Daddy. What else can I say? My father has been the foundation of our family forever. He always was, and until 7:15 pm on Thursday, March 20, 2008, I thought he would always be around. On that night, life as I knew it had changed. You see, my Dad was the one constant in all of his children’s lives. If we ever needed anything or anyone, he was always there. He did not want to leave us, he didn’t want to die …but after a wrestling with death, with every ounce of strength he had, he surrendered. He closed his eyes, and fell asleep in death. It took longer for him to give up, then for him to transition from life to death.
When I tell you that he fought tooth and nail to survive, that he did not want to leave his family, I mean what I say. His worry was that there would be no one to keep the family together. His worry was that no one would be here to save us when the going gets tough. As six of his nine children stood around him on his death bed, he uttered the words we never thought he would, “I’m tired. I so tired.” I think we were all taken aback by what he said. But we cried together. We prayed together. We let him know that we appreciated all he has done for us, for my Mother, and for instilling in us life’s little lessons as to how to be the backbone of our families. One sister said, “You’re the BEST Dad ever!” A brother said, “You are my idol,” as he fell upon his chest. Another sister told him, “My heart is telling me no, but my mind is telling me yes.” Still another sister said, “We will see you in Paradise, Daddy!” Yet another sister said, “We will be alright, Daddy!” Me? I said to my father, “You have taught us how to love one another, and we will be ok! We will always take care of each other.” We all had so much more to say, but how do you find the words?
I mustered up the strength to say a prayer, followed by a prayer said by my sister, and we cried.
There were forty-five of his descendants in the waiting room of the hospital. We trailed in and out of his room all day. He was alert and knew everyone by face and name. He kept asking for his youngest son from Florida. It took several hours for my brother to arrive, and Daddy waited … for him. My brother walked in the room, said, “Hey, Dad!” My father responded by uttering his name, and looking upon him one last time. “Babe. Babe. Babe, yeah,” he said. Five minutes later, he took his last breath, and fell asleep in death. He waited for my brother to arrive. He loved him so much he wanted to see him once more. He did. Then he died.
That’s who my father was. Strong willed, determined, and like the song said, he was the, “baddest man in the whole town.”
He’s still the baddest man I’ve ever known.
I love my Daddy. And I always will!