May 06, 2008

Ode to....

By Dusty Rhodes © 2008

After a few days of travel I made it home Thursday night feeling good and ready for Friday. I woke up early Friday morning because I had a lot of work to do and left the house about 6:45. At around 7:00 I got the phone call on my cell phone.

You know the call I'm talking about... It comes in many forms but is dreaded by everyone. I can be based off an accident or a sickness and hits you in the junk much worse than any bad beat you've ever had. It is the phone call that says someone has died.

Flying through traffic I answered the phone wondering why my wife would be calling me 15 minutes after I left the house. I wasn't sure what I had forgotten but it could wait until I made it home later that night. Then the word "emergency room" clicked and something about "passed away" slowly crept into my consciousness and I realized that someone I know had just died.

Death is something we deal with in different ways. I don't like to talk about the loss of loved ones until I'm ready to fully deal with the emotions that go along with the pain. Ignoring the pain doesn't last forever and eventually I have to come to grips with it or be caught up in a maelstrom of conflicting feelings as I balance real life with the past memory.

I turned the car around at the stop light, not caring if a police car was around because I needed to get home. There was a lot to be done in a short time and I had calls to make. I called my boss and let him know I wouldn't be in that day by leaving a voice mail message. I also called John and let him know because I wanted to cover my bases. As I drove home I wasn't flooded with memories of the past... I only had thoughts of doing what needed to be done and to be strong.

I've had family and friends pass away in the past. The last was my wife's grandma who died a few years ago. Actually... now that I think of it, a friend died a few months ago. He wiped out on his motor scooter on the way to watch a football game. Cracked his head on a culvert and died on the spot. I saw his wife a couple of weeks ago and even though she was trying to show strength I could tell the pain was eating her up. Condolences only do so much…they cannot replaces what has been lost.

When I arrived home, Mrs. PE was on the phone but dressed and ready. I made another work phone call and we headed out the door to head to the hospital. We stopped by the bank to get some cash and filled up the gas tank just in case there was a lot of driving in store for us that day. We made the 20 minute drive and walked into an emergency room that was empty. Nobody was there to greet us with their smiles and helpful ways.

All of my grandparents have been dead for a few years. My grandfather on my mothers side was the last to go. We suffered a lot in the last couple of years of his life as this great story teller could no longer remember who any of us were. There were glimmers from time to time where he came back for short periods of time but just a small piece of the man I remember as a child. He loved to tell stories, some made up and others real, that could captivate just about anyone.

After waiting a few long minutes, the receptionist walked up. We told her who we were and she took us to a waiting room. The doctor came in and told us what happened. We got the whole story from the beginning, probably to help easy their own minds as well, and we were asked to wait a few minutes more. I was hoping my sister would be there by now but she had longer to drive.

When I was in high school I saw a man die. He was very old and fell over in his back yard as my buddy Doug and I drove by on our way to go drink. It was very hot out and he was working in the garden. We started to do CPR and continued until the ambulance showed up. I knew he was dead and had no chance but I still tried as hard as I could to give him a chance. I was drinking to forget that night.

The nurse came in and asked us some questions. My sister wasn't there yet but my wife and I decided to go anyway. As we walked to the curtains with the nurse, I held my wife's hand and proceeded through. There was a body on the table, or bed, or whatever it is called. The nurse said some things that I didn't really hear and I slowly walked up.

Death is natural. We will all die and we will all have friends and family that die. It is a hard thing to deal with but it has to be done. People cry, people act strong, people try to empathize but can't truly understand what it is that you are going through. Our experiences are all different but I can't imagine anyone who likes dealing with these things.

I couldn't make my self look. I didn't want to look because it would mean it is true if I see it. My feet were stuck in mud as I tried to move closer. I looked everywhere but at the face. His arms look so frail. There has to be a mistake because my dad's arms aren't this small. He is a strong man with a strong will. There is no way that they could put that tube down his throat. What is that thing on his face? Oh my... I will miss you dad.

Dusty Rhodes is the father of three from the Chicago Suburbs. He writes at The Poker Enthusiast.

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