The phone rang at five in the morning, awakening me from a deep sleep. Fumbling, I reached for the phone; it was my sister-in-law Eva. “The hospital called, your dad is dying”, she said in a concerned voice. It was not a total surprise, but nevertheless. I dressed up quickly, jumped in the car, and raced to the hospital. On the way, I was thinking about his last few weeks, and how challenging they were for him. A quick thought flashed through my mind – hold on dad. When I got to the hospital ward where dad was staying, the nurse told me in a soft voice that dad past on about fifteen minutes ago.
He laid there, in peace, like if he was asleep. His live-like complexion, body warm to touch, would mask the reality of the end of his journey with us. In fact, he looked very much as I would occasionally find him on some of my visits with him – sleeping. Sometime I would let him sleep, and just leave, other time I would wake him up. This time I knew that I am seeing him like this for the last time. I stroked his still worm forehead. How surreal. How live-like, yet not there anymore. I wandered where he was – his spirit that is. Was he still here? Was he on the way to his eternal peace? Was he with Nancy, his beloved wife? All I know for sure, we all will learn this secret of life’s end, when our own time comes.
Just a few weeks ago, he spoke to me about his life coming to the end. I guess he was preparing himself for that not too distant day. He was philosophical about life – almost ready to go. He was telling me about how much pleasure he derived from his scooter rides to the local park to feed the squirrels and ducks. He would be switching back and forth between his fondest memories, and the reality of getting ever so closer to the end of his life. He seemed to be at peace, knowing that he will not be around for too much longer, yet at times, he would drift away from the subject of dying. He spoke of his plans after his release from the hospital. How once again, and after he gains some strength, he would hop on his scooter, and take a ride to the park to feed his animal friends.
Then, unexpectedly, he looked straight in my eyes, paused a while, and then asked me what struck me as a very strange question. “Do you still fly?” Yes, I said. He paused for a long time again, and then he asked me to take his and his beloved wife’s Nancy’s ashes on to their last trip together. He asked me to spread them from my plane over their favourite hangout. You see, while Nancy was still alive, they use to take their dog Dino for a walk to the Lighthouse Park, at the south-west tip of Point Roberts, gazing for hours at the rolling surf. Both dad and Nancy were a bit of drifters. Nancy came from England, dad from Czechoslovakia. They returned to live in Slovakia for a while, before returning and settling back here in Canada. It was not such a strange question after all – I came to realize. It just seemed so fitting that the rolling ocean surf they both loved so much, should allow them to continue their eternal tourneys together. I looked straight in my dad’s eyes, held his hand, and said – you got it dad.
My dad past on at the age of 92 on December 29, 2011