When my father passed unexpectedly on Tuesday, I was dancing.
I was swirling, whirling and laughing with joy. My dad was at work at the Portsmouth City Hall, doing what he loved.
Driving home from dance class, my phone buzzed. Kathy’s cell. “Call me right away.” I knew in her voice.
“Daddy,” I whispered softly, wondering if he could hear me now.
I sat at a red light. I looked to my left, the National Cathedral standing dignified and tall nearby. The light turned green. My foot floated slowly off the breaks. I drove the speed limit all the way home.
Once parked, I re-dialed Kathy. I can’t describe this moment, other than to say that I always knew his heart would stop and mine would feel torn out simultaneously, I just didn’t know when. When became now.
I made calls, packed quickly, flew to Boston, drove to NH. Tears. Pounding headache. More tears. Cataplexy worse than ever. I lay paralyzed on the floor, my head in my sister’s lap.
When I awoke the next morning, it was still true. Among other duties, an obituary needed to be written for the papers by 4pm.
I’m “the writer” of the family… No one forced me, but it was my place. I gathered the information. I looked up examples. My Dad would have advised me to break it into small tasks, so that’s what I did.
A strange thing happens when writing an obituary. Tom Flygare IS… became Tom Flygare WAS… All my sources were written in present tense. I was tasked with putting him in the past. A duty I never wanted.
The obituary wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was accurate and on time. I knew he’d be proud.
|I’ve got to ride;
Ride like the wind;
To be free again.