health problems: severe pulmonary edema, congestive bronchopneumonia, and coronary artery disease. It was at the VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois, that Dad called us to his bedside. We stared at the tracheal tube that stuck out from his neck. Dad no longer talked in his harsh tone. He spoke in a slow, soft, whispery voice, and said, “Kids, come close. I want to tell you something, pay attention now. Listen to your mother. I’m sorry for the way I treated her. I apologize and love you all.”
He not only wanted to be forgiven by his kids, but told Mom, “Please forgive me for all the wrong I’ve done you. I do love you.” In spite of everything he had put her through, Mom said, “I forgive you. And I love you, too.” Perhaps she forgave him because she was a Christian.
Dad loved his unfiltered Pall Mall cigarettes; he smoked them for years. Soon as he put out one cig, he’d light another. He’d smoke until the burning ash touched his fingertips. The entire ashtray would be filled with those smelly cigarette butts as the smoky odor filtered through the house. Today we'd call his toxic habit being a chain-smoker. It’s a title that can lead to the death of one.
The news about Dad’s illness wasn’t the worst. There was something more mystifying! I’d begun working during the summer and wasn’t feeling well. So, I went to see the doctor. He ran a few tests and told me the results would come later. When the phone rang, I thought, Could this mean I’m going to be a mom?
The mere fact of telling Dad wasn’t happening. Growing up with parents with traditional principles, how could I explain coming into motherhood without being married? At 10 p.m. on July 23, 1970, we got the news that Dad had made his transition. Although I still had one parent, I couldn’t forget Dad and the close relationship we shared. Dad was gone. He was gone forever and wasn’t coming back. I cried so hard. I isolated myself from my family.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish