May 10, 2006
It has been 6 months since I last held your hand.
As I sit here and reflect on that last night, memories overwhelm me.
I was assigned Monday nights as the night to prepare dinner for you. My sister and two brothers had other nights of the week. I was never the cook that my sister was but you ate what I put before you like it was savory feast.
I ask you to tell me about your life experience as a young father with a
wife and four small children in the late fifties and early sixties. I
was brought to tears when you told me of the time you worked out of town and only had ketchup, crackers and water to eat for several days.
You sent all your money home to Mom.
You would have to catch a ride to your job 2 hours away and sleep in a boarding house with several other men. You did what you had to do to take care of your family. You just didn't do it then, you did it all the days of your life. You not only provided a home for us but also a Christian upbringing.
When they played "Daddy's Hands" at your funeral, I thought of those
last moments that I held your hand.
You are no longer here to share memories or meals with me due to cigarettes.
When you were having spinal problems back in 2003, a doctor in Birmingham told you that you would have to quit smoking for 6 months before he would do surgery. You were so determined to have this surgery to stop the pain that you stopped smoking. We were so proud of you. We knew this took a lot of effort for someone who had smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day for 20 years or more. Your family physician could not believe how much your lungs and breathing improved.
You went to Birmingham and made it through the surgery with flying colors. Nothing could stop you once you made up your mind. You came home to recover and get on with your life.
You began to smoke every once in a while, hiding it from us. We began
to question you when we would find lighters, but you always had an
To love you meant that we respected you and finally you reached
the point where you could not walk to the mail box with out giving out
of breath. In October of last year you were having some breathing
problems and you consulted your physician. He admitted you to the
hospital, telling us children that he had seen you in worse condition
but he wanted to admit you anyway.
The medications to help your breathing also damaged your skin and veins. By the first week in November you were black and blue all over from attempts to give you medications and do lab work. You suffered skin tears which allowed infection into your body. You reached a point where no one could even lift you hand or arm with out terrible pain.
That last morning you told us that you loved us and fell asleep. We did not know you were in a coma at that time, we thought you were just tired and finally getting some rest.
That night around midnight, you were ready to go to your heavenly home. As I sat there holding your hand, I thought back to how much you had given up for me, how much you loved me and how much I would miss you.
You waited until all four of your children were with you and quietly slipped away to heaven. I know Mom was waiting there for you with open arms.
But you left many broken hearts behind.
If only you had not started back smoking, you could be here with us sharing more life memories and making new ones. If only...
I love you and I miss you.
With love always,
Please return home with a healthy heart