Saturday, November 6, 2010
My Father's Eyes
He could cure a case of the giggles across a crowded sanctuary without so much as clearing his throat. If I was two minutes past my curfew he could put The Fear into my date at 25 feet in the dark.
I often reminded him – and it was true – that he had the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen. (I wasn’t stupid. Alas, neither was he!) They were a clear, crisp blue. Very striking, and very, very expressive.
Dad’s ability to communicate complete thoughts with his eyes was especially convenient for us the last two days of his life when his voice stopped working.
One of my greatest gifts in life was to be able to be with him as he died in his own home fourteen years ago. Just before we brought him home from the hospital, he told my sister and me that the doctors told him he didn’t have more than six months to live, but he didn’t want us to tell our mother because it would upset her. Our mother had just told us that Dad didn’t know it, but he didn’t have more than six months to live. They protected each other as best they could and God help anyone who got in their way.
Dad told me a lot of things with his eyes those last two days. He told me that his body hurt. He told me that it was beautiful, peaceful, pain-free where he was going. He said it was a scary thing he was doing. He told me to be good to this family. He said, “See! There they are! Right there!” He told me he loved me. He said, “See you there.”
He explained that as much as he was looking forward to the next life, he didn’t want to leave us. He worried that he wouldn’t be able to do this thing without Mom with him. Their relationship was more than close. It was symbiotic. They were joined at the soul.
I held his hand and I told him things, too. I sang to him, told him I loved him. I thanked him. I said, “It’s O.K. We’ll all be all right,” although I only half believed it. I said, “It’s time.”
I know that a lot of people tend to turn their relatives into saints after they die. I also know that a lot of times the baby of the family tends to attribute undeserved greatness to her father. However, neither of those is true in my case.
It just happens that my Papa really could do anything. He really did know everything. Well, everything except how to dress.
I still miss him fiercely. I still pick up the phone to call and ask him things sometimes. I surely wish he could see my garden. Sometimes I can’t picture his face now. But always, just a blink away, are the most beautiful clear blue eyes, twinkling at me.