Sharing my mourning journey as my family learns to live a new normal after the death of my 19 y.o. son in an auto accident on 10/12/08.

While Sam Cooke Sang

I have been away from my blog for a while as I’ve been in Ohio with my family during my father’s illness. Sadly, I have to tell you that my father passed away on April 24th, 2011. I was able to be in Ohio with him before he died. We sat and talked and he told me what he wanted for his memorial service, who he wanted to speak and of course a saxophone playing. Daddy loved jazz and the saxophone was his favorite instrument. He had 10’s of thousands of songs that he catalogued on his computer. His jazz library could rival any formal library in the world.

As we talked I had one question for my dad.

“Daddy I know you want your ashes spread in West Virginia.”

“Yeah, your mama knows what I want. There’s a creek where I used to play when I was a little boy and that’s where I want the ashes.”

“Is the creek still there?”

With his typical eye roll, “Oh shoot girl, yes it’s still there.”

“Well I was just wondering if it would be okay to have some of Jordan’s ashes mixed with yours when we spread them.”

“Of course you can, even if it’s just a teaspoonful. You know Jordan is my boy. Now you notice I said is, not was.”

“I know Daddy.”

Daddy handing Jordan(age 2) a rock when they both got restless at church and went outside.

“Shoot, that boy and I threw rocks together when he was little down in West Virginia. Of course he can be with me.”

“Thank you Daddy.”

We sat quietly for a while after talking and I looked over and Daddy had fallen asleep.

Later that day he was moved from the hospital to an inpatient hospice facility. Our hope was that he would be able to come home in a few days after they  transferred him to oral medications. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated rapidly and by Friday he wasn’t talking anymore but didn’t seem to be in much pain. When my mom and I walked into his room on Friday as part of our new routine I asked him what music he wanted to hear.I rolled out the usuals, Stanley Turrentine, Gene Ammons, Jimmy Smith. He shook his head “no” until I came to Sam Cooke.He wasn’t in the mood for jazz, but for gospel.
I stood rubbing his shoulder as he seemed a bit restless and then he reached out for my hand. I took his hand and told my mother to hold his other. All the while Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers played, “Nearer To Thee,” in the background. After a few minutes of standing at his bedside holding his hands he gently pulled his hands away. Mama and I went to sit down. I looked over at my exhausted mother and saw that she had drifted off to sleep. Daddy would close his eyes for a few minutes and then open them again, putting his hands behind his head and then trying to turn in bed. He was too weak to turn and shook his head “no” when I asked if he wanted help. I looked over at him as he lay with his eyes closed and suddenly he opened his eyes and with perfect clarity winked at me which brought me to the edge of my seat. I smiled back, so familiar with that wink and knowing this time all the words that it conveyed, “I’m alright”, “Take care of yourself” ,”Take care of your Mama”, “Goodbye.”

That was the last time Daddy opened his eyes and his gift of a wink was the perfect goodbye. He was an amazing man who taught me so much about life and not fearing death. Sleep well my wonderful father. You have earned your rest.

June 7, 1936-April 24, 2011

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Comments on: "While Sam Cooke Sang" (14)

  1. Oh, dearest Jackie, I am so, so sorry. I have so often told other friends who have lost a parent, as I have, that no matter how old we are or how old they are or how sick they were or how “prepared” we were, the death of a parent is just profoundly life-altering– there are no two ways about it. I am so glad that you got to share some very special time with him during his final days. And I love the idea that he and Jordan are together somewhere, throwing rocks and talking like no time has passed. Sending love and strength, friend.

  2. I am so sorry to hear about your father and so pleased that you were able to spend this time with him. I’m willing to bet that he was thrilled to know he and Jordan will be together again on the banks of the creek.

    Please take care of yourself and honor your grief and the love you had for each other. Sending love and light.

  3. Absolutely beautiful Jackie. I am so glad you were able to be with your dad and mom. I was just thinking about you today…aware that you had not posted in awhile…wondering where you were and how you were. Sending lots of love.

  4. Carol Herrmann said:

    Jackie,

    I am sorry about the loss of your dad – he sounds like such a wonderful, loving dad. While I know you’ll miss him dearly, I can just imagine his reunion with Jordan. That is an amazing thought. They are together for real now, forever.

    Having lost a daughter myself two years ago (age 14, sudden brain tumor) I am comforted by thoughts of such reunions. But I know you will miss your dad, and I am so sorry for that.

    You and your family are in my prayers –

    With understanding and hope,

    Carol Herrmann (Caroline’s mom)

  5. Sharon Mullen said:

    I remember the last time I saw your dad. I had not seen him in a while because the last 3 times I had come over to the house, no one was home!! So when I came over and both your parents were home, I was sooooo happy! Your parents, out of all the friends my parents have, were the happiest, most in love couple I ever witnessed! They used to be almost giddy when they were around each other. Jack was so good to your mom. I never witnessed him say an unkind word to her, or be harsh to her, or act disgruntled towards her. You know I witnessed that with my own dad and others, so to see your dad be so good really meant a lot to me. He always had something funny to say. We never had a party without a Jack Moore tape! And that fish…well, you know! Going home to Dayton won’t be the same. Please, please wrap your arms around your mom, my other mother, and give her a tight squeeze and a kiss from me. I love you.

  6. Aw, Jackie, I was so worried that this might be the case. My dad died in 1995 and I still miss him, every day.

    Godspeed, and rest in peace, sweet gentleman. Hold Jordan close.

  7. Dear Jackie–I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like the buckeye state has truly lost a good one, one of the best. I know I do not have the right words to say, but please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time.

    Sincerely,
    Tracy

  8. Karen Bromley said:

    Dear Jackie,
    I wanted you to know how sorry I am about the loss of your Dad. I didn’t realize that he was ill until I checked in on your blog a week ago, then Katherine gave me the sad news earlier this week. I want you to know how much I am thinking about your entire family. As always, you write so beautifully about the most difficult of situations and your words do so much to honor your father – just as your words have always done so much to honor Jordan. I weep buckets when I read your amazing posts but feel peace to know that Jordan and your Dad are together. I am searching for the deepest purple ribbon to tie around my Autumn Blaze Maple.
    Karen

  9. Beautiful dear Sister. I know there’s a sting and ache. I know there’s a lot of peace that you got to spend time with him and now Jordan and your dad are reunited. Bless you. I’m praying.

  10. Just checking in to let you know I’ve been thinking about you a whole lot….

  11. I’m so sorry for your loss but I am so glad you were able to have that last moment with your father.

  12. […] my mouth as I wept thinking back to our very last conversation when I asked him if he was sure the creek was still there and he replied, “Shoot girl, of course it’s still there.” The […]

  13. […] Sam Cooke-"A Change Is Gonna To Come"The Soul Stirrers – Wonderful (Sam Cooke)While Sam Cooke Sang .social_button { float:left; width:130px; display:inline-block; } function […]

  14. […] my mouth as I wept thinking back to our very last conversation when I asked him if he was sure the creek was still there and he replied, “Shoot girl, of course it’s still there.” The […]

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